Rape Is Rape: No More Excuses!

In the battle against Rep Chris Smith’s “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” feminists and other advocates successfully agitated to keep the term “forcible” rape from defining who gets federal money for abortions. But did you know we’re still fighting the war to get “forcible rape” removed from our national lexicon?

Since 1929, the FBI has defined “real” rape exclusively as “forcible” rape. Its definition is the only one that exists at the federal level, and it discounts most types of rape, including oral and anal rape; rape of men; rape with an object, finger or fist; and, for most police departments, rape of unconscious women, physically or mentally disabled women and those under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

It’s high time for a change.

Ms. and the Feminist Majority Foundation have launched the No More Excuses! campaign to get the FBI to change its definition of rape, we need your help. Visit the No More Excuses! online campaign headquarters to send a letter to the government demanding that the FBI definition of rape be changed to reflect modern standards. Then tweet about the campaign using the hashtag #RapeIsRape.

For Ms. publisher Eleanor Smeal, this campaign is an urgent one:

The FBI needs a modern definition of rape that reflects a popular understanding of the crime and doesn’t exclude the vast majority of rapes. Rape is rape. Period. 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 and stop violence against women.

In the latest issue of Ms., I investigate the implications of the FBI’s narrow definition of rape, and the results are shocking: Police departments dismiss women’s rape reports because they don’t fit the “forcible” definition. Funding for rape investigations is lost because the narrow definition keeps rape tallies artificially low. Women are discouraged from reporting to police at all.

Join us in the fight to change the federal definition of rape. Once and for all, rape is rape. No more excuses!


  1. LadyBirdFL says:

    Why is the definition of "rape" even under discussion? It is a matter of CONSENT! If the victim (male or female) said "NO" and the aggressor continues with any type of sexual act (penetration or not), IT IS RAPE, period! Obviously, if the victim was unconscious or asleep or is an infant/child, the victim did not give his/her consent, IT IS RAPE, period! Granted, my definition doesn't cover instances whereby the victim is a tween/teen or a mentally-challenged individual, so my definition needs some work to cover variations (consent given, but victim is too young or mentally-challenged to understand the consequences or the rapist is a sexual-predator, etc).

  2. Monique Levesque says:

    Reading this now makes it clear to me where I do not want to live – the USA – I can't even believe this is true in today's world and that's why I've decided to post it on my profile. This makes no sense to me at all. This says most police departments don't consider rape of unconscious women, physically or mentally disabled women, & those under the influence of drugs or alcohol to be defined as "rape". That is INSANE. Rapists often drug their victims, or choose disabled women, or those leaving bars. I just don't believe this is true. Not in 2012, not in 2000 anything, now come on. In Canada if a woman calls for a domestic abuse situation, the police make the charge, not the woman, that is true with rape as well, it's not up to the woman, it's up to the prosecutor, which, sometimes isn't all that fair either, but by definition it is No means NO. Period.

  3. I’m sorry I guess this was explained above and I missed it. Never mind.

  4. I agree that the FBI definition is outdated and completely inaccurate, but it's not true that the FBI's is the only definition at the federal level. U.S. federal law has very specific and all-encompassing definitions of "sexual abuse" that covers issues of consent and non-vaginal sex (Sections 2241-2248).

  5. I agree that it is high time for a change. The fact that women have to battle the definition of rape before they can even feel protected and backed-up by the police and court system after being sexually assaulted, is completely appalling. We’re living in a society where rape crimes are backlogged in police station storage rooms all across the country and thousands of women will never see justice before the statute of limitations is up for their case. It’s disgusting that so many of our government officials can so idly stand by and watch the female population drown under a rape law that only protects them to a small extent. So yes, it is high time for change and it’s high time for our political leaders and law enforcement to step up and take a stand with us against this despicable act and the people who commit these crimes of sexual violence. There is no other crime that goes this unnoticed and swept under the rug. We sit back and watch movies and sexually explicit material depicting rape scenarios and violence against women, and then wonder why we live in a rape-prone society. It is so saddening that in our world today, rapists are still roaming free and going unpunished for what they do. I fully support Ms. Magazine and what they stand for on the issue of rape and sexual violence. Keep fighting ladies; we’ll get our justice one day.

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