Victimization and Asymmetric Gendered Power Relations: A Linguistic Investigation of Harassment Complaints Registered in Lahore
Keywords:Feminist critical discourse, harassment, lexico-grammatical analysis, gendered practices
This paper presents an investigation of the linguistic choices employed in harassment complaints submitted to the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women and four police stations located in Lahore during 2017-2018. In a patriarchal society such as Pakistan’s, where a woman’s honour epitomizes the whole family’s honour (Atakav 2015, 52; Sharlach 2008, 96), sexual harassment, a stigmatizing issue is hardly ever reported (Ali and Kramar 2015, 241). This paper, using Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis’s (Lazar, 2005, 2007) theoretical perspective of asymmetrical gendered power relations mirrored in harassment complaints, explores the form and severity of harassing practices which had prompted women in Lahore to report them. In order to unwrap the complex interplay of gender and power, linguistic features of the complaints are examined through Fairclough’s text analysis (1989, 1992), the first dimension of the 3D model which explores lexical choices such as adjectives, adverbs, culturally informed metaphors and metaphorical extensions, which are embedded in grammatical structure exemplified through transitivity analysis. In this paper, harassment complaints are analysed as important documents invested with socio-cultural gender ideologies that underline the need for dismantling gender oppression to achieve social transformation.