Woman’s Voice/Law’s Logos: The Rape Trial and the Limits of Liberal Reform

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This article challenges much existing scholarship on rape which asserts that the law has reached a best practice plateau and justice for victims is now being held back primarily by the aberrant ‘attitudes’ of criminal justice actors charged with implementing that law. It contends that previous writing on rape, law and linguistics has failed to adequately account for the question of why law continues to appear systematically deaf to the calls of untold numbers of women for justice in the aftermath of rape. It seeks to illustrate law’s continuing complicity in the failure of the institutional response to the crime of rape with particular reference to the rape trial. While purporting to disavow sexist prejudice on one hand, on the other, law makes no ultimate concession to woman’s unique sexuate difference. For this reason, it continues to enable the conditions that support the full flourishing of ‘attitudes’ that prevent the recognition of the crime of rape. This article argues that the law is complicit in its own failure because it is structurally invested, for its own survival and coherence, in the exclusion and erasure of woman’s voice, which represents the possibility of a plural form of being and thinking and is thus a fundamental challenge to the legitimacy of law.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-296
Number of pages24
JournalAustralian Feminist Law Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

Issue cover date: July 2016


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