Common Sense, (Ab)normality and Bodies in Norwegian Rape Verdicts

Article written by Solveig Laugerud published in NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 28(1). The article is available online.

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Common sense, which refers to judgement rooted in everyday life experiences, constitutes an important part of legal decisions. In this article, I study how the female victim’s body appears in written rape verdicts, by investigating how common sense invokes ideas about the normal and the abnormal. This builds on a discourse analysis of written rape verdicts handed down by Norwegian courts. I find that the (female) victim’s body in these is problematized if its size and shape is considered uncommon and that the more (un)common something/someone is considered, the more (ab)normal that event/person is perceived to be. I argue that common sense reasoning becomes a normalizing legal gaze directed towards the female victim’s body in a way that makes the court evaluate the body’s relation to the norm to assess whether the incident was rape or consensual sex.

Read the full article in NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research.

Published Dec. 19, 2019 11:13 AM - Last modified Dec. 19, 2019 12:40 PM