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Staff Profile

Dr Fiona Vera-Gray

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Research Fellow in the Durham Law School

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Fiona Vera-Gray is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Law working on violence against women and girls. Her current project is set to be one of the largest studies in the UK specifically looking at the range of women's experiences of online mainstream pornography.

Fiona has a practice-based background, working in the specialist sexual violence sector for over a decade as both a frontline support provider and an expert in sexual violence prevention with young people. This combines with her extensive experience as a campaigner and activist against violence against women to bring a wealth of practice based evidence to her academic activites.

Born in Aotearoa (New Zealand), Fiona completed her BA(Hons) in Philosophy at Murdoch University in Western Australia, before moving to England to pursue both her MA and PhD at the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit at London Metropolitan University. She won the Anita Roddick Prize in 2009 for her Masters research and her paper ‘On Situated Agency’ won the Corinna Seith Prize in 2015.

Her work is focused on drawing together philosophy, specifically phenomenology and existentialism, and empirical work on violence against women and girls. Her doctoral research formed the basis of her first book, Men's Intrusion, Women's Embodiment, which is the first academic study completed in England focused solely on the experience of men’s stranger intrusions on women in public, commonly termed street harassment. She is also interested in new means of disseminating research. In 2015 she created a free teaching resource for key stages 3 & 4 based on research she was involved in funded by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner into young people’s understandings of sexual consent, and in 2016 worked with a female theatre company, Dollseye Theatre, who adapted central themes from her research for the theatre piece, Might Never Happen. In 2017 this theatre piece is to be adapted into an educational resource on street harassment for schools, through funding provided by the ESRC IAA Fund. Find out more about that project here.

Fiona is a regular media commentator on topics including rape, child sexual abuse, sexual violence prevention and pornography. In addition she has advised government on policy issues including sexual violence prevention; online abuse and pornography; public transport safety; and body image. In 2016, Fiona was invited to give evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry into Sexual Violence in Schools, and her comments were widely reported in media across the United Kingdom including the Guardian and the Independent, as well as in Germany.


  • 2015-19: Pornography, Phenomenology and Embodiment (Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship)

Research Interests

Sexual violence, Existential phenomenology, Simone de Beauvoir, Female embodiment, Public sexual harassment / men's intrusive practices, Lived experience of pornography.

Research Interests

  • Existential phenomenology
  • Female embodiment
  • Lived experience of pornography
  • Public sexual harassment / men's intrusive practices
  • Sexual Violence
  • Simone de Beauvoir

Selected Publications

Authored book

  • Vera-Gray, F. (2018). The Right Amount of Panic: How women trade freedom for safety in public. Policy Press.
  • Vera-Gray, F. (2016). Men's Intrusion, Women's Embodiment: A critical analysis of street harassment. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Chapter in book

  • Vera-Gray, F. (Forthcoming). Women, porn, and ambiguity. In Pornography: Interdisciplinary perspectives. Jacobs, Frank Peter Lang.
  • Vera-Gray, F. (2017). Outlook: Girlhood, agency, and embodied space for action. In Nordic Girlhoods: Past, Present, Outlooks. Formark, B., Mulari, H. & Voipio, M. Cham: Palgrave MacMillian. 127-135.
  • Coy, M., Kelly, L., Vera-Gray, F., Garner, M. & Kanyeredzi, A. (2016). From ‘no means no’ to ‘an enthusiastic yes’ Changing the Discourse on Sexual Consent Through Sex and Relationships Education. In Global Perspectives and Key Debates in Sex and Relationships Education: Addressing Issues of Gender, Sexuality, Plurality and Power. Sundaram, Vanita & Sauntson, Helen Palgrave Macmillan UK. 84-99.

Journal Article

  • Vera-Gray, F. & Fileborn, B. (2018). Recognition and the harms of “Cheer Up”. The Philosophical Journal of Conflict and Violence
  • Vera-Gray, F. (2017). ‘talk about a cunt with too much idle time’ Trolling feminist research. Feminist Review 115(1): 61-78.
  • Fileborn, B. & Vera-Gray, F. (2017). “I want to be able to walk the street without fear” Transforming justice for street harassment. Feminist Legal Studies 25(2): 203-227.
  • Vera-Gray, F. (2016). Men’s Stranger Intrusions: Rethinking street harassment. Women’s Studies International Forum 58: 9-17.
  • Elsgray, Fiona (2014). You Need to Find a Version of the World You Can Be In: Experiencing the Continuum of Men’s Intrusive Practices. Qualitative Inquiry 20(4): 509-521.

Book review

  • Vera-Gray, Fiona (2016). Amalia Ziv, Explicit utopias: rewriting the sexual in women’s pornography. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2015 (ISBN 978-1-4384-5709-3). Hypatia Reviews Online


  • Vera-Gray, F. & Bullough, J. (2017). Understanding public sexual harassment: Lesson plans and session guidance, key Stages 3 & 4. Durham: Durham University.

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Vera-Gray, F. (2017). 100 Women: The 'right amount' of panic for women in public. BBC World
  • Vera-Gray, F. (2016). Have you ever wondered how much energy you put in to avoid being assaulted? It may shock you. The Conversation
  • Vera-Gray, F. (2016). Men's intrusion: rethinking street harassment. Open Democracy 50:50
  • Vera-Gray, F. (2016). Online Pornography: Can porn be good for us? The Economist
  • Vera-Gray, F. (2016). Porn: Our children are obsessed, but not for the reasons you think. The Telegraph
  • Vera-Gray, F. (2016). The hidden work of being a woman in public. The F-Word
  • Fileborn, B. & Vera-Gray, F. (2016). Trump and tram reactions show social media’s complex role in responding to sexual harassment. The Conversation
  • Vera-Gray, F. (2015). Britain's rape crisis: Why won't the Government guarantee support for survivors? The Telegraph

Other (Print)

  • Vera-Gray, F. (2016). Situating Agency. Trouble and Strife

Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Sociology: Street harassment
  • Gender and law: Sexual violence
  • Sociology: Pornography