Saturday, January 14, 2012

Obama Brings Rape into the 21st Century

And gets a gold star from me for doing it. After more than eighty years of the federal government inadequately defining "rape," the Obama administration has updated the definition. Under the old understanding, rape was the "carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will." The new and improved definition is much more expansive:

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.

Why is this better? The most glaringly obvious improvement is that the FBI now recognizes that men can be the victims of rape, which has been one of the most dastardly oversights in the decades old dispute over equal rights for the sexes. By removing the specification that a rape victim must be "female," the government finally acknowledges what should have been self-evident all along: it is possible to sexually violate a male. Additionally, the new definition expands rape to include the variety of sexual acts which, in our perverse excellence, we have perfected in modern times, including object rape, vaginal or anal penetration with body parts other than the penis, and forced fellatio.

It is important to remember, however, that this change does not affect penal codes--state or federal--in anyway, though thankfully most already included the full range of offenses in their rape and sexual assault laws. It does, however, bring the statistical analysis of rape into the 21st century, which is an important step. Many state and local organizations use the official rape statistics put out by the FBI to assign funds and other resources to rape prevention and awareness programs as well as victims' services. The greatest victory, however, may still be the moral one. It is encouraging to know that our government is still nimble enough to change patently absurd conceptions of crime, even if it takes eighty-five years to do it.

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