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1MUTED GROUP THEORYMuted Group Theory and its Application in the Testimonies of Sexual AssaultVictimsAnna TeyeDenison University
2Muted Group TheoryEdwin Ardener initially coined the term “muted group” to explain that ways thatw omen’s cultural experiences have been generally ignored by ethnographers (Griffin,2012, p. 461). Noticing the differences between women’s and men’s “articulat[ion] [of]models of the world”, Ardener identified the inconsistencies between the livedexperiences of women, and the ways they described these experiences through language(Ardener, 2005, para 3). This theory can be used in every level of society where dominantgroups have consistently written the histories of subjugated group, or where members ofsubjugated groups have had to “translate” their experiences into forms that would bemore accepted by dominant groups. Muted group theory, and its analysis on the wayswomen’s stories have been limited by language, is crucial to our understanding of theprocess that sexual assault victims have to go in order for their stories to be deemed“true” in court cases and to receive appropriate verdicts.Stating that language is “literally a man-made construction”, Cheris Kramaraeasserts that the voices and experiences of women have been “muted” by the dominantpatriarchal format for writing and speaking (Griffin, 2012, p. 460). Why is it importantthat we recognized the ways women, and other groups in society, have been historically“muted” by language that supports the hegemonic ideals of the dominant groups insociety? The ability for a person or a group to name others gives them the power toreconstruct their identities and to rate the significance of their experiences (Boismajian,1983). Therefore women are not only subjugated institutionally but also linguistically, for