Intersections of race and gender in sexual assault trials

Authors

  • Susan Ehrlich York University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.20884

Keywords:

rape, intersectionality, African American English, legal discourse, intertextuality

Abstract

This essay traces the development of intersectionality theory within the field of language and gender in relation to research on the language of rape trials. In early work on the topic, I used Judith Butler’s notion of the ‘rigid regulatory frame’ to understand the cultural intelligibility of certain kinds of rape victims in the legal system and the unintelligibility of others. But the inequities that complainants often experience in rape trials are not merely the result of sexism; rather, it is sexism and racism which together interact to disadvantage complainants and protect white male perpetrators, who occupy a privileged position within these contexts vis-à-vis men of colour. In line with recent work in the field, I end with an analysis of a rape case that demonstrates the necessity of attending to nonhegemonic masculinities and intersectionality.

Author Biography

Susan Ehrlich, York University

Susan Ehrlich is Professor of Linguistics at York University, Toronto, Canada. She has worked extensively on language, sexual violence and the law and is currently working on a project that investigates intertextual practices in the legal system, demonstrating how such an investigation can shed light on broader patterns of social inequalities. Her book publications include Representing Rape (Routledge, 2001) and The Handbook of Language, Gender, and Sexuality (Blackwell, 2014). She is currently coeditor of Language in Society with Tommaso Milani.

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Published

2021-10-06

How to Cite

Ehrlich, S. . (2021). Intersections of race and gender in sexual assault trials. Gender and Language, 15(3), 430–438. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.20884

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