Empowered victims? Women’s contradictory positions in the discourse of violence prevention
Violence against women is a salient outcome of systemic gender inequality across the globe. In the US, the societal discourse of violence prevention simultaneously frames women in positions of victimhood and of empowerment. This study investigates the ways women draw upon these contradictory constructions in their meaning-making and practices related to violence prevention. Twenty women aged 18–62 discussed their experiences of risk and safety around an urban university campus in an in-depth interview. Women’s selective appropriation of victim and empowerment scripts produced multiple and tension-filled constructions of risk, in ways inflected by gender, ‘race,’ class, sexuality, and age. Themes included the endorsement of a “safety checklist” that functioned to construct women’s risk as unmanageable and victimhood as inevitable; complex generational differences in women’s willingness to identify fears of gendered bodily harm as legitimate and in the ways they did so; and the creation and maintenance of imagined communities of safety and danger, implicitly inflected by ‘race’ and class.
Feminism and Psychology
discourse, empowerment, gender, risk, tension, violence
Frazier, Kathryn E. and Falmagne, Rachel Joffe, "Empowered victims? Women’s contradictory positions in the discourse of violence prevention" (2014). Psychology. 798.