The social movement to end violence in the home has always been characterized by discursive struggles, both within the movement and in its engagement with wider society. This study examines how movement discourse is transformed and rationalized at the individual level, presenting a case study of one domestic violence advocacy agency located in a politically conservative community. In-depth interviews were conducted with 17 employees and volunteers of the organization, including three former employees. The study found a central discursive struggle within the organization surrounding the use of gendered language, reflecting tensions between newer and older members of the movement. A new discourse of “inclusivity” is becoming prominent in the organization, and its complexities suggest that de-gendering language may be a much more nuanced discursive shift than researchers of the movement have previously stated. In somewhat of a contradiction, proponents of inclusivity simultaneously see gender-neutral language as fitting into the conservative political landscape, yet also as progressively challenging this landscape by allying with the LGBT community. As gender-neutral comes to be seen as the “new progressive” and older advocates feel increasingly unable to express their concerns, the movement must examine the possibilities and consequences of its shifting discourse for social change.
Includes bibliographical references.