Our current national policy regarding sexual harassment, expressed through legal, economic, and popular discourses, exemplifies the Foucauldian paradigm in its attempt to regulate sexuality through seemingly authorless texts. Arguing that regulation through such discursive technologies need not lead to the effects of domination that Foucault recognized, I propose a user-centered approach to policy drafting that values the knowledge of workers as users and makers of workplace policy.
This article examines a 1994 General Accounting Office (GAO) report on sexual harassment at U.S. service academies to determine how power structures affected the report writers’ rhetorical choices. Employing postmodern mapping theories, the article identifies what is valued and devalued in the report’s contents. Then it describes Congress’s reaction to the report and speculates on the report’s impact on public discourse and subsequent social action. It offers postmapping theory as a way of understanding the relationship between discourse and power in policy reports.