'Don't Think of a Predator': Changing Frames for Better Sexual Violence Prevention
Sex Offender Law Report, Vol. 8, No. 6, pp. 81-96, 2007
19 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2008
Powerful frames shape the way we think about sexual violence. These frames channel public debate and policy making in ever more dysfunctional directions. If we want to get sexual violence policy back on track, we need to change the frames that determine the policy outcomes.
According to framing theory, frames are abstract structures that serve to organize or structure social meanings. In his best-selling book, Don't Think of an Elephant, Stanford linguistics professor George Lakoff explores the power of frames in the broader political sphere. Powerful metaphors, he argues, frame debates, and push answers in particular directions. Framing a discussion in terms of tax relief rather than social investment tilts the field of debate in a particular direction: who, after all, could oppose relief?
This essay describes and critiques the major themes that shape public discourse on sexual violence policy, and suggests alternate frames that could lead to better policy.
Keywords: sexual violence, predators, rape, sexually violent person, Megan's Law, criminal law, public policy
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