Summary: The Evolution Of Rape

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According to the NCVS, in 2014 there were 284, 345 victims of rape or sexual assault. In available studies, there is an overflow of data regarding the topic of rape and many features of the crime. These studies often focus on what objects were used during the crime, or where the crime took place. There is a new interest on the topic, why did the rapist do such a heinous crime. Taking a look back into history, the motives behind rapists have evolved quite a bit. In 1979, the psychologist Richard Hagen, the evolutionary biologists Richard Alexander and Katherine Noonan, and the anthropologist Donald Symons were the first to apply evolutionary theory to the subject of human rape. For males more than females, reproductive success is limited by…show more content…
There have been multiple studies done on the evolution of rape because it can give scientific theory as to why rape has changed over the years. In A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (MIT Press, 2000), Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer use evolutionary biology to explain the causes of rape. They argue that culture (that is, social learning, or learning resulting from experience with other members of the same species) plays a significant role in causing rape, because rape occurs when males are taught by their culture. While Thornhill and Palmer felt that rape occurred because men were taught by their culture, another study was done showing that rape occurred because it was a way of reproducing. Evolutionary biologists Richard Alexander and Katherine Noonan (1979) suggested that in human evolutionary history forcing a female into sex might have been a viable male reproductive strategy, since her unwillingness would sometimes imply a romantic relationship, and hence the possibility of paternal care. The theory “survival of the fittest” plays a role in the evolution of rape. The ultimate goal was to survive, and one way to insure that your genes lived on was to reproduce. Rape became a means to reproduce. Ultimately men may rape because it increases their biological fitness and thus rape may serve, at least in part, a reproductive function. (Shields…show more content…
The crime of rape in itself is of a sexual nature; therefor sexual desires are often a motive for rapists. One study done by Taylor (1972) examined the documented accounts of the offences of 94 sexual offenders and classified the offenders’ responses into seven categories of reason for offending: these were sexual motivation, negative affect, positive affect, dominance/anger, intimacy, helping and other. The most frequent reason given was sexual motivation, followed by a desire for intimacy. This study proved that although there are other motives behind the rape, the sexual aspect is the driving force. In 1991 the anthropologist Craig Palmer critically examined the various theories involving sexual desires of rapists. Palmer holds that mechanisms in the human male concerning visual stimulation, autonomous sex drive, desire for a variety of partners, greater willingness to engage in impersonal sex, and less discriminating criteria of sexual partners could be sufficient to produce raping behavior. (Palmer 1991, p. 379) In an earlier study, Palmer found that the large percentage of rapists reporting sexual desire certainly attests to the major importance of sexual motivation in rape, but the one-out of-five figure demonstrates the non-trivial role sometimes played by nonsexual motives as well. (Palmer 1988) It is important to recognize that although sexual motivation is often more prevalent in rape cases, it is

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