This research maps complex processes of institutionalized discrimination against women of color and lesbians in the U.S. criminal legal system rooted in culturally biased emotion norms. This paper examines how social ideologies about gender, race, and sexuality shape legal cases through the practice of “emotional inferencing.” Based on interviews with attorneys, legal advocates, and abuse survivors about cases of battered women who kill their abusers, the research demonstrates how cultural stereotypes, such as, for example, depictions of African American and lesbian women as “angry,” affect whether judges and juries find claims of self-defense believable in specific homicide cases. This research supports prior claims by some feminist legal scholars that while particular laws create institutionalized barriers to justice for battered women defendants, factfinders’ biases about marginalized communities, including cultural stereotypes about emotion, can sometimes be more problematic than the assumptions encoded in statutes.
|Keywords:||Battered Women, Racism, Domestic Violence, Homophobia, Emotion, Crime, Self-Defense|
Assistant Professor, Sociology, Criminology, Dominican University, Chicago, Illinois, USA
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