12. Discourse competence: how to theorise strong women speakers
Sara Mills [+]
Sheffield Hallam University
The aims of this essay are twofold: to contest some of the theoretical and empirical work undertaken on women’s language that has portrayed women as disabled in speech and to describe how it is possible for women to be strong, competent speakers despite social and discursive constraints. Rather than assuming that strong women speakers are in some ways interacting according to masculine norms, I propose to use the term ‘discourse competence’ to describe speech that is both assertive (concerned with speaker needs) and co-operative (concerned with group needs. In this way, it is possible to theorise strong women speakers without reference to a system of masculine/feminine opposition.