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Evolutionary psychology often stomps where other branches of science fear to tread. Case in point: A Natural History of Rape. Randy Thornhill, a biologist, and Craig T. Palmer, an anthropologist, have attempted to apply evolutionary principles to one of the most disgusting of human behaviors, and the result is a guaranteed storm of media hype and debate. The book's central argument is that rape is a genetically developed strategy sustained over generations of human life because it is a kind of sexual selection--a successful reproductive strategy. This runs directly counter to the prevailing notion--that rape is predominantly about violent power, and only secondarily about sex.
The authors base their argument partly on statistics showing that in the United States, most rape victims are of childbearing age. But disturbingly large numbers of rapes of children, elderly women, and other men are never adequately explained. And the actual reproductive success of rape is not clear. Thornhill and Palmer's biological interpretation is just that--an interpretation, one that won't withstand tough scientific scrutiny. They further claim that the mental trauma of rape is greater for women of childbearing age (especially married women) than it is for elderly women or children. The data supporting these assertions come from a single psychological study, done by Thornhill in the 1970s, that mixes first-person interviews with caretaker's interpretations of children's reactions.
While Thornhill and Palmer claim that they are trying to look objectively at the root causes of rape, they focus almost entirely on data that support their thesis, forcing them to write an evolutionary "just-so" story. The central problem is evident in this quote, from the chapter "The Pain and Anguish of Rape":
We feel that the woman's perspective on rape can be best understood by considering the negative influences of rape on female reproductive success.... It is also highly possible that selection favored the outward manifestations of psychological pain because it communicated the female's strong negative attitude about the rapist to her husband and/or her relatives.
Women are disturbed by rape mostly because they are worried about what their husbands might think? In statements like this, the authors repeatedly discount the psychological aspects of rape, such as fear, humiliation, loss of autonomy, and powerlessness, and focus solely on personal shame.
A Natural History of Rape will no doubt have people talking about rape and its causes, and perhaps thinking about real ways of preventing it. In fact, the authors suggest that all young men be educated frankly about their (theoretical) genetic desire to rape. And it reopens the debate about the role of sex in rape. But without more and better data supporting their conclusions, Thornhill and Palmer are doing the very thing they criticize feminists and social scientists of doing: just talking. --Therese Littleton
"This is a courageous, intelligent, and eye-opening book with a noble goal--to understand and eliminate a loathsome crime. Armed with logic and copious data, Thornhill and Palmer will force many intellectuals to decide which they value more: established dogma and ideology, or the welfare of real women in the real world."--Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of "How the Mind Works" and "Words and Rules"Alle Produktbeschreibungen
--- and in a very sloppy and plain dumb form. Read only if you're doing research on the discursive logics of sociobiology, otherwise skip.Veröffentlicht am 22. September 2008 von lab
Wieder einmal demonstrieren Wissenschaftler einen Zirkelschluss in ihrer Forschung. Durch ignorieren von Forschungen der letzten Jahre, dass nämlich Vergewaltigung nichts mit... Lesen Sie weiter...Am 10. August 2001 veröffentlicht
This is a completely satisfactory book. It offers *not only* a superb introduction to the evolution concept in biology, but also ways to *apply* it in psychology and... Lesen Sie weiter...Am 19. Juli 2000 veröffentlicht
Fundamental logic alone dictates that for probably 99.9% of that evolutionary 5 million year time frame, males generally did not first seek permission from females before sex. Lesen Sie weiter...Am 20. Mai 2000 veröffentlicht
I loved this book. Thornhill and Palmer explain rape in the same way as forensic psychologists using different methods. Lesen Sie weiter...Veröffentlicht am 18. Mai 2000 von saskia hunter
Wow, after reading Palmer's pamphlet on fish this book came way out of left field. I believe that this book is pretty close on the mark because I have personal experience with... Lesen Sie weiter...Veröffentlicht am 15. Mai 2000 von Doug Jansom
Regardless of what the authors think, the world and its courtrooms do not need a theory that can possibly be used to let rapists off the hook. Lesen Sie weiter...Am 10. Mai 2000 veröffentlicht
If you want to know the truth about rape, read this book and then Brownmillers' Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. Lesen Sie weiter...Veröffentlicht am 7. Mai 2000 von Richard L. Davis
The authors of this book need to be reminded that "Rape is not the aggressive expression of sexuality but rather the sexual expression of aggression. Lesen Sie weiter...Veröffentlicht am 29. April 2000 von Dixie