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

Flatiron: Macmillan. Jul. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781250255631. $27.99. SOC SCI
Bowdler, executive director of health & wellness, Tufts University, recounts the gut-wrenching experience of being raped and burgled by two men in Boston in 1984. They broke into her apartment, blindfolded her, repeatedly raped her, and then left her hog-tied with a phone cord. She went to the emergency room and endured an hours-long physical exam that was also traumatizing. That exam produced a rape kit that inexplicably disappeared. From the outset, Bowdler experienced a minimization of her assault from law enforcement. When she followed up with the police, she was ignored by detectives. She internalized this callous dismissal, which made the healing process, already elusive for many sexual assault survivors, all the more difficult. Upon learning, decades later, that thousands of rape kits sat in warehouses untested, she became determined to find out what happened to hers. Much like Emily Winslow’s Jane Doe January, Bowdler’s quest for justice, while a long shot, helped her to achieve some measure of closure.
VERDICT Chanel Miller’s Know My Name demonstrated that coming forward to tell one’s story is in itself a powerful form of victim advocacy; Bowdler does the same in this affecting account. [See Prepub Alert, 12/9/19.]
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing