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!


Stephanie hails from Toronto, Canada. She is a Ms. writer, a master of journalism candidate and a hip hop dancer/instructor/choreographer. She got her start in feminist journalism at the age of 16 when she was a member of the first editorial collective at Shameless magazine—and she has never looked back.