Public/Private language aggression against women

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Verbal aggression against women often serves to naturalize a binary construction of gender. The form and content of verbal aggression against women may be shifting in the 21st century context, in which overtly sexist language in public settings is viewed as unacceptable. However, we argue that in fact, sexist language continues, albeit at times in less overt ways and particularly so when the discourse is public, or likely to be made public. This study examines the specific content of language aggression against women with two sources of data: 1) the population of tweets containing the handle @femfreq posted during 17 days in the fall of 2013, and 2) the population of 130 civil protection order petitions filed in the first 8 months of 2010 in a small city in the Pacific Northwest. We consider how the content of gendered language aggression in Tweets — a form of verbal discourse that is authored by people who do not personally know the object of their aggression — is similar to and different from the language aggression perpetrated by the intimate partners of women seeking legal protection from abuse from the courts — a form of verbal discourse enacted in intimate contexts.


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