Addressing the Vilification of Women: A Functional Theory of Harm and Implications for Law
AuthorDe Silva, A
Source TitleMelbourne University Law Review
PublisherMelbourne University, Law Review Association
University of Melbourne Author/sDe Silva, Aparna Anjalee
AffiliationMelbourne Law School
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsDe Silva, A. (2020). Addressing the Vilification of Women: A Functional Theory of Harm and Implications for Law. Melbourne University Law Review, 43 (3), pp.987-1032
Access StatusOpen Access
Notwithstanding its prevalence, vilifying speech directed at and about women on the basis of their female sex remains unregulated in most jurisdictions. It also has not received much scholarly or policy attention. In this article, I address some of those gaps in the literature. I rely on extant critical and speech act theory scholarship to arrive at a functional theory of sex-based vilification with reference to its harms, as relevant to law, as discriminatory treatment of women that constitutes and causes the systemic subordination and silencing of women on the basis of their sex. I then consider some implications of my functional theory for law, including that the enactment of sex-based vilification laws may be seen to constitute a counter-speech act by the state that may mitigate the harms to women of sex-based vilification.
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