FBI Clarifies Definition Of Rape

This post was also blogged on Feminist Critics.


In 2011, the FBI approved a new definition of rape which was effective beginning in January 2013. Here it is:

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.

There was a bit of discussion when it was published as to whether it covered rape by envelopment. It’s written pretty ambiguously and the use of the word ‘penetration’ made many think that it didn’t include rape by envelopment. I have earlier argued for assuming in discussions that it includes rape by envelopment, but I quickly became disillusioned when it became clear that other governmental agencies like the CDC and the National Research Council excluded rape by envelopment from their definitions of rape.

I am happy to tell that Ms. Mary P. Reese, from the FBI’s CJIS Division’s Crime Statistics Management Unit confirms in an email that they consider rape by envelopment to be rape under the current FBI definition of rape, and that they’ll consider my suggestion in modifying documentation for the reporting agencies to reflect that more clearly.

Here’s the story on how this came about as well as screenshots of the email communication with Ms. Reese at the FBI.

About a month ago Reddit user femmecheng (a feminist regular on /r/FEMRADebates) contacted me. She had been told by an MRA that I might be interested in a couple of documents on the FBI definition of rape which she had gotten after being in contact with Ms. Reese at the FBI. One document was a short fact sheet on the new rape definition. The other one was  a user manual and technical specification on how the reporting agencies should report using the new definition.

What made the last document interesting was that it included several examples of what the agencies should report as rape. The first thing I noticed was that none of the examples described rape by envelopment. I wasn’t surprised by that.

I did however notice another discrepancy between the definition and one of the examples. The definition states that oral penetration must be done by a sexual organ while one of the examples involved oral penetration by a sexual object. I thought the discrepancy signified some plasticity in the definition and decided to send an email to Ms. Reese (who was listed as contact person on the first document) and ask whether this plasticity could also mean that rape by envelopment is covered by the definition. If so, I suggested that they include an example with rape by envelopment in their documentation.

A month went by and I got no answer, so I contacted femmecheng again to ask her how long it took for her to get a reply from Ms. Reese at the FBI when she mailed her the first time. She offered to mail a copy of my mail to Ms. Reese and she got a reply from her a day after. Perhaps my inintial mail to the FBI was caught in  spam-filter or someting.

I should point out that the next paragraphs describes two acts of incest and rape – one of the description is from the FBI document and the other one is a reworded version which describes an act of rape by envelopment. I chose that example to modify since that was the only example in the FBI document which had a female perpetrator and a male victim.

In my mail to Ms. Reese I had rewritten one example to describe rape by oral envelopment rather than rape by anal penetration which was depicted in the original example.

Example 7 from the FBI manual and technical document originally read:

“A woman took her young son to a secluded park. She told him they would have special time together, convinced him to remove his pants, and penetrated his anus with her fingers. She told the boy that she would go to jail if he told anyone and that his father would not love him anymore.”

I changed that to:

“A woman took her young son to a secluded park. She told him they would have special time together, convinced him to remove his pants, and performed fellatio on him. She told the boy that she would go to jail if he told anyone and that his father would not love him anymore.”

And I asked if my re-written example would be reported as rape. The answer from Ms. Reese was:

If number 7 was rewritten as you’ve suggested, it would still be classified as Rape according to the definition since the act includes oral penetration by a sex organ of another person which was without the consent of the victim.

I also asked this question:

If a woman fellating a man without his consent (or otherwise made him penetrate her vaginally or anally without his consent) should be reported as rape – will FBI update their documents to include examples of this and make it more clear for reporting agencies to include incidents of that nature?

The answer from Ms. Reese was that they would consider my suggestion.


I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to femmecheng for inspiring me to take  contact with the FBI by contacting me and for helping me in getting an answer to my questions from the FBI. Thanks!


Here are screenshots of the mail I wrote and the reply from the FBI:







A shorter version of this post is also published on Feminist Critics.



10 thoughts on “FBI Clarifies Definition Of Rape

  1. Pingback: Tamen gets FBI to clarify its position on “envelopment” rape | Toy Soldiers
  2. This posting is EXCELLENT news and exciting. We’ll link to it on AVfM but I would also like to reprint it with a link back to this site so as many people as possible can see it. Is that OK?

  3. Hi Dean.

    I do want as many as possible to see this news – which again can help make sure that FBI really does change their manual to include rape by envelopment scenarios. So please feel free to reprint it. A link back is appreciated and I’ll also make a note at the end of my post with a link to AVfM stating that it has been reprinted there if that is ok with you guys.

    One note though; If you end up writing a lede please consider that although people often label me an MRA, I personally identify as an egalitarian as a matter of principle.

  4. excellent news i personally would like to say that egalitarians and their efforts are most welcome reading for me on AVFM,, and i think you will find that nobody will try and co opt you either lols
    cheers Tamen

  5. hodgz: Thanks a lot. I am not worried about being co-opted, but wanted to avoid the noise if AVfM were accused of co-opting me if they made that common mistake. I think we all know who would jump at such an opportunity.

  6. I believe that American gender-feminists are going to keep perverting American law enforcement, until hetero-sexual relationships become a legal liability for guys. American women are not going to like it when only poor and un-educated guys with nothing to lose, are the only ones willing to risk persecution in order to date hetero.

  7. Not all cases of envelopment get classified as rape under this definition. Look closely at the clause about objects:

    “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.”

    There’s nothing about rape of anything else by objects. By that definition, a vagina can get raped by a dildo, but a penis cannot get raped by a fleshlight. There is no clause which includes a penis getting enveloped by an object. There is also no clause which includes hand-job rape.

  8. Pingback: rape of men about as prevalent as rape of women
  9. Pingback: An update on FBI’s definition of rape | Tamen's writings
  10. The FBI document does not include a single instance of a woman raping an adult man.**
    * SEE: https://ucr.fbi.gov/recent-program-updates/reporting-rape-in-2013 (https://ucr.fbi.gov/recent-program-updates/reporting-rape-in-2013)

    **Everyone being raped is either a woman or a child.**

    Except, in one case, where a man rapes another man. But by sodomizing him, not by performing oral sex on him.

    And, in the one where an adult woman is raping a child — it has her penetrating his anus. Not her fondling his genitals or performing oral sex on him, which I imagine are much more common than anal penetration.

    Additionally, they give an example of a woman raping another woman by shoving a “sexual object” into her mouth and breaking two of her teeth. This does not actually meet the definition of rape by the FBI. Which requires using a “sex organ” not a “sex object” for oral penetration to be rape. Also, they make it extra violent. As if it wouldn’t be rape if it didn’t knock out two teeth. So somehow the extra violence qualifies it as rape even though it doesn’t meet the definition given by the FBI.


    **The FBI gives **eleven** examples of rape. But **zero** of those are examples of someone being made to penetrate.** So basically, there is no evidence that the FBI employee you emailed is telling you the truth.

    Also, the definition does not include forced envelopment. So fondling a vagina can be rape — but fondling a penis never is.

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