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What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape

A literary, thoughtful, provocative and intelligent look at sexual assault and the global discourse on rape from the viewpoint of a survivor, writer, counsellor and activist.


Sohaila Abdulali was gang-raped as a teenager in Bombay. Indignant at the silence on the issue in India, she wrote an article for a woman's magazine questioning how we perceive rape and rape victims. Thirty years later her story went viral in the wake of the 2012 fatal gang rape in Delhi and the global outcry that followed.

Drawing on her own experience, her work with hundreds of survivors as the head of a rape crisis centre in Boston, her research, and three decades of grappling with the issue personally and professionally, What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape is about changing the conversation around rape culture, questioning our assumptions, and deciding how we want to raise the next generation.

Abdulali asks pertinent questions: Is rape always a life-defining event? Does rape always symbolize something? Is rape worse than death? Is rape related to desire? Who gets raped? Is rape inevitable? Is one rape worse than the other? Who rapes? What is consent? How do you recover a sense of safetyand joy? How do you raise sons? Who gets to judge?

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape is neither a memoir nor an academic study but it is deeply personal and meticulously researched. It is a rallying cry and required reading for us all.

1. Who do I think I am?

2. Shut up or die

3. The night everything changed

4. Yes, no, maybe, kind of, sort of, not really but perhaps

5. What did you expect?

6. How to save a life

7. The quality of mercy

8. A brief pause for horror

9. A bagful of dentures

10. Keys to the kingdom

11. A brief pause for fury

12. Sometimes a dick is just a dick.

13. You spin me right round, baby, right round

14. Stealing freedom, stealing joy

15. A brief pause for ennui and a longing for light

16. My rape is worse than yours

17. Good girls don't

18. Boys will…

19. The official version

20. Polite conversation

21. The full catastrophe

Page Count: 
13.50 x 21.60cm
UK Publication Date: 
Saturday, 26 January, 2019
Publication Date:
Thursday, 4 July 2019

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