The Latin verb discurrere meant "to run about", and from this word we get our word discursive , which often means rambling about over a wide range of topics. A discursive writing style generally isn't encouraged by writing teachers. But some of the great 19th-century writers, such as Charles Lamb and Thomas de Quincey, show that the discursive essay, especially when gracefully written and somewhat personal in tone, can be a pleasure to read. And the man often called the inventor of the essay, the great Michel de Montaigne, might touch on dozens of different topics in the course of a long discursive essay.
In recent years, as at every turn in our history, critics have chafed at the more expansive definitions of rape. As in the past, some may fear a loss of sexual privileges. Some skeptics have cast doubt on the extent and the damage of acquaintance rape. Others have tried to limit the meaning of rape to advance broader political agendas. Congressional Republicans recently tried, for instance, to change the rules for federal funds for abortions, allowing them only in cases of “forcible rape” as opposed to “rape.” (They eventually dropped that language after critics countered that rape is always forcible.) Rep. Akin’s comment, while unique for employing the outdated medical theory that women cannot become pregnant from rape, was just the latest attempt to restrict the meaning of sexual assault.