Rape? Or Rape-ish?

4 Feb

Last week women’s rights activists rose up in firm opposition of a as part of the No Taxpayer Money for Abortion bill. The overwhelming response was effective in that the from the bill.

The issue in short:

The bill limited federal funding for abortion to victims of “forcible rape” or incest, or cases in which the mother’s health was in immediate danger.

Why this is a big deal:

The term is unclear, but suggests that certain kinds of rape– statutory rape, rape of a person with a cognitive disability, drug or alcohol facilitated rape, or many instances of date rape– don’t really count.


One revealed that only 12% of undergraduate students whose experiences fit the legal definitions of rape identified themselves as rape victims. The same study showed that 84% of college aged men whose actions would be legally classified as rape said what they did was “definitely not rape”.

While rape may have a variety of legal definitions, I use ‘s definition in my classes because I find it to be the most clear:

Rape: Vaginal, oral or anal penetration without consent. This can be with a penis, finger or other objects.

Consent*: A clear and freely given yes, not the absence of a no.

*If a person is under 18, mentally handicapped, or intoxicated (with alcohol and/or other drugs) beyond a certain point, they are not legally able to give consent to sex.

There is no gray area with rape. No matter the circumstances, it is defined primarily by a lack of consent.

I’ve been so upset about this issue, and I know others find it upsetting as well. To leave you on a lighter note, I’ll share this link to the commentary by one of my favorite feminists, .

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One Response to “Rape? Or Rape-ish?”


  1. Sisterhood– There’s Safety in Numbers « SAFE Women and Girls - February 22, 2011

    [...] otherwise be unable to afford it. (No federal funding goes towards abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or immediate danger to the mother.) It is in the hands of the Senate [...]

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