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 Are All Men Potential Rapists?

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futureshock

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PostSubject: Are All Men Potential Rapists?   Tue Mar 11, 2008 5:28 pm

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Born to rape?
All men are potential sex criminals, say two evolutionary psychology proponents in a controversial new book.

By Margaret Wertheim

Feb. 29, 2000 | It was a figure I kept hearing again and again: 50 percent of South African women can now expect to be raped sometime during their lives. Everywhere I went on a recent visit to the beautiful troubled city of Cape Town, people were talking about rape. An elderly neighbor of the couple I was staying with -- a women in her 80s -- had not long before been brutally raped in her home, then bound and gagged and imprisoned in a closet. Her son had found her several days later, and she died soon afterward in the hospital. After hearing several not dissimilar stories and endless accounts of the endemic rape in the squatter camps and black townships, I began to see that the horrific statistic might just be true.

For the past 30 years, rape has been seen as a byproduct of social conditioning and chaos. According to this line of reasoning, the situation in South Africa must be explained by a complex set of factors including the destruction of traditional tribal cultures, 50 years of apartheid and the aftermath of several centuries of colonial oppression. But a new book challenges such sociocultural accounts of rape and asserts that it is a built-in adaption that has evolved naturally because it confers a reproductive advantage on the men who do it.

"A Natural History of Rape: The Biological Basis of Sexual Coercion" sets out a strictly Darwinian view. Writing recently in the Sciences, the authors, biologist Randy Thornhill and anthropologist Craig Palmer, state their position bluntly: "We fervently believe that, just as the leopard's spots and the giraffe's elongated neck are the results of aeons of past Darwinian selection, so is rape." Elsewhere they proclaim: "There is no doubt that rape has evolutionary -- and hence genetic -- origins." If so, South Africa must be a hothouse for such genes.

As the latest salvo from the burgeoning "evolutionary psychology" movement, the book is a symptom of an increasingly heated border war -- the fight over who controls the intellectual territory of human behavior. Traditionally, the study of what people do and why they do it has been the domain of the social sciences -- cultural anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists and political scientists -- but increasingly, evolutionary biologists are claiming that the key to human behavior lies not in our culture and social structures but in our biological makeup. In the case of "A Natural History of Rape," this is more than just a rhetorical battle; our whole approach to rape prevention is potentially at stake.

Ground zero for Thornhill and Palmer is the notion that rape is a strategy for helping males to procreate. Central to their argument is a rather Aristotelian distinction between what they call "ultimate" and "proximate" causes. While they acknowledge there may be social situations that enhance the likelihood of a man raping, according to them these must always be understood as just the immediate or proximate cause of his actions. Underlying all such causes, they say, is the ultimate cause, which is a biologically built-in mechanism. In other words, whatever cultural conditions prevail, the "true" explanation for rape -- and in their view the only legitimate explanation -- is to be found in a man's genes.

In support of their evolutionary view, Thornhill and Palmer point out that the majority of rape victims are young women at the peak of their fertility and hence of their child-bearing potential. Why? At great length they explain that Darwinian evolution would have selected for mechanisms in males that would target these young women for rape. Since, in their view, procreation is the "ultimate" goal driving rape, it is only logical that this sexual strategy would focus on women at their reproductive zenith.

To corroborate this view the authors assert that studies have proven that it is women of child-bearing age who suffer the most psychological trauma in the aftermath of rape. Child rape victims and elderly victims supposedly suffer less because, although they have been physically violated, their reproductive potential has not been compromised. To quote: "The more a woman's reproductive success would have contributed to the genetic success of her mate or her relatives in evolutionary history, the greater the suffering of those individuals is likely to be after she is raped." It is married women in particular, they say, who suffer most from mental anguish after rape because a married woman risks reprisal or even rejection from her husband and his relatives.

Feminist arguments against all this will be thrashed out at length elsewhere -- and rightly so -- but what astonishes me as a veteran science writer and someone trained as a physicist, is what mind-bogglingly sloppy science this constitutes. To steal a quip from Anthony Lane, I've had bowls of spaghetti that were more tightly structured than this argument.
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Erulissė



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PostSubject: Re: Are All Men Potential Rapists?   Tue Mar 18, 2008 7:20 pm

Uh, bunch a' malarky.
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PostSubject: Re: Are All Men Potential Rapists?   Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:54 am

lol!
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NorthStar

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PostSubject: Re: Are All Men Potential Rapists?   Sat Jun 14, 2008 11:12 pm

If the motivation is not procreation, then what is the motivation for rapists?
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PostSubject: Re: Are All Men Potential Rapists?   Sun Jun 15, 2008 4:35 pm

Power, control, cruelty, etc.

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PostSubject: Re: Are All Men Potential Rapists?   Sun Jun 22, 2008 4:39 pm

As a man who was conceived as a result of rape, I think it is plausible that some rapists may be at least partially motivated by the same genetic opportunism that seems to motivate fornicators and adulterers.

The article goes astray by assuming that the decision to rape is a function of a single simplistic variable. I think mere common sense suggests that many factors enter into a decision to rape. Those include whether the victim will fight back, the perceived likelihood of whether the perpetrator will be caught and what happens to the perpetrator if that happens, whether a realistic opportunity to rape presents itself, and whether the potential perpetrator can somehow justify the rape- at least to himself. If the decision to rape is multifaceted, the arguments of the article do not seem to be very persuasive.

On the other hand, the authors of the book at issue also oversimplified the problem. They seem to think that rapists are driven to rape without regard to any factor other than positive motivation and that such motivation can be overcome through education alone. I think it is more plausible to think that psychopaths will rape regardless of whether they understand their motivations and that righteous men will not rape regardless of their urges. I think we also need to work to reduce the opportunities for rape, to make retribution more likely and more swift, and to make consent better understood.

By the way, I think it is plausible that rape may have a genetic motivation without rapists having a genetic predisposition. It is possible that rapists are partially motivated to pass on their genes but that those genes thus passed are not necessarily likely to lead to future generations of men more likely to rape or more motivated to rape.
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PostSubject: Re: Are All Men Potential Rapists?   Tue Jun 24, 2008 8:53 pm

Why did your adoptive parent tell you that you were the product of rape? How old were you when they told you this? How has this knowledge affected you, do you think?

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PostSubject: Re: Are All Men Potential Rapists?   Sat Jun 28, 2008 11:58 pm

futureshock wrote:
Why did your adoptive parent tell you that you were the product of rape?

They did not do so. They agreed- at my urging- to contact the adoption agency to get non-identifying information. The non-identifying information indicated rape, but was written in such a cryptic way that I was not absolutely sure.

Quote :
How old were you when they told you this?

That happened when I was eighteen. A little more than a year later I met my birthmother. She denied having been raped. It was only about a year or two ago that it finally became clear that she had, indeed, been raped. She has always been very evasive about it.

Quote :
How has this knowledge affected you, do you think?

It has given me more patience with my birth mother. It has helped me to understand why I feel so stigmatized and why sex is such an emotional issue for me. It has helped clarify my ideas about abortion and other issues that involve irresponsible sexual activity.
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PostSubject: Re: Are All Men Potential Rapists?   Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:01 pm

Thanks for that in depth answer. It explains a lot, except, why would you feel stigmatized? By whom?

I share many of your feelings about irresponsible sex. It's just that I can't fathom punishing women in such a brutal way as forcing them to continue a pregnancy and to endure the agony of childbirth for it.

I agree with your thoughts on child support, marrying men with jobs, all of that. Just not on abortion.

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PostSubject: Re: Are All Men Potential Rapists?   Sat Jul 05, 2008 12:49 pm

futureshock wrote:
Thanks for that in depth answer. It explains a lot, except, why would you feel stigmatized? By whom?

By my adoptive parents and by my biological family. Also, by society when it allows women to abort rape-conceived children and even abuse rape-conceived children but refuses to hold rapists responsible.
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PostSubject: Re: Are All Men Potential Rapists?   Sat Jul 05, 2008 1:44 pm

NorthStar wrote:
futureshock wrote:
Thanks for that in depth answer. It explains a lot, except, why would you feel stigmatized? By whom?

By my adoptive parents and by my biological family. Also, by society when it allows women to abort rape-conceived children and even abuse rape-conceived children but refuses to hold rapists responsible.

How on earth can "society" stigmatise YOU personally when none of us would know the circumstances of your conception? Do you go around with a t-shirt with "I AM RAPE-CONCEIVED" on it just so everyone knows?

And how does society "allow" women to abuse rape-conceived children as opposed to prohibiting the abuse non-rape conceived children? Do rape-conceived children go around with little "stars" stamped on their foreheads so that "society" knows to turn a blind eye? Rolling Eyes

Why don't you just let go of things like how you were conceived which you can't ever change and just enjoy the fact that your mother had you and didn't abort you?

Also, its worth pointing out that if you want to force women to breed the babies of their rapists, you might want to consider the fact that some of those women and children are going to have very difficult relationships.
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PostSubject: Re: Are All Men Potential Rapists?   Mon Jul 07, 2008 9:53 pm

NorthStar wrote:
As a man who was conceived as a result of rape, I think it is plausible that some rapists may be at least partially motivated by the same genetic opportunism that seems to motivate fornicators and adulterers.
Why would fornicators and adulterers be motivated by genetic opportunism? Why wouldn't they get married and have as many children as they and their wives want?


NorthStar wrote:
futureshock wrote:
Thanks for that in depth answer. It explains a lot, except, why would you feel stigmatized? By whom?

By my adoptive parents and by my biological family.

But I thought your adoptive parents didn't find out until you figured it out, about the rape? Did I misunderstand that? They are some sick, twisted people to treat you differently than any other baby.

Your biological family is just as sick to treat you poorly, it wasn't your fault. I'm sorry you had to experience that. I was illegitimate, and my father and his wife (my step mother) raised me. My mother was with my father first, and I was born before he even met his wife, but she still treated me like dirt, so I know a little bit about how you feel.
Quote :

Also, by society when it allows women to abort rape-conceived children and even abuse rape-conceived children but refuses to hold rapists responsible.

But society allows women to abort non-rape conceived children as well, and the non-aborted children do not feel stigmatized about the fact that they could have been aborted. Quite the opposite. Children should feel even more wanted, since they know they were not forced upon their parents.

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PostSubject: Re: Are All Men Potential Rapists?   Tue Jul 15, 2008 11:38 pm

NorthStar wrote:
futureshock wrote:
Thanks for that in depth answer. It explains a lot, except, why would you feel stigmatized? By whom?

By my adoptive parents and by my biological family. Also, by society when it allows women to abort rape-conceived children and even abuse rape-conceived children but refuses to hold rapists responsible.

No wonder you hold the views you do, Northsack. You hang around with assholes who stigmatize you because your mother was raped.

Dump the "family" already. They're abusive.
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PostSubject: Re: Are All Men Potential Rapists?   Mon Jul 21, 2008 2:05 pm

Good advice. Imagine going through all of that work to locate your biological family, about who you know nothing, just to get slapped in the face when you finally find them.

Assholes.

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