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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