The language of violence: Exploring the contested relationship between violence against women and sex-work/prostitution

Rebecca M.F. Hewer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Definitions of violence are never merely descriptive. Rather, defining violence is an evaluative and normative project, struggles over which reflect a range of contexts, particularly relations of power. Given this, I argue that feminists should focus on what understandings of violence achieve, rather than striving to provide a conclusive definition. This requires a critical genealogical analysis of discourse. In this article, I undertake such an analysis: exploring how a selection of 21 Westminster policy-actors define violence vis-à-vis sex-work/prostitution, and situating those definitions in the socio-political conditions of their production. I demonstrate how policy-actors drew on a range of logics and technical knowledge to variously frame sex-work/prostitution as reducible to, (irrevocably) associated with, and severable from violence in ways which – I argue – variously served hegemonic and counter-hegemonic ends.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
JournalSocial and Legal Studies
Early online date28 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • critical discourse analysis
  • sex-work
  • violence
  • violence against women

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