Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Would your rape count? Rape is Rape

Protester with Placard, originally uploaded by WeNews.
When the FBI released its annual crime report last September, it became obvious that their only working definition of rape was extremely problematic. Not only did the definition leave out the vast majority of rapes by exclusively counting "forcible" rape as the only real rape, but it also sounded like something out of a bad romance novel. Created in 1929, the only federal definition of rape we have in this country actually says, "The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will." This means most types of rape are completely excluded by the FBI's definition: oral and anal rape, the rape of men, rape with an object, rape of unconscious women, rape of physically or mentally disabled women, statutory rape, and even the rape of those under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Ms. Magazine has been working hard to try and change the FBI's definition of rape and their latest effort is to "showcase diverse stories to show that all rape is rape--from stranger rape to date rape--no matter what the circumstances."
Would your rape count?

Each year, hundreds of thousands of rapes occur in the U.S. that are never counted by the FBI's yearly crime report. There are many reasons rapes go uncounted. Sometimes survivors are actively discouraged from reporting--even by authorities who should know better, such as police or college administrators. Some cases are excluded by the FBI's narrow definition of rape which doesn't include male victims, rape with an object, anal or oral rape. Furthermore, some police departments interpret the FBI's definition to exclude rape involving drugs and alcohol.

We're gathering and publishing personal stories of rape to show how much more pervasive rape is in our culture than crime statistics suggest. We want to showcase diverse stories to show that all rape is rape--from stranger rape to date rape--no matter what the circumstances. Please only submit a rape testimony if you feel comfortable sharing it. We will only publish your story with your consent, and can keep your story anonymous if you prefer.
This is far more than an issue of semantics since resources are greatly tied to the amount of rape cases the FBI reports and mis-classifying crimes makes it seem like the issue isn't as prevalent as it truly is. So, if you've been raped, work with rape victims, or even know anyone whose been raped and would like to share your story then you can do so here. You can also sign a petition to change the FBI's definition of rape here.


  1. This really makes me mad. I don't understand how they can just wrap up the definition of rape all neat in one sentence with a cute little bow. OBVIOUSLY it's more complicated than that. I'm going to sign that petition now.

    Like the new digs, by the way!

  2. I sometimes wonder if there is a concerted effort among law enforcement to not pursue rape, especially date rape, perhaps because it's difficult to pursue rape charges (compared to busting a couple stoners), perhaps out of some misguided view that the women may just be seeking revenge, but I think it's mostly about keeping crime statistics low.

    This is just what the women's movement needs, though. They need to always be on the offensive, otherwise you end up where we are now and on the defensive on issues like abortion. Shining a light on what has essentially become a culture that turns a blind eye when it comes to "certain types" of rape is a logical progression, if you ask me.

  3. I typed out a long comment but it basically amounted to this: rape culture. lol I think people genuinely want to believe that rape isn't as prevalent as it is and that our justice system isn't a complete failure.


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