Virtual Event: Deborah Tuerkheimer
Why We Doubt Accusers
and Protect Abusers
in conversation with EMILY BAZELON
September 29, 2021
7:00 PM ET
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes DEBORAH TUERKHEIMER—the Class of 1940 Research Professor of Law at Northwestern University's Pritzker School of Law—for a discussion of her latest book, Credible: Why We Doubt Accusers and Protect Abusers. She will be joined in conversation by journalist and legal commentator EMILY BAZELON, author of Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration.
Contribute to Support Harvard Book Store
While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $5 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of Credible on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
Sexual misconduct accusations spark competing claims: her word against his. How do we decide who is telling the truth? The answer comes down to credibility. But as this eye-opening book reveals, invisible forces warp the credibility judgments of even the well- intentioned among us. We are all shaped by a set of false assumptions and hidden biases embedded in our culture, our legal system, and our psyches.
In Credible, Deborah Tuerkheimer provides a much-needed framework to explain how we perceive credibility, why our perceptions are distorted, and why these distortions harm survivors. Social hierarchies and inequalities foster doubt that is commonplace and predictable, resulting in what Tuerkheimer calls the “credibility discount”—our dismissal of claims by certain kinds of speakers—primarily women, and especially those who are more marginalized.
The #MeToo movement has exposed how victims have been badly served by a system that is designed not to protect them, but instead to protect the status quo. Credibility lies at the heart of this system. Drawing on case studies, moving first-hand accounts, science, and the law, Tuerkheimer identifies widespread patterns and their causes, analyzes the role of power, and examines the close, reciprocal relationship between culture and law—guiding us toward accurate credibility judgments and equitable treatment of those whose suffering has long been disregarded.
#MeToo has touched off a massive reckoning. To achieve lasting progress, we must shift our approach to belief. Credible helps us forge a path forward to ensuring justice for the countless individuals affected by sexual misconduct.
Praise for Credible
“This is not just an important book. It’s way more than that—it’s a new algorithm, an upending of long-held beliefs kept in place by law and culture. If we rewire ourselves to respond more fairly to the accusations that come our way, law reform and culture change will follow. Over time we can dismantle the credibility complex." —Elizabeth Lesser, bestselling author of Cassandra Speaks and Broken Open
“Deborah Tuerkheimer makes a brilliant, clear, and convincing legal case in Credible that justice for survivors requires basic changes in the law. But she makes an equally compelling plea for something with even more world-historical ambition: a transformation that is needed in the court of public opinion so that women’s dignity—and credibility—is finally seen as equal to men’s.” —Jackson Katz, PhD, educator and author of The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help
“In Credible, Tuerkheimer tells a range of stories of victim-survivors of sexual assault and harassment. What’s different is that she traverses these stories through the lens of credibility—the ways in which its absence (or in rare cases, its presence) will make all the difference in someone’s recovery and healing. This is essential reading not only for those deeply invested in #MeToo activism and scholarship and for victim-survivors who will finally feel seen but also for anyone who has ever known a victim. Which is to say, Tuerkheimer’s book is essential reading for everyone.” —Donna Freitas, author of Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention
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