Familial Violence, Violent Familiars: Agency Compromised and Claimed
Within liberal societies victims of gender-based violence have access to institutions of justice but these do not always guarantee them access to justice. There is a misfit between the assumptions of liberal institutions, and liberal legal institutions in particular – that victims of gender-based violence will approach them for justice - and the actions that women actually take when they suffer gender-based violence, not all of which include approaching liberal institutions. One of the causes of this misfit is various social actors’ gender discriminatory behavior. One example of gender discriminatory behavior is when various social actors represent women’s good as instrumental to some further good and not as an end in itself. In a similar and perhaps related way, women who suffer intimate partner violence sometimes see their own good as instrumental to the good of those they are in meaningful relationships with when they choose to remain in abusive relationships, or leave them. Even before any legal or disciplinary proceedings are underway, various individuals who interact with campus rape victims directly or indirectly thwart her efforts to obtain justice through a range of gender discriminatory behaviors. One of the gender discriminatory behaviors is the way in which they deploy shame to silence campus rape victims. The social nature of shame, and the uncodified but commonly understood gender discriminatory nature of rape myths suggests that the U.S. college context shares features of a shame culture. A weak substantive conception of autonomy provides the necessary normative content to disrupt the social norms that support gender discriminatory practices and shape our social context in ways that allow us to make autonomy-enhancing choices.