To the FBI, Lara Logan Wasn’t Raped
Less than three months ago, CBS News correspondent Lara Logan was brutally gang-raped in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. She was covering the Egyptian uprising on Feb. 11 when a group of 200 to 300 men suddenly snatched her away from her team. Then, “For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands,” she says.
For the vast majority of us, what Logan survived would no doubt be considered a rape. But the FBI disagrees. To them, a rape only counts if a vagina is penetrated by a penis. So for the FBI, Lara Logan wasn’t raped.
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR), which is the nation’s go-to statistical record on violent crime, defines “forcible rape” [PDF] as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” Each year, U.S. law enforcement agencies tally up their violent crime records, including homicides, robberies, thefts, aggravated assaults and “forcible” rapes, and submit them to the UCR, but only rapes that fit that narrow definition can be included. The FBI then releases a national report of all violent crimes, which the mainstream media dutifully reports.
But the definition of “forcible” rape excludes most rapes: It leaves out oral, anal and statutory rape; rape with an object, finger or fist; incest; and, for many police departments that misinterpret the definition, women raped while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol are excluded, as well as unconscious women and those with physical or mental disabilities. That means our national dialogue on rape is diluted; it’s based on bad numbers and faulty reporting–and that leaves women like Logan to be ignored.
Obviously these sexual assaults ought to count as rape, but this egregiously inadequate concept is part of a patriarchal culture that defines sex in terms of a penis and what it does. See also wingnuts’ obsession with male homosexual sex acts.