Last week Jared Fogle, former Subway spokesman, plead guilty to charges of child-sex and pornography. He will have to pay his victims $1.4 million and spend 5 years in prison. The story has been breaking news and headlines have mostly used the term “sex acts with minors” however, few have used the word rape.
Rewind 13 years ago to the R. Kelly 2002 child pornography case. A video of the Grammy-winning singer having sex with a then 14 year-old girl and urinated in her mouth went public and many never labeled it as rape either. The victim said she recruited other underage girls on his behalf and was instructed by R. Kelly to have sex with them in front of him. All the victims settled out of court and he was later acquitted of all charges.
Most recently in July, New York Magazine had 35 of the 46 women who had accused Bill Cosby of rape on their bi-weekly magazine cover. Since then more have come forward and the count is now over 50 women who have accused the comedian and television icon of rape and/or sexual assault
Which brings up the question, what is rape? and why are terms like “sex with a minor” used in the cases like Jared Fogle and not rape? Why is it so easy to identify some cases like Bill Cosby’s as rape and difficult for others?
In 2012, the US Justice Department announced the revision of the legal definition of rape. The revised definition includes any gender of victim or perpetrator, and includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity, including due to the influence of drugs or alcohol or because of age.
So if that’s the legal definition, why isn’t the media calling Jared Fogle’s sex acts with minors rape? There is evidence that he went as far as having prostitutes recruit minors on his behalf. He repeatedly asked one of the minor victims and other adults who were escort-service employees to “provide him with access to minors as young as 14 years-old.” The younger the girl, the better,” he told one of the victims. Jared Fogle said he would “really make it worth her while if she could find one.” He also repeatedly viewed and supported child pornography with children including victims as young as 6.
Rape is not a type of sex, rape is a crime. This kind of mislabeling happens in the media all the time, where headlines often describe an alleged rapist as facing charges for “having sex” with a child or unconscious person -as if having sex with a child or unconscious person can be anything but rape. Rape is often treated like a dirty curse word that can’t be said. Saying it for many seems like a step too far. However, rape by any other name excuses the rapist and disfavors the victim.
Jared Fogle is a rapist.
Rape is non-consensual and that includes under the age of consent. Rape isn’t just drugging a person and having sex with their unconscious body like many have accused Bill Cosby of. People traditionally see rape as a masked-man forcing a women to have sex but rape has many different faces and many different looks. Preying on underage girls while on business trips and having sex with them is rape. Men are also raped but cases aren’t taken seriously or because it’s a women who’s the perpetrator people don’t believe it or even identify it as rape. We must call rape rape and we must see all rape as rape. Rapist like Jared often use their status, power and money to manipulate young girls into having sex with them, this is rape. “Having sex with a minor” is rape and rape is a violent crime. We must break the myths and traditional views of what rape is. Submission isn’t the same as cooperation and not all rape is from a stranger. Actually around 73% of all rapes and 90% of rapes on college campuses are committed by someone the victim knows.
Rape is a difficult topic for many but we can’t dilute rape. Rape is rape, it’s awful, despicable, harrowing and wrong. Calling rape anything else and substituting it with other incorrect terms just makes sexual abuse and the abuser more acceptable.
Let’s call it what it is. How can we prevent rape and protect the victims of rape if we won’t call it what it is?!?!?
Weigh in & leave a comment. Do you feel there is a grey area to rape?
Happy Women Equality Day! It’s been 95 years since women were granted the right to vote in the US and women are still waiting for equal treatment across the board. May greater progress come sooner than later.