For efficient subordination, what’s wanted is that the structure not only not appear to be a cultural artifact kept in place by human decision or custom, but that it appear natural – that it appear to be a quite direct consequence of the facts about the beast which are beyond the scope of human manipulation or revision. It must seem natural that individuals of the one category are dominated by individuals of the other and that as groups, the one dominates the other.
Why did Sean Hannity incredulously stare at Zerlina Maxwell when she suggested that men be taught not to rape? Why is the Steubenville rape trial verdict considered a tragedy? Why do people think that the normal behavior of boys is aggression and rape?
Our society thinks that rape is not epidemic but rather endemic, meaning “natural to or characteristic of a specific people or place.” The general public believes that aggression and rape are “natural” behaviors of men. Our patriarchal and pop-Darwin culture believes the mythology that rape is an advantageous reproductive strategy selected because it is said to have increased the male’s individual fitness early in our evolutionary history. I will show this to be inconsistent with evolutionary theory. Western religion, with its belief in the inherent evilness of man and his inevitable acting out of horrific sins, hasn’t really helped dissipate contemporary society’s bloodthirsty sex-crazed caveman image of man either.
In other words, there is no such thing as a “low-cost” rape in the human world, only injurious rape. Whether you are a prehistoric or modern woman, if a man tries to have sex with you against your will, you will violently resist, unless unable to do so or you reason it is in your best interest not to. And in the case of a violent struggle, it is possible for either the rapist and/or victim to receive fatal and/or debilitating injuries during the process of the attempted rape. In the case that the victim is murdered there is no child to reproduce “rapist genes,” and the claim that these genes survive in contemporary society becomes very weak indeed. In the case that the rapist is killed in defense, we at least know he will not be fathering any further children and therefore the probability of his genes flowing into posterity decreases. His chances of “successful rape” decrease even further when we contemplate whether a disgusted and intelligent being would decide to clean herself of all signs of the rapist, thereby destroying his chance at successfully perpetuating his genes. On top of all of this, I wonder if the rapist’s buddies acted as onlookers and learned very quickly that the risk of injury while trying to execute a “successful rape” was entirely too large in comparison to the risk incurred by gathering some berries and building a home. Did these sociobiologists even stop to think that maybe early humans were social and affectionate and that both sexes happened to evolve pleasure apparatuses (i.e. clitoris and penis) to perhaps encourage cooperative and extended sexual encounters? If many biologists believe that various courtship displays were selected for to synchronize the physiological state of the sexes, why do these scientists propose a theory of antagonism? Evolution does not work to maximize conflict across and within species for this would certainly lead to multiple extinctions. Rather evolution works to maximize cooperation.
Lots of questions remain. Wouldn’t one assume that among our ancestors, who lived in small communities, rape was punished and so may have reduced rather than enhanced a male’s future reproduction? If rape is about reproduction, why are about one-third of its victims young children and the elderly, too young or old to reproduce? Why do men rape lovers and wives, with whom they also have consensual sex?
Frans B. M. De Waal