Virtual Event: Michelle Bowdler


Is Rape a Crime?
A Memoir, an Investigation, and a Manifesto

in conversation with ALEX MARZANO-LESNEVICH


July 28, 2020
7:00 PM ET


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Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes Pushcart Prize–nominated essayist and public health advocate MICHELLE BOWDLER for a discussion of her book Is Rape a Crime? A Memoir, an Investigation, and a Manifesto. She will be joined in conversation by ALEX MARZANO-LESNEVICH, author of the acclaimed book The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir.

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About Is Rape a Crime?

The crime of rape sizzles like a lightning strike. It pounces, flattens, destroys. A person stands whole, and in a moment of unexpected violence, that life, that body is gone.

Award-winning writer and public health executive Michelle Bowdler's memoir indicts how sexual violence has been addressed for decades in our society, asking whether rape is a crime given that it is the least reported major felony, least successfully prosecuted, and fewer than 3% of reported rapes result in conviction. Cases are closed before they are investigated and DNA evidence sits for years untested and disregarded

Rape in this country is not treated as a crime of brutal violence but as a parlor game of he said / she said. It might be laughable if it didn’t work so much of the time.

Given all this, it seems fair to ask whether rape is actually a crime.

In 1984, the Boston Sexual Assault Unit was formed as a result of a series of break-ins and rapes that terrorized the city, of which Michelle’s own horrific rape was the last. Twenty years later, after a career of working with victims like herself, Michelle decides to find out what happened to her case and why she never heard from the police again after one brief interview.

Is Rape a Crime? is an expert blend of memoir and cultural investigation, and Michelle's story is a rallying cry to reclaim our power and right our world.

Praise for Is Rape a Crime?

"I promise you, this is the most important book you will read this year. With searing clarity and unflinching honesty, Bowdler’s account of her rape and law enforcement’s repeated failure to investigate it, will enrage you, shock you, inspire you, and ultimately change you forever. Bowdler is fighting for all of us, recovering all our stories—this is indeed our manifesto." —Alison Smith, author of Name All the Animals

"A devastating, necessary, and compelling account of one woman's experience combined with astute analysis of our country's troubling relationship to sexual violence. Bowdler's book should be required reading for all who live here." —Melissa Febos, author of Whip Smart and Abandon Me

"Michelle Bowdler’s memoir is a powerful testimony and eloquent plea to rethink how rape is handled in America and around the world. Bowdler's writing is beautiful, compelling, and urgent. This book is a knockout." —Alysia Abbott, author of Fairyland

Michelle Bowdler
Michelle Bowdler

Michelle Bowdler

Michelle Bowdler is the author of Is Rape a Crime? A Memoir, an Investigation and a Manifesto, longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award in Nonfiction.  Bowdler has worked in higher education as a public health professional for the last twenty years and as a national advocate on issues related to sexual assault and how cases are adressed in the criminal justice system. Her work has been seen in Literary Hub, the New York Times, Psychology Today, Ms. Magazine, the American Medical Association's Journal of Ethics and other literary journals. She has been a Fellow at MacDowell and the Ragdale Foundation.

Photo Credit: Alonso Nichols


Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Event Series: Virtual Event Series

Harvard Book Store’s award-winning event series continues online! Named "Best of Boston: 2020 Best Virtual Author Series" and "2021 Best Virtual Author Series" by Boston magazine.

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