Is “Forcible Rape” Redundant?

Recently, Gawker.com’s Jim Newell wrote a controversial piece about the House Republicans entitled, House Republicans Are Already Redefining ‘Rape’.   Here’s a picture of Newell who joined Gawker.com in May of last year.  I couldn’t really find his age, but according to the profile piece, it appears his experience began two and a half years ago at DC gossip site Wonkette.  So, I’m pretty sure that when he writes,:

Give them credit: It’s only January, but the new Republican-controlled House is already obnoxiously redefining “rape” in pieces of legislation. Under their plan, only abortions from “forcible rape” would be eligible for government funding, instead of the much simpler “rape.”

he’s not old enough to even remember our struggle or even speak knowledgeably about it.  But, frankly, I have to give him credit.  Seems his story incited even the most experienced of our GIRLFRIENDS to take pause AND I am reminded of Boehner and the House Republicans’ “redefinition” by an overwhelming amount of tweets.  The problem with Newell and Women who are too easily ready to blame the Republicans or Democrats is that “forcible rape” was one of the original seven crimes used to create the first Uniform Crime Reports published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the FBI in 1930Yes, 1930, not 2011. The complete list includes: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, burglary, aggravated assault, larceny and motor vehicle theft.  Arson was added in 1979.

Why was “forcible rape” used instead of what Newell calls the’ “much simpler “rape”‘?  [For the RECORD: Newell as you get older, understand that there is NO SUCH THING as the “much simpler rape” and your characterization of it in this way should be what enraged Women].  According to Rape: Legal Aspects ,

“The traditional offense of rape required proof of five elements: penetration, force and resistance, nonconsent, absence of a spousal relationship (the marital exemption), and a culpable state of mind (mens rea).”

Until around 1950, courts required women to PROVE they had resisted “to the utmost.”  The article even states,

“the prosecution had to prove that the victim resisted. Absent resistance, courts assumed that the victim freely chose to acquiesce. One court, reflecting the view of early-twentieth-century male judges, stated, a woman “is equipped to interpose most effective obstacles by means of hands and limbs and pelvic muscles. Indeed, medical writers insist that these obstacles are practically insuperable in absence of more than the usual relative disproportion of age and strength between man and woman” (Brown v. State, 106 N.W. 536, 538 (Wis. 1906)).”

In fact, until around 1984, husbands could not be prosecuted for raping their wife, even if they were separated, as courts interpreted a consent of marriage to a consent to engage in sex at the husband’s will.  In some states, this exemption is still in place,

“the exemption survives in modified form in most of the states. Though only fifteen states have abolished all distinctions between marital and nonmarital rape, many states still treat marital rape as less serious than other rapes..”

Violence against women is a global issue and I’ve addressed the politicizing of it before, Now YOU Notice? Assault on Female Activist Great Fodder for Politics: IGNORES WOMEN.  Writers who have absolutely NO HISTORY or interest in Women’s issues now taking issue if an opponent political party can be branded “Anti-Women.”  Have you heard anything recently from MoveOn.org about violence against women.  Their female reporter is absolutely beaten and harmed, but once the ability to diminish the Tea Party  is gone, so, too is the issue.

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