Word by word: An attempt at creating a collective conversation around sexual violence

Noortje van Amsterdam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this paper I present a reading of poetry on the silences that surround experiences of sexual violence. The reading took place at an academic conference in 2022 in a stream on the topic of vulnerability. I offer these poems, based on my personal experiences, in the spirit of connection and solidarity, and as a feminist strategy of reclamation and resistance. I posit that collective conversations about sexual violence as a social phenomenon are necessary to change the status quo and explore the difficulty to speak of/through pain in relation to my particular subjectivity as a grievable body. I also reflect on my experiences of doing the reading and the impossibilities of knowing how this kind of work will be received taking into consideration the different registers through which the experience can be communicated, discussed and taken forward: the affective, discursive, and action-oriented registers. Grappling with the question how we can imagine an alternative future if we continue to be lost for words, I don't offer answers but an invitation for readers to engage.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Apr 2024


  • affect
  • pain
  • poetry
  • sexual violence
  • silence
  • vulnerability


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