Eleonora Volta

Misogyny in Legal Discourse: Victim Blaming and Illocutionary Silencing

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Shedding light on the political power and oppressive potential of language, theories of illocutionary silencing and discursive injustice show how gender, class and race can shape the pragmatics of speech, limiting in some circumstances the speaker’s ability to do things with her words. This article takes a close look at discursive injustice in trials for gender-based violence in connection with the phenomenon of misogyny. It argues that in the courtroom the testimony of the victim is sometimes silenced by a sexist ideology used in service of misogynistic ends in practice. In particular, it argues that sexist social meanings can sometimes be enacted by the judge and accommodated by prosecutors, figuring as a component of the score in the language game of the trial and thus 1) determining what counts as sexual violence and 2) preventing complainants from making the moves they intend to make


  • Discursive Injustice
  • Misogyny
  • Ideology
  • Speech Acts
  • Rape Trial


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