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LANGUAGE OBSTACLES IN THE NARRATIVES OF ABUSED WOMEN

Lora Bex Lempert
Mid-American Review of Sociology
Vol. 19, No. 1/2 (WINTER, SPRING 1996), pp. 15-32
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23252847
Page Count: 18
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
LANGUAGE OBSTACLES IN THE NARRATIVES OF ABUSED WOMEN
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Abstract

Language is a gendered system that reflects male experience and expressions and the categories used in traditional sociological inquiry are often incongruent with the experiences of women's lives (Devault 1990; Long 1987; Keller 1985; Smith 1979). An examination of 32 abused women's narratives of violence from their intimate partners demonstrates that words for the content of their experiences were readily accessible. Women's articulations of the interactional meanings of the violence, however, indicated vocabularies insufficient to describe the effects. I examine how abused women's reports of naming and use of language shape meaning and consequent actions. I argue that a gendered language system poses obstacles to the constructions and expressions of these meanings.

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