Language, Gender and ‘Reality’: Violence against Women
40(4) International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice 324-337, 2012
15 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2012
Date Written: 2012
This paper examines the theory behind and some examples of the relationships between gender, language, cognition and perception in the context of the criminal justice system. In particular, we consider the language of domestic violence and sexual assault and how words and communication styles can affect and are affected by what we think and believe to be ‘reality’. The paper illustrates how the language used to describe violence against women may act to minimise these acts and the dominant conversational style and female violence victims’ genderlect may collide to produce evidentiary issues and a credibility gap. We argue that there is an inherent dilemma in engaging with legal constructs which continue to negate women’s understandings of reality, and that the voices of female rape and domestic violence victims remain muted by the baritone ‘voice’ of the legal system.
Keywords: gendered language, gender biases and the law, sexual assault, domestic violence
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation