July 2017
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We Don’t Need a “No” to Know It’s a No

AASAS was excited to collaborate with Dr. Kiara Mikita, a creative and passionate educator and researcher who has lectured and taught at both the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University. She has created a video about the conversational analysis of refusals, in other words, We Don’t Need a “No” to Know It’s a No.

Kiara's research critically examines how people talk about men’s perpetration of sexual assault against women and the implications that follow. Kiara’s doctoral work, in part, examined the ways in which frontline practitioners and post-secondary students speak about sexual assault, sometimes in ways that (unintentionally, but consequentially) blame people for the sexual assaults that others perpetrate against them.

She concludes that big changes can result from little shifts in how people talk about sexual violence. Kiara taught a senior undergraduate level course, “Talk About Sexual Assault,” in which she and her students explored how talk about sexual assault plays a significant role in how sexual assault is understood and responded to.

Kiara first became familiar with the research that informs her video when she was doing her doctoral work that examines how sexual assault practitioners and post-secondary students talk about sexual assault. (Her work, “Talk About [Men’s] Perpetration of Sexual Assault [Against Women],” can be found here.)

Part of her preliminary research involved looking at other work that analyzed how people talk about sexual violence, which led her to the studies that inspired this video, conducted by conversation analysts Celia Kitzinger and Hannah Frith (1999) and by Racheal O’Byrne, Mark Rapley, and Susan Hansen (2006). These studies, in which young women and men describe how they refuse sex and know that they are being refused sex, debunk the common misconception that if women would “just say no” to unwanted sex, men wouldn’t sexually assault them.

This research, in short, demonstrates that it is unusual for women and men alike to “just say no” in any context, in part, to avoid the negative consequences that can result from so doing. The studies show that people instead tend to indicate their refusals, by, for example, offering reasons and excuses, apologies and deferrals, usually without using the word “no” at all. This replicable research holds whether people are refusing a request for a favour, or an invitation to sexualized activity (see, for example, Mallinson’s (2009) work).
After AASAS CEO Deb Tomlinson saw Kiara describe this work in a conference presentation at the University of Calgary, they later collaborated about how to translate this research into something shareable among non-academic audiences. This video is the product of that collaboration!
Please watch and share with your networks.
Last Lecture

Kiara will be leading the University of Calgary’s first Last Lecture of the school year this Wednesday, October 4th and you can attend.

Challenging Rules and Changing Words; Meaning What We Say About Sexual Violence
In this insightful and dynamic multimedia talk about how we talk about sexual violence, Dr. Kiara Mikita sheds light on this often dark subject by playfully inviting us to rethink what we know and say about sexual violence. Bring your (internet-ready) devices, a friend, dinner if you want, and come prepared to leave with an eyebrow (or two) raised!

Event details:

The Last Lecture Series is a bi-monthly speaker event where UCalgary faculty are invited to talk about a subject they are passionate about.
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