Narratives of abuse and violence that women experience play a crucial role in prosecuting perpetrators. However, as Shonna Trinch explains in her contribution to the “Sexuality & Gender Studies Now” series, the representations of these narratives are susceptible to distortion by legal actors recording stories of said encounters or detail discrepancies on the part of victims. Building from her research on Latinas’ retellings of their abuse, Trinch argues these omissions create stereotypical and androcentric narratives that hurt women’s chances at justice and remove their agency. She concludes by highlighting the Seeing Rape project and class, programs she started alongside playwright Barbara Cassidy, to perform and problematize representations of gendered violence.
Shonna Trinch (PhD, University of Pittsburgh) is a linguistic anthropologist and an associate professor in John Jay College’s Department of Anthropology. Trinch does research in several different areas and publishes on topics ranging from rape, intimate-partner violence, and narrative to Brooklyn’s gentrification, women as gentrifiers, urban redevelopment, the writing on storefront signs, and women’s sexuality in those signs. She has published several articles on gendered violence in leading journals such as Language in Society, Journal of Pragmatics, and Dialectical Anthropology. Her work on urban change can be found in Journal of Sociolinguistics, the Journal for Political and Legal Anthropology, and Linguistic Landscape. Her new book (coauthored with Edward Snajdr), What the Signs Say: Reading a Changing Brooklyn, is scheduled to come out with Vanderbilt University Press in the spring of 2020. Among other things, this book examines how dominant culture establishes a social hierarchy on the land in gentrifying Brooklyn through the names written on storefront signs. Trinch was a dissertation fellow of the SSRC’s Sexuality Research Fellowship Program in 1997–1998.