On April 11 in a classroom in McCormack Hall, UMass Boston’s chapter of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) and the Women’s Studies Department sponsored a lecture by Marxist historian Tithi Bhattacharya. In her lecture, "From Delhi to Steubenville," Bhattacharya, a faculty member at Purdue University, addressed rape culture from the radical political perspective, expounding on the relationship between violent misogyny and capitalism.
Before the lecture, ISO members filled the room with posters decrying rape and the occupation of Palestine. Other posters promoted both a socialist conference taking place in June in Chicago and full equality for the queer-identified community. The approximately twenty to thirty attendees at the lecture included women as well as men, and ISO members as well as unaffiliated students and faculty.
“If you look at a huge number of laws passed in our congress and our senate, they are aimed at forcing people back into the home, especially women,” Bhattacharya told her audience. She then explained her belief that repressive governments use the constant threat of rape as one of many methods of controlling citizens, with the aim of keeping them isolated indoors.
As a counter to rape culture, Bhattacharya insisted that socialist and feminists need what she called “fight back culture.”
During the Q&A session, multiple audience members confessed to personal experiences with sexual assault. One women referred to her own trauma when she told the room “we, as survivors...have a lot in common with veterans.”
At one point, ISO member Keegan O’Brien discussed his experience dating a man who was raped as a child and became addicted to drugs as an adult. O’Brien lamented what he sees as the lack of resources available for rape victims in America. “It’s ***king ridiculous," he said.