U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

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U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Iulus Cofield » Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:15 pm UTC

U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Spoiler:
(CNN) -- The Justice Department announced Friday it is revising a decades-old definition of rape to expand the kinds of offenses that constitute the crime and for the first time, include men as victims.
Now, any kind of nonconsensual penetration, no matter the gender of the attacker or victim, will constitute rape -- meaning that attacks on men will be counted.
The crime of rape will be defined as "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," a Justice Department statement said.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the new definition will lead to a more comprehensive reporting of rape in the FBI's annual compilation of crime statistics.
"These long overdue updates to the definition of rape will help ensure justice for those whose lives have been devastated by sexual violence and reflect the Department of Justice's commitment to standing with rape victims," Holder said. "This new, more inclusive definition will provide us with a more accurate understanding of the scope and volume of these crimes."
Overheard on CNN.com: New definition of rape reflects reality, some readers say
An FBI advisory panel recently recommended the revision to the antiquated definition, established in 1927.
The law then defined rape as "the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will." That meant that it was only an act of rape if a man forcibly penetrated a woman through her vagina. It excluded oral and anal penetration; rape of males; penetration of the vagina and anus with an object or body part other than the penis; rape of females by females; and non-forcible rape.
Under the old definition, the case of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky -- charged with 40 counts in what authorities allege was the sexual abuse of young boys -- would not be considered as rape.
"Needless to say we are very pleased that the FBI has agreed to revise its definition used in data collection so it more accurately reflects what the public understands to be rape and what our current criminal statutes say," said Carol Tracy, executive director of the Women's Law Project, which has been pushing for the definition change.
The revised definition includes any gender of victim or perpetrator. It also includes instances in which a victim is incapable of giving consent because of mental or physical incapacity, such as intoxication. Physical resistance is not required to demonstrate lack of consent.
At issue here is how the old definition of rape affected the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting system.
Tracey and other advocates, as well as law enforcement officials, have said that the old definition led to under-reporting of rape. That in turn shaped public perceptions of the prevalence of rape and affected federal funding for resources in combating the crime.
Justice and FBI officials said, however, that it could take several years for all 18,000 of the nation's police agencies to report rape under the new definition.
All reporting to the Uniform Crime Report is voluntary, and state legal codes, resources, and technical capabilities vary widely. Although top officials expect reported forcible rapes eventually to increase from the 84,767 reported in 2010, they declined to offer any estimate of the statistics to be issued for 2011.
"This change will give law enforcement the ability to report more complete rape offense data, as the new definition reflects the vast majority of state rape statutes," said David Cuthbertson, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services.
"As we implement this change, the FBI is confident that the number of victims of this heinous crime will be more accurately reflected in national crime statistics," he said.
In 2010, the last year for which a final report is available, the FBI reported a forcible rape every 6.2 seconds. With a broader definition, that statistic will probably be even more grim, said Mai Fernandez, executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime.
"The problem is much greater than what you have been previously seeing," she said. "You don't really know what the problem is. Therefore, you can't really create solutions to fit."
The push for a revision started with the Women's Law Project over a decade ago. Tracey had a letter written to FBI Director Robert Mueller that was slated to be mailed on September 11, 2001.
The terrorist attacks that day changed everything. The FBI's attention turned to other pressing issues.
Last year, Tracy testified before a congressional committee looking at the failures of police departments to thoroughly investigate rape. She said then that an antiquated, narrow definition of rape was a harmful disservice to countless victims.
Friday, she thanked Justice and White House officials who listened. Among them was Vice President Joe Biden, author of the Violence Against Women Act.
"Rape is a devastating crime and we can't solve it unless we know the full extent of it," Biden said Friday. "This long-awaited change to the definition of rape is a victory for women and men across the country whose suffering has gone unaccounted for over 80 years."
Kim Gandy, vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, called the revision a "major policy change" that "will dramatically impact the way rape is tracked and reported nationwide."
Tracey, however, noted that the change is about data collection and that America has a long way to go in tackling rape.
"We still need to improve police practices and rid society of the stereotypes about rape victims," she said. "This is one important change but not the only change that's needed."


Long overdue is pretty much the only thing to say here. Although I'd prefer it if it finished something along the lines of "without the consent of the victim or with consent given under duress".

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:21 pm UTC

What the fuck, men couldn't qualify as rape victims in the US? Was that ever enforced in court?
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby lutzj » Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:23 pm UTC

I'm amazed the old law stayed on the books so long. Does anybody know how this will impact state laws?

Iulus Cofield wrote:Although I'd prefer it if it finished something along the lines of "without the consent of the victim or with consent given under duress".


We can probably count on the courts to interpret "consent" properly. (Public opinion is a whole other issue, but most people don't really read laws to the letter anyway.)

edit:
It also includes instances in which a victim is incapable of giving consent because of mental or physical incapacity, such as intoxication. Physical resistance is not required to demonstrate lack of consent.

This is huge.

sourmìlk wrote:What the fuck, men couldn't qualify as rape victims in the US? Was that ever enforced in court?


Probably got notched down to sexual assault or something else in most cases. Back in 1927 laws against sodomy would have covered anal penetration of men.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby natraj » Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:27 pm UTC

It is certainly a step in the right direction though counting rape only as penetration is still BS. I mean, if you
Spoiler:
hold someone with a penis down and force them to penetrate you that is still rape
but would not count under this definition, just as one example.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Malice » Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:06 pm UTC

natraj wrote:It is certainly a step in the right direction though counting rape only as penetration is still BS. I mean, if you
Spoiler:
hold someone with a penis down and force them to penetrate you that is still rape
but would not count under this definition, just as one example.


Actually, as long as the article quoted the actual language of the law:

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


It seems to me like there's no reason why "victim" in that sentence must be the one being penetrated.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Tirian » Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:24 pm UTC

Are we classifying wedgies as rape now?

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby jareds » Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:27 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:What the fuck, men couldn't qualify as rape victims in the US? Was that ever enforced in court?
lutzj wrote:I'm amazed the old law stayed on the books so long. Does anybody know how this will impact state laws?
Malice wrote:Actually, as long as the article quoted the actual language of the law:

This isn't about the criminal law (or any law); it's just about the definition that the Justice Department uses when categorizing crimes for its statistics. The staggeringly poor reporting of CNN doesn't make that clear. I looked at a couple of other news sources, and they all do. Here is an example.

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby lutzj » Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:29 pm UTC

Tirian wrote:Are we classifying wedgies as rape now?


A wedgie would have to be pretty powerful to penetrate either the anus or vagina, let alone the oral cavity.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Magnanimous » Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:47 pm UTC

lutzj wrote:
Tirian wrote:Are we classifying wedgies as rape now?

A wedgie would have to be pretty powerful atomic to penetrate either the anus or vagina, let alone the oral cavity.

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Ibid » Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:14 pm UTC

Magnanimous wrote:
lutzj wrote:
Tirian wrote:Are we classifying wedgies as rape now?

A wedgie would have to be pretty powerful atomic to penetrate either the anus or vagina, let alone the oral cavity.


Spoiler:
Image



Anyways, while this isn't changing court rulings, this is a nice step in the right direction as far as it shows what law enforcement is willing to work with. Social, not legal.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby juststrange » Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:24 pm UTC

In my home state the old definition is still on the books. Penis in vagina is the only thing that counts as rape. While that seems crazy at first, from a legal standpoint there is a counterbalance. My understanding is that First Degree Sexual Assault, which covers all other forms of violent rape, carries the same potential sentencing as the official "Rape" charge.

That said, there is some visceral mental difference between being legally labeled a rapist versus a sex offender. Whether or not that is important is not something I can say.

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby curtis95112 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 2:54 am UTC

About time.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby snow5379 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:39 am UTC

I have a good friend that's a registered sex offender for basically playing doctor with his sister while they both were very young. His mom found out, kicked him out of his home, and he was in foster care ever since. Keep in mind they were both around the same age and the sister loves her brother, feels he had done nothing wrong, and feels her mother made a very bad decision.

Our society takes sex way too seriously and these laws show it. By broadening these definitions both good and bad things happen. Yes, some people who do really bad things get punished for them, but also people who make small mistakes (or do nothing wrong at all) have their lives ruined on technicalities. It's coming to a point where we're going to toss a football player into jail for life after hitting another football player on the rear end after a game.

The sad thing is when it comes down to it our prisons and such just don't do their jobs and people are not reformed after doing their time so this is all for nothing. People are having their lives ruined for making mistakes and no good at all is coming from it. And now we are broadening the definition of what counts as a mistake because of the way society looks at sex.

Don't get me wrong... I think rape is bad because of the risk of STDs, pregnancy, social stigma, and just making a person feel like shit... but with the way society looks at sex in general these laws just seem dangerous to me. For example... if two people get drunk and fuck then later one of them regrets it then it's counted as rape. That's just silly. Now drunken second base is rape too? The laws are also very biased against men... if a guy gets drunk and fucks some random chick at a bar there's no way the man can claim she raped him.

There should really be varying levels of sexual assault with varying punishments instead of just one broad "rape" category... so I'm against this change.

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:44 am UTC

I also have problems with the criteria to get on the sex offender registry, but there isn't really anything in this new definition that's dangerous: it is not going to condemn an innocent person. And you really don't want to get this forum started on what constitutes drunken rape. As my knowledge and experience with sex is limited (see: absent, null), I can't personally testify as to what kind of sex is rape in somewhat more complex scenarios like that, but I guarantee you that the rest of this forum has an opinion.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Hawknc » Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:15 am UTC

snow: This is the FBI's definition of rape used for statistical purposes. My understanding of U.S. law is that rape and sexual assault are almost entirely dealt with at the state level or lower, which tend to have their own definitions. What you're asking for already exists and this change won't affect that.
snow5379 wrote:if two people get drunk and fuck then later one of them regrets it then it's counted as rape. That's just silly. Now drunken second base is rape too? The laws are also very biased against men... if a guy gets drunk and fucks some random chick at a bar there's no way the man can claim she raped him.

I'm interested in how you define "drunken second base". If you mean oral sex with someone so drunk that they can't consent, then yes, it's rape! Welcome to the world of people who aren't terrible. As for the second part, see the aforementioned about state laws. If they don't allow a man to level a rape charge at a woman then they're broken and need to be fixed - you won't find any argument here.
snow5379 wrote:I have a good friend that's a registered sex offender for basically playing doctor with his sister while they both were very young. His mom found out, kicked him out of his home, and he was in foster care ever since. Keep in mind they were both around the same age and the sister loves her brother, feels he had done nothing wrong, and feels her mother made a very bad decision.

Which states put juveniles on their sex offender registries? Honest question, I wasn't aware that was a thing.

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:19 am UTC

Hawknc wrote:Which states put juveniles on their sex offender registries? Honest question, I wasn't aware that was a thing.


I don't know specifically, but it happens. If you are underage and sext with your underage partner, you can get put on the sex offender registry for carrying child pornography.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby snow5379 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:29 pm UTC

Massachusetts.

And... for second base I was, while trying not to be crude, things such as fingering (or in the case of a gay person possibly grabbing another guy's junk).

Also on a similar topic... how often does a girl brag about getting it on with a hot guy, then after being called a slut, suddenly change her story and play the rape card? Hint: it happens more than you'd think. The way our society looks at sex and glorifies it as something fundamentally different than eating or sleeping (which it is not) is really sad and leads to these kinds of silly laws that pretty much lock up perfectly moral, normal people for the stupidest things.

Now I understand the evolutionary need for sexual selection so I'm not saying that everyone should just fuck whoever but really people shouldn't be registered sex offenders for life because some girl changed her mind after being called a slut. This hasn't ever happened to me (thankfully) but I know too many guys who it has happened too. This isn't saying that similar things aren't done to women by guys (guys are assholes too) but there are never any legal implications for a girl if a guy goes around saying "she took advantage of me!"

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Elvish Pillager » Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:59 pm UTC

snow5379 wrote:...people shouldn't be registered sex offenders for life because some girl changed her mind after being called a slut. This hasn't ever happened to me (thankfully) but I know too many guys who it has happened too.

According to whom?
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Hawknc » Sun Jan 08, 2012 2:01 pm UTC

snow5379 wrote:how often does a girl brag about getting it on with a hot guy, then after being called a slut, suddenly change her story and play the rape card? Hint: it happens more than you'd think.

How often is that? Wikipedia puts the incidence of false reporting at 8% or so. More of a concern is under-reporting: 75 to 95 per cent of all rapes go unreported.

Sex is different. You eat and breathe on your own terms without the need for anyone else to give you permission. Sex requires two (or more!) people and the entire definition of consensual sex - the legal kind - is that all parties have consented. "Moral, normal people" seek that consent beforehand.
snow5379 wrote:Now I understand the evolutionary need for sexual selection so I'm not saying that everyone should just fuck whoever but really people shouldn't be registered sex offenders for life because some girl changed her mind after being called a slut.

They're not. They're registered sex offenders because they committed a sex crime. If you think men are being put in jail for rapes they didn't commit in any sort of significant numbers, you'd best have evidence to support that, because I can guarantee that there are many, many more who did commit a crime but won't ever see the inside of a court room.

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Telchar » Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:42 pm UTC

Hawknc wrote:They're not. They're registered sex offenders because they committed a sex crime.


That....isn't true all the time. I have a friend who is a registered sex offender because he peed in a park at 2am and got jailed for indecent exposure. Pretty much ruined his life.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Prefanity » Sun Jan 08, 2012 7:15 pm UTC

Telchar wrote:
Hawknc wrote:They're not. They're registered sex offenders because they committed a sex crime.


That....isn't true all the time. I have a friend who is a registered sex offender because he peed in a park at 2am and got jailed for indecent exposure. Pretty much ruined his life.


Indecent exposure is still a sex crime. Whether or not peeing in a park ought to be considered indecent exposure or if the sex offender registry ought to be a thing are entirely different conversations.

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby pollywog » Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:16 pm UTC

Telchar wrote:
Hawknc wrote:They're not. They're registered sex offenders because they committed a sex crime.


That....isn't true all the time. I have a friend who is a registered sex offender because he peed in a park at 2am and got jailed for indecent exposure. Pretty much ruined his life.
Is that actually true, or is this just a retelling of the story from Horrible Bosses? I don't think that that should be indecent exposure, although I suppose he could have been masturbating. I pee in public all the time.

Also, is it likely that rape statistics will rise dramatically (in the US) these next few years because of this? They mention it taking a few years in the article. Hopefully it wakes more people up, although if people are fine with a forcible rape every 6.2 seconds, changing the definition may not bring them round.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Dream » Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:37 pm UTC

natraj wrote:It is certainly a step in the right direction though counting rape only as penetration is still BS. I mean, if you
Spoiler:
hold someone with a penis down and force them to penetrate you that is still rape
but would not count under this definition, just as one example.

Spoiler:
The language I read in that news story doesn't define the victim as the person penetrated. It says only that forcible penetration of some part of the body by another is rape. Could be that a person forced to penetrate another person is the victim, and the penetration is the rape.


Sounds like it needs a test case to me.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby snow5379 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:58 pm UTC

I guess communication is a better comparison to sex than eating and breathing. You could technically live without communication or sex but for the vast majority of people it's comparable too... well I guess starving or suffocating but without the dying part. Solitary confinement is considered torture for a reason. To be fair Newton lived a happy and successful life and didn't care for women or social interaction but he was a bit different from most people.

Anyway the fact that peeing in public can get you registered as a sex offender for life just shows the problem we are in. We shouldn't be widening definitions but rather give different definitions for different crimes and help those people (not punish but help!) those who commit said crimes so they won't commit any crimes in the future.

The treatment needed to prevent someone from peeing in public again is different than that needed to prevent violent rape. As such... why call both crimes the same thing when they are not and give the same treatments? I'll tell you why: it's the way our society looks at ANYTHING sexual as this horrible ungodly thing and would rather have revenge on people who do wrong than help those people better their lives and do right in the future.

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:07 pm UTC

snow5379 wrote:Anyway the fact that peeing in public can get you registered as a sex offender for life just shows the problem we are in. We shouldn't be widening definitions

Why not? The fact that the definition of one crime is too broad does not mean that the definition of a completely different crime (and a non-legal definition, at that) cannot be too narrow.

Further, the breadth of a definition is not one-dimensional. A law could be too broad in one respect while being too narrow in another. For example, an indecent exposure law which forbid the exposure of ankles and male genitalia while permitting the exposure of female genitalia would need to be both broadened and narrowed. Or, as it were, reshaped.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby snow5379 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:58 pm UTC

Such a law shouldn't exist because no one is hurt by indecent exposure. You can be naked without being obnoxious or sexual (for example look at a nude beach). I mean god forbid you have to see or hear something that you don't want to see or hear. To be honest being naked is, well, just not classy and there are social repercussions which are more than enough to prevent everyone from running around naked. Businesses will refuse your business for one. There is no need for the law force its way into the situation.

And to the point... yes indecent exposure is a completely different crime than violent rape.

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sun Jan 08, 2012 10:00 pm UTC

snow5379 wrote:And to the point... yes indecent exposure is a completely different crime than violent rape.

In which case this thread about the FBI's definition of rape might not be the place to take issue with indecent exposure laws.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby lutzj » Sun Jan 08, 2012 10:07 pm UTC

snow5379 wrote:Such a law shouldn't exist because no one is hurt by indecent exposure.


The theory is that children and little old ladies could be emotionally harmed. There's also the fact that indecent exposure often = sexual harassment.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Iulus Cofield » Sun Jan 08, 2012 10:40 pm UTC

Dream wrote:Sounds like it needs a test case to me.


Not it !

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby yurell » Sun Jan 08, 2012 10:42 pm UTC

Fingers crossed that it never needs one.

Unfortunately, the real world isn't so kind :(
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Hawknc » Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:22 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
snow5379 wrote:And to the point... yes indecent exposure is a completely different crime than violent rape.

In which case this thread about the FBI's definition of rape might not be the place to take issue with indecent exposure laws.

I'll back this up in red text - if you want to discuss indecent exposure laws, it's probably worth its own thread in the correct place (i.e. Serious Business). It has very little to do with the actual article this thread is about.

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Роберт » Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:11 pm UTC

Yay, sane definitions of rape!
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby netcrusher88 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:56 pm UTC

Dream wrote:Sounds like it needs a test case to me.

It shouldn't. I'd be interested to hear the FBI's take on this, but a major part of the reasoning for this change was to include cases where the victim is not the one being penetrated.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:04 pm UTC

Wait, will this cover things like forced handjobs? Because that still seems like it should be rape.

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Ibid » Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:15 pm UTC

Likely not. The definition seems to be heavily weighted to the idea of non-consensual penetration being rape (of either the one penetrated or the penetrator). Handjobs would like fall under sexual assault. And I can see the logic in that, people don't identify their hands as a private and wholly owned part of them to the same extent they do anything internal/sexual. Still a crime, but slightly less a violation of the sense of owning your own body. Although breasts may qualify, while still not being penetrative.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Роберт » Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:16 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Wait, will this cover things like forced handjobs? Because that still seems like it should be rape.

Hmmm... I don't agree. Mind, I don't strongly disagree, but handjobs aren't sex, are they?
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:51 pm UTC

Neither is sodomy, depending whom you ask. For example, the people who wrote the previous definition.

Mods, if you are thinking about new filters, how about "sodomy" be replaced with "gomorrhea"?

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby Роберт » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:02 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Neither is sodomy, depending whom you ask.

Mods, if you are thinking about new filters, how about "sodomy" be replaced with "gomorrhea"?

Well, if you go with risk of STDs spreading, you'll get a better idea of what I think should "count" as sex and what shouldn't. And for me, rape is "non-consensual sex". You'll note I didn't strongly disagree.
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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:04 pm UTC

Well, some acts may be worse than others, again depending whom you ask, when it comes to rape. But the doesn't mean that one is rape and the other isn't.

I wouldn't go by "risk of spreading STDs", because then condoms are a defense in court.

Not that I'm trying to insult you or your opnion. Discourse not disgust.
Last edited by CorruptUser on Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:08 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: U.S. broadens archaic definition of rape

Postby netcrusher88 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:06 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Neither is sodomy, depending whom you ask. For example, the people who wrote the previous definition.

Yeah, but they didn't write this one. I wouldn't be surprised if this is interpreted to cover handjobs as well, for parity because it is clearly meant to cover eh... digital penetration.

Mods, if you are thinking about new filters, how about "sodomy" be replaced with "gomorrhea"?

Yeah how about what the fuck no.
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