Archive, Lectures

Johanna Koljonen


Like many journalists in Sweden, writer and broadcaster Johanna Koljonen has an online presence no less personal for being public. In this talk, she will talk about how a frank and personal twitter conversation of hers in December 2010 turned into a startlingly outspoken national movement in just three days – a movement to challenge how traditional gender norms control our expressions of sexual desire.


Under the twitter hashtag #prataomdet (#talkaboutit) – as well as in the blogosphere, in print media, on radio and television – thousands of Swedes both male and female started to share subjective, intimate stories of failed, painful or negative sexual experiences. These included many harrowing tales from survivors of outright sex crimes, but the conversation came to be dominated by stories from the “gray area”: the compromises and negotiations around sexual practice that we have all experienced but don’t really have a language for.


In just a few weeks, the act of talking about it completely changed the rules of public discourse on sexual topics in Sweden, and made available a vast range of honest autobiographical stories about the subjective experience – thoughts, emotions, pressures, expectations – of sexual practice. #talkaboutit is still an ongoing conversation online and has also generated radio specials, book projects and a theatrical play, not to mention coverage in the global media because the twitter posts that started it were part of a conversation about Julian Assange.


Johanna’s talk described how the Swedish media landscape enabled this astonishingly powerful conjunction of social and traditional media; how the sliding scales of anonymity and access on different media platforms shaped the conversation; and how a casual conversation on the internet achieved nearly total media penetration – so surprising an effect that #prataomdet was soon rumored to be created by a Swedish PR agency in collaboration with Karl Rove.


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