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

See all articles by Patricia L. Easteal

Patricia L. Easteal

University of Canberra - School of Law and Justice

Lorana Bartels

Australian National University (ANU) - ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods

Sally Bradford

University of Canberra

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

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

Easteal, Patricia L. and Bartels, Lorana and Bradford, Sally, Language, Gender and ‘Reality’: Violence against Women (2012). 40(4) International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice 324-337, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2181783

Patricia L. Easteal (Contact Author)

University of Canberra - School of Law and Justice ( email )

Australia

Lorana Bartels

Australian National University (ANU) - ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods ( email )

Beryl Rawson Building (13)
Canberra, ACT 0200
Australia

Sally Bradford

University of Canberra ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

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