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A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (Bradford Books) [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Randy Thornhill , Craig T. Palmer
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20. Juni 2001 Bradford Books
In this controversial book, Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer use evolutionary biology to explain the causes of rape and to recommend new approaches to its prevention. According to Thornhill and Palmer, evolved adaptation of some sort gives rise to rape; the main evolutionary question is whether rape is an adaptation itself or a by-product of other adaptations. Regardless of the answer, Thornhill and Palmer note, rape circumvents a central feature of women's reproductive strategy: mate choice. This is a primary reason why rape is devastating to its victims, especially young women. Thornhill and Palmer address, and claim to demolish scientifically, many myths about rape bred by social science theory over the past twenty-five years. The popular contention that rapists are not motivated by sexual desire is, they argue, scientifically inaccurate. Although they argue that rape is biological, Thornhill and Palmer do not view it as inevitable. Their recommendations for rape prevention include teaching young males not to rape, punishing rape more severely, and studying the effectiveness of "chemical castration." They also recommend that young women consider the biological causes of rape when making decisions about dress, appearance, and social activities. Rape could cease to exist, they argue, only in a society knowledgeable about its evolutionary causes. The book includes a useful summary of evolutionary theory and a comparison of evolutionary biology's and social science's explanations of human behavior. The authors argue for the greater explanatory power and practical usefulness of evolutionary biology. The book is sure to stir up discussion both on the specific topic of rape and on the larger issues of how we understand and influence human behavior.

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  • Taschenbuch: 272 Seiten
  • Verlag: Mit Pr; Auflage: Revised. (20. Juni 2001)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0262700832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262700832
  • Vom Hersteller empfohlenes Alter: Ab 22 Jahren
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 22,2 x 14,3 x 1,5 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 2.7 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (57 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 489.524 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
  • Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen

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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 -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.


"This is a courageous, intelligent, and eye-opening book with a noblegoal--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

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By one intuitive and relevant definition, rape is copulation resisted to the best of the victim's ability unless such resistance would probably result in death or serious injury to the victim or in death or injury to individuals the victim commonly protects. Lesen Sie die erste Seite
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Excellent reading 13. März 2000
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
As a woman, a feminist, and a sociologist by training, I still find nothing offensive in this book. Thornhill and Palmer have tackled one of the most sensitive and inflammatory topics that exist and it is only natural that they will receive a lot of knee-jerk reactions to it. However, this book is well-written, well-researched and thought-provoking. Whether you ultimately believe their theory or not, T and P will make you seriously consider some of your assumptions about rape.
I'm not sure if some of the other reviewers have actually read this book, because nowhere in it do the authors assert that women are to blame for their rapes or that they provoke them through sexy clothing. They do suggest that sexy clothing might be one of many factors that lead men to rape and that women may CHOOSE to use this knowledge when deciding how to dress for certain situations. Why this particular issue is so offensive boggles me. I have had many people suggest that I take a women's self-defense class to help me avoid and/or survive an attack. But that suggestion in no way implies that if I *don't* take a self-defense class I am somehow responsible for causing my own rape. Similarly, women can arm themselves with the knowledge that how they dress may have an effect on how some men behave towards them, without being responsible for that behavior in any way.
I'd advise anyone interested in this topic to read the book carefully and thoroughly. Does the book prove that rape is an evolutionary adaptation? Of course not, but it certainly offers some compelling evidence and an interesting alternative to current theories on rape.
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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen The truth lies somewhere in between 7. Mai 2000
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
If you want to know the truth about rape, read this book and then Brownmillers' Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. If you have already decided you know the truth you will not discover that the truth lies somewhere in between these two books. As often happens, the authors of each of these books know they are right, are proud of it, and they do not want to be encumbered by each others facts. There should be little doubt that rape is about one persons power and control over another persons body (Brownmiller) yet by its very nature rape must at some point involve sexuality (T&P). One does not become sexualy aroused (most often a necessity to complete the act) over visions of power and control. Sex must play some role ie: the chicken or the egg, it doesn't matter which is first, we all must recognize that each plays a role. Sometimes rape is motivated by sex, sometims by power and control, sometimes both.
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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Giving Rapists a Break They Don't Deserve 3. März 2000
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The theories suggested in this book are confused, scientifically weak, and naive. The big question we must ask ourselves is, 'is rape nature or are we responsible?' I don't believe it's nature. It's a pathology, a byproduct of agression. The authors claim that men will rape if they can get away with it. As a man, and a professor of evolutionary biology myself, I am offended. If their theory is correct, why are the vast majority of men incapable of rape? It is clear that these men are poorly informed about the topic they address. Perhaps this is a feable attempt to publish (always a pressure for us academic types) and profit by perpetuating a fallacy that is sure to get them a lot of media attention. It's a shame really, and embarassing to boot. Having read their work myself, I suggest anyone interested in really understanding the causes of rape look elsewhere...you won't find it in the covers of this book.
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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Misguided and Confused 3. März 2000
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This misguided work is similar to the books published years ago that attempted to use "biology" to explain racial differences. Back then it was racists championing their theories behind the disguise of "scientific data," frighteningly similar to the people who now applaud this book, which is really the latest attempt to blame bad male behavior on genes, the environment, the way women dress, where women go...everything except the perpetrators themselves. We've heard these same theories before...they are unoriginal, full of the same faulty logic but wrapped in slightly different packaging.
The authors make the mistake of confusing a chosen behavior - rape - with a biological imperative to reproduce. In their weak hypothesis they noticeably disregard all of the empirical data on the violence associated with rape and as well as the high prevalence of rape against men, children, pregnant women and post-reproductive women. The errors in their logic are obvious. Current crime statistics estimate 22% of rape victims are under the age of 12, not really prime mothering material, not to mention the many male victims of rape.
The book also downplays the amount of physical violence accompanying rape, despite all evidence to the contrary. If the goal for the rapists is solely to impregnate a woman and ensure continuation of his genes, the method of rape seems very ineffective. The authors themselves admit that out of the very few women who become pregnant as a result of rape, only 25% carry the baby to term.
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Die neuesten Kundenrezensionen
1.0 von 5 Sternen Sociobiology strikes back
--- 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
1.0 von 5 Sternen Schlaglichter der Soziobiologie
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
5.0 von 5 Sternen sociology must be science
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
5.0 von 5 Sternen Sociobiology and forensic psychology.
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
5.0 von 5 Sternen Wow, Palmer, Palmer, Palmer
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
1.0 von 5 Sternen WHY?
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
1.0 von 5 Sternen Rapists do not rape for SEX
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
1.0 von 5 Sternen One can justify any number of horrid behaviors!
It should be well known that sociobiological theories are simply THEORIES; social theories are particularly vulnerable to the personal biases and issues of its author(s) and are... Lesen Sie weiter...
Am 28. April 2000 veröffentlicht
5.0 von 5 Sternen Definitely Worth Reading
Be very skeptical of what you may already have heard about this book. Read it yourself, and you will find that the authors make a far more compelling case for biology's effects on... Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 17. April 2000 von Owen Jones, Professor of Law, owen.jones@asu.edu
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