Zuiqian 'deficient mouth'
Discourse, gender and domestic violence
Keywords:Language, Gender, Domestic Violence, Anatomo-Politics
This article examines the relationship between language, gender and domestic violence. Contextualizing the study of domestic violence in China, this article focuses its analysis on a metapragmatic discourse on domestic violence – zuiqian ‘deficient mouth’ in a working-class community in Beijing. It argues that the discourse of zuiqian, by blaming women’s mouths and their ‘deviant’ speaking styles, individualizes the serious social problem of domestic violence and downplays the structural force that causes male violence. By fragmenting women and regulating their mouths, the discourse of zuiqian serves as an anatomic mode of power (anatomo-politics) for the state to discipline women and safeguard society. Also, this discourse constitutes a repudiating site (i.e. a site at which subjects are condemned or criticized in order for them to emerge) to construct the kind of subject identified with China’s neoliberal agenda. This study shows that both language and gender can be engaged as either anatomic modes of power or repudiating sites for subjectivity formation in the broader political and economic transformations of the process of globalization. In the context of neoliberalism, the private, the individual and the body have become the bases for political legitimacy.