Muted Group Theory and its Applications - 1 MUTEDGROUPTHEORY Victims AnnaTeye DenisonUniversity 2 MutedGroupTheory

Muted Group Theory and its Applications - 1...

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1 MUTED GROUP THEORY Muted Group Theory and its Application in the Testimonies of Sexual Assault Victims Anna Teye Denison University
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2 Muted Group Theory Edwin Ardener initially coined the term “muted group” to explain that ways that w 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   lived experiences 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 dominant groups have consistently written the histories of subjugated group, or where members of subjugated groups have had to “translate” their experiences into forms that would be more accepted by dominant groups. Muted group theory, and its analysis on the ways women’s stories have been limited by language, is crucial to our understanding of the process 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 Kramarae asserts that the voices and experiences of women have been “muted” by the dominant patriarchal format for writing and speaking (Griffin, 2012, p. 460). Why is it important that 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 in society? The ability for a person or a group to name others gives them the power to reconstruct their identities and to rate the significance of their experiences (Boismajian, 1983). Therefore women are not only subjugated institutionally but also linguistically, for
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3 MUTED GROUP THEORY
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  • Fall '11
  • BillKirkpatrick
  • assault, muted group

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