Update Archaic Legal Definition of Rape

Target:  California Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning

Goal: Update the legal definition of rape to include any unwanted penetration, not just with a penis.

Lawmakers in California are trying to update an old and insufficient legal definition of rape in order to help victims obtain real justice against their attackers. As it is now, California’s legal definition of rape is a man penetrating another person with his penis without the victim’s consent. This means that any penetration with hands or objects are defined as sexual assault–a crime that comes with a lesser punishment.

Every organization that actually studies rape and its effects defines the crime as any penetration without consent. It’s clear that penetration with hands, fingers, or objects is just as traumatizing for the victims. Plus, the current definition makes it so that legally, anyone without a penis can’t be convicted of rape. This leaves out a lot of victims, especially male victims, who have long been ignored by society.

After the outrageously lenient sentence given to the Stanford rapist Brock Turner, it’s past time to update these definitions across the nation so that rapists can be sent to prison for a reasonable amount of time that actually tells society that rape is a serious crime. A bill introduced to the California Senate would change the state’s definition of rape to the FBI’s definition: “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.”

A bill like this could inspire other states to follow suit and prevent another travesty like the Brock Turner trial. Sign our petition to urge the California Senate to pass this important bill.


Dear Majority Leader Monning,

California State Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia and Susan Eggman have introduced a bill to change the state’s legal definition of rape. The current definition is archaic and leaves a lot of victims without justice as it only counts penetration by a man’s penis without consent as rape, and penetration with hands, fingers, or objects is classified as “sexual assault,” which comes with a lesser penalty.

Unwanted penetration by things other than a penis is just as violating and traumatizing. Thinking of these crimes as mere sexual assault is the kind of thing that led to the appalling sentencing of the Stanford rapist Brock Turner to a mere six months in jail after he raped a woman behind a dumpster for 20 minutes.

Garcia and Eggman simply want to update your state’s definition to the FBI’s definition, which includes any unwanted penetration by any person. This will help more victims, including male victims, to obtain real justice. Please do everything you can to support this bill and see that it passes.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Women’s eNews

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