image of The language of sexual violence and impropriety
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



In Canada, which has two official languages, sexual violence and impropriety have been identified as problems in the military for at least 25 years (see Duval-Lantoine 2022). In the military’s efforts to address these problems, the institutional language has been identified as problematic (Deschamps 2015; Arbour 2022). This paper addresses the labels for sexual violence and impropriety in Canadian English and French using large corpora of language data: the Corpus of Historical American English, the Corpus of Contemporary Amerian English, the enTenTen20 corpus, the frTenTen20 corpus, the Strathy Corpus, and the Canadian Hansard. Findings show differences between the most widely used labels in American and Canadian data and between English and French. This raises questions about the labels adopted by the Canadian military and the extent to which sexual violence and impropriety can be addressed without a critical review of the language in use.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Arbour, Louise
    2022Report of the Independent External Comprehensive Review of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/corporate/reports-publications/report-of-the-independent-external-comprehensive-review.html
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Barca, Lisa A.
    2018 “The Agency Factor: Neoliberal Configurations of Risk in News Discourse on the Steubenville, Ohio Rape Case.” Critical Discourse Studies(): –. 10.1080/17405904.2017.1408476
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17405904.2017.1408476 [Google Scholar]
  3. Beelen, Kaspar, Timothy Alberdingk Thijm, Christopher Cochrane, Kees Halvemaan, Graeme Hirst, Michael Kimmins, Sander Lijbrink, Maarten Marx, Nona Naderi, Ludovic Rheault, Roman Polyanovsky, and Tanya Whyte
    2017 “Digitization of the Canadian Parliamentary Debates.” Canadian Journal of Political Science(): –. 10.1017/S0008423916001165
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0008423916001165 [Google Scholar]
  4. Benoit, Cecilia, Leah Shumka, Rachel Phillips, Mary Clare Kennedy, and Lynne Belle-Isle
    2015 “Issue Brief: Sexual Violence against Women in Canada.” https://cfc-swc.gc.ca/svawc-vcsfc/index-en.html
  5. Bingham, Shereen G.
    1994 “Introduction: Framing Sexual Harassment – Defining a Discursive Focus of Study.” InConceptualizing Sexual Harassment as Discursive Practice, edited byShereen G. Bingham, –. Westport, CT: Praeger.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Bourdieu, Pierre
    1991 “Language and Symbolic Power,” edited byJohn Thompson and translated byGino Raymond and Matthew Adamson. Harvard: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Burke, Ashley, and Murray Brewster
    2021 “A Military in Crisis: Here are the Senior Leaders Embroiled in Sexual Misconduct Cases.” CBC News, October 21. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/sexual-misconduct-military-senior-leaders-dnd-caf-1.6218683
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Clair, Robin P.
    1993 “The Bureaucratization, Commodification, and Privatization of Sexual Harassment through Institutional Discourse: A Study of the Big Ten Universities.” Management Communication Quarterly(): –. 10.1177/0893318993007002001
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0893318993007002001 [Google Scholar]
  9. Davies, Mark
    2008–The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). Available online athttps://www.english-corpora.org/coca/
    [Google Scholar]
  10. 2010–The Corpus of Historical American English (COHA). Available online athttps://www.english-corpora.org/coha/
    [Google Scholar]
  11. 2012–The Strathy Corpus of Canadian English (from the Strathy Language Unit, Queen’s University). Available online athttps://www.english-corpora.org/can/
    [Google Scholar]
  12. 2015Hansard Corpus. Available online athttps://www.hansard-corpus.org/
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Deschamps, Marie
    2015External Review into Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces. https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/corporate/reports-publications/sexual-misbehaviour/external-review-2015.html
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Doe, Jane
    2012 “Who Benefits from the Sexual Assault Evidence Kit?” InSexual Assault in Canada: Law, Legal Practice and Women’s Activism, edited byElizabeth A. Sheehan, –. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press. books.openedition.org/uop/577
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Dougherty, Debbie, and Mary Jeanette Smythe
    2004 “Sensemaking, Organizational Culture, and Sexual Harassment.” Journal of Applied Communication Research(): –. 10.1080/0090988042000275998
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0090988042000275998 [Google Scholar]
  16. Duval-Lantoine, Charlotte
    2022The Ones we Let down: Toxic Leadership Culture and Gender Integration in the Canadian Forces. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. 10.1515/9780228012719
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9780228012719 [Google Scholar]
  17. Eagleton, Terry
    2007Ideology: An Introduction. London/New York: Verso. 10.2307/1771379
    https://doi.org/10.2307/1771379 [Google Scholar]
  18. Ehrlich, Susan
    2001Representing Rape: Language and Sexual Consent. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Fairclough, Norman
    1989Language and Power. London: Longman. 10.1017/S0047404500016316
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500016316 [Google Scholar]
  20. 2003Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. London: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203697078
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203697078 [Google Scholar]
  21. Fileborn, Bianca
    2016Reclaiming the night-time economy: unwanted sexual attention in pubs and clubs. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1057/978‑1‑137‑58791‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-58791-6 [Google Scholar]
  22. Fileborn, Bianca, and Nickie Phillips
    2019 “From ‘Me Too’ to ‘Too Far’? Contesting the Boundaries of Sexual Violence in Contemporary Activism.” In#MeToo and the Politics of Social Change, edited byBianca Fileborn and Rachel Loney-Howes, –. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1007/978‑3‑030‑15213‑0_7
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-15213-0_7 [Google Scholar]
  23. Foucault, Michel
    2006The Archaeology of Knowledge. Oxon: Gallimard.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Hannem, Stacey, and Christopher J. Schneider
    2022Defining Sexual Misconduct: Power, Media, and #MeToo. Regina: University of Regina Press. 10.1515/9780889778689
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9780889778689 [Google Scholar]
  25. Hardaker, Claire, and Mark McGlashan
    2016 “‘Real men don’t hate women’: Twitter Rape Threats and Group Identity.” Journal of Pragmatics: –. 10.1016/j.pragma.2015.11.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2015.11.005 [Google Scholar]
  26. Hollander, Jocelyn A., and Katie Rodgers
    2014 “Constructing Victims: The Erasure of Women’s Resistance to Sexual Assault.” Sociological Forum(): –. 10.1111/socf.12087
    https://doi.org/10.1111/socf.12087 [Google Scholar]
  27. Kitzinger, Celia, and Alison Thomas
    1995 “Sexual Harassment: A Discursive Approach.” InFeminism and Discourse: Psychological Perspective, edited bySue Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger, –. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Laucius, Joanne
    2018 “What is Sexual Misconduct, Exactly? Depends on who you Ask.” Ottawa Citizen, January 29. https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/what-is-sexual-misconduct-exactly-depends-on-who-you-ask
    [Google Scholar]
  29. MacMartin, Claire, and Linda A. Wood
    2007 “Sentencing Sexual Abuse Offenders: Sex Crimes and Social Justice.” InThe Language of Sexual Crime, edited byJanet Cotterill, –. London: Palgrave. 10.1057/9780230592780_10
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230592780_10 [Google Scholar]
  30. Salmona, Muriel
    2019Le harcèlement sexuel. Paris: Presses universitaires de France. 10.3917/puf.salmo.2019.01
    https://doi.org/10.3917/puf.salmo.2019.01 [Google Scholar]
  31. Schwark, Sandra, and Gerd Bohner
    2019 “Sexual Violence– ‘Victim’ or ‘Survivor’: News Images Affect Explicit and Implicit Judgments of Blame.” Violence Against Women(): –. 10.1177/1077801218820202
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801218820202 [Google Scholar]
  32. Serisier, Tanya
    2018Speaking out: Feminism, rape and narrative politics. Palgrave. 10.1007/978‑3‑319‑98669‑2
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-98669-2 [Google Scholar]
  33. Shuy, Roger
    2012The Language of Sexual Misconduct Cases. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926961.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926961.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  34. Tranchese, Alessia
    2023From Fritzl to #metoo Twelve Years of Rape Coverage in the British Press. London: Palgrave. 10.1007/978‑3‑031‑09353‑1
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-09353-1 [Google Scholar]
  35. Trinch, Shonna L.
    2003Latinas’ Narratives of Domestic Abuse Discrepant Versions of Violence. Amstrdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/impact.17
    https://doi.org/10.1075/impact.17 [Google Scholar]
  36. Tyler, Andrea, and Diana Boxer
    1996 “Sexual Harassment? Cross-cultural/Cross-linguistic Perspectives.” Discourse and Society(): –. 10.1177/0957926596007001005
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926596007001005 [Google Scholar]
  37. Wood, Julia T.
    1994 “Saying it Makes it so: The Discursive Construction of Sexual Harassment.” InConceptualizing Sexual Harassment as Discursive Practice, edited byShereen G. Bingham, –. Westport, Conn.: Praeger.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Wodak, Ruth, Rudolf de Cillia, Martin Reisigl, and Karin Liebhart
    2009The Discursive Construction of National Identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Wood, Linda A., and Heather Rennie
    1994 “Formulating Rape: The Discursive Construction of Victims and Villains.” Discourse and Society(): –. 10.1177/0957926594005001006
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926594005001006 [Google Scholar]
  40. Zaccour, Suzanne
    2019La fabrique du viol : essai. Montréal: Leméac. 10.3138/cjwl.32.2.07
    https://doi.org/10.3138/cjwl.32.2.07 [Google Scholar]
  41. Zaccour, Suzanne, and Michaël Lessard
    2021 “La culture du viol dans le discours juridique: soigner ses mots pour combattre les violences sexuelles.” Canadian Journal of Women and the Law(): –. 10.3138/cjwl.33.2.03
    https://doi.org/10.3138/cjwl.33.2.03 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error