How Does Justice Sound? Enunciative Modalities, Law’s Logos and Woman’s Voice

Yvette Russell

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In the throes of her mimetic exposure of the lie of phallocratic discursive unity in 'Speculum of the Other Woman', Irigaray paused on the impossibility of woman’s voice and remarked that ‘it [was] still better to speak only in riddles, allusions, hints, parables.’ Even if asked to clarify a few points. Even if people plead that they just don’t understand. After all, she said, ‘they never have understood.’ (Irigaray 1985, 143).

That the law has never understood a uniquely feminine narrative is hardly controversial, but that this erasure continues to have real and substantive consequences for justice is a reality that feminists have been compelled to remain vigilant in exposing. How does the authority of the word compound law’s exclusionary matrix? How does law remain impervious to woman’s voice and how might it hear woman’s voice? Is there capacity for a dialogic engagement between woman, parler femme, and law?

This paper will explore these questions with particular reference to the experience of women testifying to trauma during the rape trial. It will argue that a logically linked historical genealogy can be traced through which law has come to posit itself as an originary discourse by which thinking is very much conflated with being, or in other terms, law is conflated with justice. This has consequences both for women’s capacity to speak or represent the harm of rape to law, but also for law’s ability to ‘hear’ woman’s voice and objectively adjudicate in cases of rape. It will suggest that justice requires law acknowledge the presence of two distinct and different subjects and that this must be done not only at the symbolic level but also at the level of the parole, syntax and discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013
EventCritical Legal Conference 2013 - Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 05 Sep 201307 Sep 2013


ConferenceCritical Legal Conference 2013
CountryUnited Kingdom

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