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

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Product Details

Flatiron Books
Publish Date
6.3 X 9.4 X 1.1 inches | 1.05 pounds

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About the Author

Michelle Bowdler is the Executive Director of Health & Wellness at Tufts University and, after graduating from the Harvard School of Public Health, has worked on social justice issues related to rape for over a decade. She is a recipient of a 2017 Barbara Deming Memorial Award and has been a Fellow at Ragdale and the MacDowell Colony. Michelle's writing has been published in the New York Times and her essays "Eventually You Tell Your Kids" and "Babelogue" were nominated for Pushcart Prizes.


A brilliant study of how society views rape.
--Publishers Weekly, starred review

Intimate, powerful...An urgent, necessary, stark exploration of 'one of the most horrific violations that can happen to a human being.'

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

Beyond Michelle Bowdler's lucid prose, what I find most remarkable here is this: even when the stakes are personally overwhelming and she feels as if she cannot go one step further, Bowdler constantly thinks of others--her roommates, her mother, her wife, her children, and, as she discovers how many rapes go uninvestigated, her fellow survivors. Smack in the middle of a story filled with headlines, the uncanny humanity with which Bowdler tells her story is moving, urgent, and necessary. In this she shows us a way toward repair.
--Kenny Fries, award-winning author of In the Province of the Gods

Is Rape a Crime? filled me with equal parts rage and awe: rage at the grave failures and chronic indifference of our 'justice' system, rage that the question can be asked at all. I am in awe of Michelle Bowdler's resilience, her activism, and the devastating matter-of-factness with which she tells her story and makes her case. This book is a must-read for every human.
--Christopher Castellani, bestselling author of Leading Men

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

As a fellow survivor, I am in awe of what Michelle Bowdler has achieved with this masterful, suspenseful, and impeccably researched book. Bowdler courageously searches for an answer to her central question even when it seems the answer is devastating: It's not that we don't believe victims; it's that we don't particularly care. But this is not a book about despair. Arming the reader with knowledge and the power of storytelling, Is Rape a Crime? is essential reading for a better, more just society.
--Grace Talusan, author of The Body Papers, winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing in Nonfiction

Michelle Bowdler's remarkable, beautifully constructed book is essential reading. It forces us to confront both the reality of sexual assault and the repeated brutalities of a system that treats survivors of rape with disdain and neglect. And yet Bowdler is no victim. This book is not only a memoir but a call to action, one that will inspire and galvanize every reader.
--Ayelet Waldman, executive producer and co-creator of Netflix's Unbelievable and author of A Really Good Day

A deeply personal look at the experiences of one rape survivor combined with the systemic and shocking societal brokenness that multiplies that harm, Michelle's book should be on the 'important reads list' for everyone over the age of eighteen living in the United States; for survivors, for those who care about and for them, for medical and criminal justice professionals, psychotherapists, and social activists who insist on dignity for all. Michelle Bowdler reminds us, 'sustained change takes time and persistence and it is never only about one person.' It is about all of us and our everyday actions both small and large.
--Janet Yassen, LICSW, Co-Founder of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center

"Raw, visceral, urgently researched, and impeccably argued, Michelle Bowdler's Is Rape a Crime? is a book for our times. From the horrific crime she suffered--one familiar to too many women--she extracts a public call to action, forcing us not to turn away from a message at once vitally personal and publicly searing. I felt honored to read this book, and changed by it. Bowdler's voice is one we need."
--Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, Lambda-award winning author of The Fact of a Body

"Tracking police inaction on her own case, Michelle Bowdler wields memory as a weapon then a banner to urge an end to this most wretched and devastating of crimes against women. Take this book in hand and join her. Rape is a crime! Here is our manifesto!"
--Honor Moore, the author of the National Book Critics Circle Award finalist The Bishop's Daughter