Lets Talk About Sexual Assault A Feminist Exploration of the Relationship Between Legal and Experiential Discourses
Phillips, Dana Erin
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This thesis challenges the tendency within feminist legal thought to imagine a sharp division between law and lived experience, and specifically between feminist methods that engage legal discourse and those that invoke grassroots narratives grounded in experience. In order to better elucidate the relationship between legal and experiential discourses, the author compares recent legal discourse on sexual assaultfocusing on two Supreme Court of Canada decisionswith womens own accounts of sexual violence, as presented in mainstream news media in the wake of the 2014 Jian Ghomeshi story. The findings, examined through the lens of feminist scholarship, support a view of legal and experiential discourses on sexual violence as deeply intertwined and mutually constitutive. While law shapes accounts of firsthand experience, experiential accounts also hold the potential to shape, or reform, the law. This understanding suggests a different vision of the nature and process of law reform.