Letters to the Editor – October 2, 2012

Call it what it is: Rape

Dear Editor,

The University Police Department, in compliance with the Clery Act, has released the UAF crime statistics for the years 2009-2011. Good. A well-informed public is a safer public. Just one problem.

In the category labeled Sex Offenses – Forcible, there were 27 such offenses reported total. Then there is the category Sex Offenses – Non-Forcible, of which there have been two reported.

Forcible. Force. Entry No. 2 on Dictionary.com lists force as, “strength or power exerted upon an object; physical coercion; to use force on a person.” Entry No. 4 for “power” reads, “the possession of control or command over others; authority.”

Therein lies the rub. Sexual assault — rape — by its very nature is forcible. The offender is violating the victim’s will in a perverse act of control. A man doesn’t have to hold a woman down and violently penetrate her for it to count as rape. A boyfriend shaming his girlfriend into intercourse, a man taking advantage of a drunk or passed out woman, an adult having sex with a minor: All are rape. All are forcible. In each case, force — whether physical or otherwise — was used to achieve the assault.

I understand and appreciate that the UAF police are just following procedure, the same one used by the FBI.

But we need to put an end to this inaccurate, damaging word. This word has been used in an attempt to de-legitimize rape victims for decades, and even today. Remember Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment? There are too many rapes reported on campus, and far more that go unreported. Rape is rape. UAF must not re-victimize these people by labeling it as anything less.

Andrew Sheeler

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