Thesis

Courts' response to rape victims - it's all for show

This research explores how language used in cases of sexual violence perpetuates gender bias and rape culture. Though courts are often seen as sites of impartial judgment, courtroom proceedings are littered with gendered language that reinforces stereotypes of victim and offender. Rape laws and courtroom arguments consistently affirm masculinist interpretations of harm, leaving little room for interpretations of sexual violence as anything other than bodily injury. Analysis of gendered language in sexual violence cases often focuses on of victims during trial proceedings and less focused on briefs, memorandums, and motions. Using court documents from 16 cases over a six-year period I examine how lawyers deploy gendered and stereotypes, reinforce bodily injury as the ultimate measure of valid harm, and fail to address psychological trauma. This language fosters biased judgment and reinforces institutionalized rape culture.

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