Normalizing Sexual Violence: Young Women Account for Harassment and Abuse

Document Type




Format of Original

22 p.

Publication Date



Sage Publications

Source Publication

Gender & Society

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1177/0891243214526468


Despite high rates of gendered violence among youth, very few young women report these incidents to authority figures. This study moves the discussion from the question of why young women do not report them toward how violence is produced, maintained, and normalized among youth. The girls in this study often did not name what law, researchers, and educators commonly identify as sexual harassment and abuse. How then, do girls name and make sense of victimization? Exploring violence via the lens of compulsory heterosexuality highlights the relational dynamics at play in this naming process. Forensic interviews with youth revealed patterns of heteronormative scripts appropriated to make sense of everyday harassment, violence, coercion, and consent. Findings inform discussions about the links between dominant discourses and sexual subjectivities as we try to better understand why many regard violence a normal part of life.


Gender & Society, Vol. 28, No. 3 (June 2014): 337-358. DOI.