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Male offenders disclaiming accountability: A gender perspective on texts about domestic violence from two centuries
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Swedish Language. (LNUC IMS)
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2017 (English)In: HumaNetten, E-ISSN 1403-2279, no 38Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim is to study how the words and the actions of the parties are presented in written reports and how we understand the cases and the violence, and what the cases convey about the society in which the texts were produced, i.e. what roles do the texts play in the legal process of the nineteenth century and in the twenty-first viewed in a comparative, gender perspective. We will address the following research questions: What are the structure and themes in the texts, and how do they influence the comprehension of what has happened in the cases? How does the suspect speak about the crime he is suspected of?

The structure, language and content are examined in written records of suspects’ verbal defences of their criminal offences against women with whom they have a close relationship, but also the themes the texts contain and how the texts are structured on a macro level, as a transparent macro structure can make a text easier to read and understand.

The results in this study indicate a relativisation of the hierarchy between women and men in the older texts, since the man is weakened by ending up on trial. Although women and men are more equal than 150 years ago, the dichotomy and the hierarchy in contemporary texts still prevail and there is not yet full equality, although the gender contract has been renegotiated in different ways over the years due to changes in law and society. However we can also interpret the results from this study in the light of Mattsson’s and Hydén’s framework on domestic violence, which highlights how the tension of violence, power and gender is making it difficult to make visible violence and women’s vulnerability. Where the violence is based on different perspectives and are divided on the issue of how violence is understood. The line between perspectives that are based on a structural and relational understanding of the violence. The structural feminist perspective gives prominence to the gender dimension of violence as a structural expression of male superiority and female subordination. The relational understanding places less emphasis on power relations and more on violence as the result of conflict between the two parties, and Hydén takes a stand in a feminist perspective which she combines with a social psychological understanding, which emphasizes the root of evil violence – the quarrel. The woman in the relationship has the opportunity of assuming a position of power, because she has reasons to leave the relationship. We can conclude that there is a tendency to similar explanations for the generated violence in the studied cases, both the old and modern. Today most cases of domestic violence are dropped and never get to trial in Sweden, which is a problem for the legal security of the citizens and for communities in general governed by law. The tendency that a majority of cases of domestic violence are dismissed is an embarrassing fact, since Sweden has a reputation for being a society with equal opportunities. The low rate of prosecution makes it a gender issue that should be addressed. How the gender relations in this discourse will be negotiated in the future, and how the Swedish legal system will deal with cases of domestic violence, remains open.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2017. no 38
Keywords [en]
gender perspective, disclaiming accountability, legal texts, domestic violence
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Research subject
Humanities, Swedish; Social Sciences, Gender Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-61022DOI: 10.15626/hn.20173806OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-61022DiVA, id: diva2:1077740
Conference
Report from the 9th Nordic Conference on Language and Gender
Available from: 2017-02-28 Created: 2017-02-28 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved

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Byrman, GunillaDrugge, Ulf

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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