…following the revelation that my own country wouldn’t call me a rape victim if I was physically or chemically forced to have vaginal sex by a woman. It’s only rape in the UK if you penetrate them, and it’s only rape in Scotland if you have a penis. The FBI definition has been updated, but it is still highly problematic.
These are supposedly enlightened and egalitarian countries. But there are others which are arguably more so, and so perhaps there is still hope. The UN’s Human Development index has a list of the most ‘advanced’ nations. Let’s go through the 2011 top 5.
Bingo. As far as I can see this law is not gender specific, using such language as ‘Any person who commits or is accessory to another person’s committing an act of indecency with any person who is under 16 years of age shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years’. The jail sentences are short, but these are apparently being addressed. STDs are also interestingly classed as grevious bodily harm. So in theory the law on rape here isn’t sexist, though in practice we will still probably see the same disproportionate conviction in cases of male defendants or female accusers as we have in our countries. But still, this is a major improvement on what we have, and that makes our own sexism even more obvious.
Again, as far as I can see the dominant word here is ‘person’, or ‘an Australian citizen, resident or body corporate’, and even says ‘he or she’ when referring to rapists. However, in some areas (Western Australia, I’m looking at you) it slips back into the old ‘penetration’ issue. So men can be anally raped by men, women can be vaginally or anally raped by men, but men cannot be raped by a cis woman without the use of specialist equipment. Not as good as Norway, then, but better than what we have (which is pretty much a universal Western Australia).
3. The Netherlands
Well this lasted long. We’re back to ‘he’. ‘He who by violence or other act or threat of violence or other act someone forces us to commit or tolerate lewd acts, is guilty of actual indecent assault, punishable by imprisonment not exceeding eight years or a fine of the fifth category’, and so on. It accepts that men can be raped without being penetrated, but still suggests that all rapists must be men. Third most developed country in the world? We’re not so far behind after all.
4. The United States
The 1994 law (as part of a ‘Violence Against Women Act’, which tells you all that you need to know) was problematic. The old FBI definition, not allowing for the rape of men or boys even with penetration, was problematic. The current FBI definition, now focusing on penetration, is still problematic. Some state laws, however, seem promising. California only mentions ‘intercourse’ and ‘individuals’ rather than penetrating men, whilst Texas mentions penetration but also specifies that it is rape if somebody ‘causes the sexual organ of another person, without that person’s consent, to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor’. So under this law, women can rape men through penis-vagina intercourse. The FBI definition is still years behind though, and other states are even worse, so this is only a partial victory.
5. New Zealand
The definition of rape here is similar to the Scottish one. Penis, penis, penis. It’s actually worse, because it doesn’t include the anal rape of men. Rape is the penetration of the victim’s genitalia by the rapist’s penis, and so all rapists are men and all rape victims are women. Probably the worst account I’ve seen so far, and this is supposedly the fifth most developed nation in the world.
The majority of other countries are as bad, if not worse. Most of them don’t see men as possible rape victims. A large number think that only men can rape. But these are not just the countries which outlaw sex out of marriage or make homosexuality illegal, these are developed, enlightened, Western nations. These are the countries we live in. So if I am drugged and ‘raped’ by a woman tomorrow, and come on here and say as much, I will be guilty of the crime of libel whilst she will not be guilty of the crime of rape. Sexual violence, yes, but not rape. This sort of distinction is unnecessary, and it is sexist, and it is not only unjust in itself but it contributes to a much wider societal problem whereby the rape of men is not taken seriously.