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New Release | What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Somalia Abdulali



What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Sohaila Abdulali

Published: November 27, 2018

Publisher: The New Press

Pages: 224

Genres: non fiction, feminism, POC

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: learning more about rape culture, validation for survivors of sexual assault a continuation of the Me Too Movement 

Foodie Vibes: whatever food you want because it’s your body



Sohaila Abdulali was gang-raped as a seventeen-year-old in Mumbai. Indignant at the silence on the issue in India, she wrote an article for an Indian women’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. In 2013, Abdulali published an op-ed in the New York Times called “After Being Raped, I Was Wounded; My Honor Wasn’t” that was widely circulated. Now, as the #metoo and #timesup movements blow open the topic of sexual assault and rape, What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape is a brilliant and entirely original contribution to our understanding.


Drawing on her own experience, her research, her work with hundreds of survivors as the head of a rape crisis center in Boston, and three decades of grappling with the issue as a feminist intellectual and writer, Abdulali examines the contemporary discourse about rape and rape culture, questioning our assumptions and asking how we want to raise the next generation. She interviews survivors whose moving personal stories of hard-won strength, humor, and wisdom collectively tell the larger story of how societies may begin to heal.


Abdulali also explores what we don’t say. 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 another? How does one recover a sense of safety and joy? How do we raise sons? Is a world without rape possible?

Both deeply personal and meticulously researched, What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape is a rallying cry and required reading for us all.



Thank you to NetGalley, The New Press and Sohaila Abdulali for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always an honest review from me.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape is a book we need to be talking about more. When the author started talking about rape in India, few people were discussing the topic. Now more people are, especially with the #MeToo Movement. But culturally there’s still more to be done. This book helps explain many of these concepts. Most people know and believe that rape is bad. It gets ambiguous for some people when it comes to the actual definition of rape, consent and micro agressions, rape culture and its contributions to actual assaults, sexual harassment and more. It’s shocking to me, but not completely surprising, that many people don’t understand these nuances. 

I like that the author educates the reader about the nuances of rape culture. It doesn’t come across as preachy, but more like “here’s some information that you might not know. Let me share it with you.” I think most people could learn something , if not a lot of extremely important information. 

The only negative aspect of the book is that it could be a trigger for some people. So read with caution and please take care of yourself.

Overall, another extremely relevant book to continue on with the discussion of the #MeToo conversation. Give it a read, and let’s start talking!


When was the last time you talked about sexual assault? Was it formal, informal? How did the conversation go?


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One thought on “New Release | What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Somalia Abdulali

  1. This seems like a hard, but necessary, read. Hope it brings some attention to rape culture and all its’ nuances. Great review.


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