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Laurel R. Davis-Delano

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Laurel R. Davis

This paper focuses on the contemporary white public and scientific preoccupation with the question of racially linked genetic differences between black and white male athletes. It is argued that the preoccupation itself is racist because it is founded on and naturalizes racial categories as fixed and unambiguous biological realities, thus obscuring the political processes of racial formation. The biological determinism underlying the preoccupation conceals both human agency and sociopolitical forces, including racism. NBC Television, by legitimating the preoccupation itself, helped to produce consent for the racial status quo. Strategies that are used to naturalize the preoccupation are exposed.

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Laurel R. Davis and Linda C. Delano

Over 40 anti-drug campaign media texts, including posters, videotapes, and brochures, served as data for this study. These texts were systematically analyzed and many prevalent themes were identified and categorized. Several themes are highlighted, focusing on assumptions and interpretations that the texts encourage readers to make. The purpose of this study is to illustrate how many of the anti-drug media campaigns, particularly those concerned with steroids, are problematic because they encourage readers to assume that bodies naturally fit into unambiguous bipolar categories of gender, and that steroids are artificial substances that disrupt this natural gender dichotomization. The assumptions that bodies are purely natural and drugs are artificial substances that disrupt natural bodies are also discussed because they are interconnected with and help to legitimate the assumption of physical gender dichotomization. These media texts are examined in the light of gender relations, wherein the embodiment of particular forms of gender is seen as crucial to the maintenance of the present gender order.