'I'm not sexist, but...': How ideological dilemmas reinforce sexism in talk about intimate partner violence

Kate Lockwood Harris, Kellie E. Palazzolo, Matthew W. Savage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


In order to extend knowledge about the communicative aspects of intimate partner violence (IPV), we ask how those who talk about IPV frame the relationship between gender and power. How does their framing account for the role of gender in IPV perpetration? A critical discourse analysis of conversations from focus groups and interviews reveals that when participants talk about IPV, they rely on ideological dilemmas in available understandings of the relationship between gender and power. As participants use disclaimers, competing interpretive repertoires, and extreme case arguments to navigate these dilemmas, their talk closes space for a critique of gender and power that considers systemic factors and benevolent sexism. Instead, participants focus more on individual pathology and the most overt forms of sexism. The tensions that produce this closure may also reveal contradictions that provide opportunities for reshaping public conversations about IPV and its relationship to gender and power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)643-656
Number of pages14
JournalDiscourse and Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported through funds from Arizona State University’s Graduate and Professional Student Association.


  • Benevolent sexism
  • critical discourse analysis
  • disclaimers
  • domestic violence
  • extreme case arguments
  • gender
  • ideological dilemmas
  • interpretive repertoires
  • intimate partner violence


Dive into the research topics of ''I'm not sexist, but...': How ideological dilemmas reinforce sexism in talk about intimate partner violence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this