FBI To Redefine Rape

As detailed here on the FBI’s advisory policy board website, the advisory branch of the FBI is convening to vote on the current definition of rape, which is “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will” (as you might imagine, this is entirely too vague and thus inadequate).

The new definition is to be: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

To be honest, when I first saw it, I thought, that’s a terrible definition, it’s totally vague, and not all rape involves penetration, though I guess the new law at least covers consent. And then I saw the prior definition, which certainly exceeds this definition in terribleness. I mean, how do you prove that “carnal knowledge” has occurred? What does “carnal knowledge” even mean?! And the fact that the prior definition only includes females is patently false, as men can be raped too.

I’m with Feministing on asserting that “by changing the official definition of rape, more rapes will be officially counted, thereby allowing more resources to be targeted towards prevention and prosecution.” Hopefully the change in definition helps more survivors prosecute their rapists, though, of course, in an ideal world we wouldn’t need better laws to help prosecute and reform criminals because they wouldn’t be out there raping people.

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About Jeana

Jeana

Jeana Jorgensen, PhD recently completed her doctoral degree in folklore and gender studies at Indiana University. She studies fairy tales and other narratives, dance, body art, feminist theory, digital humanities, and gender identity.