Student Post: More on Gender Dominance--An Evolutionary Psychological Approach

I have some thoughts on the topic of male and female dominance brought up by Blue_Expo.

In fact, it was the topic of a paper for my Evolution of Human Aggression class...

Females are under some different sexual selection pressures than males stemming from the fact that they are the limited sex. They can only produce a finite number of offspring and are heavily invested in their progeny. Perhaps this is the basis for the female dominance social hierarchies observed in bonobos (Parish et al., 1994) and hyenas (Jenks, 1995). In both these systems, offspring inherit their mother's rank and a mother is willing to engage in physical combat or establish social coalitions designed to elevate their offspring in rank. Because rank determined ability to procure resources, survive and reproduce, and females had high parental investment, there was sufficient evolutionary pressure for females to evolve the capacity to establish dominance even over males on their offsprings' behalf.

Human females develope social dominance hierarchies as well. Like primates and hyenas, females are the limited sex, but we don't see widespread examples of females establishing their dominance physically especially over males. It is important to observe that human females establish their dominance and social rankings in other ways than men (although not exclusively). Females might employ gossip or forge social ties to engineer the dynamics of a social situation. Evolutionary Psychologist D. Buss uses an example of female executives or women in positions of business power. He observes that they tend to assert dominance by delegating tasks and facilitating group productivity even if it puts them in a position to perform a more "menial" task or if it allows another group member to perform a more dominant function. Buss also discusses the importance of self-esteem as an individual's internal barometer in gauging social status, and he emphasizes the importance of belonging to a community in human evolution. In the past, ostracized individuals stood little chance of survival; acceptance in a community was vital. If females are able to manipulate social status by discourse, forming allegiances, speaking ill of others or praising others, and one's social status affects resource allocation, then this non-physical method of establishing social hierarchy may very well be a form of social dominance and one that may be employed better by human females than human males. Certainly there are examples in the primate world. Female bonobos establish close friendships and relationships among themselves. These allegiances prove vital in times of change when individuals seek to establish rank (de Wall, 1997). Female humans may use similar means to a similar end--by making friendships and alliances with words or favors, they can determine who is dominant in a community.

In short: human males and females can express dominance differently so it's not always clear cut to say one gender is dominant over the other (it would depend on the mechanism by which you define dominance).

Further more, there is an important cultural aspect to the expression of dominace and gender roles. We can identify a biological tendancy but can't predict how or the degree to which it's manifested in a group.

References:
Buss, D. 2008. Prestige, and Social Dominance, In: Evolutionary Psychology, New York: Pearson. Pp. 355-382.

Jenks, S.M., Weldele, M.L., Frank, LG., Glickman, S.E. 1995. Acquisition of matrilineal rank in captive spotted hyaenas: emergence of a natural social system in peer-related animals and their offspring. Animal Behaviour, 50: 893-904.

Parish, A. 1994. Sex and food control in the 'uncommon chimpanzee': how Bonobo females overcome a phylogentic legacy of male dominance. Ethology and Sociolobiology, 15: 157-179.

de Waal, F. 1997. Who's the boss? In: Bonobo, the Forgotten Ape. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 72 - 85.

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Now one merely has to reconcile this with women's impotence in society throughout the ages.

Not that I disagree with any particular point, mind you, but once you describe it as a form of social dominance it seems that you over-reach the data before you. It would be better to describe it as a form of social leverage; dominance is dominance.

By James Stein (not verified) on 07 Oct 2007 #permalink

You've opened a window in my brain. The implication, essentially, is that when we say "men are dominant", the reason we say so is because it's men that are asking, according to the way in which they dominate. And I always thought the whole "but the woman rules in the home" bakesale/gossip motif was just some sort of vicious cliché.

I guess this also gives me zero fitness on the social scale... but I guess I've known that for a long while. ^^; Ah me, I would have made a better man. I think I'll go find somebody to wrestle for a sandwich.

By ssjessiechan (not verified) on 07 Oct 2007 #permalink

I have a big problem with the assumptions of evolutionary psychology - it tends to conflate biological forces with social forces. _People_ take power and control over their lives however they can. This doesn't mean that there's necessarily a direct biological connection between the friendship structures of female bonobos and the way in which female executives employ power. (And gender dynamics are not nearly as simple as the evolutionary psychologists would like to think - see the work of Olivia Judson or Anne Fausto-Sterling.)

To my mind, women use power in a non-physical way because there are ENORMOUS social punishments to women using power in a stylized physical way (stylized because executives don't actually wrestle to see who gets to be CEO) - for example, the trope of the bitchy woman vs. the assertive man. Or all of the movies featured the cold-heated executive married to her job who will never find love (say, Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada).

I think Miriam raises a good point. Whatever biological reasons there may have been (or might even still be) for differences in dominance between male and female humans, we know for a fact that there is an enormous amount of social, cultural, and political forces working to keep it that way.

I'm not the sort of feminist who normally tosses around the word "hegemony." But I think it's applicable here. Whatever reasons there may have been initially for one group to become dominant over another, hegemony -- the systems with which a person or group in power keeps and/or expands their power -- is often all that's needed to preserve that dominance.

(BTW, hegemony doesn't have to be conscious. It probably works better when it isn't. There don't have to be smoke-filled rooms full of evil men plotting to keep women subordinate; in fact, the systems work better when everybody sincerely believes them, both the people on the bottom and the people on the top.)

This ties into one of my observations, that if "competitiveness" is not arbitrarily defined in a fashion that ranks direct or symbolic physical intimidation higher than various forms of verbal aggression and social maneuvering, the supposed gap in "competitiveness" between males and females would probably disapper. That said, I don't think the evidence shows that women are in any meaningful sense "dominant" in most human social hierarchies, when you look at actual influence on, and representation of the individual or group's interests in, decision-making at various levels of the social hierarchy. This condition, being unjust, should be remedied, and this is true regardless of the ultimate source of that discrepancy.

The problem with the culture argument is that many nasty traits are near universal across 100's of different studied cultures.

For example- rape occurs in probably every culture that's been studied to some degree or another. That strongly suggests that rape is a function of biology, not culture.

Similarly, comparative anthropology might show that gender dominance occurs in most societies, which would make it more likely to be genetic.

BTW- I'm a physicist- so everything I say in regards to this is probably naive and wrong! I don't claim any expertise, except what I read in books.

By Christian Burnham (not verified) on 07 Oct 2007 #permalink

Christian - the argument that "rape is function of biology" is an old one, but in my opinion not a good one. The usual evolutionary argument is: less fit men who can't attract women want to reproduce, so they rape in order to pass on their genes. Sounds good, doesn't it? However, actual statistics on who rapes and who gets raped do not support this hypothesis. Successful men with wives and children rape, and prepubescent girls and old women are raped.

One biological drive that I do believe in, as I said before, is that _people_ take power however they can. And in the absence of social structures that forbid rape (like enforcement and jail), rape brings a LOT of power. Physical damage, psychological fear, and sometimes forced pregnancy, to name just a few. If you live in certain societies, you can force a girl to marry you or have her killed by her own relatives. There are lots of reasons to rape, but a purely biological urge does not seem to be among them.

Miriam- You're going to have to explain how the culture argument can explain the fact that rape occurs in every society (I'm assuming it does).

Also- something very like rape occurs in other species. That can't be explained by culture.

I'm certainly not denying that there is a strong cultural component, which accounts for the variation in rape statistics across different societies- but it doesn't seem possible that culture alone is the driving factor.

(Again- I don't claim to be an expert in any of this.)

By Christian Burnham (not verified) on 07 Oct 2007 #permalink

You ignore the fact that women are strongly socialized against physicality and aggression. Thus women's lack of overt aggression is a symptom of male dominance, not a cause.

Personally, I see the fact that more men are sociopaths as more important to male dominance than anything else. Biology weights short-term gains much higher than long term gains. Thus the longer term negative effects of sociopaths on a society would be offset by allowing the group to survive the short-term more effectively.

It also bears noting that, historically (or is it pre-historically?), men did not regularly live past age 25. Women on the other hand, we know to frequently live past age 50 or else menopause would not be so wide spread. This gives a female sociopath more chance to do harm to a society, forming negative pressure on the trait.

Similarly, comparative anthropology might show that gender dominance occurs in most societies, which would make it more likely to be genetic.

My hypothesis is that male dominance is a byproduct of a social arrangement that made sense thousands of years ago for reasons that changes in the technology available, the structure of society, and the type of challenges faced in the course of everyday life have largely made irrelevant, which has been coasting on "tradition", legal codification, and perceived "naturalness" since those changes essentially because we as a society have not made a concerted, wholehearted effort to pitch it out.

As for rape, I think the basic issue is that both mating/reproduction and acquiring power are biological urges (and rape can help to satisfy both), whereas respect and human rights are cultural concepts that people must learn, but not everyone does.

This may be naive and crude, but I believe the average man can physically overcome the average woman. Is this not relevant?

By John Morales (not verified) on 07 Oct 2007 #permalink

This may be naive and crude, but I believe the average man can physically overcome the average woman. Is this not relevant?

In what context?

Azkyroth, you want a context?

Um, rape? I confess I didn't have any specific case in mind.

I just figure that, when it comes to dominance, strength is power.

By John Morales (not verified) on 07 Oct 2007 #permalink

Since social dominance hasn't been based on actual physical combat, at least in our society, in most areas of it, for a very long time, I don't think greater physical strength is an issue there except as regards cultural inertia. With regard to rape, I think the greater average strength of men is the major reason rapists succeed, but I doubt, on its own, it's what motivates them to try. <.<

'strength is power'

Clearly not in the relation between a human and a horse, for instance.

And while rape is (I expect) found in all societies, so is abortion, which negates rape as a reproductive strategy.

Rape will work as a reproductive strategy of sorts if legal structures minimise the risk for men (revenge killing is inhibited by legal structures, but legal punishment for rape is rare or ineffective) while maximising the risk for women (abortion is difficult or expensive to obtain). These are contingent social decisions, which are handled differently in different cultures, rather than immutable facts of human biology.

I admit this is not a topic I've really considered.

I posted because I noted the absence of any reference to the physical differences between the sexes, and that surprised me.

If this is not relevant now, because society and technology render this issue moot, was it not relevant back in prehistoric times and after?

If the issue of physical capacity is fully irrelevant to human dominance, just let me know and I'll do my own research.

By John Morales (not verified) on 07 Oct 2007 #permalink

Alison #16, human:horse /= man:woman.

By John Morales (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

human:horse /= man:woman

I understand your notation but not how you think you have refuted my argument. You said 'when it comes to dominance strength is power' I gave a counter-example.

Clearly there are also many other counter-examples within human society, but I thought mine was particularly clear.

Alison, I concede dominance is established through many factors. But my issue is with man on woman, where I grant full equality, except in this factor.

I'm not arguing women are physically less capable overall, but look at sport. Why is there men's and women's tennis?
(So what if men become decrepit and die younger?)

--

Azkyroth #15, the post began

I have some thoughts on the topic of male and female dominance brought up by Blue_Expo.
In fact, it was the topic of a paper for my Evolution of Human Aggression class...

Isn't the overall context human (species) dominance? I think that should include the genesis of historical dominance patterns.

By John Morales (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Power within human society is clearly not closely related to physical strength. And it is easy to see why. Even in the sphere of brute physical force, what is possible is strongly limited by social context. And humans always live within a social context.

If a person tries to physically coerce or harm another person they may be stopped, or it may be tolerated (sometimes within agreed limits).

As a social group is always physically stronger than a single person, the exercise of physical dominance is always affected by issues of social consent. Occasionally a temporary opportunity will enable a person to commit 'socially prohibited' violence, but that person then faces social ostracism - they may even be killed by the group. This is the reality that humans have always, always, lived with.

There is no imaginary past when there was no restriction on human violence.

Alison, your response seems rather general and abstract.

In a mixed group, in a pre-technological context, if the men gang up and decide to dominate the women, what is the likely outcome?

(And before you say it, if anything I'm dominated by women. But that's another issue.)

By John Morales (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Alison, on reading my own comment it occurs to me you might think I didn't get your point because I didn't directly address it.

I rebut it by pointing to existing Islamic societies.

By John Morales (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

I'll have to add the same disclaimer as Christian Burnham, but social issues are things we all must take positions on. Which is what I think we can do here, I have a problem with taking evolutionary psychology seriously as it seems to fail to present tested hypotheses.

Primates seems to have all sorts of social solutions, comparing bonobos conflict solutions with chimps or humans. (I hear that results on bonobos can be dubious as they are mostly done in captivity, but if it is done on several groups I assume at least the behavior from biology will be general.) I don't see how we can test male to female differences against that background alone.

I suspect neuroscience tries to tell us biology isn't decisive. For example, males and females brains are differently organized and utilized. Yet the produced behavior is much more alike than comparing biological structures and processes would suggest. And IIRC a mix between biological and social factors correlating to behavior is what people see on individual level.

This condition, being unjust, should be remedied, and this is true regardless of the ultimate source of that discrepancy.

Agreed. IIRC UN statistics says that women own 5 % of Earth's resources. Having capital trivially means having easier to get capital (from game theory) and more so by way of the social power it lends. Still, you would expect more variance and an equalization over time by random factors, so there are other forces that keeps the situation asymmetrical.

As stated, here we can and should override any biological (and social) factors that are at work.

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

"Further more, there is an important cultural aspect to the expression of dominance and gender roles."

Exactly. Thank you PZ, for a discussion of evolutionary psychology that acknowledges its own limits!

And James Stein and his appeal to "women's impotence in society throughout the ages"? Thank you for encouraging even more lame gender history dissertations where the scholar goes looking for historical evidence of women in positions of power and (the shock! the surprise!) finds them.

Katie,
as #12 said: "This may be naive and crude, but I believe the average man can physically overcome the average woman. Is this not relevant?"
Surely this is the crux. In bonobos and hyenas I think you will find the female can beat up the male and thus ensure dominance. In animals with polygamous groupings the male is the big one.
So I would say any sense of human females dominating by devious means is more a matter of doing what they can with what they have. Since society has introduced rules about beating up, this has changed the landscape. Womens' roles at this time are changing rapidly. To give you an idea only 40 years ago in the society in which I was brought up, it was considered that a woman's job was to get married and be looked after by a man. If they had not got married by he age of about 23 they were considered "on the shelf" and pitied.
Right now men still tend to dominate in part because they have always been at the top and the role they are bought up with makes them more confident. I would be very suprised if this is true in 50 years in societies where women have equall rights under the law and it is enforced.

Sexual behaviour is used as a convenient channel for dominance behaviour. That doesn't make it sex.

Either that, or all dogs are gay, take your pick.

In a mixed group, in a pre-technological context, if the men gang up and decide to dominate the women, what is the likely outcome?

"Shut up and eat your mushrooms"

You aren't going to survive that until you have convinced the female (food preparing group) that this is the proper order of things.

Male tasks tend to be flashier, more "heroic" (kill the large angry beast, or enemy), whereas female tasks (collect the berries, make the clothes), require less physical confrontation. One can see how female tasks become/are ordinary, "background", not special, leading to a devaluing of female importance. IN fact, I would say that this was already to some extent established behaviour before we became fully human, there was no "Golden Age" of equality.

Katie, one factor you don't mention that you might like to consider is the fact that human infants are born helpless and remain comparatively (with other species, including other primates) so for some years (because of the physical compromises required by our upright stance and enormous brains). Could mothers in the ancestral environment bring up such helpless young entirely without male support (as is the case with many species)? Possibly not. If so, males needed to stick around and help; but for them to get inclusive fitness benefits from doing so, they needed to have a fair degree of certainty about their paternity. This is one possible reason for (one sort of) male dominance over females.

This supports your suggestion that it's important to be clear about what we mean by "dominance" anyhow. Males get to eat first? Males get to rape? Males try to control females' sexuality? Males take all the decisions? And so on and so on..... All of these aspects need to be considered separately. Lumping them all together as "dominance" is actually not useful.

By potentilla (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Christian Burnham: Rape occurs in the majority of cultures, to one degree or another...but that degree varies wildly with how the culture regards it. Amongst the Na of China, arguably one of the most female-dominant cultures on the planet, it's almost entirely unknown, as far as anyone can tell. In the few Western, industrialised countries which punish it harshly under the law and are serious about prosecuting it, it's very rare. In South Africa, where it is legally a crime but almost never punished, and where there is a substantial proportion of the population who seem to regard it as being supportive of their social power, rape is incredibly common (by some estimates running as high as 40%+ of the female population being a victim at some point in their lives). And amongst the Yanomamo, where rape is an accepted "punishment" of "bad behavior" in women, as many as 60% of women will be raped at some point. Clearly there is more going on here than biology.

In most Western, industrialised nations the majority of rape victims are either prepubescent or very early pubescent, and the majority of rapes happen inside the family, indicating there is probably less to do with reproduction and probably more to do with vulnerability and availability.

People get sexuality tied up with all kinds of unlikely and non-reproductive sorts of things. People get sexually tied up with feet, BDSM, cars, guns, coprophilia, and straight-out murderous aggression at times. Clearly this is not all because sex is reproductive.

We have a several billion year evolutionary history of wiring brains to look for sexual gratification -- but then we go and muck it up with all kinds of behavioural complexity and psychology. That rape involves sexual behaviour is kind of part of the definition. That it is sexual gratification through power, pain and humiliation of another in order to establish dominance is probably the more relevant aspect. This has more to do with psychology of the individual than with species biology, I would say...incredibly dishonest arguments by Thornhill aside.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

On the topic of female aggression and social dominance, I would suggest to people to take a look at "Odd Girl Out" by Rachel Simmons, and "Queen Bees and Wannabes" by Rosalind Wiseman. Jonathan's first comment ("You ignore the fact that women are strongly socialized against physicality and aggression.") and Alison P. are right on the money.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Wow, I come back to this thread, and Luna_the_cat has said it all so beautifully. I'll just second her, and heap a little more scorn on Thornhill. For those who aren't familiar with his work, he is one of the proponent of rape as reproductive strategy, which might be true for the insects that he studies, but is demonstrably not true in humans.

For the original poster: If you're studying dominance strategies, you might also look at how these interact with vertical vs. horizontal social control. Those are classically associated with male vs. female, but I think the link is dubious. Vertical controls depend directly on the pecking order ("because I'm the boss/biggest/mommy"), whereas horizontal control depends on exchange of favors and other alliances ("you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" or "you'll never eat lunch in this town again!").

With regard to male/female dominance, I interpret the current situation as "males have a half-rank advantage over females". I'm not sure that this is historically universal, but I suspect it is. AFAICT, it is universal among modern societies, and there are few exceptions even among relict tribal groups. In any case, I'd look for how our behavior fits into general patterns among the primates.

On to the commenters.... (dang, this got long!)

Miriam: The usual evolutionary argument is: less fit men who can't attract women want to reproduce, so they rape in order to pass on their genes.

No, I'm afraid that's a fallacy -- attractive from a feminist viewpoint, but still a fallacy. "Rape" in a high-K species does represent a "cheater's path", but the point is that the rapist can reproduce without investing in support of the offspring. This is why you see the Biblical (inter alia) bit about rapists "getting to" (having to) marry their victims.

In this context the "rape->marriage" path shows up as an unpleasant but typical mating strategy. It may be unseemly to "modern" sensibilities, but in evolutionary terms, it's just a male "win" in a conflict between male and female mate-selection strategies. In a few species (mallard ducks, dolphins) this "win" has become entrenched as "normal", which would not happen if force was solely the refuge of failures.

The fact that we modernists do frown upon that strategy reflects the point that female mate-selection is indeed evolutionarily important, and (among humans) cannot be completely suppressed. "Honor killings" can be seen as sacrificing the victim's reproductive potential... in order to squelch the real payoff of rape! But that only "works" (is stable) if the group's supply of females exceeds their resources for raising young -- as in those classic "desert societies"!

Torbjörn Larsson: women own 5 % of Earth's resources. Having capital trivially means having easier to get capital (from game theory) .... Still, you would expect more variance and an equalization over time by random factors, ....

BZZZT! Sorry, feedback loops beat random factors pretty reliably. (Any sensible economic theory must take the status quo as an input!) I mostly agree with your other comments, but I'd say that extracting signal from ambient noise is just what science does.

The physical-strength issue may be a red herring; the whole point of a pecking order is that it's not just a matter of individual conflict -- it's also enforced by the group as a whole. Conflicts among closely ranked individuals are "spectator sport", challenging the "next guy up" is "ambitious", but challenging someone of much higher rank is just "out of line", and triggers a communal smackdown.

John Morales: ... look at sport. Why is there men's and women's tennis?

For the same reason that wrestling and boxing have weight classes, while many other sports have handicaps -- easy smackdowns are not "interesting", people want to see close matches. See also my previous paragraph about dominance....

By David Harmon (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Preface: In no way is rape excusable on the basis of biology, but it is (at least partially) explicable by biology.

Evidence for rape as a conditional reproductive strategy:

1. Rape occurs in animals other than humans.
2. If rape were motivated solely by the desire to do violence and oppress women, a graph comparing the age-distribution of female rape victims to match female murder victims. Instead, there is a spike of rape victims between the ages of 15-30, whereas the data on female murder shows the highest rates between 30-60. The murder line is also flatter than the rape line. (Source 1)
3. Rape is positively correlated with divorce rates. As older men divorce and marry younger women, fewer mates are available to younger men which increases the fitness benefits of rape (relatively). (Source 2)

This is likely only part of the answer, as rape is also likely to be a symptom of maladaptive misfiring of male reproductive traits (quick arousal, interest in many partners, interest in impersonal sex). This is also supported by the fact that males engage in many sexual activities with no chance of reproduction (pedophilia, homosexual rape, masturbation).

This information comes mainly from my animal behavior course, and the accompanying textbook (Alcock, Animal Behavior, 7th Ed.)

I plan on teaching this to AP Bio students in an unit on evolutionary influences of human behavior in the future. This sort of thing really puts a dent in the creationist perspective, because students must then accept that their creator approved of rape as a reproductive strategy.

Sorry for the length!

Sources:
(1) Thornhill, R., and N.W. Thornhill. 1983. Human rape: An evolutionary analysis. Ethology and Sociobiology 4:137-173
(2) Starks, P., and C. Blackie. 2000. The relationship between serial monogamy and rape in the United States (1960-1995). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 267:1259-1263.

David Harmon: Equating some of the Biblical treatment of rape (some; not all) with all the phenomenon of rape, period, also does not lend itself to a good understanding.

Don't disregard the culture. In the culture described by the Old Testament, women were already well entrenched as property, and control over who got to stick what in them was a manifestation of the absolute importance of established paternity. A rapist wasn't forced to marry the victim because he needed to support potential offspring; it was more an economic issue, because if there could be any doubt at all about paternity (and all the "guaranteed virgin when you get her" baggage that surrounded that) the woman was damaged, soiled goods, and could not be given or sold to a better mate, and her father didn't want to have to bear that financial loss. Where the rapist couldn't be caught and/or the woman could not prove absolutely that she had fought back, she would be killed -- no point in supporting damaged goods that you aren't going to get a financial return on, is there?

As a reproductive strategy, frankly this sucks.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Miriam, Luna and co. I also agree that culture and society play their part in rape, but I was just showing that there is definitely a biological influence as well.

Catching up with those who commented while I was editing:

potentilla: excellent points!

Miriam and Luna: The dominance aspect is certainly important, but it doesn't really cover predatory or stranger rape (rare in our society, not so much in those "desert" societies). I'd consider most of Africa as either "desert society" or heading that way due to resource depletion. The Yanomomo are infamously violent in other respects as well, so they may be an outlier in their context.

Graculus: That can be a limiting factor, but consider how husband-killing gets much more vindictively punished than wife-killing. A woman whose husband dies suspiciously can be ostracised or worse ("witch!"), even, or especially, if they could support themselves on their own.

By David Harmon (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

"Shut up and eat your mushrooms"

You aren't going to survive unless you have convinced the female (food preparing group) that this is the proper order of things.

Graculus, I was thinking exactly this over lunch. Where plant lore is a female specialism and all food preparation is by women - I honestly wonder what used to go on. We will never know, and of course, as the rest of the discussion shows, there is no single 'human' answer, but multiple solutions and differing power relationships in different societies.

Jeff: Please, do not use Thornhill as a good source for anything. I can't give the exact examples right away because I don't have my notes to hand, but Thornhill and Palmer, in their appalling little book, were not above manipulating data grossly to support their theses. For example (and if/when I find my notes I can give you the exact sequence of papers) -- one of the "supporting points" for their thesis was that "women of prime reproductive age who are raped are more traumatised than non-reproductive aged women who are raped". The cited source for this is an earlier paper by Thornhill.

On looking up that paper, I saw the same flatly asserted argument by Thornhill, with the source being an earlier paper by Thornhill.

On looking up that paper, I saw the same flatly asserted argument by Thornhill, no numbers or figures, with the source being an earlier paper by Thornhill.

On looking up that paper, I saw the same flatly asserted argument by Thornhill, no numbers or figures, with the source being an earlier paper by Thornhill. (Beginning to see a pattern here? I was.)

On looking up that paper, I saw the same flatly asserted argument by Thornhill, with the source being an earlier paper by Thornhill. This paper was dated well back in the early 80s.

On looking up that paper, I saw the same flatly asserted argument by Thornhill, with the source being an earlier paper by Thornhill, and an assertion that previous data had been "cleaned up" and run through "different analytical filters" -- but still, absolutely no numbers, figures, or explanations of what "cleaned up" meant, or what his "analytical filters" were. The cited source was an earlier Thornhill paper.

I looked up that paper, and found that -whoa!- he actually cited someone else's paper -- and lo and behold, that paper's conclusion, which he was so far accepting, was that women of different reproductive and non-reproductive ages were all equally traumatised by rape.

Looking up that paper, I discovered a piece of work done by a grad student consisting of one or two post-rape interviews with 27 women of ages ranging from 10 to (I think) 57.

Damn. I mean, how did THAT get lost? The original research? The small sample size? The different conclusion?

Unless, of course, Thornhill just wanted a "fact", and made one up where there wasn't one.

There were a number of other incidences of this -- including the manipulation of age ranges for rape victims, which in Thornhill's book do not match the age ranges documented in what he cites as his source (FBI statistics, was it?).

As for your source 2, this does not account in any way for the fact that more rapists are in an active, sexual relationship at the time of the rape, than any other group of criminal -- and yes, somewhere I have the exact source of that, too, but it is from a DOJ report on rape and other violent crimes. If you look at how many rapists are in active sexual relationships already, it is clearly not about lack of a mate -- this is another rape myth, and has actually been debunked a lot.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

David Harmon: do you have evidence that predatory stranger rape is more common in any culture or circumstance than victimisation within the family? Do you have evidence that it is more common in desert cultures?

Aside from in situations of warfare, of course, where mass rape is used as a weapon and overt tool of humiliation and cultural destruction.

Jeff -- you can equally say that there is a biological component to murder, theft and bullying in schools, but in terms of dealing with all these there is limited usefulness in this explanation, compared with dealing with cultural and individual-psychology components.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Luna, I don't have time to independently check up on Thornhill so I'll take your word on him as a source.

My question to you, why would humans differ from other animals in using rape as a conditional reproductive tactic? Chimps rape, doesn't that hint that there may be at least some biological influence on this behavior in humans?

Again, I'll emphasize that this is not excuse or mitigation.

Luna @#34:

At not point did I identify the Biblical rules with rape as a whole, I used them as a well-known example. The economic issue is my point:

1) A potential husband would not be willing to support a child that might not be their own.

2) the group as a whole (especially the woman's family) would likewise not want to support a child which would not "carry" the resources and alliances associated with paternity.

Again, scarcity of resources is key to that pattern. With plentiful resources, a "bastard" firstborn could be accepted in light of the woman's proven fertility!

By David Harmon (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Luna, just saw your last post, I think we're on the same wavelength here, just coming at it from different angles.

I can't say that rape is never a reproductive tactic -- but when you consider the entire spectrum of "sexual aggression" and sex offenses, you begin to go a bit wonky if you try to put it forward as a primary or even an important aspect of it.

First, looking at the DOJ statistics for sex offense/molestation victims (I can refer you to http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/ascii/saycrle.txt as one source), 34% of sexual molestation/forcible rape victims were younger than 12. This is not "reproductive age" by any stretch of the imagination. Another 33% were 12-17, which are more viable reproductive ages, but one can't ignore the possibility that the more controlling factor is accessibility, risk-taking behavior which exposes them to danger, and inability to defend themselves.

Forcible penetration with the penis resulted in ejaculation apparently less than half the time that it occurred, and it occurred in a broadly overlapping spectrum with things ranging in seriousness from "forcible fondling" to penetration with an object, and deliberate harm and humiliation such as beating, urinating on or smearing the victim with feces. Not only do other animals not do this, it's clearly not reproductive!

Chimps rape, and they do beat up on females in order to control them at times (thinking of Goodall's profile of Goblin). However, the profile of targets is completely different -- solely females in estrus. This alone makes it a different phenomenon.

David Harmon: You are missing the point. The woman's family see her as property, with her value being reproductive, and THEY see rape as a purely reproductive issue. This does NOT mean that the rapist sees it as a reproductive issue, especially given how seldom it will be successful! The issue is why do men rape, and so far the fact that women are penalised for being the victim doesn't support your thesis.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Jeff, it is entirely possible we're just coming at this from different angles. I do have all my stuff in notes -- somewhere-- if you want them, give me a day or so and I will give you precise references.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Humans are unlike other animals in that human females know how to procure abortion and in most ancient cultures they also practised infanticide. The two together effectively destroy rape as a reproductive strategy.

My overall point is that strength is not a biological constant, which may be limited by human culture, but that the cultural context itself determines what is power, and what strategies are used to gain advantage.

Thus male power over women isn't an objective eternal fact of nature, it is a cultural phenomenon. As Hobbes said, every tyrant must sleep, and he is vulnerable at that point to the weakest person. Every man is as vulnerable as every woman.

We must care for each other, because we are all equally weak - or put it another way, equally strong.

Luna @#39: do you have evidence that predatory stranger rape is more common in any culture or circumstance than victimisation within the family? Do you have evidence that it is more common in desert cultures?

The first query is a flat misreading of my statements, as I made no such assertion. (Indeed, I would read within-family rape as a nearly pure dominance act.)

The "desert" discussion was a reference to the "desert vs. jungle" idea which started circulating a few years ago, basically attributing a lot of societal differences to different patterns in resource distribution. The "jungle" pattern is comparatively flat, so while the rich can still accumulate resources, the poor can still survive. The "desert" pattern has resources concentrated in critical locations, or otherwise subject to centralized control. Thus, whoever controls those resources decides who gets to survive. I'm not fanatical about the idea, but it does make sense to me, and there has been some support from primate research (comparisions of chimp groups in different environments).

The comparision between modern societies vs. the present Middle East and Africa (which I'm dubious about calling "modern") is an extension of that theme, but a reasonable one, based on the idea that modern technology and social patterns tend to produce a "jungle" style distribution of resources. (Of course, the U.S. is busily trying to go back to the "desert" pattern, but that includes establishing central control over said resources!)

And do you really want to assert that there's no difference in the prevalence (or toleration) of (extra-familial) rape, between the Western societies and the Middle Eastern or African societies? I think there's plenty of evidence that there is.

By David Harmon (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

David Harmon: I apologise for misreading your statement about stranger/predatory rape being more common than in-family/acquaintance rape, since that is not what you meant. My misinterpretation.

I see what you are saying about the "desert culture" thing...but I'm not convinced it has absolute relevance here. Going by the modern cultures in the Middle East, India, Pakistan and many areas of Africa -- and I include Afghanistan here as being one of the more "backward" and mysogynistic of these -- there is no doubt that non-familial rape is heavily penalised, to the point of women being killed for "shaming" their families. However, this makes it even more likely that the stranger/predatory rape of a woman is done in order to carry out a grudge against the family, by "ruining" their economic resource, than it makes it a strategic attempt by the rapist to reproduce.

Your argument seems too much like an extension of the "rapists rape because they can't get sex" myth which has had such great currency in the West, and which has so little factual support.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Also, David Harmon -- Do you have evidence that non-familial/stranger rape is more common in proportion to family/acquaintance rape in these cultures? Because as far as I can tell from the various women's advocacy groups in those parts of the world, the issue is more one of reporting vs. the woman's need to keep the victimisation a secret than it is of occurance vs. non-occurance. If the woman has not left the home and is able to hide evidence of the assault, then she will be strongly motivated to hide that it ever happened. Otherwise the blame will more likely fall on her than on her assailant.

Sorry for the multiple posts. Will now be offline until tomorrow, anyway.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Luna @#43: Chimps rape, and they do beat up on females in order to control them at times (thinking of Goodall's profile of Goblin). However, the profile of targets is completely different -- solely females in estrus.

I beg to differ -- as I recall the reports, chimps "beating up" on females specifically included victims who were not yet in estrus -- strongly implying a strategy of establishing dominance prior to the critical period. Human rape (and forced marriage) of prepubertal females would fit much the same strategy, and the business of a girl or woman having having to marry their rapist is a direct social endorsement of that strategy. Incidentally, I'd bet that those statistics about failure to ejaculate etc. are specifically derived from violent-rape incidents, and primarily stranger rape. It's likely to be a very different story for forced sex in an ongoing power relationship.

It's also worth remembering that our instincts don't fully match our current social environment, in that before long-range travel became commonplace, there more-or-less were no strangers. (That would also apply to the tribal milieus of Old-Testament times.) For that matter, even intra-familial rape could be linked into that -- consider another difference between humans and other animals, namely that human parents can influence or outright control the mate-selection of their children! (That is, a child who's been trained to submit to rape would be more likely to submit to an arranged marriage, as opposed to pulling a Romeo-and-Juliet routine.)

As far as "missing the point", I will admit to wandering far afield from the original poster's query about dominance strategies, but.... As you and others have noted, rape is indeed strongly linked to dominance; I contend that the link also runs from dominance to reproductive strategy, and back again from reproductive success (family alliances) back to social dominance.

If not for those links, rape would universally be considered a simple crime of violence; it's those very connections that allow for social toleration of rape, especially victim-blaming. The great innovation of modern society (in this context) is that we now consider mate-selection to be a basic right of women as well as men, rather than the perogative of their parents. The problem is that our instincts haven't caught up with our society!

Indeed, the Stockholm-like syndrome commonly affecting rape victims is an expression of the underlying "instinctual calculus", and failing to recognize that point leads to such victims hearing "well, you ought to feel differently" from their nominal supporters! (Incidentally, this is also a limiting factor w.r.t. Allison's comments about abortion and infanticide. BTW, animals can resorb fetuses and/or kill their young, at considerably lower cost/risk than human infanticide or pre-modern abortions.)

The best way to squelch rape long-term would clearly be a few generations of consistently castrating rapists (and aborting any resulting pregnancies). Unfortunately, fair enforcement of that would be very difficult, for all the same reasons that current laws against rape are unevenly applied, and slanted toward the powerful. Here too, dominance factors connect to reproductive-success factors, and back again.

By David Harmon (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Graculus: That can be a limiting factor, but consider how husband-killing gets much more vindictively punished than wife-killing. A woman whose husband dies suspiciously can be ostracised or worse ("witch!"), even, or especially, if they could support themselves on their own.

The woman could easily turn around and accuse the last *male* that pissed her off of using witchcraft to murder her beloved husband.

My argument is not that this happened, but that a sudden "hostile takeover" was not likely, because women would be in a position to fight back. I don't see any evidence that male dominance didn't precede human status. Baggage.

Luna @#47: Also, David Harmon -- Do you have evidence that non-familial/stranger rape is more common in proportion to family/acquaintance rape in these cultures?

No, but I also don't see how the point is relevant. I already agreed that intrafamilial abuse is primarily dominance-based, with the caveat about it supporting arranged marriages. (Of course, in cultures where virginity is required for marraige, intrafamilial rape as such becomes actively destructive to the family's welfare.)

I would definitely not aggregate intrafamilial rape with aquaintance rape! The former, as I said above, represents dominance (and likely some misfiring of instinct); the latter combines dominance with reproductive strategy, and I'd consider it the "primal" form of rape. (Remember, no strangers within a tribe.)

Stranger rape would be closer to the "war rapes" you mentioned earlier, and both of those seem much more closely based on (pre-modern) reproductive strategy. And it seems to me that "aquaintance" plus "stranger" equals "non-family".

Your argument seems too much like an extension of the "rapists rape because they can't get sex" myth

Not quite -- no matter how many kids a rapist has (or not) by their "official" partner(s), the rapes give an extra chance of fathering more kids, but without having to support them. Strictly a numbers game at that point....

Just to cover some of your other points: I consider that social factors are ultimately a superstructure over more fundamental drives. Specifically, dominance may be a fundamental social drive, but it's still "higher level" than the biological drive for reproduction. Thus, dominance exists entirely in service to reproductive success.

It's been an interesting argument, albeit confusing due to interleaved posts. We'll have to see if the thread's still alive when you get back!

By David Harmon (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

The best way to squelch rape long-term would clearly be a few generations of consistently castrating rapists

Yeah, because consistently hanging murderers and jailing robbers has had a **huge** effect on the number of murderers and robbers too.. Seriously, you don't have a clue. Its well known that rape isn't about sex, its about control and power. There have been cases of rapists using *objects* to rape, because they where incapable of sex. What do you do with them, start cutting off hands, in the hope that that will stop them? It sure works for theft in countries where they do that, not!

How is it that, in this day and age, with all we know of the psychology of rapists, there are *still* people that think that "sex" is the main factor and that chemically or physically castrating them will do anything at all?

The best way to squelch rape long-term would clearly be a few generations of consistently castrating rapists

[quote]Yeah, because consistently hanging murderers and jailing robbers has had a **huge** effect on the number of murderers and robbers too.. Seriously, you don't have a clue. Its well known that rape isn't about sex, its about control and power. There have been cases of rapists using *objects* to rape, because they where incapable of sex. What do you do with them, start cutting off hands, in the hope that that will stop them? It sure works for theft in countries where they do that, not!

I think the premise is that if there's a genetic component to the propensity to be a rapist, by ensuring rapists have no children, you would decrease the frequency of the raping alleles.

If everything else about male and female biology were the same, except that female genitalia was doing the penetrating during heterosexual intercourse, do you think female rape would be as common?

By Elizabeth (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Instead, there is a spike of rape victims between the ages of 15-30, whereas the data on female murder shows the highest rates between 30-60.

That's the marriage effect! Women are most likely to be married in that 30-60 age range. Women raped within marriage (ie by their spouse) often don't get included in statistics. It wasn't even counted as a crime at all until recently. Meanwhile, a married woman is likely to be murdered by her spouse - for being annoying or merely in the way when they want another woman (for love or money, eg dowry). Even with marriage occurring somewhat before 30, it takes a while (hence 30) for the circumstances leading to rape or murder to occur. After 60, the man is more likely to be dead or less able / willing to attack.

Elisabeth: More or less, with the addendum that it doesn't necessarily need to be a specific allele. There's also the point that if the penalty is "certain" enough, it would replace the reproductive payoff that I've been talking about with a drastic reproductive penalty, which would apply also to the other types of rape. Even so, my "few generations" was certainly optimistic -- it would take more than a few, and have other liabilities.

The biggest problem with the idea is in fact that pointed out so impolitely by Kagehi: There is a more basic link to aggression here, and we can't breed that out, because aggression in general is fundamental to our society. What could eventually be done is to breed constraints into our sexual behavior, but in practice we humans tend to handle that sort of thing by social indoctrination and learned constraints.

Incidentally, jailing robbers for a few years isn't that much of a penalty from an evolutionary standpoint, and we've hardly been "consistent" about killing off murderers -- especially when counterbalanced by the ongoing practices of war and other legalized violence.

But yeah, this is not a particularly quick solution. On the other hand, I suspect that there is no "quick" solution to something like this -- the problem is in our wetware, which derives from millions of years of evolutionary adaptation. There would also be the hazard of unintended consequences -- say, an overall decrease in aggression, which might leave the implementing society vulnerable to conquest. The original idea was a trailing toss-off, meant to highlight the interrelations I was discussing. On consideration, I have to admit it's not very practical.

By David Harmon (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

There is a more basic link to aggression here, and we can't breed that out, because aggression in general is fundamental to our society. What could eventually be done is to breed constraints into our sexual behavior, but in practice we humans tend to handle that sort of thing by social indoctrination and learned constraints.

Fundamental to our society? Not exactly. It would be more correct to say that aggression is fundamental to our biology. And it can't be separated from sexuality because testosterone, the same hormone that regulates aggression, also regulates sexuality.

Of course, testosterone alone does not tell the whole story, but I am pretty sure that that is why there even exists rape; something that combines sex and aggression into one coercive, violent act.

So unless human are genetically modified such that different hormones are involved with sex and aggression, or the aggressive behavior is almost completely suppressed, I don't think rape is going to go away.

That having been said, it would indeed be interesting to find out what hormones are involved in bonobo interactions. What's going on there, anyway?

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Miriam Goldstein,

With all due respect, you don't know what you're talking about. Here is a summary of some of the evidence indicating that rape, though a crime of violence, is primarily motivated by the (biological) urge to have sex:

Coerced copulation is widespread in animal species. It is found in many species of insects, birds, and mammals, including orangutans, gorillas and chimpanzees.

Rape is found in all human societies.

Rapists generally apply as much force as is needed to coerce the victim into having sex. They rarely inflict serious or fatal injury, which would preclude conception and birth. Only 4% of rape victims sustain serious injuries, and fewer than one in five hundred is murdered.

Victims of rape are mostly in their peak reproductive years. The age distribution of rape victims is very different from that of victims of other violent crimes, and is the opposite of what would happen if rape victims were selected for their physical vulnerability or their likelihood of holding positions of power.

Rapists are not demographically representative of the male gender. They are overwhelmingly young men, the age of the most intense sexual competitiveness. The young males who allegedly have been "socialized" to rape mysteriously lose that socialization as they get older.

Many rapes result in pregnancy, and the proportion would have been even higher in prehistory, when women did not use long-term contraception.

If everything else about male and female biology were the same, except that female genitalia was doing the penetrating during heterosexual intercourse, do you think female rape would be as common?

No. The difference between men and women that makes men much more sexually promiscuous than women is the minimum investment each sex makes in reproduction, not the shape or operation of their genitalia. If male sperm were the limiting commodity, rather than female eggs, and if it were the man who gestated the fertilized egg for nine months, rather than the woman, and if it were men who produced milk to feed their infant offspring, rather than women, then we'd expect male and female sexual psychologies to be reversed. Women would compete aggressively for sexual access to men, and men would be much more discriminating in their choice of sexual partners.

@David Harmon

You're really not getting this, are you? If there's any biological basis to rape, it's about dominance, not reproduction. Most rapes do occur between intimate partners (boyfriend on girlfriend/husband on wife) or are perpetrated by acquaintances of the woman/girl who is raped. (This is in no way meant to imply that men are never raped, but is simply working off the fact that rape is a far greater problem for women.) In these cases, it's a way of establishing dominance within the relationship, and exploiting the weaker group members while simultaneously strengthening the power of the rapist's group.

In occurrences of stranger rape, sexual predators have been well documented. Most begin as late-teenage males (17-18) raping elderly women (50/60+) who live alone and are generally weak and vulnerable. How on earth is this related to reproduction? It's about power, pure and simple. As they grow older, and their self-confidence increases, their victims become younger, though they are still selected for their weakness and vulnerability.

For an even clearer example of the power/dominance dynamic, consider prison-rape. This is generally male on male rape the sole purpose of which is to establish one man's dominance over another, and by extension the rest of that prison group, in an intensely traumatizing and humiliating way. (I haven't heard of female prisoners raping each other, it's not impossible but usually it's male guards who rape female prisoners, AGAIN an act of dominance)

Azky,

My hypothesis is that male dominance is a byproduct of a social arrangement that made sense thousands of years ago for reasons that changes in the technology available, the structure of society, and the type of challenges faced in the course of everyday life have largely made irrelevant, which has been coasting on "tradition", legal codification, and perceived "naturalness" since those changes essentially because we as a society have not made a concerted, wholehearted effort to pitch it out.

Why do you think male dominance is a "byproduct" of a social arrangement rather than a social arrangement? What social arrangement do you think it is a byproduct of? Why do you think it's a byproduct rather than a primary product? And do you have any evidence for this strange hypothesis?

Palentological and genetic evidence suggests that male dominance has existed in our evolutionary history for hundreds of thousands or millions of years at least. It is deeply embedded in our genes. Men have a much stronger biological urge than women to compete for power and social status, because power and status have always been much more important to the reproductive success of men than of women. There is no indication that human competition or male dominance will end in the foreseeable future. It is necessary to compete aggressively to attain high rank in business, politics, sports, academia, and almost all other areas of endeavor.

KP

If there's any biological basis to rape, it's about dominance, not reproduction.

The evidence contradicts this claim. See my post above. Of course, in some cases rape may be primarily or exclusively motivated by dominance, but in general it seems to be motivated by the urge for sex.

Most rapes do occur between intimate partners (boyfriend on girlfriend/husband on wife) or are perpetrated by acquaintances of the woman/girl who is raped.

How is this evidence of a motive of dominance? If rape victims are more often acquaintances of the rapist than strangers to him, that is probably because acquaintances are easier targets.

In occurrences of stranger rape, sexual predators have been well documented. Most begin as late-teenage males (17-18) raping elderly women (50/60+) who live alone and are generally weak and vulnerable.

In evaluating the motives for rape, the more important statistics are those that relate to the typical or most common type of rape, not how rapists behave when they "begin." But do you have a reference for the claim above? As I said in my previous post, most rape victims are not elderly, they are in their peak reproductive years.

(I haven't heard of female prisoners raping each other

why do you think that social dominance hierarchies would NOT develop in all female groups?

certainly no suggestion this is true when we look at other species.

In fact, if you want to provide support for the idea that rape is mostly an issue of establishing dominance, then you in fact would EXPECT the same issues in the female prison population.

Are you having a problem envisioning this because there is no penetrating organ involved?

again, I would think that removing the sexual impetus would be exactly what you would want to do if you wished to establish that rape is mostly a form of establishing dominance

Luna the cat,

Your posts are full of hopeful guesses and wishful thinking on your part presented as fact. Where you do try to produce evidence to support your claims, you get it all wrong. For example, you say:

First, looking at the DOJ statistics for sex offense/molestation victims (I can refer you to http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/ascii/saycrle.txt as one source), 34% of sexual molestation/forcible rape victims were younger than 12. This is not "reproductive age" by any stretch of the imagination.

If you had examined your own source more carefully, you might have discovered that it reports that in the vast majority of sexual assault cases where the victim was under 12, the crime was not rape, but sexual fondling, sexual assault with an object, or sodomy. Only 12% of rape victims were under age 12. And only 12% were over age 34. The vast majority of rape victims, 76%, were of reproductive age (12 to 34). Furthermore, most of the offenders in cases where the victim was under 12 were themselves juveniles.

just to counter the idea, looking at just the statistics, that rape is all about sex, one might try taking a gander at recorded interviews with rapists, who rarely compare their attempts at rape to sex.

the impetus does seem to be one of exercising control and power, based on their own commentary. Moreover, many rapists actually have "normal" sexual partners besides.

I suspect the issue is rather confounded between the use of sex for reproduction, vs. it's use as in social functions, vs. issues of hierarchy and dominance, and even issues of the inability to express oneself amongst peers or confusion within the individual as to the role sex plays within society.

this is yet another area where I see evo-psych (which really is just a subsidiary of sociobiology) not gaining much from an analysis of the statistical data itself.

the impetus does seem to be one of exercising control and power, based on their own commentary.

Evidence, please.

I suspect the issue is rather confounded between the use of sex for reproduction, vs. it's use as in social functions, vs. issues of hierarchy and dominance,

Read my previous posts. The evidence contradicts this idea. The age profile of rape victims is the opposite of what it would be if dominance were the primary or sole motive. The age profile of rapists also implies a sexual motive. And the rarity of serious or fatal injury in rapes also suggests a sexual rather than dominance motive.

Evidence, please.

you've never seen interviews with convicted rapists before?

shouldn't be too hard for you to google up.

Read my previous posts.

i did. which is exactly why I stated that looking at pure statistics doesn't necessarily tell the whole story.

think about how other forms of physical abuse work, for example.

And the rarity of serious or fatal injury in rapes also suggests a sexual rather than dominance motive.

I don't see how you make that connection.

dominance interactions don't necessarily involve serious, and most certainly not FATAL interactions. That wouldn't make sense, now, would it.

it's like saying there can be no dominance interactions in hyenas or wolves because the dominance interactions don't lead to serious injury or fatality.

you've never seen interviews with convicted rapists before? shouldn't be too hard for you to google up.

It's not my job to look for evidence for your imaginings. That's your job.

I don't see how you make that connection.

I already explained it, in #57.

btw, there have been several published studies attempting to look at the very question raised in this thread, dating back at least 30 years.

for example, even back in 1984 there was a study looking at the issue of the relation of sex to rape by studying incarcerated individuals:

http://cjb.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/11/2/157

there are several other published studies of this type in various pysch journals.

even in the abstract from the paper noted above:

in general, rapists were most often similar to both serious property and violent offenders. Rapists differed most often from other sex offenders.

so even then, there was a closer association with the violence aspect than the sexual aspect in the rape cases examined and compared.

again, I think you'll find that if you examine the case studies, the issue is not a simple one of frustrated sexual expression.

I already explained it, in #57.

if that's an explanation, it's a very poor one.

and you completely ignored how dominance heirarchies work in the animals in which it has been studied.

heck, even the student poster was more on the ball - check the work by Steve Glickman et. al. on hyenas linked to in the initial post, for example (I say Glickman et. al., because really that paper is all based on work Glickman did with hyenas at the behavior lab at UC Berkeley, and if someone wanted to follow up, that's the name to look for).

if you don't WANT to spend time actually looking at the issue in depth, that's fine and dandy, but if so, perhaps you should be a little less certain of your conclusions?

so even then, there was a closer association with the violence aspect than the sexual aspect in the rape cases examined and compared.

It doesn't say that at all. It doesn't say anything about the ways in which rapists, serious property offenders, and serious violent offenders were found to be similar. It doesn't mention motive at all.

and you completely ignored how dominance heirarchies work in the animals in which it has been studied.

What about them? If you have a serious, evidence-based argument to make, then make it.

my point in asking you to look more carefully at the literature, is that it is often the case that the application of standard sociobiology to human behavior is confounded by the vast variability shown in how human behavior develops to begin with.

sure, there may be some genetic contribution to a particular behavior, and there may have been selective pressures on that behavior (that may or may not be similar to current selective pressures, for that matter), but there are often so many contributing factors to a particular human behavior that applying simple selection arguments often fail.

It's always of interest to compare human behavior to animal behavior, but even in cases where the application of Triver's Parental Investment Theory (what you seem to be applying here) seems to work well for a particular population of animals, it doesn't necessarily stretch to work in similar fashion when we try to apply it to apparently similar human behaviors.

potentially, much of human behavior might be explained from an evolutionary standpoint, but there are various complications arising from the fact that human behavior is typically far more complex than that of a given population of fish, for example.

Me personally, I wholly approve of the idea of exploring the evolution of human behavior, and often am citing papers looking at potential genetic contributions to specific behaviors in humans. However, I'm also a realist, and realize that most specific human behaviors are endlessly complicated by social transmission, for example, and purely evolutionary explanations for many behaviors might simply be out of reach.

It doesn't say that at all.

uh, that's what it says, WORD FOR WORD (that's why I quoted it, duh).

you're being deliberately obtuse.

is this the same Jason as the 'crusading vegetarian'?

if so, nuff said, you're just too hard to try and teach anything to.

(read as: you're a waste of time).

I'm not into argumentation in the form of:

yes it is!

not it isn't!

Icthy,

uh, that's what it says, WORD FOR WORD

No it isn't. What "it" says is the text you quoted. What you said to paraphrase that text is a complete misrepresentation of it.

Still waiting for a clear explanation of whatever it is you think that dominance hierarchies in animals have to do with something I said.

Icthy:

you're being deliberately obtuse.

You are a total bullshitter. You're behaving exactly like creationists whose "argument" against evolution consists of saying things like "You haven't considered X!" "You're ignoring Y!" "You need to do some research on Z!" It's just vacuous nonsense. You're not articulating any kind of substantive critique of a proposition, you're just gibbering.

It's just vacuous nonsense.

so looking at the actual research is vacuous nonsense.

rigggghhhhhttt.

like i said, you are a complete waste of time. for example, have you even looked at the actual papers that have tested Triver's Parental Investment Theory in the field?

of course you haven't.

the hotair is all coming from yourself, as usual. I'm sorry you don't want to waste time actually looking at the application of the theories you like to banty about as if you actually knew something about them beyond having read a brief mention in an undergrad textbook or something, but seriously, it's quite boring trying to have any kind of constructive conversation with you.

*click*

oh, what the hell, I'll throw you a bone, so that maybe since you seem to express an interest in investment theory, you might be able to check out some of the field tests of the theory for yourself:

http://www.amazon.com/Behavioural-Ecology-Evolutionary-Approach-Davies/…

this is an excellent reader that utilizes key field experiments published in the primary literature to examine the application of specific theories under the umbrella of "evolution".

I think you would find it quite enjoyable, really.

past that...

*shrug*

I won't have time to go into details until later, but I want to throw in one comment -- Jason, it's clear as day you've bought the Thronhill premise and read his works completely uncritically. Stating as you do in #57 that "gorillas rape" is a red flag. I ran across that in one of Thornhill's papers, and it raised a red flag for me then, too, because it runs counter to everything I knew about primate ethology. Tracking up his reference for it, I ran across a Scientific American article...which quoted a Thornhill paper. Tracking down the original Thornhill paper which stated this "fact", I found a reference to a summary piece put out by the Yerkes Institute on primate violence -- but that specifically listed the form of gorilla violence as being infanticide!

I contacted the Yerkes Institute, just to see if there might be something I was missing. But no; according to them, the official observed statistic for gorilla rape: 0. There was apparently one observed incident where a male tried to mount an uninterested female -- which ended when she sat down and glared at him, and he wandered off. As far as attempted "coerced sex" goes, that's pretty pathetic.

The "coerced sex is common in animals" meme is a complete Thornhill invention, which he has managed to insert into popular literature. When the actual evidence for this assertion is examined, coerced sex turns out to be reasonably rare. Much of his assertions turn out to be pure invention.

Another tactic is assertions flatly made (as you do) that "many" rapes result in pregnancy, and that "many more" would before the advent of contraception. Evidence? Numbers? Where?

And your manipulation of statistics is far more misleading than anything you accuse me of. The peak age for risk of forcible, penetrative rape is 13-14; by 17 the risk has dropped to half, and by age 24 the risk is about a tenth of what it was. by subsuming everything into an incredibly broad, decades-long category, you can obscure the picture. Bad.

I am also wildly unimpressed by your unwillingness to bestir yourself to look for basic evidence in the form of interviews with rapists. Are you actually interested in evidence and reality at all, or do you just want to play at sophistry and pretend you are scoring points off people?

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

Ah, drat -- in quoting statistics from memory, I got them partly wrong. Here is the money quote:

"The risk of being the victim of forcible rape increased
dramatically from age 10 to age 14, where it peaked. By age 20, the risk had dropped to less than half the peak 14-year-old rate, and dropped to a 10th of the 14-year-old peak by age 40."

I was confusing the forcible rape statistic with the forcible sodomy/penetration with objects statistic. While we're at it though, may I ask why you think that forcible rape should be considered as separate from these other sexual types of violence? Do we have evidence that they are fundamentally different in intent?

Anyway, here is the publication as a .pdf, with the actual graphs of ages, pp. 2-3 of the publication: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/saycrle.pdf

--Note the sharp peaks in victim ages. It seems to suggest that the only reason forcible rape (with a penis rather than an object) peaks at the second peak of assault ages (14) is one of, well, physical feasability more than anything else. At the risk of being disturbingly grotesque (and believe me, *I* find this reasoning disturbing), a child of four just doesn't have a hole that big. But can you suggest a reproductive reason why 50%+ of victims are younger than 15? ...Given that biologically, peak reproductive age is 22, it just doesn't fit.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

It looks to me as though the two age peaks are for two different types of offenders - 4 for paedophiles and 13-15 for non-paedophiles.

4 is about the age when a girl starts being a serious poser in a way which I assume would attract a paedophile. Much older than that and the child is going to be more eloquent and thus more likely to tell on the offender (as well as perhaps being less cute?). So the risk-gain balance causes the tail-off.

Although modern cultures have laws making the second age peak also count as paedophilia, it isn't really biologically the case. Around 13 is when girls look freshly sexually mature while still being at their easiest to dominate. Again the risk-gain balance (including simple availability or lack of it) causes the tail-off.

13-year-olds look "freshly sexually mature" where you are? Frankly, that's a bit scary.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

That's not very much to do with where I am at all - apart from it not being a place where people are generally chronically undernourished and thus have delayed puberty. Puberty naturally occurs for human females around that age (even younger in some). It's a biological fact and norm, wherever you are, although the Victorian influenced school system tries to disguise it by repressing teens for longer.

If anything the US females (which is where I'm guessing you live) are known for dressing up more when younger than the UK ones are (from a relative's experience when ludicrously accused of being underage on visiting a state-side bar, simply because she wasn't ridiculously dolled up). However, that's changing with the US corruption of the UK and UK teens are playing catch-up on that too.

Actually, I live in the UK, although I've lived in the US as well.

And puberty at 13 is a relatively recent phenomena -- adolescence has been occurring at a younger and younger age as body fat and dietary hormones increase. From anthropological studies, in many cultures puberty occurred later and menses won't have started until around 15. This is still true for hunter-gatherers.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

No, puberty at 11 is the recent phenomenon! 13 has been not at all odd in well-fed societies for a long time - and those are the ones for which you've provided the rape data. Menstruation is hardly the whole of it. The more visible signals are already visible before 15 and are what is going to trigger the behaviour. Unless you ludicrously imagine that rapists (or even non-rapists) specifically go round sniffing girls or examining their rubbish to try and find a menstruating one.

No...

Sorry, my responses here haven't been up to par -- kind of in the middle of my working day right now.

Yes, there are pubertal signals going on in 13-year-olds, beyond any doubt (although had I more time I would happily argue with you about ages of sexual maturity in historical cultures). Yes, modern society is indeed what I have provided statistics for, here. However, even in well fed modern society, what I *meant* my point to be is that the vast majority of 13-year-olds are readily identifiable as early adolescents, not "sexually mature", and certainly not sexually mature the way a 19-20 year old is. I suspect that the issue is not so much sexual signalling, however, as it is accessibility and, as you yourself pointed out, that they can be easily dominated/intimidated. Which isn't so much about reproduction, is it...?

Seems more like the whole reproduction issue was being argued for earlier cultures, where my argument is that, while pregnancy is certainly possible for girls this young, it is also extremely risky, frequently resulting in the death of mother and/or baby, and was probably still uncommon. In the modern day where girls arguably try to look "sexy" younger and do hit puberty earlier, reproduction is going to be even less likely, so this is also not what is driving rape, and it is highly unlikely in most instances that rapists are in doubt about their victim's rough age.

Unless you are arguing that rape==sex==drive-to-reproduce is most of the story, which not only may not be true but also obscures more than it illuminates in terms of understanding -- kind of like arguing that humans developed writing because our brains are good at remembering landmarks -- then honestly, I don't think this line of argument helps much.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

The "coerced sex is common in animals" meme is a complete Thornhill invention, which he has managed to insert into popular literature. When the actual evidence for this assertion is examined, coerced sex turns out to be reasonably rare.

No one seems to have informed ducks of this.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

Why yes, Caledonian -- "coerced sex" is common in ducks, and also in orang-utans. We only have about 16 million different species where it hasn't been documented. But because we are familiar with ducks and orangs, that makes it common, right?

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

I don't really want to get into the "they were asking for it" blame game, but I do think it is vitally important to consider the rape graphs in the context of what the victims actually look like in that society. As I said, I think there are two overlapping groups being combined into the one graph - and you don't appear to have disagreed on that. So the main issue is this one of visible puberty (and not some intellectual calculation of whether they will survive the first child-birth).

I'm completely with you on rape being a dominance thing. However, I'm also convinced the age of visible puberty (including the dressing up and prancing around, giving off sexual signals) is significant for the non-paedophile offender group because it means they are more likely to be triggered to include rape as one of their dominance strategies for those victims. That's why the peak occurs there. Before puberty the sex behaviour isn't triggered at all in non-paedophiles; and for the older ages, potential victims are less available (working, including "home-making", rather than hanging around fecklessly) and less easily dominated overall.

We only have about 16 million different species where it hasn't been documented.

But it has - in all sorts of insects, in other types of birds, etc. etc.

Which is of course irrelevant, because the actual issue is how humans behave, and whether rape is 'common' across all species or not isn't relevant.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

Caledonian -- it has been documented in several species of insects. It has not been documented in any other kind of bird but ducks, to the best of my knowledge -- if you have different evidence, then cite it, please. And in mammals it is demonstrably rare except in orangs, and uncommon in chimps and possibly baboons. That is not "all sorts", and is certainly not the "common" which Thornhill argued.

You are absolutely correct in that this is irrelevant to the specific issue of human behavior, however. One of the first few things to bug me about Thornhill was that he specifically raised the question, "how is scorpionfly reproductive behavior relevant to humans?" -- and then he spent the next few pages "answering" the question by ranting about how people should not commit the naturalistic fallacy. I went over his work several times in case I had missed an actual address to the question, but no -- he never did say how scorpionfly reproductive behavior was relevant to humans.

SEF (and David Harmon, too) -- One of the thing that stands out for me when looking at questions like this is that there has been quite a lot of work done with sex offenders to understand what motivates them. Several themes are recurrent:

1. Anger or revenge.
2. Establishing control over another human being, playing to issues of self-esteem or former abuse of the perpetrator ("shit rolls downhill" -- someone who lacks control in his own life, and/or who has been beat up on, will often find a way to establish control over someone else and pass on the abuse).
3. Sexual gratification from the pain/fear/humiliation of the subject, or sexual gratification from simple absolute control.
4. "It's not rape -- women really want it."
5. Overtly and explicitly cultural causes, such as deliberate punishment of a woman for her or her family's misbehavior, or a folk belief that "sex with a virgin will cure an STD"

Nowhere in there does "so they will have to have my kid" even get a look in. This does not mean it couldn't be a distant and unconscious motivation, but it doesn't appear to be an important aspect in these motivations any more than it is for any other form of blatantly non-reproducing sexual gratification.

And crucially, none of the "reproductively oriented" hypotheses about why people rape can actually establish a desire to reproduce as being any more likely, or even equally as likely, as any of the above attitudes. So in a purely Bayesian sense it is a weak hypothesis at best.

SEF, from the available literature -- DOJ, UCR, NCVS, as well as the few cases which make it into the news, like http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7035130.stm -- while there are two distinct peaks in target ages, there seems to be a substantial subgroup of offenders who target everything from one to the other. And it is simply not possible to argue that 6-year-olds are giving off real sexual signals.

Going back to the original topic of the thread for a moment, rape is linked to dominance, and is one of the arenas where an individual is capable of exerting physical strength to manifestly dominate another individual. However, this does not generally translate in many cultures to actual societal status.

Jason said in #60:

Men have a much stronger biological urge than women to compete for power and social status, because power and status have always been much more important to the reproductive success of men than of women. There is no indication that human competition or male dominance will end in the foreseeable future. It is necessary to compete aggressively to attain high rank in business, politics, sports, academia, and almost all other areas of endeavor.

...this is a grotesquely oversimplified stereotype largely from start to finish, and demonstrably untrue in human societies. Women compete fiercely for power and status in what arenas are open to them, and in the vast majority of human societies all it takes is a little observation to demonstrate that "low status" men compete reproductively with the best of them. Situations where there are harems dedicated only to the highest status represent just as uncommon an outlier as the Na do on the other end. David Harmon states:

Specifically, dominance may be a fundamental social drive, but it's still "higher level" than the biological drive for reproduction. Thus, dominance exists entirely in service to reproductive success.

--which is essentially what Jason was saying, if somewhat better put. But observation, observation, observation, please -- is there any actual evidence that, in most cultures or in the formative years of human biology, that rape was equal to social status was equal to reproductive success?

Arranged marriages were the norm in many cultures -- but if you look at the cultures specifically, the degree to which it was both or either gender being coerced, and the degree to which the individuals being married had actual influence over mate choice, vary so broadly that the category can't be unambiguously connected to what we consider rape. Undoubtedly it encompassed rape, but so do modern, "un-arranged" relationships, too. The cultural acceptability of complete dominance over women, including sexually, and the degree to which female choice is valued, are not only the broader issues, they are the relevant ones.

Sorry, this was very long and very rambling, but I wanted to get away from my multiple-post tendency, and also I'm going to have to run again soon.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

And in mammals it is demonstrably rare

Rape is relatively common in bats.

It is? Well, THAT is news to me. Do you have a source?

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

And it is simply not possible to argue that 6-year-olds are giving off real sexual signals.

Your news example seems to be of a homosexual paedophile. With boys, the sexual signal aspect is irrelevant. They are just available, attractive (to the misfiring brain) and easily coerced.

Do you have a source?

Will David Attenborough and the BBC film crew (and obviously a background invisible group of assorted serious researchers) do you?! :-D

Luna,

I was confusing the forcible rape statistic with the forcible sodomy/penetration with objects statistic. While we're at it though, may I ask why you think that forcible rape should be considered as separate from these other sexual types of violence?

Because the issue here is the motive for rape, not other kinds of sexual assault, or sexual assault in general. You are simply confusing the issue by lumping rape statistics in with statistics for other kinds of sexual assault.

Anyway, here is the publication as a .pdf, with the actual graphs of ages, pp. 2-3 of the publication: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/saycrle.pdf --Note the sharp peaks in victim ages. It seems to suggest that the only reason forcible rape (with a penis rather than an object) peaks at the second peak of assault ages (14) is one of, well, physical feasability more than anything else.

No, it doesn't suggest that at all. Rape of victims who are elderly or younger than 14 is just as "physically feasible" as rape of girls and women in their reproductive years. As I said, the age distribution of rape victims is the opposite of what it would be if domination were the primary or sole motive and victims were chosen primarily for their physical or social vulnerability rather than for their fertility.

But can you suggest a reproductive reason why 50%+ of victims are younger than 15? ...

Another false claim. Substantially less than 50% of the victims were even under 17. As I said, according to your own source, the overwhelming majority of rape victims, 76%, were of reproductive age. Obviously, the vulnerability of the victim is likely to play some role in the rapist's choice of targets. 14-year-olds generally make easier targets than women in their 20s. That is probably one reason why the largest single age category of victims found in the study is 12-17. But again, the most important point is that the overwhelming majority of victims are of fertile age. Elderly women and pre-pubescent girls constitute a very small share of rape victims, even though they would make the easiest targets. This is the opposite of what we would find if your "rape is about dominance and control" idea were correct. Other lines of evidence I have described also support the conclusion that rape is primarily motivated by sex.

Luna: ...is there any actual evidence that, in most cultures or in the formative years of human biology, that rape was equal to social status was equal to reproductive success?

Another straw man. I did not and do not claim equivalence for these things, I'm claiming interrelations among some of them. (And I have no idea where you pulled in "social status" from.) Again, my points from before were that rape in pre-modern times gave (1) a method for "pushing" mate-selection via the dominance effects, (the "rape-marriage" pattern) (2) a "cheap bonus" to reproductive success, by fathering extra children without having to support them (the "rape-and-abandon" pattern). (3) would be your "rape as dominance" pattern -- I'm not claiming that doesn't exist at all (clearly it's the relevant factor in most same-sex rapes), but you seem to be claiming that it covers the entire phenomenon of rape, and I just don't buy that. Indeed, I'd suspect tbat the use of rape as a dominance technique is evolutionarily derivative from its prior appearance in the reproductive context.

Luna: That the vast majority of 13-year-olds are readily identifiable as early adolescents, not "sexually mature", ... that they can be easily dominated/intimidated. Which isn't so much about reproduction, is it...?

Actually, that fits in with my point about strategic domination. The novelty in modern society is that nowadays, a victim doesn't necessarily stay available after the initial attack. In a tribal environment, or even in early settlements, they most likely would stay available for ongoing, or permanent, domination. (Of course, the rapist could also be slapped down or chased off, by a higher-rank individual. If that's the original basis for rape laws in general, it would explain a lot of the power bias in enforcement.)

Other points: One of the odd things about humans is that we can go through the entire process of approach, courtship, and mating based primarily on visual signals. A (say) 6-year-old certainly wouldn't have genuine sexual signals, but their protosexual modeling behavior can visually resemble such signals, especially to someone who's partly "off the tracks" anyway. Most 16-year-olds, and many 13-year-olds, can trivially appear as sexually mature -- I just moved from NYC, where this is pretty blatant. Also the physical danger of youthful birthing is a very late development in our evolutionary history.

Regarding your comment #94, I am very reluctant to place credence in rapist's self-descriptions of their motives, especially from jailhouse interviews. Part of that is noting that rapists aren't necessarily the most self-aware folks, let alone objective. Even there, note that your #4 represents my point, in that they're explicitly claiming rape as a valid mating strategy, Also, your #3 (and arguably #2) feed into the rape-marriage pattern rather more easily than into a pure-dominance pattern.

More to the point, you'll notice that I've been discussing humans primarily as primates, rather than as "rational actors". Cognitive science has been making it fairly clear that a good deal of what we think of as our motivations and reasons for doing various things, are actually post facto rationalizations for decisions made by lower-level processes. I consider that humans are animals (mammals, primates) first, with our cognitive abilities as a froth on top of that. I would expect this to be especially obvious when the behavior is "unexpected" from the perspective of a supposedly rational actor -- such as major breaches of social norms (with widely-known and dire punishments)!

"Rationality" would at least suggest sufficient discretion to avoid being captured and thrown in jail. Yet the major obstacle to punishing rapists isn't "couldn't catch them", it's "couldn't prosecute/convict them" -- because of social factors such as foot-dragging and backlash at every stage from cops to juries. I think those social factors represent a basic conflict, between the inherited "calculus of instinct", and the more abstract goals of modern society.

PS: Just to clear up a potential confusion in my last post from yesterday: aggression is not the same as dominance. Aggression is a lower-level process, important for individual survival, but also hazardous. One of the major functions of a dominance heirarchy seems to be reducing the incidence of outright violence, by co-opting aggressive urges into less deadly forms of conflict.

By David Harmon (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

David Harmon:

Sorry, feedback loops beat random factors pretty reliably.

I was referring to the randomness inherent in who gains capital. Sometimes less richer gets richer, even relatively so, feedback aside. If you had a feedback chemical balance reaction with 95 % reactants on one side, you would have a chemical barrier to overcome. But some of the lesser side gets reacted while some of the dominant side does too.

So there is observably a mechanism that selectively represses women. :-|

The proposal is to override it, whatever it's cause.

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

OOps. I meant "potential barrier".

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

I must modify that: there has been a repressing mechanism. Observing if it still exists takes more.

But it is still something that should be actively pursued.

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

Rape is relatively common in bats.

all bats? there are quite a few species, ya know.

it's been documented in bottlenose dolphins, too, thought it isn't at all clear just how common it is, even within that species.

Luna,

And your manipulation of statistics is far more misleading than anything you accuse me of. The peak age for risk of forcible, penetrative rape is 13-14; by 17 the risk has dropped to half, and by age 24 the risk is about a tenth of what it was. by subsuming everything into an incredibly broad, decades-long category, you can obscure the picture. Bad.

This argument is just utter nonsense. The theory is that rape is an evolved conditional reproductive strategy. The fact that rape victims are overwhelmingly females of reproductive age (which is, yes, "decades-long") is evidence for the theory. If the chance of reproductive success were the only factor influencing a rapists' choice of victim, then, yes, we'd expect most rape victims to be of the age of maximum fertility. But it is obviously not the only factor. Another important factor is the physical vulnerability of the victim. Post-pubescent girls are generally much less likely to be physically capable of fighting off a rapist than women in their twenties. It is therefore not surprising that the peak age of rape victims is so young. There's no "manipulation" of statistics. The false and misleading statistical claims here have been made by you.

You have offered no serious rebuttal to the evidence and arguments I have made. You've provided no explanation for the observed age distribution of rape victims and perpetrators, no explanation for the observed levels of force used in rape, no explanation for the prevalence of rape in other species, including some of our closest primate relatives, and no explanation for the universality of rape in human cultures, that is consistent with your hypothesis that rape is primarily motivated by a socially-created urge in men to dominate and control women.

I note this thread's topic has morphed from dominance to rape.

Interesting.

By John Morales (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

The theory is that rape is an evolved conditional reproductive strategy.

the theory you mean, that hasn't been published as far as humans are concerned?

I mean, maybe i missed where you posted your bibliography documenting how the theory has been tested, and whatnot.

did I?

again, you seem to be extrapolating a great deal from simple investment theory.

I keep wondering if you are really interested in actually investigating potential answers to complex questions, or is it that you just like to hear yourself spew?

Here's another factor to throw into the mix (not that it wasn't already, but it seems to have been ignored), have you considered that examples of homosexual rape exist? did anybody bother to try and look up the rate of female/female rape in the prison system, for example?

I note this thread's topic has morphed from dominance to rape.

actually, the thread hasn't morphed so much as it has considered potential influences of behaviors classified as relating to social dominance on other behaviors such as rape.

consider it the exploration of tangential issues.

John Morales,
It didn't "morph." Christian Burnham mentioned in it #6, and that set off the usual protests.

Ichthy,
Started on the martinis a bit early this evening, did you?

Started on the martinis a bit early this evening, did you?

projecting again, Jason?

It didn't "morph." Christian Burnham mentioned in it #6, and that set off the usual protests.

set off the usual protests?

wtf does that even mean?

what a maroon.

I'll have to add the same disclaimer as Christian Burnham, but social issues are things we all must take positions on. Which is what I think we can do here, I have a problem with taking evolutionary psychology seriously as it seems to fail to present tested hypotheses.

Primates seems to have all sorts of social solutions, comparing bonobos conflict solutions with chimps or humans. (I hear that results on bonobos can be dubious as they are mostly done in captivity, but if it is done on several groups I assume at least the behavior from biology will be general.) I don't see how we can test male to female differences against that background alone.

I suspect neuroscience tries to tell us biology isn't decisive. For example, males and females brains are differently organized and utilized. Yet the produced behavior is much more alike than comparing biological structures and processes would suggest. And IIRC a mix between biological and social factors correlating to behavior is what people see on individual level.

This condition, being unjust, should be remedied, and this is true regardless of the ultimate source of that discrepancy.

Agreed. IIRC UN statistics says that women own 5 % of Earth's resources. Having capital trivially means having easier to get capital (from game theory) and more so by way of the social power it lends. Still, you would expect more variance and an equalization over time by random factors, so there are other forces that keeps the situation asymmetrical.

As stated, here we can and should override any biological (and social) factors that are at work.

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 08 Oct 2007 #permalink

David Harmon:

Sorry, feedback loops beat random factors pretty reliably.

I was referring to the randomness inherent in who gains capital. Sometimes less richer gets richer, even relatively so, feedback aside. If you had a feedback chemical balance reaction with 95 % reactants on one side, you would have a chemical barrier to overcome. But some of the lesser side gets reacted while some of the dominant side does too.

So there is observably a mechanism that selectively represses women. :-|

The proposal is to override it, whatever it's cause.

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

OOps. I meant "potential barrier".

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

I must modify that: there has been a repressing mechanism. Observing if it still exists takes more.

But it is still something that should be actively pursued.

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 09 Oct 2007 #permalink

I believe that whoever is the most dominate in the relationship carries the dominate gene. It tends to change depending of the emotional and dominate state of the relationship. If the male is most dominate then a boy is produced. If the woman is the most dominate the a girl is produced.

By April Milligan (not verified) on 20 May 2008 #permalink