“Excuse Me, But Are You Raping Me Now?”: Discourse and Experience in (the Grey Areas of) Sexual Violence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In feminist research on sexual violence and victimization, the relationship between discourse and experience has often been at the forefront of intense debates. Poststructuralist scholars have emphasized that the discourses used to name sexual violence may in fact perpetuate the very problem they set out to describe, by freezing women into powerless positions of rapability. Others have likened this sort of argument to anti-feminist trivialization of the pervasively gendered experiential reality to which such discourses refer, highlighting that women’s victimization is not a discursive problem. In this article, I seek to carve out a path that cuts through such polarization by exploring the multifaceted dialectical relationship between, on one hand, gendered discourses on sex and sexual violence and, on the other, people’s reported experiences of these phenomena and, in particular, of the ‘grey area’ between sex and sexual violence; I do this by analysing autobiographical stories from the influential Swedish campaign #prataomdet (#talkaboutit), which emphasized the need for a new language that can do justice to people’s experiences of sexual violence and the grey area between sex and sexual violence.


  • Lena Gunnarsson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Gender Studies


  • continuum of sexual violence, discourse, experience, grey area of sexual violence, men’s unwanted sex, #prataomdet, rape script, sexual violence, #talkaboutit
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-18
Number of pages15
JournalNORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch