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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Sociology Department Staff

Dr Fiona Vera-Gray

Personal web page

Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology

(email at


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.

Selected Publications

Journal Article

Authored book

Chapter in book

Book review


Newspaper/Magazine Article

Other (Print)

Show all publications

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2018: Special Advisor - Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Public Spaces:
  • 2017: Advisory Committee of Transnational Girlhoods:

    Invited member of advisory comittee for new book series, Transnational Girlhoods, published by Berghahn Press.

Research Interests

  • Existential phenomenology
  • Female embodiment
  • Lived experience of pornography
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual Violence
  • Simone de Beauvoir

Selected Grants

  • 2016: Phenomenology, Pornography and Women's Embodiment (£88360.00 from The Leverhulme Trust)

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

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