Menstuff® has compiled the following information on Rape.
What Nobody Wants To Admit About
Myths and Facts about Male Victims
Sen. Franken Questions an Arbitration Lawyer about binding Arbitration
On Jan. 6, the California Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that if a woman rescinds consent during the sex act, the man is guilty of rape if he does not stop immediately.
It also ruled that statements such as "I should go home" constitute an unambiguous "no" on the woman's part. The definition of rape has evolved again.
What are the facts of the case? Seventeen-year-old Laura T. attended an otherwise all-male party at which she did not drink. After allowing two teenaged boys to undress and fondle her in a bedroom -- acts she admitted enjoying -- she had sex with each. Laura did not say the word "no" nor did she resist. Instead, she said, "I have to go home."
Because John Z. continued for approximately four minutes after she first expressed what might have been reluctance, he was convicted of rape.
Rape is an abomination no civilized society can tolerate. But precisely because rape is such a serious crime, it is important to establish explicit and reasonable standards by which to judge the guilt or innocence of those accused.
If a woman (or man) clearly says "stop" during consensual sex, then the partner should be morally and legally constrained to do just that -- stop. But what if the partner proceeds in good faith on the basis of a "yes" given moments before? Common sense dictates that the rescinded "no" must be explicit and that the partner should have a reasonable amount of time to grasp the changed circumstances.
But the court ruled that sex becomes rape the instant the woman rescinds consent and it provided no guidance on what constitutes the withdrawal of consent.
The sole dissenting voice, Justice Janice Rogers Brown, found that none of Laura's statements were "unequivocal." Her requests to go home could have been interpreted as a need for reassurance or a request for greater speed.
This is a nontrivial point. The law assumes that all adults are responsible agents in sexual matters. (Laura T.'s age was not introduced as a significant factor in the court's conclusion.) The law assumes that women and men are able to make their wants known and, so, have a responsibility to do so.
As for the timing issue ... the court relied heavily upon John Z.'s failure to desist immediately. But, as Brown observed, the decision "does not tell us how soon would have been soon enough. Ten seconds? Thirty? A minute? Is persistence the same thing as force?"
John Z.'s attorney, Carol Foster, argued that her client should have been given a "reasonable amount of time" in which to withdraw. This is also nontrivial. If John Z. had a reasonable belief of consent, then he should also have a reasonable amount of time to realize circumstances had changed.
Brown -- the dissenting judge -- continued, "and even if we conclude persistence should be criminalized in this situation, should the penalty be the same as for forcible rape?" In essence, Brown is asking whether consensual sex that becomes nonconsensual at some point should be treated in the same manner as a back alley rape committed at the point of a knife. Or should there be another category of rape, such as negligence, which carries a lesser penalty?
No one wants to return to the '70s when women who took rape cases to trial were emotionally shredded in cross-examinations. None of us long for the days when the reports of a raped woman were summarily dismissed by a cynical police department. But the recent California decision is not a remedy for such problems surrounding the issue of rape.
Sixties feminism deserves a lot of credit for bringing sanity to bear on the crime of rape. They broke down a mythology that claimed only "bad" girls who walked alone at night in tight clothing were raped. Research showed exactly the opposite to be true. Every woman was vulnerable to attack, even in her own home and especially from men she knew.
Sixties feminism attacked a court system that believed rape complainants were less reliable than other victims. Feminists attacked the "reasonable resistance" requirement imposed by most states; that is, rape was not deemed to have occurred unless the woman had manifested strenuous resistance. Meanwhile, other crimes did not require a victim to resist in order for a crime to have occurred.
The prosecution of rape used to be skewed against women. Now it seems to be skewed against men. No longer is criminal intent necessary for criminal guilt . No longer is an explicit "no" necessary for the withdrawal of consent. And men may be well advised to keep a stopwatch as well as contraceptives by the bedside.
The Laura T. decision may well become a Pandora's Box for false accusations of rape. No longer can the man point to a woman's explicit consent because she can now argue that -- once penetration occurred -- she changed her mind. She need not utter the word "no!" She can merely say, "I have to go home."
As the former mainstream feminist professor Erin O'Connor
notes in her blog
"this ruling neatly dispenses with the idea that rape
necessarily involves force, and replaces it with a
definition of consent that is as uncertain and shifting as
the woman who wields it."
Explains Difference Between Rape And Consent In 5 Tweets To
Men Who Still Dont Get It
I dont get how rape is so hard to understand for some men, she wrote in the first of a series of tweets. But, if you put it like this, they get it. Ahmed then goes on to explain the difference using a super simple and effective analogy involving a purse and some money. While its pretty sad that she even has to do this, were certainly glad that she did. Lets just hope everybody takes note.
Twitter user Nafisa Ahmed used a simple analogy to explain the difference between rape and consent
If you ask me for $5, and I'm too drunk to say yes or no, it's not okay to then go ake $5 out of my puse...just because I didn't say "No."
The internet was quick to respond to her tweets
Walley - I'm not chastising anybody...But being aware of how much alcohol u can consume before u don't know between ys/no is being an adult.
What do you think?
Michel M. Prins
Nobodys in favor of rape, but it keeps on happening. Whats not working?
The first reaction most people have, upon being told about the concept of rape culture, is to dismiss it. Its intuitively obvious to them that our society doesnt condone rape or consider it a trivial matter. Very much the opposite: rape is seen as the worst crime in the world, rapists are considered inhuman monsters, rape is often talked about as worse than murder. (Editor's note: While male-to-male prison rape is common, usually a convict who ends up in prison for rape or child molestation is hated and fears for his life daily. Many of his fellow convicts would rather see him dead which happens quite often.)
What nobody wants to admit is that those assumptions and attitudes are rape culture.
The key to understanding rape culture is that, in our society, nobody (outside a few MRA bloggers, who are beneath consideration) says Hey, rape is just fine and dandy! They say Rape is awful, its vile, its the worst crime a human can commit, I am totally opposed to rape. Yet somehow, when any actual case of rape is put before them, they work to find reasons why it wasnt really rape, it was something else instead. Those last two sentences depend on and support each other.
One of the most common occurrences when a woman has been raped is that her entire sexual history is brought up and used against her. The point of this attack is not that rape is okay, its that shes a slut so she must have consented, right? Therefore its not rape.
When guys are told When a woman says no, she means try harder, it doesnt mean that rape is okay. It means that a woman is still consenting even if she says no. Therefore its not rape.
When a man is raped, hes often outright laughed at. Everyone knows guys are always horny, theres no way a man wouldnt consent to sex. Therefore its not rape.
Perhaps most often, we see the character or friends of an accused rapist being held up as proof that they cant possibly be guilty. Ive known that guy for years, and hes no rapist! How could someone think hes a rapist? He volunteers at the food bank! and so on and so forth. Rapists are inhuman monsters, everyone knows that, and this persons not an inhuman monster. Therefore hes not a rapist. Therefore its not rape.
Its weird to have to say this to adults, but lets be clear: theres no such thing as monsters. Every person whos ever been raped has been raped by a human being. No exceptions. Dehumanizing rapists actually helps perpetuate the very culture it tries to oppose.
Theres a certain platonic ideal of rape, a model of what its supposed to look like. It was most clearly described, in disturbingly specific detail, by a state senator named Bill Napoli, who thought he was discussing abortion policy:
A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated.
That, our cultural subconscious is vaguely aware, is what legitimate rape looks like. The further from that image that any given rape gets, the more likely that well pull out our excuses for how its not really rape.
Whats more, even anti-rape campaigns very often buy into that image. All those lines about how women should carry their keys sticking out between their fingers like Wolverine, all those slogans about women being afraid to walk down the street; theyre all based on defending against Bill Napolis legitimate rape.
This cant be repeated enough: most real-life rapes dont look anything like that. If youre raped, it will probably be by someone you know, in a place that you usually feel safe. It will definitely not be by a monster, so stop keeping an eye out for monsters. Most likely it will be someone fairly likable in most respects, as most people are. You might have been laughing at their jokes right up until they assaulted you.
It is very, very common for people whove just been raped to have a hard time admitting that thats what happened. Theyve heard all the reasons why something doesnt really count as rape. Theyve probably said or thought some of those rationalizations themselves. So if all those other cases werent really rape, theirs must not be either, right?
Then, too, rape is the worst crime in the world, the most horrible, traumatic, life-destroying thing that can happen, right? So if they dont feel completely traumatized and destroyed, it couldnt really have been rape, right?
And the person that raped them isnt a monster. Maybe they still like their rapist, even love them. Maybe they dont want to permanently label that person as an inhuman monster. Maybe they just dont want to accuse someone whos well-liked and will have an army of defenders arguing that theyre not a monster. Maybe they dont want to be accused of lying because after all, it obviously wasnt really rape.
So another man or woman just keeps their mouth shut about
what happened, tries to file it away and forget about it.
And another rape ends up being condoned by a society that
vociferously does not condone rape. And nobody wants to talk
about how this happens, because saying that rapists are
human beings, and human beings commit rape, sounds like
being insufficiently anti-rape. We would rather condone
actual rape than appear to not oppose imaginary rape
Well, 173 members of Congress don't.
A far-reaching anti-choice bill, introduced by Republican Chris Smith and supported by 173 members of the House, includes a provision that could redefine rape and set women's rights back by decades.1
Right now, federal dollars can't be used for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman's life is in danger.
But according to the New York Times, the Smith bill would narrow that use to "cases of 'forcible' rape but not statutory or coerced rape."2 This could mean cases where women are "drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes" would no longer count as rape.3
As far too many women know, bruises and broken bones do not define rapea lack of consent does. The Smith bill is scary. And with 173 supporters it already has a frightening chance of passageunless the public speaks up right away with an outcry that can't be ignored.
Can you sign the petition to Congress today, demanding they oppose the sexist, anti-choice Smith bill?
The petition says: "Bruises and broken bones do not define rapea lack of consent does. Stand up and oppose the dangerous GOP legislation to redefine rape."
Federal funds are already severely restricted when it comes to reproductive rights and women's health care, a situation that ends up hurting lower-income women in particular, who tend to use federally-funded services more often than wealthy women. The last thing we ought to be doing is legislating to make these laws more stringent.
In addition, the Smith bill is full of dangerous anti-choice provisions as well as the rape redefinition. Called "Stupak on Steroids" by NARAL Pro-Choice America in reference to Rep. Bart Stupak's failed attempt to push stringent restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion during the health care debate, it would "force millions of American families to pay more taxes if their health plan covers abortion care, jeopardizing abortion coverage in the private market."4
The Smith bill is just the first of many attacks on women's rights to come in the new GOP-controlled House.5 If it moves forward, it would set an incredibly dangerous precedent for GOP action in the House for the next two years.
Can you sign the petition asking Congress to denounce the Smith bill to redefine rape? Click here: pol.moveon.org/smithbill/?id=25965-299027-G0utnUx&t=4
1. "The House GOP's Plan to Redefine Rape," Mother Jones, January 28, 2011 www.moveon.org/r?r=205936&id=25965-299027-G0utnUx&t=5
"Stupak on Steroids," The Hill, January 25, 2011 www.moveon.org/r?r=205938&id=25965-299027-G0utnUx&t=6
2. "The Two Abortion Wars: A Highly Intrusive Federal Bill," New York Times, January 29, 2011 www.nytimes.com/2011/01/30/opinion/30sun1.html http://nyti.ms/eEUJgY
3. "The House GOP's Plan to Redefine Rape," Mother Jones, January 28, 2011 www.moveon.org/r?r=205936&id=25965-299027-G0utnUx&t=7
"Stupak on Steroids," The Hill, January 25, 2011 www.moveon.org/r?r=205938&id=25965-299027-G0utnUx&t=8
A Republican state representative in New Mexico introduced a bill Wednesday that classified abortions for rape victims as "tampering with evidence," effectively requiring women to carry their pregnancies to term in order to prove their case in a sexual assault trial.
This bill will not pass, as Democrats control both chambers of New Mexico's state legislature, but there are plenty of other state laws that extend the nightmare for women who are impregnated through rape.
Of the 26 states that require a waiting period (usually 24 hours) for women seeking abortions, only Utah makes an exception for cases of rape or incest. Pregnant rape victims in some states must also undergo counseling about the negative effects of abortion before having the procedure.
If a woman who conceives through rape does go on to have the child, she can open herself up to being victimized by her rapist again and again. In 31 states, paternal rapists are allowed to sue for custody and visitation rights like any other father, as a Chicago woman who was served with custody papers from her rapist brought to the public's attention last summer after former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) made his "legitimate rape" comments.
Even in the states that don't protect the parental rights of rapists, many rapes never lead to a conviction and certain provisions can make it difficult for a woman impregnated through sexual assault to keep her attacker out of her and her child's life. Mother Jones reports:
But of the 19 states that have laws addressing the custody of rape-conceived children, 13 require proof of conviction in order to waive the rapist's parental rights. Two more states have provisions on the issue that only apply if the victim is a minor or, in one of those cases, a stepchild or adopted child of the rapist. Another three states don't have laws that deal with custody of a rapist's child specifically, but do restrict the parental rights of a father or mother who sexually abused the other parent.
Many victims of sexual assault are burdened with paying out of their own pockets for forensic medical exams and related care
1 in 5 U.S. Women Are Raped at Some Point, Report Says
Some rape victims in Louisiana are being forced to literally pay the price of their own assault.
An investigation by the Times-Picayune found that many victims of sexual assault were being billed by hospitals after they sought treatment and, in some cases, were charged thousands of dollars.
Though the Violence Against Women Act was amended in 2005 to stipulate that sexual assault victims should not be billed for medical forensic exams in the wake of their attack, the requirements only include the basics for a rape kit or SANE exam, such as an examination of physical trauma, a determination of penetration or force, a patient interview and collection of evidence.
By that definition, reports Rebecca Catalanello in the Times-Picayune, costs for procedures that are a regular part of the SANE screening pregnancy tests and HIV tests, among them could be considered extra. And, in many cases throughout Louisiana and the United States, they are. Some of the women who spoke to the Times-Picayune reported they had been billed for simply being admitted to the emergency room, despite being required to do so in order to have their exam completed.
One woman, who was violently sexually assaulted, received two medical bills following her visit to the hospital, which came to $4,200. Her mother told the Times-Picayune, You know what really gets me? Prisoners in Angola [the Louisiana State Penitentiary] get medical treatment for free.
Some of the costs can be recouped by victims, as long as they apply for reimbursement from the Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Board. Yet there are conditions: Victims must file charges against their rapists, and must also be clear of felonies on their own records (at least within the past five years). Victims also cant have been involved in illegal activity at the time of the rape, which could include underage drinking. Whats more, the victim must not have behaved in a way that, in the opinion of the board, contributed to the crime.'
Yet Louisiana doesnt appear to be an outlier. According to the Times-Picayune, only 15 states pay for tests for STIs and medication prescribed in the course of a forensic exam and only 13 states pay for pregnancy tests. There are only 10 states that cover the cost of emergency room fees for sexual assault victims and the number of states that cover the cost of treating injuries sustained during a sexual assault is a mere five.
This practice could have serious consequences. While law enforcement workers and victim advocates often lament that only around a third of rape victims actually report their attack to the police, the possibility of being saddled with exorbitant bills for medical treatment could deter victims from seeking medical treatment. And without the forensic exams, valuable evidence against the rapist is unlikely to be collected, which would likely hinder prosecution of the victim did file a report at any time.
But while Catalanellos investigation is an
upsetting read, the report has already made waves. In a
statement released after the Times-Picayune piece was
published, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals
said, We take a strong stand against sexual violence.
Our heart goes out to victims of these crimes. This is a
result of disjointed local parish health policies, as well
as a poor legacy charity system that was run inefficiently
for many years. We will work with the Legislature and the
partners to address this and ensure sexual assault victims
are provided the services they need, and also make sure we
are doing everything we can to fight sexual
The Obama administration on Friday expanded the FBI's more than eight-decade-old definition of rape to count men as victims for the first time and to drop the requirement that victims must have physically resisted their attackers.
The new definition will increase the number of people counted as rape victims in FBI statistics, but it will not change federal or state laws or alter charges or prosecutions.
The issue received top-level White House attention starting in July, when Vice President Joe Biden raised it at a Cabinet meeting.
Biden, author of the Violence Against Women Act when he was in the Senate, said the new definition is a victory for women and men. "We can't solve it unless we know the full extent of it," the vice president said.
Since 1929, the FBI has defined rape as the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will. The revised definition covers any gender of victim or attacker and includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of the influence of drugs or alcohol or because of age. Physical resistance is not required. The Justice Department said the new definition mirrors the majority of state rape statutes now on the books.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said all rape victims "should have access to the comprehensive services that will help them rebuild their lives."
In November, Leahy introduced legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and provide an increased emphasis on efforts to stop sexual assault.
"We've always had a broad definition of who is eligible for services, and the change could result in additional resources being made available for survivors of rape," said Linda McFarlane, deputy executive director of Just Detention International. The nonprofit human rights organization works to eliminate sexual abuse in prisons and other detention settings.
Congress approved $592 million this year to address violence against women, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, under the Violence Against Women Act and Family Violence Prevention and Services Act. The Obama administration had sought $777 million to combat violence against women.
Using the old definition, a total of 84,767 rapes were reported nationwide in 2010, according to the FBI's uniform crime report based on data from 18,000 law enforcement agencies.
Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States
have been raped at some time in their lives, according to a
2010 survey by the National Center for Injury Prevention and
Myth: Rape happens because of an uncontrollable desire for sex with an irresistible victim.
Rape is an act of violence in which sex becomes the weapon used to control and or harm a victim the rapist perceives as vulnerable.
Myth: Men and boys cannot be raped.
One in six men report having been sexually abused by the time they were 18 (Finkelhor et al., 1990).
Anyone from infants to the elderly, regardless of gender, race, religion, socio-economic status, education, physical appearance, marital status, or culture can be raped. Rapists choose their victims carefully, looking for anything that will make the victim vulnerable and give them the advantage. They isolate their victims from bystanders who could help them, and rely upon shock, surprise, weapons, threats, strength, or positions of authority to counter the victims ability to resist.
Myth: Homosexual males perpetrate most sexual abuse of boys.
Men who sexually abuse males are usually pedophiles or persons who prefer a child as their sexual partner, not homosexual males. Most perpetrators know their victims (Groth et al., 1989) (Roesler et al., 1994).
Myth: A man or boy who experiences sexual arousal or orgasm during the abusive act enjoyed it.
Males may respond to stimulation even when it is abusive or violent. A man or boy who experiences sexual arousal may feel shame and guilt, but the arousal does not mean that he was willing or enjoyed it (Gartner, 1999).
Myth: Boys abused by males are or will become homosexual.
A boy may question or be confused about his sexual identity and orientation after having been abused by a male, especially if he experienced sexual arousal. But there is no reason to believe that sexual abuse causes homosexuality (Gartner, 1999).
Myth: Boys who are sexually abused will grow up to be sexual abusers.
While the majority of sexual abusers were abused themselves, the majority of sexually abused boys never become perpetrators (Lisak et al., 1996).
Myth: If the perpetrator is a female, the boy should consider himself lucky, not abused.
Our societal norms encourage a boy to deny any negative or traumatic responses to having been so lucky, to having earned a badge of honor. But, having been coerced or manipulated into sex by an older girl or woman is always abusive and often damaging (Lisak et al., 1996).
Great myth busting, and great link. (It seems to be linked incorrectly, however, on your post; I think blogger sometimes does that).
There are also some great books out there for male survivors. An autobiography I read that I found particularly moving was Sheldon Kennedy's "Why I didn't say anything" www.amazon.ca/Why-Didnt-Say-Anything-Sheldon/dp/1897178077
Kennedy did a great job of showing the complexities male survivors (and survivors in general) experience.
In my experience (I am a sexual assault/abuse therapist), men and boys are really hit with the "you are going to be an offender" myth, as well as homophobia / "you are going to turn out gay" - both of which are often well internalized.
Just as there needs to be greater awareness about sexual violence in general, so does there need to be greater awareness about male survivors, specifically.
Thanks for the education!
I found an excellent site about raped and sexually abused males that every therapist and male who has raped or been raped should have as a resource. The site at which I found the following is Men Against Sexual Violence www.menagainstsexualviolence.org/myths.html
Each year, the FBI fails to count hundreds of thousands of rapes in its Uniform Crime Report (UCR)even missing many rapes that are reported to police. Thats because for over 80 years, the FBI has been using the same fundamentally flawed definition of forcible rape: The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will to track rape statistics in the UCR.
This excludes rapes involving forced anal sex and/or oral sex, vaginal or anal fisting, rape with an object (even if serious injuries result), rapes of men and transgender people and other injurious and degrading sexual assaults. Also, because the definition includes the word forcibly, police departments often interpret the rule (against UCR guidelines) as leaving out rapes of women with physical or mental disabilities and those who were unconscious or under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
A recent Ms. investigation revealed that the archaic definition plays a key role in the vast underreporting of rape in the U.S.:
Without an accurate definition, we won't have accurate statistics about rape, and without accurate statistics, we will never have adequate funding for law enforcement to solve these crimes. A change in the definition of rape would lead to better law enforcement response and could thus reduce dramatically the incidence of rape.
Its high time for a change. For rape survivors, a modern definition of rape at the federal level would acknowledge, once and for all, that rape is rapeand that the stories and experiences of all rape survivors (women and men, gay or straight) count.
Make sure that all rapes are counted. Sign this petition to tell FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Eric Holder to update the overly narrow, outdated forcible rape definition.
Read Petition Letter
Change the "forcible" rape definition
I was shocked to learn that the FBI uses an archaic definition of rape (The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will) to gather statistics for the Uniform Crime Report. This definition, drafted more than 80 years ago, is problematic for many reasons, chief among them that it excludes victims of forced anal or oral sex, rape with an object, statutory rape, and male rape. Moreover, this definition is often used by law enforcement to exclude rapes of women whose ability to give consent has been diminished by drugs or alcohol.
This poses several problems:
1. This archaic definition of what constitutes "real rape" affects perception of the crime by law enforcement, and likely impacts the treatment of rape victims
2. With such an incomplete description, the FBI has undercounted rapes by hundreds of thousands of cases, resulting in an inaccurate understanding of the scope of the problem.
3. Without accurate rape statistics, allocation of funding to (and within) local law enforcement to combat and investigate crime will be misdirected away from this terrible crime.
Its high time for the FBI to recognize this error and modernize the definition to reflect the reality of rape in the United States. Please update the Uniform Crime Report so that the definition of rape includes all victims. Every rape should be counted.
I look forward to your reply.
In late January, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) sparked outrage when he introduced the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3), which sought to further restrict abortion funding for all women. But what also angered feminists was that, in drafting an exception to allow abortion funding for survivors of rape, the bill defined real rape exclusively as forcible rape. For sexual assaults that didnt fit that narrow definition, funding for an abortion would be denied.
After a week of intense pressure, Rep. Smith dropped the term forcible from the controversial bill. Problem solved? Hardly.
In fact, the concept of forcible rape has long been used and is still being used to limit the reporting of rape at the federal level. Since 1929, the FBIs Uniform Crime Report (UCR), which tallies all crimes reported to local law enforcement each year, has used this archaic definition of rape: The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.
That counts some rapes, certainly. But what gets left out?
Plenty. The UCRs definition excludes victims of nonconsensual sodomy and oral sex, and those raped with fingers, fists or objects. And all male victims, of course. Also, because the definition includes the word forcibly, police departments often interpret the rule (against UCR guidelines) as leaving out rapes of women with physical or mental disabilities and those who were unconscious or under the influence of drugs and alcohol (despite the fact that at least 22 percent of all rapes involve those substances or incapacitated victimsand some studies put the number as high as 77 percent). The assumption, strangely, is that those women werent forced.
The UCR definition, both in its wording and its effect on police practices, thus omits a large number of rapeswhich then impacts the investigation and prosecution of rapists. Some studies have shown that 90 to 95 percent of rapes are committed by serial rapists. If those serial predators are not prosecuted, theyre free to rape again and again.
And thats why a change in the definition of rape would lead to better law enforcement response and could thus reduce dramatically the incidence of rape. A modern definition would include sex of all kinds without consent. It would embrace victims regardless of sex, gender, age, disability, consciousness or level of intoxication. And it would encompass incest; rape with an object, finger or fist; and sodomy or oral copulation without consent.
Joanne Archambault, a sexual-assault-investigation expert and founder of the nonprofit End Violence Against Women International, insists that the UCRs definition of rape sends a frightening message to society about what types of sexual assaults matter.
The fact that it only tracks forced penile-vaginal rape says a lot, she points out. Are we saying all those other ones arent important? Of course they are.
She adds that the UCR definition feeds into social stereotypes about who is a real rape victim, which have a huge impact on rape reporting. When theyre first assaulted, she says, [rape survivors] arent thinking of law enforcement; theyre thinking of safety. They go to their friends, loved ones, family first. If a rape survivor isnt validated by her community, shes less likely to report the crime.
Its high time for a change. For rape survivors, a modern definition of rape at the federal level would acknowledge, once and for all, that rape is rapeand that the stories and experiences of all rape survivors count.
This is an excerpt from the cover story in the Spring issue of Ms. magazine. For the entire story, look for Ms. on your newsstands or join the Ms. community and have a copy of the magazine delivered to your door.
Comments on this piece? We want to hear them! Send to email@example.com. To have your letter considered for publication, please include your city and state.
Want to help fight rape in your own community? Join the
No More Excuses! campaign of the Feminist Majority
Foundation and Ms. magazine and demand that the FBI change
its outmoded definition of rape, that city police
departments test every rape kit in their backlog and that
cities make sure untested kits dont accumulate again.
Go to our online campaign headquarters where youll be
directed to letters you can send to FBI director Robert
Mueller and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. You can also
order a local take-action package that includes a dramatic
video about the rape-kit backlog by Lorraine Sheinberg and
Susan Rubin and ideas for making a difference on this vital
Teen Slang: Why The Word 'Rape' Should Never Be Used
This is a teen-written article from The Communicator, the student-run print and online newspaper of Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Words, like most other teenage cultural expressions, go in and out of fashion. And though certain phrases we use on a daily basis can leave older generations perplexed, they are often harmless and insignificant. However, the increasing use of the weighted word rape as a casual slang term threatens to do much more than raise a few parental eyebrows.
The word rape is generally used by high school students either negatively, to represent mental or physical injury or damage, (Wow, that math test totally raped me.) or positively, to represent beating, winning, or acing something. (Oh yeah, I just raped that math test.).
The use of rape in such a casual way misrepresents the gravity of sexual assault. Rape is no laughing matter. In the United States, approximately 16 percent of women and three percent of men have been victims of attempted or completed rape. Fifteen percent of sexual assault victims are under 12. Sexual assault victims are three times more likely to suffer from depression and four times more likely to contemplate suicide than non-victims.
Therefore, the use of rape as a positive term is confusing and worrying. How can committing an act of rape be equated to winning or doing something well? There is nothing glamorous about rape, and nothing cool about committing sexual assault. The negative use of the word rape is not much better. Losing a sports game or doing badly on a test is nowhere near comparable to being a victim of rape. Imagine how a victim of sexual assault would feel hearing the word thrown around so casually.
Sure, rape is not the only word used in this context. Kill has often been used in exactly the same way, and complaints about it are few and far between. The use of murder in this context, however, is not as problematic as that of rape. The two words, while perhaps interchangeable in a sentence, are different entities with different histories.
For the last several centuries, murder has been universally accepted as the horrible crime that it is. When a murder is reported, it is always investigated and taken seriously. Even young children know and understand that killing is wrong.
Rape, however, still has a long way to go in terms of awareness, understanding, and prosecution. Almost all rapists (94 percent) do not spend even a day in jail. On average for the past five years, 60 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Even when a rape is reported, there is only a 50.8 percent chance of an arrest being made, and 31 percent of those convicted of a felony for rape will not spend time in jail.
In addition, rape prevention efforts and the recognition of marital rape as a crime did not come about until fairly recently, contrary to what one might assume. The first legally incorporated rape crisis center was not established until 1972. Every U.S. state had a marital rape exemption law, which stated that a husband raping his wife was not a crime, until 1975, when South Dakota became the first to remove it. The last state to remove this exemption, North Carolina, did not do so until 1992. Many countries today still do not view rape within marriage as a crime.
In just four decades, the United States has come a long way in terms of assistance for rape victims, education about rape, and prosecution of rapists. But there is still a long way to go in both our own country and others. We need to start by treating rape as the serious issue that it is. How can students in our generation understand the damage and severity of rape when it is thrown around in every other sentence? How can the 60 percent of sexual assault victims who do not report the crime to the police find the courage to do so when rape is used jokingly and treated as nothing?
I know that the students who use the word rape in a casual way usually do not mean anything by it. They do not condone rape or think that it is a good thing. I know that there have been times Ive used the word more lightly that I should have. But in this case, intention doesnt count. Even if you dont think rape is insignificant or funny, using it as a slang term sends the message that you do.
There is nothing funny, glamorous, or casual about rape.
Committing an act of rape does not make you cool, powerful,
or superior. As high schoolers, we should know this. So why
cant our vocabulary reflect that knowledge?
A 16-year-old girl was "substantially impaired" after an alcohol-fueled party, was unable to consent to sex and suffered humiliation and degradation when she was raped by two high school football players, a prosecutor said in her opening statement at the boys' trial.
But a lawyer for the defendant said his 17-year-old client "did not rape the young lady in question."
Special Prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter and the defendant's attorney, Brian Duncan, spoke at the opening of the juvenile court trial, which has drawn international attention to a small town in a football-loving region of eastern Ohio.
Hemmeter told Judge Thomas Lipps, who is hearing the case without a jury, that she would show that the girl was "somebody who was too impaired to say no, somebody who was too impaired to say stop."
The attorney for the other defendant, 16, gave no opening statement.
The case has divided the community amid allegations that more students should have been charged. It also has led to questions about the influence of the local football team, a source of a pride in a community that suffered massive job losses with the collapse of the steel industry.
The defendants are charged with digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, first in the back seat of a moving car after a party and then in the basement of a house. The 17-year-old defendant also is charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
Witnesses said the girl was so drunk she threw up at least twice and had trouble walking and speaking. She also was photographed being carried by the two boys.
In an excerpt of a videotaped interview with ABC's "20/20," Richmond said the photo was a joke. He contends the girl was awake and was a willing participant, the show said.
Following opening statements, prosecutors presented two witnesses, 17-year-old girls who saw the girl the night of the party. Questions by prosecutors and defense lawyers focused on how much the girl had been drinking that night.
One of the 17-year-old girls, a Steubenville High School student, said the 16-year-old girl was having trouble walking but never appeared to pass out. The other 17-year-old girl said she had never seen her friend so intoxicated.
If convicted, the defendants, who deny any wrongdoing, could be held in a juvenile jail until they turn 21.
They were charged 10 days after the party, after a flurry of social media postings about the alleged attack led the girl and her family to go to police.
Steubenville officials have protested that outsiders have unfairly criticized police handling of the case and have given Steubenville a black eye. Officials created a website to counter misinformation about the case, disputing, for example, the allegation that the police department is full of ex-football players from the local powerhouse team, nicknamed Big Red.
Hacker activists have publicized tweets and other social media postings made the night of the alleged rape, including a 12-minute video in which one student joked about it while others in the background chimed in.
The National Organization of Women has demanded that the student be charged under the state's failure to report law. Attorney General Mike DeWine has called the video disgusting but said the student didn't have firsthand knowledge of the alleged assaults.
Bob Fitzsimmons, a lawyer for the girl's family, said, "The family wants this matter over so they can move on with their lives and their daughter's healing."
Dozens of witnesses for both sides were expected to testify at the trial. Their testimony is considered crucial because the girl was severely intoxicated that night and appeared to be passed out at times, according to several witnesses.
Editors Note: The Associated Press named the
suspects in the case but FoxNews.com did not because the
trial is being held in juvenile court.
says school rules punished her for reporting rape
Hot Link -
The video, presented by Caroline Kitchens from the American Enterprise Institute (a conservative think tank), offers a counterargument, backed up by a few statistics. The original one-in-five statistic was based, according to Kitchens, on a fairly superficial study: self-reporting from 5000-plus women in two colleges, one in the Midwest and one in the South. Kitchens claims that the study was flawed in numerous other ways, including using the Internet to send a questionnaire to the respondents and not verifying their claims.
Rape and other sexual crimes are serious issues, and should be punished accordingly. And if true, the one-in-five statistic should have young women and their parents very nervous.
In case you don't bother with Kitchens's video, here's the gist, according to studies cited by Kitchens: Rape is on a long-term decline generally; the rate is more like one in over 50 (still horrible); college-educated women are less likely to be raped on a college campus than off a college campus. Kitchens also makes a logical point: if the one-in-five statistic were true, many or most parents wouldn't be sending their daughters to college.
Initially, given the studies Kitchens cites, I tended to go along with her analysis, even though her references whizzed by as I watched. My wife encouraged me to dig deeper, and I found myself in a labyrinth of data, claims, and conclusions.
Kitchens's video is just over five minutes long - not a sure indication of superficial reporting, but the statistics she cites did go by pretty quickly. On my second viewing, I had to go back over small sections of the video, hitting "pause," just to be clear about what she was saying and to get some references I could look up. And then I hit Google.
It seems that both the proponents and debunkers of "rape culture" have some valid points. I started with a story by Alia Wong in the online edition of The Atlantic: "Why the Prevalence of Campus Sexual Assault Is So Hard to Quantify: Every statistic seems to be contradicted by another one" (January 26, 2016). There are many links to external sources in the article, and though I highly recommend this article, I admit that it could become difficult to navigate the labyrinth of popular-press articles and government studies.
One link was to the 2007 US Department of Justice study, which Kitchens uses as her main reference and criticizes for being the basis for the one-in-five claim. And some of the other articles I found in the Atlantic post link back to it. The 2007 study seems to me to have been carried out very carefully, and the authors define their terms and the structure of the study (in 111 pages) and warn against overinterpretation of the results. The one-in-five statistic in one of the charts conflated actual forced rapes and rapes accompanied by alcohol or drugs with attempted rapes and completed and attempted assaults that weren't rapes - for instance, forced kissing or even attempted forced kissing. The authors did not make claims about one in five women being raped, nor did they use the term "rape culture" (first coined in the 1970s, according to Wikipedia ).
I followed many other links in the Atlantic article and in the articles it sent me to - which I doubt you'll bother with. One article concluded that rather than a pervasive rape culture on college campuses, there was a small percentage of men committing the vast majority of rapes.
If you've stayed with me this far (thank you), let me just stick my own nose into the situation:
Is there a true rape culture on college campuses? Probably not. Does Kitchens's video, by itself, make a definitive case against the term "rape culture"? Probably not. Bottom line from the mixed salad of articles on the Internet? Sexual assault of all kinds is real (and horrible); reporting of incidents and prosecuting of perpetrators needs to be made easier and less traumatizing to the victims; accused perpetrators deserve due process (not only to mitigate false accusations but because due process is guaranteed by the Constitution); convicted perpetrators need to be punished severely. Finally: There is a lot of room for intensified efforts at education, in academic institutions and in the wider society, of all aspects of sexual assault - from prevention to victim empowerment.
And here's my educational message for readers of Menletter: If you think rape or assault is okay; if you think women "have it coming to them" or that they are merely objects for your pleasure: over ninety percent of the men around you consider you to be the worst kind of scum. You're not only making the rest of us look bad, you're making our sincere attempts at romantic connection a lot harder. And, of course, you're needlessly traumatizing women. Clean up your act.
Aftermath: A Broader Issue
There's a broader issue, beyond the discussion above, about research and the way popular culture and the Internet mess things up. When a set of claims about a problem becomes a meme (as I think happened with the term "rape culture" and the Super Bowl claim in the next paragraph), the meme takes over and stops or distorts further inquiry, into both the underlying facts and the best ways to address the problem.
Some supposed phenomena, ostensibly backed up by purported statistics, but with dubious factual support, take on lives of their own. As memes, they are hard to refute, and factual evidence is ignored or discounted as politically motivated.
An example from 1993 was that domestic abuse skyrocketed on Super Bowl Sunday - apparently perpetrated by testosterone-poisoned and beer-soaked men. The media was filled with warnings and advice about prevention. This meme was debunked years ago (see the Snopes.com article here). (add more here) Yet in the third quarter of Super Bowl 50 (2016) a commercial from the organization "No More" aired a warning about domestic abuse. This commercial was reported widely, with links to a video of it, including the online edition of Sports Illustrated .
Even ostensibly scientific medical investigation is not immune to playing around with facts and coming to preordained conclusions. An example is a meta study of research, leading to the questionable claim that men should not be screened for prostate cancer. See my articles here and here . (PCAW.org resources)
Any claim, especially one that gains wide distribution, can be solid, or it can be the result of a combination of careless research, a political agenda, a compliant media machine, lazy journalism, and sometimes downright dishonesty. This applies not only to social issues but to "hard" science research, medicine, and anything else for which results are supposed to be backed by numbers.
It's always a good idea to check out Snopes, but also to seek out further information by following links in online articles and by Googling the study, the authors, and other research on the topic. Specifically, what question was being asked? Was it asked in such a way as to bias the numbers? How much data were collected? How much of the data was cherry-picked, ignored, or set aside? Does the interpretation match the data or lapse into speculaton? Who is making claims, and what is their affiliation? What other, independent studies are cited? Is the article we're reading a rehash in the popular press or websites? This kind of due diligence can be difficult, time-consuming, confusing, and annoying. I certainly discovered that in trying to untangle the skein of information and misinformation about rape culture. But that's what due diligence is all about. It can keep us from going crazy or from spouting counterarguments with no backup.
Should We Answer?
As men, we have a vested interest in claims having to do with violence, crime, assault, the wage gap, and any other claim purporting that all men or most men or even lots of men do harmful things. When we hear something that sounds fishy (like the one-in-five meme being equated to rape culture), it probably doesn't do us a lot of good launching into a verbal dueling match - mansplaining, you know. I suggest listening carefully and then saying: "Hmmm. I'm not sure I agree. But I don't have enough information to form a clear response. I'll get back to you." And I suppose it's a bad idea to say anything that can be quoted to others with intentional or unintentional misinterpretation.
This gives us breathing space to do a little research and to decide whether the "get back to you" part is worth doing.
A lot of times, it's not worth it. The readers of Menletter are mostly of like mind and agreeable. And I get to write and edit my thoughts. But in the heat of a verbal exchange, with someone who is angry and unmovable, I try (my ego doesn't always cooperate) to disengage.
[Many many thanks to my wife, Ann, for encouraging me
to do my own due diligence for this article.]
Perhaps rape itself is a gesture, a violent repudiation of the female, in the assertion of maleness that would seem to require nothing beyond physical gratification of the crudest kind. The supreme macho gesture - like knocking out an opponent and standing over his fallen body, gloves raised in triumph. - Joyce Carol Oates
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