Government widens definition of rape

I was a little worried when I read the headline that the government is widening its definition of rape. As I wrote last month, the CDC already has a definition that includes acts which, although horrible, are not rape. Such inaccurate definitions dilute what it means to be raped. I can’t imagine doing anything much worse than that. Fortunately, the government is not going homeopathic on the term:

Until now, the FBI’s standard counted only forcible vaginal penetration of a woman as “rape.” The new definition expands rape to include oral and anal sex acts against women as well as men. It also says if a victim cannot give consent for any reason, the crime is a rape even if force is not used.

That includes any victim who cannot consent due to alcohol or drug use, who is under the age of consent, or who is mentally or physically incapable of consent.

Who knew that men weren’t included? Or anal and oral penetration? In fact, forced penetration with objects has not been included until now. All of these exclusions have always been a part of my definition of rape, as I have specifically said in the past. I had no idea, though, just how much I was only talking about my definition.

None of this is going to affect how crimes are prosecuted since states have their own definitions, but this will impact the accuracy of reporting:

“This major policy change will lead to more accurate reporting and far more comprehensive understanding of this devastating crime,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama.

“Without an accurate understanding of the magnitude of the problem, how can we effectively solve it? Definitions matter because people matter,” she added.

Now we just need organizations like the CDC to get on board. Reporting molestation and other terrible non-rape crimes as rape undermines the life-shaking experiences of those who actually have been raped, whether orally or anally or vaginally or with a foreign object. This change is a good thing.

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8 Responses

  1. You know, a similar thing has been done with obesity. I’m not saying it isn’t widespread, and I couldn’t care less, but over the years the definition has changed to impact statistics in order to present the numbers desired.

    http://econlog.econlib.org/GQE/gqe142.html

  2. The links on that page are broken, but that’s not my fault.

  3. The links at that site are broken, so I can’t follow up on the specifics the author is addressing, but my off-hand guess would be that the revision of fatty stats reflects better information and understanding. And at any rate, there are too many fat people in the country.

  4. Just so everyone knows, the links at that site are broken.

    And it is Nate’s fault.

  5. No one is arguing otherwise, but the fact remains that we are probably no fatter today than 32 years ago, perhaps even a bit less fat.

    Changing a definition doesn’t change how much people weigh, so given a reduction with the old standards, we would by any measure still be less fat today.

    Not that other peoples fatness is my problem, I just hope airline seats get a bit bigger, more room for me to stretch out you see.

  6. Haha, it is my fault, I got them with a tire iron.

  7. I would need to see in what ways standards have been altered over the years, but I have severe doubts that we are not significantly heavier as a population today compared to populations from years past.

  8. I am struggling to find information about what exactly they changed. Aside from repeated and regular references to the change itself. I was expecting to find at least one site making the claim that you have alluded to, that the change was due to expanded knowledge, or something.

    As close as I can get is a reference stating that overweight-ness was lumped in with obesity at that point, and that is wrong, because overweight people don’t really have the same issues as obese people. Namely that the overweight, but not obese, actually have lower death rates overall.

    I realize I got this off on a tangent, but I’m going to keep digging because I’m interested now. It really shouldn’t be this difficult to find out what was changed and why.

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