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There is ‘hope for you yet’: the female drug offender in sentencing discourse
journal contributionposted on 2014-12-12, 00:00 authored by Monique MannMonique Mann, H Menih, C Smith
© The Author(s) 2014 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav. Language and gender research has, in recent years, emphasised the importance of examining the context-specific ways in which people ‘do gender’ in different situations. In this paper, we explore how women involved in drug offences, specifically methamphetamine manufacture offences, are constructed within the language of the courts. Thirty-six sentencing transcripts from the New Zealand courts were examined to investigate how such offences, committed by women, are understood. In order to explore the representation of female offenders, a critical discourse analytic approach was adopted. Such an approach recognises that linguistic modes not only create and legitimise power inequalities but also embody a specific worldview. Three gendered discourses were identified in the sentencing texts: (i) the discourse of femininity, reinforcing the socially prescribed female role; (ii) the discourse of aberration, concerning women who breach traditional gender role expectations and, (iii) the discourse of salvation, presenting aberrant women with an opportunity to become ‘good’ women once again. The findings illustrate the ways in which processes of gendering take place within a specific community of practice: the courtroom.