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Voices

Exploring the Shifting Contours of Communication

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Edited By Patricia Moy and Donald Matheson

This edited volume on voices arose from the 2018 International Communication Association conference in Prague, Czech Republic. The contributions examine the conference’s central theme from multiple epistemological approaches, a host of methodologies, and numerous levels of analysis. They reveal how studying voice—or the plurality of voices—illuminates the process by which it is fostered and/or constrained as well as the conditions under which it is expressed and/or stifled. More important, the study of voice sheds light on the process by which it impacts behaviors, defines relationships, influences policies, and shapes the world in which we live. In other words, studies of voice are not relegated to a few domains, but interface with myriad discourses, actors, processes, and outcomes.

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5. Strategically Shameless Voices? Young Women Speak for Themselves (Elisabeth Eide / Heidi Røsok-Dahl)

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5. Strategically Shameless Voices? Young Women Speak for Themselves

ELISABETH EIDE AND HEIDI RØSOK-DAHL

Introduction: “We Are Our Own Persons”

In the spring of 2016, a series of new voices introduced themselves in Norwegian media, and soon merged into an initiative and—as it turned out—a network of young women with family roots mainly in the Arab or Muslim world. They called themselves “The Shameless Girls,” published their articles in Norway’s largest newspaper (Aftenposten), and demanded that people should take them seriously as young women opposing cultures of honor and shame, which put restraints on their aspirations and lifestyles. “We are not a concept. We are our own person(s) and we demand to be taken seriously. Both in Norwegian and in our mother tongue,” wrote initiator Nancy Herz (Aftenposten, 25 April, 2016). She added that they are the “shameless Arab girls” to indicate her background as well as that of some of her first allies.

The initiative seemed broad-based, including hijab-wearing devout Muslims as well as declared non-believers in mini-skirts. What they shared was an articulate and strong critique of a culture of shame prevailing in different milieus in Norway and elsewhere. They received much attention and editorial support in legacy media. They were praised in social media as well, however oftentimes harassed and attacked. They have also received awards for their focus and outspokenness (see timeline in Figure 5.1).1

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