Ugh. I got an email a week ago from the Michigan Chapter of CFI (Center for Inquiry):

Friday, April 8, 2011, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Join members of Evolution for Everyone (“E4E”) to hear a lecture on “Sexual Coercion and Forced In-Pair Copulation as Sperm Competition Tactics in Humans” by Todd Shackelford, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Psychology at Oakland University.

Dr. Shackleford will present a talk on the competing theories of rape as a specialized rape adaptation or as a by-product of other psychological adaptations. Although increasing number of sexual partners is a proposed benefit of rape according to the “rape as an adaptation” and the “rape as a by-product” hypotheses, neither hypothesis addresses directly why some men rape their long-term partners, to whom they already have sexual access.

“Forced In-Pair Copulation?” That’s called rape, in humans.  Why in the world is Michigan CFI promoting this guy’s work?  As someone posted on my Facebook page: “A scientific treatise on “Reasons Why Bitch Had It Coming” seems like an odd choice of lectures for CFI to promote.”  (BTW, CFI is not the sponsor of this talk, but they did use their website and email list to publicize it.)

The whole field of evolutionary psychology suffers from a lack of solid data.  It’s easy to speculate about the “adaptive value” of all sorts of traits, from athletic ability to rape avoidance.  The most consistent criticism leveled at evolutionary psychologists is that they start with a conclusion, and gather evidence to support it.  And that they ignore conflicting explanations–which is not how science is supposed to work.

Sure, all current human behavior has been shaped by our evolutionary past. But to argue on top of that truth that everything we do is not only adaptive, but must have been selected for somehow, is ridiculous and reductionist.  There isn’t any data in these studies that shows that behavior is heritable, or that it conveys fitness benefits.  It’s usually just “This happens a lot. Ergo, it must be important evolutionarily.”

There isn’t any LACK of information that would point out [ED] that this speaker was problematic.  PZ Myers has an excellent rant about why evolutionary psychology studies of rape are “trivial drivel”.  Jerry Coyne has written several times about the scientific weaknesses of these rape studies, as well as a critique of Randy Thornhill’s book “A Natural History of Rape.”  Almost Diamonds has a detailed critique of Shackelford’s work, and concludes with this statement:

“In order to actually present a skeptical view of a topic, it is not enough to assert, as some evo psych advocates do, that yours is the minority viewpoint or not widely accepted. That is simple contrarianism. Skepticism and honest inquiry require that one deal with all the information available on the topic. They also require that we not use the absence of information that would allow us to choose between explanations to argue for only one of these explanations.”

I have no problem with people coming up with alternative theories about why men rape women — BUT DON’T FUCKING CALL IT SCIENCE. These stories aren’t testable or sometimes even falsifiable.  And please don’t invoke evolution to try to give your hypothesis more credibility.

This kind of “research” perpetuates the idea that women who are raped had it coming.  It makes up an evolutionary just-so story to imply that rape is “natural.” IMHO, it normalizes a violent crime.  And that really pisses me off.

Ahem. Anyway.

Randy Thornhill is cited copiously through the papers of Shackelford. Who is this Thornhill dude, anyway?

Thornhill claims that rape is an adaptation by low status men to reproduce.  He’s a pundit that shows up on TV to talk about women’s estrus cycles and tips at strip clubs.
He’s an entomologist.
No. Really.

The source of his insights about women and sexuality? These insects.  Scorpionflies.

“Wait a minute, Bug Girl,” you may be thinking.  “This dude used his observations of forced copulation in insects to theorize about rape in humans?”  Why, yes, he did go there.
And I don’t know how he got from point A to point B either, because he seems to have passed through Points Q, R, S, and 42 along the way.

Knowing that the speaker [ED: this previously said "CFI speaker, but has been edited since CFI is the promotor, not the host.] makes frequent citation of Thornhill’s publications pretty much torpedoes his credibility with me. But, I figured I needed to make sure that I wasn’t painting him with the same misogynistic brush, so I kept reading his papers. And it got even worse.

One of the evolutionary questions this speaker [ED] is researching is “how have women evolved or been selected to prevent themselves from being raped?”  He helped develop The Rape Avoidance Inventory (RAI).  It asks about 69 behaviors suggested by women as behaviors they performed to avoid being raped.  “Avoiding appearing sexually receptive” scores highly. In other words? Don’t look like a slut.

This particular speaker seems to be spending a lot of time trying to figure out what sorts of behaviors women have been “selected for” to prevent rape.  He’s starting with an assumption that “Rapers gonna rape” and puts the onus on the woman to avoid that.

Which implies that if I got raped, I was doing something wrong.  Or that there might be something to the charge that the 11-year-old girl in texas was gang raped because she “dressed slutty.”

What rape avoidance behaviors did I forget? I was sitting in my own apartment with a cute boy I met in a PE class my first semester at college.  Technically, as both this Speaker and Thornhill define rape, I wasn’t really raped.  Only non-consensual vaginal-penile intercourse counts–Anal rape isn’t proper rape. Because you can’t make babies up the butt.  And rape is about reproduction, see? It is an adaptation for reproduction by disadvantaged men.

And that is bullshit. Rape is a sexual hate-crime.

It’s not some Neanderthal Nookie legacy.

I have been as open as I can be online and IRL about my status as a rape survivor, mostly because I feel that it’s important for people to know that rape does happen, and it happens to people that they know.

There are, however, many days when I am just not up to the heavy lifting of explaining, AGAIN, what rape is really about. To discover I need to have this conversation with Michigan CFI makes it doubly exhausting and upsetting.

—-

For anyone thinking that I am calling Thornhill out behind my online pseudonym: I’ll  be at the Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting this year in November outing myself as Bug Girl. I invite Thornhill to step up and hear in person just what I think about him.

—-

Edited 1:30pm to add: -I- personally hold Michigan CFI responsible for promoting this speaker. I think that their denial that “we aren’t the sponsor” is lame, frankly since they are using their website (see screenshot here) and their branded emails to promote him.  Obviously, my views are NOT the views of Skepchick, or the other writers. I think most of our readers know we are not a Borg collective that all agree all the time about everything. To make the Michigan CFI non-sponsorship issue clearer, edits [ED] are marked above in the text where I was not clear enough.

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Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really!
If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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161 Comments

  1. Avatar of Rillion
    April 7, 2011 at 11:15 am —

    1. “Adaptive” does not mean “good.”

    2. Strategies to increase your chances of avoiding rape are not accusations that it’s your fault.

    3. Psychologists do not research whether rape is adaptive because they are rape apologists. Like people who study any other sort of harmful behavior, they want to understand it.

    4. I really wish people would dispense with the matter of rape’s morality when discussing the validity of research on the subject. We all know rape is wrong. Is the research good, or not? That’s the question at hand.

  2. Avatar of bug_girl
    April 7, 2011 at 11:17 am —

    The research is NOT good. That is my problem with it. There is no data that supports any of his assertions.

    Additionally, there is NO data that the strategies do anything. They are focused on stranger rape, which is the *least* common type of rape.

  3. Avatar of lygypsy
    April 7, 2011 at 11:33 am —

    “Strategies to increase your chances of avoiding rape are not accusations that it’s your fault.”

    Horsehit. Not one single piece of “rape avoidance advice” does anything to prevent rape. What it does do is place idiotic and pointless restrictions on a woman’s freedom so that when something does happen to her, we can blame her for not following the rules. We just ignore the fact that most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows and tell her “don’t walk alone at night”.

    I’ve walked around in the middle of an urban area at night by myself and more than slightly tipsy and never been even vaguely in danger. I was raped by my boyfriend.

    What “rape avoidance rules” did I break?

    Why are they “rape avoidance rules” as opposed to “crime avoidance rules”? Isn’t most of that advice applicable to all sorts of things humans of either sex might fall prey to? But, we only focus on what women need to not do . How convenient.

  4. Avatar of Rillion
    April 7, 2011 at 11:34 am —

    Okay, let me point out that there’s no reason that rape can’t be both adaptive and a “sexual hate crime” at the same time. And I appreciate that you’re candid about having been raped, but you seem to think that it makes you right about rape in general and Thornhill/Shackelford wrong. It also sounds like you think the sheer offensiveness of suggesting that rape is adaptive (which does not remotely amount to “A scientific treatise on “Reasons Why Bitch Had It Coming”) is more important than whether the theory is true or not. That’s what I get from this commentary on the subject– not an argument against the quality of their research.

    • Avatar of seleukosnicator10
      June 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm —

      Actually no it can’t. What you’re saying right now is that somehow some way; for reasons that we can’t know and understand, rape became a Darwinian fitness pressure. That pressure was so pronounced sometime in the EEA (evo-psych’s term not mine) that males who engaged in this kind of behavior left more offspring at a higher rate than males who did not. In order to accept this hypothesis you must assume that 1. Rape was adaptive at all. 2. That this would show up in the physical record of human material culture. 3. That any behavior observed from other species of animals such as ducks and insects is at all applicable to more complex organisms such as primates (Graves 2003) in concerns to life history. 4. The assumption that males in these early cultures suffered no culturally negative repercussions for there actions.

      Unfortunately for you NONE of these things have any support to them at all. Now bare in mind before you reply I am an student of archaeology and anthropology and I DO NOT SUFFER FOOLS LIGHTLY. I get sick and tired of people who know nothing about culture trying to tell us all about culture. There is no evidence for your claims scientifically AT ALL PERIOD!!!!

  5. Avatar of lygypsy
    April 7, 2011 at 11:36 am —

    “We all know rape is wrong”

    I want to live in your privileged fantasy land.

  6. Avatar of BrieCS
    April 7, 2011 at 11:43 am —

    I think that the concept of rape being an adaptive trait is kind of redonkulous, if you pardon my wording.

    I don’t see how it makes sense – so raping children before puberty, that’s for reproduction? Raping mentally handicapped people – that’s for the better of the species (I mean no offense to anyone who is handicapped)? Anal rape or raping homosexuals? What about women raping men? It doesn’t. Make. Sense. To me, at least.

    I may be missing something.

    I have always seen rape or sexual assault or harassment as an exercise of control, enforcing your power over the other person. It’s a punishment of another person for being weaker than you. I could see it being an adaptation for people to assert dominance, yes, but not for reproductive purposes. And it’s definitely not something that would occur for the better of the species, so if anything, it would be against the idea that adaptations have a purpose to improve fitness of the species.

    I’m not a scientist or anything, but that’s my view on it.

  7. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 11:44 am —

    being a man i’m almost scared to reply with anything but “you go girl”, but since i’m filled with testosterone which has been known to lead men to do stupid shit at the risk of their lives for very little obvious benefit other then showing off, i’ll take a swing at a counterpoint here.

    to start with i’d like to ask about the accepted theory of why men rape women, since you mentioned you being ok with alternate theories as long as it’s not called science (followed by an assertion that they can’t be tested or falsified),
    well sure i agree, it’s not science IF it can’t be tested of falsified, but if there comes an alternate theory, you can’t just dismiss it out right and claim it’s non-science because you assume it can’t be tested/falsified.

    going on a limb here but i’m assuming your current theory of why men rape women is
    “Rape is a sexual hate-crime”
    and that’s the it of it, no conversation needed.
    please correct me if i’m wrong.

    personally being in a group with low chance of having to endure rape, i may seem disgusting by just wanting to know, but i would really really like to know why rape occurs, child-rape as well for that matter (a more serious crime as we’ll all agree on).

    i’m not disputing that what on the table atm is just stuff you could come up with via couch speculation whilst alone in a room sipping whisky, so what he is doing is probably close to the definition of non-science, but daring to ask the question “why do men rape women” at the risk of having “stop blaming women you SOB” thrown right back into his face is imo a step in the right direction, i.e. the daring to ask and wanting to know why.

    because why would he want to, if not to try and come up with methods to prevent or lower the rate at which rape takes place in our world?

    another point that some what irked me a little bit is the “dont dress slutty” part.

    indeed i agree, dressing slutty does not give a man permission to rape woman in question, and he is the one to blame, but (/takescover) , how you dress and/or present yourself can put a target on your back for would be rapists.

    i say again,
    IT DOES NOT JUSTIFY THE RAPE !!!!

    but lets create a scenario to help me make my point.

    a woman is alone at night heading back to her hotel at night, in an unfamiliar city.

    there are 2 paths to take, and 2 ways to travel in this scenario, both are exaggerated to make the point as clearly as i can.

    path A ) is longer, but through a crowded street, filled with people of all ages.

    path B) is shorter, but through an empty neighborhood, with little lighting and a lot of the houses seem vacant.

    way X) dressed in a bikini whilst drunk and singing I love the nightlife, I like to boogie.

    way Z) dressed in an army clothes, with a shotgun you back, swinging a machete, whistling the same tune Omar from the wire does.

    the woman making the trip has 4 options, which option has the most and which the least chance of her being sexually assaulted?

    everyone knows the answer, you may wanna reason out of it by saying “well actually someone might get antagonized by the shotgun and be more inclined to attack bla bla bla” but skip that part since it isn’t that important to the point.

    the point is, what decisions you make, and it’s you and only you making those decisions, play a role in the outcome, be it the chances of being raped, mugged, laughed at, helped by strangers etc.
    how you conduct yourself, how you present yourself, all play a big role.

    and all though the blame is always 100 % with the person committing the crime, the responsibility for your safety has to lie in part with yourself, no matter if you’re a man or a woman.

    in a perfect world, a woman could dress up in a 4 square inch of clothing bikini and walk around saying “i’m sooooo drunk” all she liked in what ever place at what ever time of day she liked and never get in any trouble ever.

    but sadly we dont live in a perfect world.

    i get semi annoyed when i hear the “i should be able to wear what ever i want and not get raped”, said in a tone that claims the rest of the world should create the perfect world for said person in order for him/her to be able to do just that without the risk of rape.
    because i agree with the statement as such, you SHOULD be able to, but sadly you aren’t able to, just own up to it.

    and nobody should assume i thought at the end of that sentence “so dress like nuns and stop bitching” or something to that effect.

    because here’s the thing, i’m a man, i have never raped anyone, dont plan on raping anyone, but given that i am ONLY a man, and i dont mean that sarcastically, i accept that i could possibly be tempted to do it, if someone were to create a scenario with the sole purpose of having me commit that crime, it would be easy for said person to make me do that, i’m lucky enough to know there is nobody out there doing just that, but given certain parameters, i could be a future rapist, and that scares me.

    and it should only scare me, nobody should feel uneasy about spending time in my company, but i am trying to imagine being in a woman’s shoes when she goes out at night with her friends for a drink and dancing, she has to, and usually does have a little bug at the back of her brain reminding her to be careful, dont take the taxi alone, dont walk home alone after dark, dont be the last person to leave the party at that really nice guy’s place, etc, and if i could i’d want to apologize for my sex to your sex, because of all the rapes and beatings that happen and have happened and will happen in the world.

    but i can’t, so all i can say is, you have a right, i’ll defend that right like a caged animal, but please be careful, even of me, i’m imperfect, but i’m trying my best.

  8. Avatar of Rillion
    April 7, 2011 at 11:44 am —

    Lygypsy,

    Context. I was talking about us, the people who are discussing this subject and researching it. I’m not going to accuse of someone of thinking rape is a-okay just because they’re theorizing about the psychology of it, just like I wouldn’t assume someone is into fist fights because they research that.

    As for your previous comment– “Avoidance strategies are created so we can blame women for getting raped if they don’t abide by them” and “Avoidance strategies don’t work” are two very different claims. Even if the latter is entirely true, that doesn’t mean the former is. If I told you something really stupid like that only red cars get stolen, that doesn’t mean I think that if you drive such a car and it gets stolen, it’s your fault. It means I’m trying to help you protect yourself, as misguided as I might be.

  9. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 11:52 am —

    apologize for the wall of text btw.

    ps. that should be “shotgun on your back”, little typo i noticed now.

  10. Avatar of jenbeahan
    April 7, 2011 at 11:52 am —

    I would like to reiterate that Center for Inquiry Michigan is not hosting this event, nor did we have any say in the choice of the speaker or the topic.

    You acknowledge this but continue to refer to it as the CFI Michigan speaker throughout your post which is unnecessary and misrepresents the situation.

    We were asked by the student group – Evolution for Everyone at Grand Valley State University which is affiliated with the Psychology Dept. – if we would inform our members of this presentation – which we have done.

    http://www.gvsu.edu/psychology/evolution-for-everyone-141.htm

    CFI’s participation in promoting this event DOES NOT mean that we endorse or promote any of the views presented by the speaker. We promote critical thinking and science, but it is up to the individual to make their own decisions based on the evidence presented.

    I encourage you, and anyone else, to critique and analyze Shackelford’s and the other researcher’s claims that you cite – but please represent the situation accurately – and direct the critiques to the researchers.

  11. Avatar of davew
    April 7, 2011 at 11:53 am —

    Where he went off the rails is to bring rape into the subject of general reproductive strategies. Rape is a purely human phenomenon. It is the result of many problems and causes many more. To ignore everything but reproductive angle is idiotic.

  12. Avatar of euterpechild
    April 7, 2011 at 12:04 pm —

    @Egillvs:

    *sigh*

    Okay, I’ll try to make this short. THE VAST MAJORITY OF RAPES ARE NOT STRANGER RAPES! I can look like I just woke up and be running around in my PJs and be more likely to be raped than in the scenarios above. I AM MORE LIKELY TO BE RAPED BY SOMEONE I KNOW THAN SOME STRANGER IN AN ALLEY.

    It’s all about power and domination. It’s not about sex.

    I’m done.

  13. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 12:10 pm —

    sigh ?

    like that was the point i was making. christ get your head out of your poopshoot, never did i say that, the example i made was not to say most rapes are stranger rapes, it’s to point out that your choices matter when it comes to your own safety.

    like drinking too much and being the last person to leave the party at that really nice hot guy’s place you sorta like.

    some rapes are going to happen, no matter what the victim did or didn’t do, yes.

    but there are some steps you could acknowledge that have some effect on the chances of you getting assaulted, be it by your friend, boyfriend, husband, uncle, etc.

    i might even be ok with saying that most rapes you have no way of knowing they’ll happen to you, and only way to prevent them yourself would be to live in a cave alone in the desert and not have any contact with friendly male who became the rapist, but my point was never to say you can prevent all or even most of them.

  14. Avatar of Kaloikagathoi
    April 7, 2011 at 12:10 pm —

    @euterpechild: Thanks for jumping in with the obvious response to Egillvs.
    But I don’t think it is quite accurate to say that rape is all about power and not about sex. It is using sex to dominate, and presmably rapists get a sexual thrill out of that kind of dominance.
    If rape was only about power, then beating someone up without any sexual assault would be the same thing as rape, which it clearly isn’t.

  15. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm —

    i work with handicapped teenagers and young adults and they are at more risk the women of being sexually abused.

    my mother works at the offices of a woman’s shelter, for battered/abused women/children.

    so throwing that in my face like i didn’t know it, is close to kicking me in the balls.

    please die in a closet screaming if you still think i’m stupid enough not to realize most rapes aren’t stranger rapes.

    grrrr .. i’m somewhat pissed at that stupid quotemining-brush off whilst ignoring the point of my post.

  16. Avatar of jeremyb616
    April 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm —

    Your criticisms of Shakleford are understandable…but why are you making this into an attack on CFI Michigan? They didn’t invite him, they aren’t hosting him…they most certainly didn’t endorse his views. Grand Valley State University is hosting the speaker. My wife works for CFI MI and when whenever a speaker comes to town to give a talk related to an area science, philosophy, religion that we think our members might be interested in we put it on our online calendar. This includes speakers and ideas our membership might not agree with (Michael Dowd, Stephen Prothero, events hosted by colleges, churches etc.) because, as freethinkers, we believe in actively seeking out and debating all types of viewpoints. Its just to let our members know there is an event in the area they might be interested in. So are you saying we cannot have a community bulletin? CFI’s been catching a lot of flack lately and our communities are suffering for it. Arguably, some of it may be deserved…but not over this.

  17. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 12:14 pm —

    i have no words for kalowtfidontcare

  18. Avatar of mrmisconception
    April 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm —

    “Wait a minute, Bug Girl,” you may be thinking. ”This dude used his observations of forced copulation in insects to theorize about rape in humans?” Why, yes, he did go there.

    In honeybees and some spiders the male’s penis breaks off inside the female to reduce the chance for other sperm to compete. So the fuck what? (and ouch)

    Excuse the non sequitur, just an interesting fact I don’t get to use enough, but it’s as apropriate to the arguement as his quote.

  19. Avatar of Kaloikagathoi
    April 7, 2011 at 12:18 pm —

    @Egillvs: I’m assuming you are sincerely interested in preventing rape – though your comment that you think you could “possibly be tempted to do it” is disturbing. Do you think that about yourself because you have bought into the popular notion that men are naturally sexual predators, who struggle, sometimes in vain, to control their raping impulses? Give yourself more credit.
    Anyway, if you are sincerely interested, think about all the things women would have to do to be sufficiently “cautious” to avoid rape. It IS important that most rapes are not stranger rapes. Do women have to make sure they are never alone with their boyfriends or husbands? Do they have to make sure they never say no to sex with their boyfriends or husbands (thus obviating the “need” for rape)? Do they have to get their boyfriends or husbands tested with some sort of polygraph machine to see if they harbour any raping characteristics?
    You see, a rapist, who is not just any ordinary bloke who gets carried away, but who is a particular kind of sexual predator, is pretty good at getting his potential victims into a vulnerable position. To decide that a rape victim ought to have done something different IS to blame her (or him – rape victims can of course be male, just as it is possible, though rare, for a woman to be a rapist).

  20. Avatar of delphi_ote
    April 7, 2011 at 12:25 pm —

    I agree to a large extent with what you say, Bug Girl. The only problem I have with this line of argument is that if someone did show that rape was an adaptive behavior with solid science, you’re left holding the bag.

    If there were evidence presented that rape is adaptive (which maybe be unlikely, but it’s entirely possible,) comments like this, “IMHO, it normalizes a violent crime.” would mean a fact normalizes a violent crime. And that’s just not so.

    The truth of the matter is, whether it’s adaptive or not is completely irrelevant to morality. Anyone who would justify rape by saying it’s adaptive is committing the naturalistic fallacy

  21. Avatar of ethanol
    April 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm —

    The research you refer to may in fact be total bollocks, and if so it should be criticized on that basis. But the naturalistic fallacy is just as much a fallacy when skeptics do it as when creationists do it. To propose (or even assert) an evolutionary origin of rape does not serve as a justification for it, any more than assertions about the evolutionary origins of violence justify murder.

  22. Avatar of Ajita
    April 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm —

    @delphi_ote:

    “The truth of the matter is, whether it’s adaptive or not is completely irrelevant to morality. Anyone who would justify rape by saying it’s adaptive is committing the naturalistic fallacy”

    Bingo. Or more generally, the is-ought disconnect (from Hume) disqualifies such logic.

  23. Avatar of MissMaita
    April 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm —

    And yet, if you did buy the red car and it was subsequently stolen, perhaps not you Rillion, but there would be someone out there going “Tsk, tsk, I told you not to buy the red car.” And as pointed out by many others, it’s not as simply as controlling that one factor.

  24. Avatar of heidiho
    April 7, 2011 at 12:37 pm —

    @Egillvs:

    Actually no, there are no steps one can take to avoid rape by a boyfriend. Short of a gun.

  25. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm —

    please for the love of all good and nice, stop making up ideas that i have, you’re so… SO wrong here, i dont have those ideas, i dont consider it unimportant that most rapes are not stranger rapes.

    i never said it , i never meant it, the example i created wasn’t about pointing that out as a very common type of rape.

    it was about how your choices effect you.

    like … again i’m making this example now for the 3rd time and it gets ignored again i’m guessing, like being the last person to leave the party at that really hot guy’s place, while you’ve had a bit too much to drink.

    that really hot guy you like. might indeed be someone capable of rape (him being a man(i’ll go further into this)), leave with the last group of people.

    and also, about the latter 50 % of your post where your agreeing with me and thinking i have the opposing view.

    the examples of wives/girlfriends never being along with their husbands/boyfriends.

    read my post again where i’m pointing out that in many if not most cases, there is NOTHING YOU COULD HAVE DONE TO PREVENT IT !

    please get that, I KNOW THAT !

    i’m only talking about the very very very very fucking few times where your actions increase or decrease the chances of you getting raped, occur.

    remember when i started this, i mentioned an all too familiar line of “i should be able to dress how ever i like and not get raped”

    which i then promptly go on to point out i agree with, you should, but in some cases you aren’t, that’s the only tiny little part i was talking about … getting tired now :(

    ok

    on to the consider myself someone that could given certain parameters be tempted to rape, part.

    the fact that it’s disturbing to you is pointless, what matters is that i’m honest about it, and no i have never fantasized about it, i dont consider men to be naturally sexual predators etc

    all i’m saying is this.

    we all have urges, most of them are good, hunger/thirst/a need for socializing/sexual urges, usually are, in most situations at most times for most people good. they keep us alive, sane, happy and reproducing.

    but mix those urges with the urge to last out at those you get angry with, put a dash of alcohol on top of that to loosen inhibitions, then mix in a unconscious state of target of the person’s anger, and you have a recipe for disaster, and in most cases, i hope, nothing happens, but there is a statistical chance of it happening, and until we find out why some men rape and some dont, or until we find out that all man can rape, but most just have been lucky enough not to be in a situation exaggerated enough for them to go through with it, i’ll live in a tiny bit of fear of sometime becoming one.

    and in fact i am hoping that fear keeps me on my toes and prevents me from doing anything, or at the very least, making sure the situation would have to be so extreme to trespass into the stupid unlikely movie fiction of craptastic assery, for it to happen.

    i’m talking, a woman kills all my family in front of me, making fun of me whilst holding me captive for 20 years that i had to endure the death of my entire family, she during this time expresses her biggest fear when drunk one night to be to get raped, then after i spending the last 3 years planning an escape, find her drunk in her room, about to kill a schoolbus full of children distantly related to me (because she already killed all my close relatives already), i while running bump into her . she falls down, drops her assault rifle and falls down on a mattress, next to which i see handcuffs and a pack of condoms, she turns around pleads for her life.

    would it be ok to assume i might rape her out of anger there?

    or am i a sexual predator now?

  26. Avatar of bseiler
    April 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm —

    This whole article reads to me as reflex reactionary, and it’s based primarily in the logical fallacy of false dichotomy. I won’t defend either of these researchers’ work because I’m not familiar with it, but even if we grant that everything they find is true and that rape is an adaptive behavior, that in no way excludes the possibility that it is also a “sexual hate-crime.” This article doesn’t read to me like a scholarly criticism of the work – it sounds like a reactionary response from a person who is predisposed to deny anything that could be used, appropriately or not (and in this case, as delphi_ote correctly observes, it would not be), to explain rape as anything more complex than a base, violent, and deliberately malicious act.

    I don’t necessarily disagree with your position, bug_girl, but you’re not doing a very good job of defending it here. In this case, as in the whole DDT argument, you’re coming off, to me at least, as somebody who reacts disproportionately to a stimulus not solely on a rational basis (where I would think a more tempered response, calmly pointing out the flaws in these arguments would be more effective), but instead because of its adjacency to a subject area where you have some personal concern. I’m sorry to say that it makes it hard to trust anything you write when you do that sort of thing, and I want to trust what you write.

  27. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 12:44 pm —

    heidho. .. eh .. i’ll just ask you to point out where i said
    “some rapes are going to happen, no matter what the victim did or didn’t do, yes.”

    or did you not read that. or think i didn’t meant it or something …

  28. Avatar of spellwight
    April 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm —

    Wow, this got ugly fast.

    I’m pretty sure Uncle John didn’t feel an evolutionary imperative to propagate as he raped me when I was a small child. But then again it was in Michigan – the land with the highest percentage of neanderthals.

    Can’t we agree that Bug_Girl is understandably a bit harsh towards bullshit science that tries to absolve men of the responsibility for their actions? And that Egillvs tried to – in the nicest way possible – discuss a slightly alternative viewpoint?

    davew – Purely human phenomenon? In nature, unwanted and forced sexual assaults happen all the time. Humans might be the only animal that can and should make the choice to control their behavior. Right?

  29. Avatar of heidiho
    April 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm —

    I have worked in the field of sexual assault and domestic violence for over 17 years. I have also read “A Natural History of Rape”, as recommended to me by Dr. Elisabeth Cornwell, who was on the Science and Sexuality Panel at TAM8 with me.

    At no point does “A Natural History of Rape” claim that rape is a GOOD or ACCEPTABLE thing. What it does is propose a hypothesis that has been discussed above, that some men gain reproductive/evolutionary advantage with forced intercourse.

    I am still on the fence about this one. After having worked in this field so long, it is heresy to even say that some rapes CAN be about sex. But here is how even those are related to power and control.

    Some rapes are violent (using physical harm or threats of physical harm) from the beginning.

    But SOME rapes start out as consensual sex play that becomes violent when one partner expresses boundaries that the other partner disagrees with. Therefore, the incident was STARTED because of sexual desire, but when one person said no, the other person decided that they could use their physical/cultural/emotional power over the other person to get what they wanted.

    Not all rapists get off on hurting women. Not all rapists are using it as a tool of the patriarchy. But when a rapist decides that HIS will is more important than the will of the person he is with, he has used his power and control to force sex. And the patriarchy and the culture we have created assist him in thinking he is entitled to make this decision.

  30. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm —

    i just got a braingasm, and i want to hug spellwight now, and give her massages and flowers and chocolate and trips to hawaii and wish her happiness and well being for the rest of her life.

  31. Avatar of mossface
    April 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm —

    Clearly this is a sensitive issue, and separating the science from the morality can be difficult.

    If I’m understanding Bug Girl’s perspective, it’s that rape is evil, and nothing should be permitted to abstract that moral judgment.

    Science must usually set aside questions of morality in order to accurately observe, but there are some exceptions.

    The thing I take issue with is this: “This kind of ‘research’ perpetuates the idea that women who are raped had it coming. It makes up an evolutionary just-so story to imply that rape is ‘natural.’”

    This seems to presuppose that rape cannot have any adaptive value BECAUSE it’s evil. Which is a ridiculous statement (and perhaps a strawman; don’t let me misrepresent your perspective, Bug Girl). It’s entirely possible that rape grants no reproductive benefit, but that’s a separate issue than the morality of rape.

    Thing is, it’s entirely possible for me to hypothesize ways in which rape may be reproductively beneficial to the male. Human males are not physiologically committed to a pregnancy like females are. As evil as it is, a male may impregnate his wife, then his daughter, thereby doubling his reproductive success.

    This sort of behavior is difficult to research, but it can be researched. The hypothesis of “rape can permit a male to have a greater number of offspring” is certainly testable and falsifiable. One need simply to do a large-scale survey of convicted rapists and look at the resultant pregnancies. (Side note: induced abortions and imprisonment are a relatively recent phenomena.)

    Anyway, point being that we can’t dismiss hypotheses related to negative moral issues simply because they are related to negative moral issues.

  32. Avatar of rzinz
    April 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm —

    @davew:

    I would say that rape is a human concept as, obviously, you can find instance of what can be seen as “rape” all over the animal kingdom.

    See also- Scorpionflies!

    But the kicker here is we can’t ask the female flies if they consented to the sex…consent and the ideas of body autonomy are right now a completely human thing….which is another criticism oft lain at the feet of Evolutionary Psychologists (I think Pigliucci said it first?): It is difficult to draw conclusions based on an ‘n’ of 1.

    However, I definitely agree that viewing rape in Homo sapiens, especially modern specimens as purely reproductive in nature is fatuous.

    Additionally, to a few of the other people leaving comments. Sorry guys, but it doesn’t matter what the victim is doing or what the victim was wearing- people have a right to their own body and that should never be violated. What they do, wear, look like – that doesn’t matter.

    Implying that there is a situation where it is or was a bad decision to do X on the part of the victim gives the rapist that much more power over them and lets them slightly off the hook. That is not alright.

    Think I am done here for now…keep up the good work BugGirl!

  33. Avatar of rzinz
    April 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm —

    Additionally mossface, I am fairly certain that those studies have been done, but others please feel free to correct me!

    (guess I wasn’t done after all!)

  34. Avatar of Kaloikagathoi
    April 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm —

    @Egillvs: Perhaps the problem is that you are coming up with bizzarre, unlikely scenarios and trying to imagine what might happen.
    In the real world, I can imagine that a potentially nice guy might have been trained by rape culture to think that women are a fundamentally alien species whom it is impossible to understand, and that sex is about taking something from a women that she will be initially unwilling to give – and that getting what she initially felt hesitant about giving is like winning a contest (whereas being told “no” is like losing).
    I don’t know how many of this sort of rapist are around. But I doubt you, given your apparent awareness of what rape is, could find yourself accidentally in such a situation.

  35. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 12:55 pm —

    that’s an interesting point heidho and a big kudos for working in that field, it needs more good people like you!

    the point that some rapes start out as sex and then when one person expresses a boundary.

    just to explore that, since i’m guessing you’re a woman, and i already mentioned that i’m a man.

    and since i can never fully understand what it’s like to have sex as a woman, and you vice versa.

    at what point should one partner be ok to stop the festivities.

    lets say 1 second from an orgasm, as a man i can safely say that you could tell me the house is on fire, i would have that orgasm first before i checked for smoke and/or made my way out to safety, my brain isn’t wired to stop at that point and think of more important things.

    i’ve never asked my partners or other women that question, but is there a point of no return for you?

  36. Avatar of spellwight
    April 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm —

    @Egillvs: You’re on!

    My point of no return doesn’t exist. I can and have at any point before and during, chosen to stop immediately. It’s not fun, but it can be done.

  37. Avatar of mrmisconception
    April 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm —

    For anyone who think that the rape avoidance tactics are just “common sense”, let me ask you this;

    If there were random snipers in your neighborhood, would it be your fault that you got shot if you stood to close to a window? What if you had been warned? What about if you dared to open your door? What if the gunman was someone you trusted and you let them inside?

    Are you starting to see the absurdity of this line of argumnent?

    Rape is about violence and control, sex is just the method used. If there were fewer hang-ups about sex in this society it would be easier to understand that.

  38. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm —

    @Kaloikagathoi:

    remember when i said “there are 2 paths to take, and 2 ways to travel in this scenario, both are exaggerated”

    exaggerated, so yeah i know the example i made up is fictional and would never happen in the real world. and i wasn’t trying to imagine what would happen really, i was just making a point that decision you make effect you and sometimes your safety, not always, not in all situations, like some have extrapolated from my post much to my dislike, but sometimes.

    but if you could read my commented about urges and it’s unpleasant mixture with other things, how that could open a path for some men to commit this crime, and indeed it does.

    since it’s not like rape is rare, sadly.

    perhaps i am safe to assume i will never rape anyone, but i’m on the “never say never” bandwagon until proven it’s ok to say so.

    and so far nothing remotely close has come from the world of science, so i’ll stick to attempts to imagine where i could be tempted, whilst enraged, drunk, horny, hateful and in direct view of someone i could aim my hate at, who were in no or frail position to stop me, to be a rapist.

    i want the taboo out, i want more conversation in, i want to figure stuff out, and this is pretty high on my list.

  39. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm —

    @mrmisconception:

    in your sniper scenario, if there were lets say a 1000 people living in that area where the snipers were killing people.

    100 got killed before the snipers were caught,

    first 5 never had any warning, to stay away from windows, not to open doors for anyone, dont go outside, until the snipers have been caught.

    the next 95 were all killed because they didn’t follow the instructions well enough.

    do they bear no responsibility for what happened to them?

    they dont share the blame of course, that’s 100 % on the sniper’s side, but putting yourself in harms way knowingly, wont guarantee your demise, but it will increase the chances of it happening will it not?

  40. Avatar of bug_girl
    April 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm —

    So many items to address here..

    Let’s start with CFI. -I- do hold them responsible for promoting this speaker. I think that their denial that “we aren’t the sponsor” is lame, frankly since they are using their website (see screenshot here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bug_girl/5596734616/) and their branded emails to promote him.
    Obviously, my views are not the views of Skepchick, or the other writers (yadda yadda–I think most of our readers know we are not a Borg collective that all agree all the time.)

    Second: WTF are some of you doing? Are you really trying to have an argument about who’s fault a rape is? Really??? *head desk*

  41. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm —

    it’s always 100 % the rapists fault..

    everybody here agrees with that i’m sure

    we’re just talking about if in some situations, you can have an effect on if you become a victim or not.

  42. Avatar of Mellow
    April 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm —

    “And I don’t know how he got from point A to point B either, because he seems to have passed through Points Q, R, S, and 42 along the way.”

    That line is awesome, Bug_Girl.

    #10 jenbeahan That’s a bit much, frankly. You didn’t have to advertise it just because a student group asked you to. In my experience with CFI Toronto, if they are bringing in something controversial that most members likely won’t agree with, they throw in a couple of lines about why the talk is important and will use words like “controversial” or “provocative” to distance themselves from endorsement.

  43. Avatar of Kaloikagathoi
    April 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm —

    @Egillvs: Yes, I know you were exaggerating for the sake of argument. But what I was saying was that exaggerating for the sake of argument takes the discussion away from the realities we’re trying to discuss.

  44. Avatar of bug_girl
    April 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm —

    @delphi_ote: I agree to a large extent with what you say, Bug Girl. The only problem I have with this line of argument is that if someone did show that rape was an adaptive behavior with solid science, you’re left holding the bag.

    If there were evidence presented that rape is adaptive (which maybe be unlikely, but it’s entirely possible,) comments like this, “IMHO, it normalizes a violent crime.” would mean a fact normalizes a violent crime. And that’s just not so.

    Actually, if they had any actual data, that would be useful information. My beef is that there *is nothing there.* It is trivially easy to poke holes in their research. Just read Almost Diamond’s quick dissection of one of Shackelford’s papers.

    The “normalization” I’m talking about mostly happens in the media. Look at how often these bits of research are presented as “facts” in news stories. Bad reporting happens all over–but in this case, the bad reporting reinforces rape culture.

  45. Avatar of heidiho
    April 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm —

    @Egillvs: Well consider this, say you agreed to let your gf peg you in the ass. After about 20 minutes of her giving it to you good, you start to hurt or feel weird or find Jesus and decide it is wrong.

    Can she hold you down and keep pegging? When you agreed, was that the point of no return?

  46. Avatar of mrmisconception
    April 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm —

    @Egillvs:

    The victim shares no responsibility ’cause guess what, in my scenario the media is telling people to stay away from windows but you are far more likely to be shot by someone you trust from inside your house.

    Like in real life things are not always what they appear. Women should look after themselves the same way men should, period. To suggest other wise is simply to allow for blame to be placed on the victim.

    Again, it’s about power and control, how you dress does not change any of that.

  47. Avatar of Amanda
    April 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm —

    I’m disappointed that every time rape is brought up, it gets dragged into this exact same conversation every. single. time.

    Bug girl wrote an excellent piece on a very specific piece of research and I was really looking forward to a discussion about that. For example, I find it mind boggling that Shackelford suggests that a man would only rape his partner because he suspected her of cheating.

    It would be great to actually talk about rape that happens within an established relationship (the topic Shackelford is giving his talk on) for once instead of the very tired “don’t walk through dark alleys and you won’t get raped by a stranger” bull.

  48. Avatar of Elyse
    April 7, 2011 at 1:38 pm —

    @Egillvs:

    By that logic, I can never be out actually pursuing sex without being responsible for a crime committed against me. If I’m out, looking to meet men, dressed in a way that would attract men, then I kind of have to accept that a man I didn’t want to attract would assume that means he should remove those clothes and put his body parts into mine.

    What you’re implying is that the default is that a man sees a scantily clad woman and is automatically compelled to put his penis in her. There’s nothing that can rationalize that away. Thinking about her vagina is more powerful than anything she could do or say to try and stop him.

    Clearly this is not the case. How do we know this? Because women dress scantily in public without being raped…. ALL THE TIME. Every day. Everywhere. Right now they’re doing it. And most of them will never be raped.

    Whereas in countries where women are forced to cover themselves to keep men’s eyes averted, rape is much more common.

    The “don’t dress like a slut” argument is you saying “But men can’t help it. We’re slaves to our penises.” And us saying, “No. We really believe you are smarter and better than that.”

  49. Avatar of Stephanie Zvan
    April 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm —

    There are a number of comments that seem to be suggesting Bug Girl is making a moral argument in the place of a scientific one. There are a couple of problems with that. First off, she’s linked to three people (me included) discussing the scientific problems with this reasearch. Any moral argument is being made on top of a scientific argument.

    The second problem is that there’s absolutely nothing wrong in making an argument for the moral practice of science. We do this already. That’s why institutional review boards exist–to (ideally) ensure that the fewest people and other organisms are put at risk or injured by research. Bug Girl certainly isn’t saying that no research should be done on rape. What she is pointing out is that this research is bad (badly designed, badly reasoned, and badly represented–as supported by her links), and that the quality of this research puts people at risk, making it even worse research. It’s nifty to point out that the naturalistic fallacy is a fallacy, but that won’t prevent the idea that rape is promoted by evolution from becoming just another excuse to rape–unless someone knows how to abolish the naturalistic fallacy.

  50. Avatar of James Fox
    April 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm —

    @bug_girl: @Amanda: Perhaps when the science is good and can show a worthwhile result the quality of the conversation will follow; but until then it’s the road well travelled and the same pot holes. Regardles Bug-girl, your point was worth making.

    Also I wonder if there’s any research regarding familial vs. stranger rape and if a rapist may intrinsically know or suspect that they are less likely to be reported to law enforcement if the victim is someone close or known to them.

  51. Avatar of rzinz
    April 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm —

    @Amanda:

    I am a bit shamed, it is true.

    However, I read Stephanie’s takedown before posting, and honestly I can’t think of much more to say. I also jumped to the paper in question by Shackelford and Goetz and found it disappointing.

    What can one really say about this work? It is based on an already flawed assumption- that it is necessary to provide an evolutionary-based explanation for the act of rape.

    When you being with an assertion that rape is based evolutionarily, without any data to back THAT claim up you are beginning with one foot in the grave. It would have been nice to see some data which could include but isn’t limited to demonstrating that rapists father more children than non-rapists (as mossface mentioned) or that propensity to rape was heritable.

    Shackelford’s paper cites Thornhill 1983 and Shields 1983 as the basis for the hypothesis that rape could function as a “faculative male reproductive tactic,” which is interesting given that Shields 1983 had this to say:

    Ultimately, rape is expected to occur only when its potential benefit (production of an extra offspring) exceeds its potential cost (energy expended and risk taken owing to some probability of resistance or retribution that would reduce a rapist’s reproductive success). We agree with the sociocultural view that rape is a violent rather than a sexual act.

    This is really just an awful piece of work, in general and that is barely out of the introduction.

    The body of the work attempts to determine if FIPC provides an evolutionary advantage through sperm competition….by taking data from surveys designed to determine if a male was more or less sexually coercive based on his partner’s perceived infidelity?

    Pardon me, but all my evolutionary biology training just threw up a little bit.

  52. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 2:17 pm —

    @heidiho:

    the point of no return is not when you agree no, and i wasn’t asking about the point of no return for the person who wants to stop, but for women during consensual sex.

    why do so many think i’m this horrible person and extrapolate the worst possible and very wrong meaning of what i say here… i feel like i’m being violated

    @mrmisconception:

    “If there were random snipers in your neighborhood, would it be your fault that you got shot if you stood to close to a window?”

    i was talking about this line, in which case the person walking too close to a window and got shot by a sniper from outside, was in part responsible for what happened to him, not to blame, but in part responsible.

    @Elyse:

    how in the world would you think that from what i wrote, could you point out to me something i said that made you think that, if i wrote something to that effect i’ll take it back !

    personally i’m all for you dressing like sluts, and i’ll defend your right as well as my right for that matter to do so.

    what irked me wasn’t that “it’s women’s fault for dressing that way” groups of men claiming something like that, they’re clearly idiots.

    what irks me is when women say the opposite with a tone that implies that the world should be perfect so they can behave (not just talking about clothes mind you) any way they chose without it increasing the chances of getting in a situation where they might get raped, i would agree of course as i’ve said before. the world Should be like that, but it isn’t, why it isn’t so is something i’d like to know more about, i.e. the reason men rape and sexually assault so often, and what kind of men do it, or if there is indeed a kind of man that does it or are all men capable of it if they’re put in extreme enough situation (the extremity would vary depending on the man).

    guess i’m having a hard time explaining what troubles me.

    i’ll try and clarify my thoughts

    i want both sexes to be on par with each other when it comes to safety from rape
    i want both sexes to be on par with each other when it comes to conduct/expression that today, might increase the chance that some would be perpetrator go through with his crime, be it against the target of his anger/frustration or some hapless bystander that made for an easy victim and a booster for the rapist “control/pain fetish”

  53. Avatar of lygypsy
    April 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm —

    “It means I’m trying to help you protect yourself, as misguided as I might be.”

    That’s what you’re really trying to convince yourself you’re doing, but you’re not. Implict in that is the very clear notion that, if I disregard your “advice”, and something happens well golly gee I was warned! Why didn’t I listen!?! I should have KNOWN this would happen. The next step is “she must have wanted it”. See, Just World Fallacy.

    I don’t have the luxury of ignoring this basic, simple truth. This is precisely what happens every single time a rape case comes up. Even when the victims are children – so long as the children are female.

    As I tried to make clear in my post – I’m not necessarily arguing with the “common sense” safety tips. I strongly object to mislabeling them “rape prevention advice”because, apart from doing fuck-all to prevent rape, they are obviously applicable to all people and should be heeded by all people.

    To me, the “I’m trying to help you protect yourself” thing is a lot like saying “I’ll pray for you”. It does literally NOTHING to protect anyone, but it makes the advice-giver feel good about themselves, so how dare the actual potential victim not be grateful!

  54. Avatar of lygypsy
    April 7, 2011 at 2:21 pm —

    “was in part responsible for what happened to him, not to blame, but in part responsible”

    This is a meaningless distinction without the slightest difference.

  55. Avatar of heidiho
    April 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm —

    @Egillvs:
    What do you mean the point of no return for consensual sex? I am not being snarky, I just do not understand the concept.

    I actually ask this of college and high school guys. It is like they want to know at what point they can stop paying attention to their partners.

    You can’t. Sex is ABOUT paying attention to the person you are having sex with.

  56. Avatar of lygypsy
    April 7, 2011 at 2:26 pm —

    “The “don’t dress like a slut” argument is you saying “But men can’t help it. We’re slaves to our penises.” And us saying, “No. We really believe you are smarter and better than that.”

    THIS! This is also implicit in “rape prevention” non-advice.

    “Men are all rapists-in-waiting, ladies, so don’t be anywhere wearing anything or doing anything that might awake the unstoppable rapist beast inside every single man! ”

    Which suddenly becomes wrong when it’s time to shame women for not responding to Random Dude A who is “just trying to be nice” when he hits on her.

  57. Avatar of lygypsy
    April 7, 2011 at 2:28 pm —

    “It is like they want to know at what point they can stop paying attention to their partners”

    Totally. Usually, they start throwing out increasingly hyperbolic scenarios in the hopes of finding that one magical scenario in which rape can be justified, or isn’t “really” rape.

  58. Avatar of rlquinn1980
    April 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm —

    So, when are McKibbin et al. going to produce their Bashing Avoidance Inventory for gays or their Burning Cross on the Lawn Avoidance Inventory for southern blacks? Just curious…

  59. Avatar of jenbeahan
    April 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm —

    @Bug_Girl: I am disappointed that you did not contact CFI Michigan to talk to us directly to discuss your concerns. Please contact us at michigan(at)centerforinquiry.net.

    How is it okay for you to say “my views are NOT the views of Skepchick, or the other writers, hence the edits above” …

    But, when I say “CFI does NOT endorse the views or research of Dr. Shackelford” – that’s not okay. How is that any different?

    You are taking issue with it being “branded” because it is in our email. How are your posts which are posted on Skepchick’s blog and therefore “branded” as being a part of Skepchick, any different?

    Yet you are holding us “personally responsible” for even mentioning this event in our emails and on our event calendar – because you personally hold a differing viewpoint.

    Informing our members of an event that might be of interest to them is in NO WAY an endorsement of any of Shackelford’s views or research or of the validity of the body of evidence in the field of Evolutionary Psychology.

    We offer this same service to numerous community organization in our area, as long as the topics fall within our mission, but again, CFI does NOT endorse the views expressed by those organizations or the speakers.

    The members of CFI are a very diverse group of people and we are most certainly not BORG – just as you and the other writers at SkepChick are not.

    I fully expect our members and speakers to differ on the various views they hold on any number of topics. But it is ridiculous to imply that CFI officially endorses any of these viewpoints just because it is mentioned in an event listing or an email that has our logo on it… just as I would not imply the same thing about you or Skepchick.

  60. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 2:37 pm —

    @rzinz:

    wondering about the evolutionary explanation, now i haven’t read any of this research and not sure i’ll have the time to do so, but something in me clearly likes to play devil’s advocate, even to the point of making people think i in fact am the proverbial devil, which i’d like to point out i’m not.

    i’m the nicest guy ever :(

    but in our closest relatives, since i find it strange some scientist would use insects to use as examples in his writings, apes such as gorillas and chimps.

    which males have the most offspring in those groups?

    what traits do they have or what actions do those males take to be in the position to have more offspring?

    given enough reasoning and problem solving capability would the less offspring producing males be able to by-pass the alpha male competition which they’ll by now know they’ll lose, and while the alpha isn’t looking assault one of his brood to increase his own chance of producing offspring.

    in the animal kingdom i’ve heard of three ways for creatures to get their DNA into the next generation.
    1) the community insect way, i’m sure someone knows more about this, but i’m less interested in this version
    2) the males try and impress the females to copulate, the males that show enough desirable traits get the DNA passed on
    3) the males fight or joust in some manner to determine which is the alpha male, and he then has a brood of females that accept the outcome of the male boxing match as reason enough to let them pass on their DNA

    i’m sure there are more, but of those two latter ones, is the 3rd one more common in animals further up the evolutionary road, if we use the human being as the end road for those animals, not that we’re something to be striven for as examples of anything tbh.

  61. Avatar of Kammy
    April 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm —

    @Egillvs:

    i want both sexes to be on par with each other when it comes to safety from rape

    But you also seem to want to be able to muddy the argument by insisting that women bear some responsibility for being raped.

    You’re pointing out that if a woman knows wearing suggestive clothing increases the chance she’ll be targeted in stranger rape, then she bears some responsibility if that happens. Can you please explain why it is so important to make this point, to make sure that while we blame the rapist, we must apportion responsibility for his abhorrent actions appropriately between all parties involved? Is there some reason you think that muddying up the simple point that MEN SHOULD STOP RAPING is going to make this the world you hope for? Cuz I’m at a loss, trying to figure out why you want to die on this hill today.

  62. Avatar of lygypsy
    April 7, 2011 at 2:46 pm —

    “Cuz I’m at a loss, trying to figure out why you want to die on this hill today”

    The jaded bitter cynic in me has an answer for that already. I’m sure I don’t need to spell it out.

  63. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm —

    @lygypsy:

    guess i should say how think of it differently, english not my first language so might be hard to explain
    to blame = the person doing the wrong thing
    responsible = the person doing the wrong thing
    partly responsible = the person who whilst knowing better, did something risky and as a result paid for it with physical harm or monetary loss for example

    hope that clears up what i mean, sorry if it was confusing.

    @heidiho:

    actually you hit the nail on the head there, you defined sex according to what you as a woman (i am right about that yes?) consider sex to be
    i can indeed agree that that’s what sex is about, but it can be more, and it can be less, the word sex is like the word drug, it means different things for different people at different times.

    and in a way the teenage boys that are innocently asking, as they change their view of what sex is from what it might be to a young adult male, to what society has deemed sex to mean to everyone everywhere, i’m gonna get this misunderstood i’m sure, but what the heck, most of what i say has been victim to that so :P

    but what i mean lets imagine a sexual position where the woman was in control of the in-out movement, where the male was unable to physically stop the “procedure”, is there a point where you couldn’t stop yourself

    say midway through your orgasm?

    if the man said “stop!”

    @lygypsy:

    or their just naive about this and are asking questions, because i’m pretty damned sure that sex is not 100 % the same to women and men.

    it’s pretty close, but not 100 %.

    and of course by saying this i’m claiming that men all consider women to be just sexual objects to be used as we please (/sarcasm off)

  64. Avatar of Kaloikagathoi
    April 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm —

    @Egillvs: If you are the nicest guy ever, and if you geniunely want to live in a world without rape, then you might want to take a step back from this comment thread, re-read all the comments with an open mind, and then do some research into the points that don’t seem to ring true to you.
    You do not give the impression that you want to learn. OK, so you want to learn about biology and human evolution, but you don’t (apparently) want to learn about the realities of rape and rape culture. And since they are inherently linked to any evolutionary study of rape, you should try to understand it.
    BTW, your initial joking comments about how you’re almost scared to comment because of your gender, and your “(/takescover)” when you made one of your points – that sort of thing, when done about a serious issue, suggests quite the opposite of what you probably intended. It suggests an arrogant lack of concern for the fact that you probably don’t have the experience to make an informed comment.
    A little more humility would show good faith.

  65. Avatar of rzinz
    April 7, 2011 at 2:58 pm —

    @Egillvs:


    “but in our closest relatives, since i find it strange some scientist would use insects to use as examples in his writings, apes such as gorillas and chimps.

    which males have the most offspring in those groups?

    what traits do they have or what actions do those males take to be in the position to have more offspring?

    given enough reasoning and problem solving capability would the less offspring producing males be able to by-pass the alpha male competition which they’ll by now know they’ll lose, and while the alpha isn’t looking assault one of his brood to increase his own chance of producing offspring.”

    I honestly don’t know enough about chimpanzee and bonobo social/sexual behavior to comment on this. I do know that most chimp societies are matriarchal, which is interesting food for thought but I am a (future) entomologist so my working knowledge of the field is not strong.

    ” animals further up the evolutionary road, if we use the human being as the end road for those animals, not that we’re something to be striven for as examples of anything tbh.”

    You do need to divorce this from your mental concept of evolution- evolution isn’t a road, and there is no end goal. I realize this may not have been your intention, but it easily slips into teleology.

    As a final note, I would like to add that there are some times and some discussions where it isn’t appropriate to play “devil’s advocate”. This discussion may be one of them.

  66. Avatar of bug_girl
    April 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm —

    BTW, I did actually contact Michigan CFI, but there was no response until today.

    The statement “CFI does NOT endorse the views or research of Dr. Shackelford” appears nowhere on the MI-CFI web page, nor did it appear in the email I received.

  67. Avatar of mrmisconception
    April 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm —

    @Egillvs

    “If there were random snipers in your neighborhood, would it be your fault that you got shot if you stood to close to a window?”

    i was talking about this line, in which case the person walking too close to a window and got shot by a sniper from outside, was in part responsible for what happened to him, not to blame, but in part responsible.

    But that was exactly my point, there is far too much emphasis put on preventing the more unlikely crime(stranger rape through “rape avoidance techniques”) because it makes us feel like we are doing something, rather than addressing the more prevalent crime (aquaintance/familial rape) because it is harder to deal with and my even take widespread societal change. In other words, you’re asking the wrong question.

    Trying to figure out how to keep from being raped, beyond basic safety techniques, is just so much hand waving; it does nothing to address the real problem and invites the possibility of victim blaming.

  68. Avatar of mcskeptic
    April 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm —

    Disclaimer: I’m male, I have two grown daughters.

    Egillvs said in his first post (I’m not picking on you, just that this is an oft-used and completely unhelpful quote applied to a variety of issues) “but sadly we dont [sic] live in a perfect world.” Unless you’re a creationist — who accepts that Adam and Eve living in Eden actually took place — there never has been an perfect world to live in, it’s an impossibility. Might as well talk about what leads to rape in an alternate universe.

    As far as I’m aware, there is not a single validated peer-reviewed study showing evidence of a link between the way a woman dresses and her likelihood of being raped. Hell, even women that wear burqas have been raped. Nuns have been raped. Women in the military are raped — while wearing the same clothing as the rapist.

    Walking down the street in a bikini may put ideas into a man’s head, but there’s big difference between someone committing lust in their mind or heart (like Jimmy Carter admitted to) and committing an act of hate-violence against a woman.

    A rapist is going to rape, it’s that simple. It’s a mental and/or emotional sickness or defect in that individual, not some evolutionary tactic. They are the only one responsible for their behavior.

  69. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm —

    @Kammy:

    because inside every penis is a vagina that just wants to burst out and be free

    or

    while i would vote yet to the proposition “men should not rape women” if it came to a vote and the outcome would guarantee a better world without rape.

    but i’m not that naive, i own up to the fact that the world is fucked up, it sucks, it’s mean and in it there are people who commit crimes, one of which is men raping women.

    so there are 3 options

    do nothing

    find out the reason men rape so much and do something about that (i’m all for this)

    find out what factors increase the rate of rape and try and do something about that (and all though the clothes and dressing like a slut comes up most of the time, this isn’t my main concern when it comes to responsibility)

    it’s more about the example i’m now giving for the 4th time because i like it so much, and because i actually know it’s a pretty common version of the friend-rape, at least where i live, and usually amongst young adults/teenagers

    there is a party, people are getting really drunk. some more then others, it’s getting late, some have left the party to go downtown, a few remain,
    a) a girl has drunk too much and is passed out in one of the bedrooms
    b) a girl is the last to leave the party, and the male host or some other male(s) are in the house with the single girl

    this is a horrifically common situation, perhaps teenagers here drink more then elsewhere, but aside from that problem which is a whole other argument, this situation isn’t unknown from anyone.

    young women have heard of someone or know someone who have had this happen to them, with that in mind, could you not say that the drunk girl who’s last to leave, or the friends of the passed out girl are partly responsible for what happens?

    i sorta put this in the don’t drink and drive category

    you know most of the time you wont be in an accident and you wont get pulled over by the police, so you do it, and as Steven Levitt has pointed out, in america, driving while drunk is really common!
    but sometimes all goes to shit and you get in a car crash or get pulled over and lose your license.

    lets say you get in a car crash where you were stationary, you didn’t move because you were too drunk, too slow to react, and as a result, someone who is speeding (doing something illegal) rams into you, causing you harm.

    we all agree, here the risky behavior was at the very least responsible for what happened, even though we realize the one speeding was to blame for hitting a stationary car, the drunk driver in that car shares some responsibility does he not?

  70. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 3:11 pm —

    @Kaloikagathoi:

    that is true, i apologize for making light of a serious issue

  71. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm —

    @rzinz:

    yeah i didn’t mean that evolutionary road to mean that, hope the point was made in some way though, i.e. evolutionary compared to us. i know we’re not the end road, but we are the sample we’re trying to learn more about, and if other species which share some traits with us can give us an insight . we shouldn’t discard it out of hand.

    and you are right, perhaps devil’s advocate isn’t a good position here

    @mrmisconception:

    i agree, a lot of the talk goes into the stranger rape, but in the example i give about the party and last person to leave etc, that’s something that happens quite a bit, so that’s the example i’m hoping will be the grounds for the discussion from my point of view.

    if only to talk about the very few times where you could do something differently (not talking about dressing like a nun) but behaving responsibly could have a more beneficial outcome for people in this imperfect world we live in

    @mcskeptic:

    my skin has grown thick by now, so no worries mate

    one little bit i wanted to ask a bit about

    “It’s a mental and/or emotional sickness or defect in that individual, not some evolutionary tactic.”

    this sounds very PC to me, i don’t know, but since you mentioned there are no peer reviewed studies of what women wear and it’s link to increased rape risk, is there a peer reviewed study to confirm that this is what rape is. a defect?

    after having read about the stanford prison experiment, and how even the nicest of us, can treat each other in a manner almost unspeakable, i’m inclined to think that we aren’t that far from our urges as we’d like to consider us.

    and lust+anger+inebriation+helpless victim, would i assume increase the chance of rape, perhaps not by much, but enough to be cause for concern?

  72. Avatar of lygypsy
    April 7, 2011 at 3:24 pm —

    “to blame = the person doing the wrong thing
    responsible = the person doing the wrong thing
    partly responsible = the person who whilst knowing better, did something risky and as a result paid for it with physical harm or monetary loss for example”

    This is victim-blaming. And, in this context, rape-apology.

    “or their just naive about this and are asking questions, because i’m pretty damned sure that sex is not 100 % the same to women and men.
    it’s pretty close, but not 100 %.

    and of course by saying this i’m claiming that men all consider women to be just sexual objects to be used as we please (/sarcasm off)”

    Please stop the blatant shaming and silencing tactics. It’s tedious, childish and utterly pointless.

    You’re “pretty damned sure that sex is not 100 % the same to women and men” based on what, exactly? Did you simply decide this must be true?

    I, too, would like an answer to Kammy’s question.

  73. Avatar of lygypsy
    April 7, 2011 at 3:27 pm —

    “and lust+anger+inebriation+helpless victim, would i assume increase the chance of rape, perhaps not by much, but enough to be cause for concern?”

    Absolutely it is a cause for concern. A cause for concern why some people feel they have the right to rape someone in that situation. NOT a cause for concern of how we can partially blame the victim for it.

  74. Avatar of mrmisconception
    April 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm —

    @Egillvs

    You are really hell bent on finding a way to put partial blame on the rape victim.

    In your scenario the girl is drunk, that has NOTHING to do with any subsequent rape. ZERO, ZIP, NADA

    If the girl had simply fallen asleep would you try to say she was partly to blame? No? I rest my point.

  75. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm —

    i’d like to stress again.

    responsibility and blame are different words to me.

    i leave the door to my house open and a chest full of gold on display, with loadspeakers at full blast screaming “i’m not at home and the door is open and there is gold inside”

    someone comes to steal my property,

    the thief is to Blame

    but i am in part responsible

    hope that makes sense :/

    @lygypsy:

    the answer to kammy’s question is not to say to the victim of a rape after it happens

    you are partly responsible

    but saying to women, please remember, there are some men that rape, and it’s usually someone you know

    and even add a clause to that “and until we find out why they’re doing it, we’ll have to deal with the situation as is and stay safe”

    and ..

    oh crap

    i give up

    i am wrong you are right, on every point i’ve ever made in this thread,

  76. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm —

    holy fucking shit no i dont want to blame the victim of rapes ….

  77. Avatar of davew
    April 7, 2011 at 3:37 pm —

    @spellwight: Purely human phenomenon? In nature, unwanted and forced sexual assaults happen all the time. Humans might be the only animal that can and should make the choice to control their behavior. Right?

    Outside of humans I think establishing “want” is tricky. We see patterns and we see deviations from the patterns, but I don’t think every deviation can be classified as “unwanted”. I mean you can’t interview a chickadee. Rape is easy to define in terms of human motivations. I just don’t think it applies to animals.

  78. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 3:37 pm —

    or the friends of the passed out girl are partly responsible for what happens

    or the friends of the passed out girl are partly responsible for what happens

    or the friends of the passed out girl are partly responsible for what happens

    or the friends of the passed out girl are partly responsible for what happens

    i never said the passed out girl was responsible..

  79. Avatar of Kammy
    April 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm —

    @Egillvs:

    Re-explaining your point is not the same as answering why you want to make this point. I’m trying to get you to examine your motives for making sure everyone understands that women should take some responsibility for their rapist’s actions. I think if you could wrap your mind around that, you’d understand why you’re the only one trying to make this ridiculous point.

    It’s victim blaming. Get that through your head. Don’t try to explain it again. I understand the point you’re making. I (and many others) think you’re WRONG.

    And this:

    there is a party, people are getting really drunk. some more then others, it’s getting late, some have left the party to go downtown, a few remain,
    a) a girl has drunk too much and is passed out in one of the bedrooms
    b) a girl is the last to leave the party, and the male host or some other male(s) are in the house with the single girl

    You want an answer about who’s responsible if this helpless girl gets raped? That’s an easy one:

    THE RAPIST.

  80. Avatar of lygypsy
    April 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm —

    “responsibility and blame are different words to me.”

    Which, as multiple have tried explaining to you, is simply wrong.

    “but saying to women, please remember, there are some men that rape, and it’s usually someone you know“

    Exactly how stupid do you think women are?

    “and ..
    oh crap
    i give up
    i am wrong you are right, on every point i’ve ever made in this thread”

    Once again, blatant shaming and silencing tactics are tedious, childish and utterly pointless. If it’s so difficult for your to listen to what women have to say, don’t post and/or don’t read. We’re not going to stop trying to argue against victim-blaming and rape-apology because you try to shame us with your feigned hurt fee-fees.

  81. Avatar of Buzz Parsec
    April 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm —

    @bug_girl: Lots of web sites, newsletters, magazines, newspapers and radio and TV stations making public service announcements of events they think may be of interest to their audience, routinely include boilerplate that says “We are listing this event as a public service. This event does not represent our views or those of our sponsors, and we are in no way responsible for the content.” or words to that effect. Although the CFI page does explicitly state the event is sponsored by another organization, it does not (that I could find) include any such disclaimer, neither on the page for this event nor on their event summary nor on their home or about pages.

    Bug, would inclusion of such a disclaimer have gotten CFI Michigan off the hook for this?

  82. Avatar of bug_girl
    April 7, 2011 at 3:47 pm —

    Yes, possibly. I would still have written a post to say his research was full of it, though!

    The problem is that when you have someone using evolution to make their cum hoc ergo prompter hoc stories “science”, and then combine that with a name that is usually fairly well respected, you get a legitimacy that is not warranted by this research.

    And that is something, since the audience is primarily students, who are unlikely to question a professor, that disturbs me.

  83. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 3:47 pm —

    it’s a language barrier here Lygypsy..

    in my mind the words are different.

    kammy : in a situation involving two or more, i simply refuse to always have things 100 vs 0 %

    add in the confusion we’re having with blame / responsibility, and we’re on the road to becoming either very frustrated to be considered someone who blame the victims of rape when it couldn’t be further from the truth, or very angry at the idiot person posting like a mad man about a touchy subject for everyone.

  84. Avatar of bug_girl
    April 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm —

    Check out the Michigan CFI comments on the Almost Diamonds post: http://almostdiamonds.blogspot.com/2011/04/skepticism-and-rape-adaptations.html

    Stephanie makes an excellent suggestion for just that kind of text:

    “CFI Michigan doesn’t endorse any speaker or their views. In the spirit of open inquiry, we encourage anyone interested in the topic to participate in the event by asking questions. We particularly encourage those with knowledge of and different perspectives on the subject to participate.”

  85. Avatar of lygypsy
    April 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm —

    “it’s a language barrier here Lygypsy..
    in my mind the words are different“

    And. You. Are. Wrong. How many times does this need to be repeated?

  86. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm —

    i dont think in english

    i’m trying to convert my thoughts into your language, maybe i’m just picking the wrong damn word, i clearly am since you keep saying i’m wrong.

    but how i think of this in my mind, in my language there are two different things

    to be blamed for something
    and to be because of your actions, responsible for something happening to you

    how strange that you just flat out say “you’re thinking about things is wrong, think like me about this, i dont care in what language you think, think in english as that’s what matter”

    getting to be pretty sure this is a root cause of my problem here.

    so i’ll finish with this

    i never blame the victim of rape
    it’s never the victim’s fault

    since you agree with that part, i’ll just stop before my thinking about that other word starting with R, comes and messes things up for me again.

  87. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 4:06 pm —

    i thought of another way of saying it, perhaps that might make a difference

    -behavior that deliberately causes harm to others
    -increasing the chances of bad things happening to me

    the first part is obvious i hope, and a person doing that is to blame for his actions.

    the second part, a person doing that is responsible for bad thing happening to him, if there is no acting agent doing the bad thing to him

    example: skydiving, ice climbing, driving drunk of a cliff

    but if there is an active agent that is the cause of the bad thing, that removes all responsibility from the person getting harmed?

    example: walking around a bar full of burly drunk jewish coalminers, chanting nazi songs

    if that’s how you consider this, then i guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  88. Avatar of BrieCS
    April 7, 2011 at 4:07 pm —

    Is it wrong that I am more bothered by @egillvs very detailed, fantastic story of how he would be somehow “coerced” by life events to rape someone than his determination that rape victims are partially responsible for the actions of other people?

  89. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 4:10 pm —

    someone said tedious ?

  90. Avatar of daedalus2u
    April 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm —

    @Kaloikagathoi: that “type of rapist” is what men are trained to be in some cultures. Except the “thing” that is taken doesn’t “belong” to any woman, it “belongs” to her male relatives.

    When she has the audacity to think that she “owns” her own sexuality and acts on it, is when she has “dishonored” the family and needs to be killed to restore the family “honor”.

    With that mindset, rape is a “property crime”, where the male relatives of the raped woman have been “victimized”. This is not an uncommon mindset. There was a case where a woman was raped to “punish” the family because her 11 year old brother was walking unescorted with a girl from another (higher status) family.

    http://www.nospank.net/n-j17.htm

  91. Avatar of Timid Aethist
    April 7, 2011 at 4:13 pm —

    @BrieCS: I was just as bothered by the idea that someone could be worried about being coerced into raping someone else. That and his mention of men who haven’t raped anyone as lucky to have escaped circumstances of being forced to rape someone. As if rapists are actually victims of coercion.

  92. Avatar of BrieCS
    April 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm —

    Also, can I just mention that the use of the word “slut(ty)” to describe a woman who dresses provocatively or who dresses with the intent of looking sexy is just kind of awful? Just because a woman dresses in a sexy way does not mean she is inviting sex and even if she is that doesn’t mean she’s being slutty. Heck, I’m sick of the word slut altogether.

    Also, a woman, regardless of her actions and what she wears, is NOT responsible for the actions of another person. Ever. No one is ever responsible for another person’s actions. The most she could be guilty of is making ill-advised choices, but those choices (being drunk at a party, walking alone, etc.) would be unwise whether she was assaulted or not.

    I am not sure if that last paragraph was clear, sorry, but I’m just a little bothered by the excessive slut-shaming and it borks me a little.

  93. Avatar of dlthomas
    April 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm —

    I’m sorry to join just to be a hater – I’ve overall been a huge fan of the blog, your posts and others – but some things about this post really bothered me.

    The issue taken with the poor quality of the research, to the degree it is accurate (I’ve skimmed what you’ve linked, but certainly not read everything related and can’t take a position of my own on the matter) is valid and helpful. However, it seems far too small a piece of what you’ve written here.

    I take strong issue with the notion, implied if not stated, that we shouldn’t be studying causes of rape. “Rape is evil people doing evil” is true, but if that’s the end of the discussion it doesn’t give us any more tools – and we’ve had the “rape is evil” one for a long time and clearly it’s not got the job done.

    From your first sentence, your attitude overwhelms any reasoning – yes, “forced in-pair copulation” is called rape in humans. So is “forced out-of-pair copulation” and so is copulation when one party is too drunk to consent or too young to consent, in or out of pair. What on earth is the problem with using a more specific phrase in a scientific analysis (or at least an attempt at one) of one particular part of the problem? The article itself *in the passage you quote* calls it rape elsewhere, so it’s not as if it’s trying to tiptoe around the subject.

    Your title itself seems highly un-skeptical – your argument seems to be that the research done is the field is poor, so clearly X is false. I don’t see anything underlying the claim that rape is *not* adaptive except a desire for it not to be the case. Yes, rape is “natural” – it happens in other animals in nature, it presumably happened in humans in more natural settings. It has *some* cause or it wouldn’t happen. Any interpretation that this somehow makes it okay is the naturalistic fallacy – itself to be rejected in the strongest terms. Given that (evil, evil) rape is natural (and what else is it? supernatural? artificial?) the evolutionary psychology question is whether it is around because it is a behavior that increases the organism’s inclusive genetic fitness or because it is a side effect of other things that do. In the first case, it is adaptive – in the other, not. It’s an interesting question, and it may be relevant for better evaluating people and situations in an effort to reduce rape, which is a major part of the goal here. Taking a stand on the issue because of what you want to be true is bass-ackwards and not the kind of thing I’ve come to expect from this blog.

    Much of the rest is similar. The notion that “rapers gonna rape”, in any morally relevant sense, is neither here nor there – if there has historically been rape, and if it is deleterious to a woman’s inclusive genetic fitness, then there will be some pressure toward adaptations preventing or mitigating. While we can hope anti-rape adaptations would be unlikely to be selected for strongly due to the rare enemy effect, I can’t say how true this has been throughout our evolutionary history. Rape is a problem we need to deal with, even in this society where most people are pretty well educated, indoctrinated with at least some basic respect for each other, and threatened with force if we cross the line. P. Z. Myers asks “How likely is it that a close-knit tribe of 30 hunter-gatherers has a serious problem with rape?” But frankly, I don’t know; do we see it in the present-day hunter gatherers we’ve studied?

    If you get raped, someone did something awful to you. IT IS THEIR FAULT! But treating that as if it’s the end of the story is not useful. It is manifestly the case that there were choices you could have made that would have produced a different result. The BLAME does not lie with you! The blame of your attacker is not reduced! But the more we can find and expose these, the more we can help people NOT BE RAPED. It’s never the *fault* of the victim, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help potential victims help themselves. I agree that “she was dressed slutty” is a piss poor example – but what about spotting earlier when a relationship has grown abusive, and helping a woman get herself out of it before she’s raped by her boyfriend or husband? That, it seems to me, is precisely the kind of thing that a better understanding of “forced in-pair copulation” might help with.

    I understand that issues like this make emotions run high and that can lead to sloppy thinking and/or writing – to some degree, I’m probably victim of the same here – but I wanted to get my thoughts out as clearly as I was able.

    Again, I do not take exception to critique of flawed research – but there really seemed to be a lot more than that here.

  94. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 4:18 pm —

    yeah because i said FORCED to rape someone

  95. Avatar of BrieCS
    April 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm —

    @HACautrell Yeah, that’s kind of upsetting. Rape is kind of a conscious choice, you know? I mean, I am sure that there are circumstances (in very horrible situations) where one person might be forced to rape someone by another person, but that’s kind of also rape (for the person who is doing the forced…raping… I can’t figure out how to say that)?
    If that’s the case, I should have been coerced to rape people a ton of times, and I’m a chick.

  96. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 4:22 pm —

    i’m gonna try and be on the other side now and say

    why are you blaming rape victims dlthomas ?

    is it, and i quote ” just to be a hater”

  97. Avatar of Timid Aethist
    April 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm —

    @Egillvs: Oh right, you said… “so i’ll stick to attempts to imagine where i could be tempted, whilst enraged, drunk, horny, hateful and in direct view of someone i could aim my hate at, who were in no or frail position to stop me, to be a rapist.”

    Is it really so easy to tempt you to rape someone because you’re drunk and horny? Do you not possess a superego that allows you to realize rape is wrong and override whatever horrible thoughts your Id has? If you don’t, then perhaps you should seek counseling immediately and avoid drinking and women until you can control yourself.

  98. Avatar of BrieCS
    April 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm —

    @Egillvs, are you just a troll? I’m genuinely curious now.

  99. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm —

    person A at gunpoint tells B to have sex with C or he’ll kill both B and C.

    person A is guilty of a sex crime, the victims are both B and C.

  100. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 4:28 pm —

    yeah i am imagining a mindset where i would be tempted, to make sure that if i ever am in a situation like that, i’ll be less likely to do it.

    should i not do that, being such and avid hater and despiser of rape and sex related crimes?

    no i’m not a troll, i’m just frustrated at being picked on for what i’m pretty sure is a semantics problem.

    then again, i could be flat out wrong and without knowing it subconsciously blame rape victims for their rapists actions, and only here in this comments section am i being made clear of this fact about myself.

    but i hope not.

  101. Avatar of BrieCS
    April 7, 2011 at 4:28 pm —

    But that’s not the scenario you described…

    I’m not disagreeing that b and c are victims and a is the predator, I just don’t get how this addresses your original tale of how you could be a rapist.

    I just don’t understand how the tempted-to-rape scenario is helpful except to be seriously creepy.
    And I don’t see a ton of evidence towards your serious anti-rape-ness, mostly since you seem to insist that all men can easily be tempted to rape by women who aren’t responsible.

  102. Avatar of Brian G
    April 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm —

    Dear everyone, a while back on Elyse’s thread about creeps at events, our pal Egillvs chimed in at comment #63. Seems relevant as far as this commenter’s mindset is concerned. I smell a pattern.

  103. Avatar of
    April 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm —

    @dlthomas:

    I think you have stated that quite well.

    @Egillvs:

    Maybe it would be a good idea if you took a bit of a backstep and reread the entire post and its comments, and didn’t post for a bit.

    Your self-admitted lack of English expertise seems to be digging you into a hole you can no longer climb out of.

  104. Avatar of rzinz
    April 7, 2011 at 4:32 pm —

    @dlthomas:

    “I don’t see anything underlying the claim that rape is *not* adaptive except a desire for it not to be the case.”

    The problem, of course, is that evolutionary biologists see this claim in the reverse

    I.E.

    “I don’t see anything underlying the claim that rape is adaptive except a desire for it to be the case.”

    To quote Dobzhansky (and I lifted this from Wikipedia, which goes to show how easily this can be accessed- it isn’t some mystical secret)

    “An adaptive trait is an aspect of the developmental pattern of the organism which enables or enhances the probability of that organism surviving and reproducing”

    Has any of the research about the “adaptation” or “adaptive ability” of rape actually shown this?

    Long story short (which you could get to by reading everything linked here and at Stephanie’s blog, as well as with a little research)-

    NO.

  105. Avatar of BrieCS
    April 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm —

    @Brian G
    Oh, well, then. Looks like that makes sense. And, now I’m going to log off, because I understand what’s happening now. Thanks for finding that!

  106. Avatar of Egillvs
    April 7, 2011 at 4:36 pm —

    point taken John Greg

    bowing out , sorry for the bother guys.

    and Brian G

    guess i’ll just be a reader from now on, sincere apology.

  107. Avatar of pernicat
    April 7, 2011 at 4:38 pm —

    @Egillvs:

    I think the point you were trying to make was very clear and I don’t understand why so many people are having such a hard time understanding what you are saying. Although, I think the word “responsible” was a poor choice of words I think you have done a good job of explaining what you were trying to say. I just don’t see how so many people still think you are somehow trying to blame the victim.

    It seems like none of the criticisms actually addressed your points, they were all attacking straw-man arguments or things taken out of context. Perhaps this is to much of a hot button issue.

    @BrieCS:

    Just out of curiosity, would you be equally as disturbed at the idea that someone could be “coerced” into committing murder?

  108. Avatar of Kammy
    April 7, 2011 at 4:39 pm —

    @Brian G:

    FFS.

    OK, the relevant question now is: Was Jen’s reply nominated for Awesome Comeback of the Century?

  109. Avatar of Timid Aethist
    April 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm —

    @Brian G: I do believe you’re right.

    I believe I’ll chalk this one up to yet another person who isn’t able to realize that rape victims are not responsible for being raped. Period.

  110. Avatar of Buzz Parsec
    April 7, 2011 at 4:41 pm —

    (I had a whole long post about why Bug’s post (and the summary at the CFI Events page) were confusing and made me think that Shackleford was arguing the exact opposite of what his real point was, which was revealed in the abstract section farther down, but my browser randomly closed the tab and I lost the whole thing. Attempting to reconstruct. I hope this makes sense.)

    I thought from the summary that Shackleford was citing the prevalence of men raping their partners as casting doubt on the evo-psych explanations since these men already had sexual access to them, But it turns out (from the complete abstract farther down on the CFI event page), he has an evo-psych explanation: partner rape positively correlates with a perception that the other partner is considering leaving the relationship. This sounds pretty dubious to me. Correlation does not equal causation. Maybe the woman is leaving because the guy is an abusive, violent, power and control obsessed bully?

    Anyway, I totally agree with @delphi_ote that it doesn’t matter if rape is an evolutionary advantage or not, because using that as an ethical excuse is just yet another application of the naturalistic fallacy.

  111. Avatar of Timid Aethist
    April 7, 2011 at 4:46 pm —

    @pernicat:

    Is it possible to be coerced to murder someone, without anyone else encouraging you to do so, if you’re drunk, angry and in the mood to murder and a helpless person is passed out in front of you and unable to stop you from killing them? Yes, I would be greatly disturbed by that.

  112. Avatar of BrieCS
    April 7, 2011 at 4:48 pm —

    @pernicat
    I would be – I think that a person should stay to their morals even at the threat of death or injury. I know that people have been, but at the same time, I see murder very differently than rape. Rape is something that requires continued action and will impact a living being who will carry on that knowledge (and could exact revenge upon you). Murder can be done with a gunshot. Neither of them is an acceptable action, but one of them is certainly easier to complete. Does that make sense?

  113. Avatar of rzinz
    April 7, 2011 at 4:51 pm —

    And not only that Buzz, but as I have said (and others said much better)

    You can’t just find a trait that exists and call it adaptive without first demonstrating that it is, in fact, adaptive.

    Do the males that rape their partners have more children, or do their children survive more as a result of that rape?

    Do the females give birth to children of other men more often if their husbands don’t rape them?

    We don’t know. The authors don’t know, which makes any investigation of any adaptive benefit of this behavior pointless, because they haven’t demonstrated that it is adaptive- as Bug Girl said, and I would like to echo:

    “This happens a lot. Ergo, it must be important evolutionarily.”

    Or, in other words

    “This happens a lot. Ergo, it must be adaptive.”

  114. Avatar of mrmisconception
    April 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm —

    @pernicat

    I understood the difference too, but in this context it is simply hair-splitting.

    The rape victim is neither to blame or responsible for the rape. Saying that they are is dispicable.

  115. Avatar of daedalus2u
    April 7, 2011 at 4:55 pm —

    I don’t think I could have sex with someone against her will, even if both of us would be killed if it didn’t happen.

  116. Avatar of lygypsy
    April 7, 2011 at 4:55 pm —

    “It seems like none of the criticisms actually addressed your points, they were all attacking straw-man arguments or things taken out of context. Perhaps this is to much of a hot button issue”

    Translation: crazy over emotional bitchez and their refusal to agree with superior dude brains!

    “I understood the difference too, but in this context it is simply hair-splitting.”

    Exactly, which was stated at least twice upthread. But the real point is to emphasize the insistence that women who feel passionately about an issue can be ignored and dismissed, because emotions are magical argument-killers.

  117. Avatar of pernicat
    April 7, 2011 at 5:14 pm —

    @HACautrell:

    Fair enough.

    @BrieCS:

    Point taken.

    @mrmisconception:

    I agree that saying the a rape victim is to blame or is responsible is despicable. I think Egillvs made it clear that is not what he meant by it (If English is not his first language we really should cut him some slack). I won’t say I agree with Egillys 100%. It just seems like a lot of people are attacking him for things that he didn’t say or never meant to imply.

  118. Avatar of pernicat
    April 7, 2011 at 5:19 pm —

    @lygypsy:

    “Translation: crazy over emotional bitchez and their refusal to agree with superior dude brains!”

    Okay, I was defending you, but saying things like that is not going to help your cause.

  119. Avatar of Ajita
    April 7, 2011 at 5:40 pm —

    @rzinz:
    “I do know that most chimp societies are matriarchal, which is interesting food for thought but I am a (future) entomologist so my working knowledge of the field is not strong.”

    Nope. Chimps are patriarchal. It’s Bonobos that are matriarchal.

  120. Avatar of dlthomas
    April 7, 2011 at 5:55 pm —

    @rzinz

    The problem, of course, is that evolutionary biologists see this claim in the reverse

    I.E.

    “I don’t see anything underlying the claim that rape is adaptive except a desire for it to be the case.”

    Yes, many evolutionary psychologists make unjustified leaps – that means we should?

    I think both “X is adaptive” and “X is not adaptive” should be kept around as hypotheses until there is a significant amount of evidence one way or the other. These kinds of statements are hard to test explicitly, but either can itself produce testable hypotheses; ; wasn’t there a story about someone finding that bees had color vision because they figured color in flowers was adaptive?

    “An adaptive trait is an aspect of the developmental pattern of the organism which enables or enhances the probability of that organism surviving and reproducing”

    Has any of the research about the “adaptation” or “adaptive ability” of rape actually shown this?

    Take a moment and consider what “not adaptive” means. It sounds like a simpler hypothesis because it’s the absence of something rather than presence, but what it’s the absence of is an explanation. If a trait is not adaptive then it must either have got there randomly, completely unshaped by selection pressure (unlikely because it is a complex behavior we are describing); be purely the product of other forces, like culture (unlikely because rape is seen across cultures and even in animals – though this is not to deny significant cultural variation!); or be a side effect of other, adaptive traits. If the last, and of non-adaptive explanations this seems clearly to dominate, then we should be able to point at the traits that *were* selected for whose consequence is rape. Until we can clearly do that, it’s an open question.

  121. Avatar of Ajita
    April 7, 2011 at 6:01 pm —

    This paper might interest some here: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/274/1612/1009

    I’m not implying anything in regards to rape in human society, just pointing to a paper that addresses a very similar subject but in the context of chimps, which like us, are patriarchal, and are considered our closest relatives (along with Bonobos, which are matriarchal and DO NOT demonstrate male on female sexual violence).

    Again I’d like to point out (as I did in comment #22) that the biggest problem in the debate here is the epistemologically flawed idea that ethics is dictated by facts that we can learn about our evolutionary history. It is not. Thinking that it does is making the naturalistic fallacy. Ethics constitutes what we come together and intersubjectively decide as a society. At no point in this discussion is it excusable to even bring up the actions of the woman as a justification (partially or not) for the wretched acts of the man who rapes her. That is a a premise, not a conclusion. That is how ethical progress is made in civil society. That also implies that whether rape was an adaptive behavior or a byproduct, it is absolutely immaterial in the determination of what rape means to us from an ethical point of view. Whether rape was evolutionarily adaptive or a byproduct of other behavioral tendencies (which is very much a possibility), we as a species come together and decide through our modern system of intersubjective ethics that rape will not be adaptive in today’s world. It will be the opposite- deleterious to the individual that commits the act.

  122. Avatar of mcskeptic
    April 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm —

    @Egillvs:

    I wrote “It’s a mental and/or emotional sickness or defect in that individual, not some evolutionary tactic.”

    You responded “this sounds very PC to me, i don’t know, but since you mentioned there are no peer reviewed studies of what women wear and it’s link to increased rape risk, is there a peer reviewed study to confirm that this is what rape is. a defect?”

    I don’t understand how my point was “PC.” Psychological and emotional illnesses are real. BTW, the way, I wrote “. . . not a single validated peer-reviewed study showing evidence . . .”

    There are, however, validated peer-review articles that speak to psychological disorders (a more accurate, and clinical, term than “mental defect, I concede) and emotional states present in rapists, including this one published in “The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology”

    “The Characteristics of Persistent Sexual Offenders: A Meta-Analysis of
    Recidivism Studies”

    R. Karl Hanson and Kelly E. Morton-Bourgon — Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada

    http://tinyurl.com/3l67boq

    To your statement . . .

    “after having read about the stanford prison experiment, and how even the nicest of us, can treat each other in a manner almost unspeakable, i’m inclined to think that we aren’t that far from our urges as we’d like to consider us.”

    . . . I can only say that living in an unhealthy environment, whether, physical or emotional — living in a high-crime area, in prison, in a war zone, poverty, famine, etc, can be stressful in a number of ways and definitely cause even the nicest of individuals to develop emotional and psychological problems that may manifest themselves in various violent anti-social acts, including rape. We see this all the time, in various conflicts around the world, as well as right here in the USA.

    Being a rapist isn’t a career choice; it isn’t something that a psychologically and emotionally well-balanced individual considers, except in some wild sexual fantasy that might be acted out with a willing partner. A psychologically and emotionally stable Joe Schmo doesn’t just wake up one day and decide to go rape someone.

  123. Avatar of daedalus2u
    April 7, 2011 at 7:04 pm —

    The real issue with rape is that individuals who rape,individuals who can conceive of raping, and individuals who can in some way, shape or form condone rape (as the post yesterday about excusing the buying of sex from 13 year olds), show that they can consider what is being raped to be non-human objects.

    This is an important conceptual difference. People who “rape”, do not “rape” humans, they “rape” “the other”, they “rape” non-human objects.

    Rape is not an activity between two humans, it is the use as a sexual object for sexual gratification, a non-human entity. To a rapist, the entity they are raping is just like an animal they would have sex with, a sex toy they would use, or any other non-human object they would use for sexual gratification. The entity being raped is so far down in the social hierarchy that he/she doesn’t count as being human, and so has no human traits for the rapist can recognize or be concerned about. Because he thinks of him/her as non-human, he can’t imagine that she has human feelings that could possibly matter. She is an object, like a piece of wood. Because he can’t perceive that his victim has feelings, he projects his feelings onto his victim.

    This is what pedophiles do, they can’t perceive that the child they are raping doesn’t want to have sex with them. The pedophile projects his own delusional feelings onto the child.

    This is true of all xenophobia. The bigots are incapable of perceiving the objects of their bigotry as human. They are “the other”, they are non-human. They don’t have what ever human “essence” is required to justify treating them as human.

    I have written about xenophobia on my blog.

    Rape is a hate crime, just like any other act of bigotry. The victim is chosen because the perpetrator perceives the victim to be non-human.

    The way to prevent rape, is to raise boys to think of girls as human beings, to understand girls as human beings and to be able to communicate with girls as human beings. Men and boys thinking of girls and women as non-human objects is the natural consequence of girls and women covering themselves around men and boys. Men and boys never learn to read the body language of girls and women if they are covered all the time. If you are unable to read someone’s body language, you default into thinking you can’t communicate with them, you can’t trust them, and that you should kill them if you can.

    It is like homophobia. Homophobes feel that gay people don’t have the capacity to love or be loved. A gay woman can’t love her child because lesbians are non-human and so can’t have the human characteristics of loving and being lovable. A homophobe can’t appreciate that the child of a lesbian could possibly love her.

    I am not sure that rapists can be rehabilitated. I don’t think they can really appreciate that what they have done is wrong because they are incapable of perceiving women as being human beings that can possibly have feelings. Rapists should be imprisoned until they are rehabilitated. So should all perpetrators of hate crimes. They are essentially all the same.

  124. Avatar of slignot
    April 7, 2011 at 7:05 pm —

    I share Bug_Girl’s suspicion of articles purporting to show adaptive (reproductive) benefit to rape as a behavior for the simple matter that the intensity and duration of human child-rearing would seem to cast doubt on the idea. If we are discussing animals with minimal to no child-rearing, then discussing forcible penetration (like the terrifying bedbug’s tendency to actually pierce the thorax) as potentially evolutionarily beneficial is more or less reasonable.

    However, as reproductive success has to do with the long-term survival of one’s genetic material (not simply success at reproductive sex), merely fathering offspring is not enough. There must be some assurance that one’s offspring themselves are likely to survive long enough to reproduce.

    While early humans did not have the same safe ability to terminate pregnancies as we do now, infanticide (active and through neglect) has a long history among people. So even on the chance that a rapist managed to impregnate his victim, there is no guarantee that child will receive the care it needs to survive.

    I am therefore inclined to view sweeping assertions in papers or research of adaptive benefit with a large helping of salt. As we see in this case, these sorts of evo-psych constructions seldom hold up to the sort of rigor to dispel the unlikelihood of benefit.

    Now that this thread has become yet ANOTHER instance of the ease with which individuals attempt to ascribe some burden of responsibility to the victim of a rape makes me absolutely crazy. Others have attempted to explain where the commenters have gone wrong in their reasoning, but have largely tried to explain in similar ways (albeit understandable ones).

    Here is my one shot at shedding light on why you cannot ascribe any degree of responsibility to rape victims without ending up encouraging the climate wherein rapes are excused.

    The arguments of “prevention” always center on seeming like reasonable rather than extreme precautions to avoid an unpleasant result (i.e. rape). However, what these pieces of advice actually do is severely limit the choices, freedoms and dignity of women by tightening the confines within which we are allowed to operate. They create a framework of fear that we should live our lives in to avoid the unlikely event of a stranger rape.

    It comes down to risk/benefit, how we all live our lives. Is there a risk in taking medication to cure illness? Is it worth driving to commute to a better job even though driving is risky? Is it worth the small risk of rape to pursue joys, individuality and life experiences as you choose? Or is it worth living in a cage of fear when you are far more likely to be hurt by those you know and love?

    It is not.

    To claim that rules governing behavior (just because you have the misfortune to be born into a less privileged group) to prevent the free evil actions of another is the rankest kind of sexist crap. Women are not entitled to less of life’s fullness because of assholes.

    Moreover, when you try to make these “prevention strategies” public, you signal to rapists and would-be rapists that those women who do not follow these rules are more vulnerable, more “reckless” and that they bear some burden for what you can do to them. That you will have more sympathy for their attackers because of the “temptation” to rape they experience.

    When you promote these “rape prevention” tools, you are supporting the system rapists rely on to excuse their crimes. You are not being pragmatic.

  125. Avatar of CatFurniture
    April 7, 2011 at 7:06 pm —

    @Ajita:
    If we are being pedantic, perhaps you should be specific and use the term “common chimpanzee”, as it is my understanding that the term “chimp” refers to both bonobos and common chimps (both in the Pan genus, I believe).

  126. Avatar of Ajita
    April 7, 2011 at 8:10 pm —

    @CatFurniture: I am not being pedantic. Chimps and Bonobos ARE different species. When biologists say Chimp, they mean Chimp. When they say Bonobo, they mean Bonobo. It is not pedantic to simply mean what I say. If you implying that when rzinz said Chimps s/he really meant Bonobos, it is not pedanticism that’s the problem, its accuracy, especially since Chips and Bonobos are complete opposites when it comes to the particular trait we were discussing, and therefore exhibit very different behaviors in the area of concern here.

  127. Avatar of Ajita
    April 7, 2011 at 8:36 pm —

    I do agree with you that we CAN be pedantic and refer to Chimps as common Chimpanzees in all cases, even when we are using the term Bonobo to distinctly refer to the other Chimpanzee species. But I’d like to draw your attention to the context- the comment I was responding to:

    ///”I honestly don’t know enough about chimpanzee and bonobo social/sexual behavior to comment on this. I do know that most chimp societies are matriarchal…..”///

    The fact that rzinz knew the distinction between chimps and bonobos and then made an honest mistake by attributing the characteristics of one to the other (when these characteristics are the exact opposite) is why it was important to point out the error. This is why it was not pedantic. Now, dwelling on this has made the whole thing feel pedantic.

  128. Avatar of bug_girl
    April 7, 2011 at 8:36 pm —

    Holy cow, the comments from Michigan CFI folks are getting amazing at the Almost Diamonds article:

    http://almostdiamonds.blogspot.com/2011/04/skepticism-and-rape-adaptations.html

    Michigan CFI is getting…belligerent.

  129. Avatar of Kaloikagathoi
    April 7, 2011 at 8:46 pm —

    @slignot: How extremely well put. Thank you.

  130. Avatar of mrmisconception
    April 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm —

    @slignot: @Kaloikagathoi:
    I concur, no matter how many times I say that same thing (less eloquently), as a man it would ring hollow. Bravo!

  131. Avatar of dlthomas
    April 7, 2011 at 9:42 pm —

    Two unrelated points:

    1

    We must exist in the reality around us. A big part of that reality is people. If the people around you will rape you if X, don’t X. If the people around you will mug you if Y, don’t Y. Is this an unwarranted intrusion on your personal sovereignty? Yes. Is it not okay? Absolutely. Does that mean you should ignore it? NO! Reality is reality. You don’t walk through down-town wearing gang colors, or you’ll get shot and you have some of the responsibility because you ignored the reality around you. This does not preclude working to change that environment to increase personal freedom – a big part of which is changing the people in it: through education, law enforcement, cultural norms – if what we care about is reducing instances of rape, presumably we should attack it on both fronts. We should be sure to do this without hurting the victims – everyone makes mistakes, and the consequences have no business being so severe! But ignoring reality doesn’t help, and if there are things we can do to better protect ourselves it would be good to know them.

    2

    The focus on strangers is odd in the comment thread here. The lecture at issue was *about* rape in the context of a long term relationship. Talk of tactics to ameliorate this certainly won’t include “don’t wear slutty clothes and walk down dark alleys in the bad part of town” bullshit.

  132. Avatar of daedalus2u
    April 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm —

    One of the things about intimate partner sexual violence is that a lot happens when a woman is pregnant. That can’t be due to sperm competition because she is already pregnant.

    http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/content/full/93/7/1110

  133. Avatar of mrmisconception
    April 7, 2011 at 11:57 pm —

    @dlthomas:
    Exactly, if you will notice what is missing in the brilliant advice you gave in point one; men or women.

    This is good advice for anyone and couching this type of excellent advice as “rape avoidance” is to unfairly bias it toward victim blaming, we should strive to give this type of practical advice to everybody.
    It would help avoid a lot of the unnecessary
    disagreement brought up in this thread.

  134. Avatar of seleroan
    April 8, 2011 at 12:32 am —

    Forgive me for scrolling to the bottom here. I got about thirty deep into the comments and wanted to chime in. So, if someone has said something along these lines, I am sorry.

    There were a couple of comments about how rape as a sexual strategy cannot account for child or anal rape, etc. I’m not so sure. If we’re talking about rape as an evolutionary strategy, then it would be as a built-in instinct. As such, it would need to do little more than create a forced copulation with a subject to be useful in that manner. In that context, a child rape and etc. could be thought of as a misfire of the rape instinct. There are other instances where such things occur. For example, people think that puppies are cute because their faces look like baby faces. There is an evolutionary advantage for them to look ‘cute’. That people find puppies cute is a misfiring of the need to find human babies cute. This is not controversial.

    Of course, the data to back up instinctual human behavior in the realm of moral behavior is limited due to the relative infancy of the science.

    I happen to be reading “The Moral Animal” by Robert Wright atm. The above is based on that reading.

  135. Avatar of Ajita
    April 8, 2011 at 1:03 am —

    @seleroan:
    “Of course, the data to back up instinctual human behavior in the realm of moral behavior is limited due to the relative infancy of the science.”

    I admit being struck by a lack of nuance in much of the the discussion. The truth is the value of evo-psych lies is in careful case by case application of the fundamental ideas that E.O. Wilson came up with to create the field of sociobiology. There are complications associated with applying evo-psych to humans, such as our not knowing anything about the cultures and much about the environment of the Pleistocene, and the lack of evolutionarily close relatives. But that doesn’t mean that the science is fundamentally flawed. The most level-headed scientific review of evo-psych, IMO, is from Massimo Pigliucci’s book Nonsense on Stilts, in which he has a section titled “Is Evolutionary Psychology a Pseudoscience?”. I highly recommend anyone interested to give it a read.

  136. Avatar of Stephanie Zvan
    April 8, 2011 at 8:23 am —

    @seleroan: Yes, it is possible that there could be an instinct for rape that misfires, is warped by cultural pressures, etc. It is also possible that there is an instinct for sex that misfires, is warped by cultural pressures, etc. In fact, that would be the parsimonious explanation. However, scientists working on this rape adaptation theory are advancing their theory without doing the work that would be able to support something more than the parsimonious explanation. That’s a problem.

  137. Avatar of pseudomorph
    April 8, 2011 at 8:54 am —

    @daedalus2u: An interesting paper, which also found that in general emotional violence increased while physical and sexual violence decreased during pregnancy.

    I remember a nurse friend of mine telling me years ago that there can sometimes be competition between the father and the child for the affection and attention of the mother. I wonder if a violent partner views the pregnancy as him losing control over the mother, as he is no longer the main focus of her life, but has to share it with the unborn child, and so uses violence to reassert his control over her?

    Maybe this is why some men rape their partners (pregnant or not) – its a way of reasserting their control over her if they feel they’re loosing it?

  138. Avatar of rzinz
    April 8, 2011 at 9:26 am —

    @Ajita:

    You are right- it was a mistake and you shouldn’t feel pedantic! Primates are stupid anyway, what with their lack of an exoskeleton and lactating everywhere and their hands I mean ew.

    (You and I both cited Pigliucci in discussion of this post, which makes us BFFs now I think)

    @dlthomas-

    I don’t think I quite follow you. The problems I have with this study and others like it is that they haven’t settled that initial question of adaptation!

    I am not sure where you coming from when you claim that the position of “it isn’t an adaptation” is somehow a less honest position (or or at least just as dishonest?) than the opposite. It seems to me that claiming something is “adapted” is making a positive claim, whereas claiming something is “not adaptive” is, well, the opposite. I’m not saying you don’t have to test that claim- rather I am saying that the idea that X behavior wasn’t shaped by natural selection to provide adaptive benefit to an organism is a null hypothesis, unless I am very confused.

    Critics of Evo-Psyc often like to cite Gould, and with good reason- you seem to illustrate exactly the kind of mentality he took umbrage with

    ///”If a trait is not adaptive then it must either have got there randomly, completely unshaped by selection pressure (unlikely because it is a complex behavior we are describing); be purely the product of other forces, like culture (unlikely because rape is seen across cultures and even in animals – though this is not to deny significant cultural variation!); or be a side effect of other, adaptive traits.///”

    See that? Look at how easily biased you made yourself towards the positive claim that this behavior was shaped by natural selection.

    First of all, as you should know, natural selection is not the only force driving evolution, and the fact that you find it “unlikely” that anything else could have brought about this behavior is exactly the kind of problems I have with this research, and similar.

    We also, as said upthread, don’t see “rape” in animals, because the ideas of consent are a purely human thing- or rather we don’t know if something is rape, because we can’t “interview a chickadee” (@davew).

    Again, you seem to be happy with finding ubiquity and then claiming evolutionary history (based on your comments about how rape is seen across cultures) without actually investigating evolutionary history

  139. Avatar of rzinz
    April 8, 2011 at 9:32 am —

    Also I literally just read this and I feel that it should be looked at by anyone who is interested in discussions of this science

    On shopping, sexiness and hormones.

  140. Avatar of daedalus2u
    April 8, 2011 at 11:23 am —

    One of the major problems in the paper is that they don’t actually have data or collect data about their hypothesis. What they collected data on is what people said they thought the violence was related to.

    If you wanted to do a study as to why people chose acupuncture, and you asked a bunch of people why they chose to be treated with acupuncture, you would get answers like “my chi needed to be balanced”, which we know is BS. You would never get the real answer “because I am gullible and I need a good placebo to make me feel better”.

    Once you got all those “chi balancing” answers, could you conclude that humans have evolved an instinct to get their chi balanced? If you looked at ethnicity of the “chi balancing” answers, could you conclude that there are ethnicity-linked-instinct-for-chi-balancing genes?

  141. Avatar of Skepotter
    April 8, 2011 at 11:50 am —

    The rape-as-adaptation hypothesis has value to this extent: When a hypothesis is falsified, we know it is false. When it has not been falsified we do not know if it is true or false.

    Once r-as-a has been falsified (if it hasn’t already) we can welcome it to the dustbin of falsified hypotheses where it can play pinochle with phlogiston, the flat earth, and vaccines-cause-autism.

    To me, it is not even plausible. How can an antisocial behaviour be adaptive in a highly social animal?

  142. Avatar of jim3652
    April 8, 2011 at 12:05 pm —

    I recently read two books that are relevant to this discussion: Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate and Matt Ridley’s The Red Queen. They’ve given me a nuanced view of many aspects of this discussion. Unfortunately, I’m one of those male geeks that got an 800 on the math SAT but only a 600 on the verbal, so I expect I’ll fail miserably in conveying my views.

    First, let me say at the outset that deciding these issues about human behavior scientifically using purely empirical methods might not be possible in practice even though it almost certainly possible in principle.

    We don’t know now if there are any genes located on the Y chromosome that might make men with those genes more likely to commit rape. However, my understanding is that there is a genetic component to psychopathy. I conjecture that any rapist is also a psychopath, but not all psychopaths become rapists. If that is true, then it is an interesting question to determine what factors cause psychopaths to rape.

    A few years ago I developed an interest in Bayesian methods and in particular Judea Pearl’s work on Belief Propagation. It seems to me that one could use these methods to create a model that would output a numeric likelihood for a woman’s chance of being raped given various choices she makes in her behavior. I conjecture that such likelihoods would not all be zero. But I further conjecture that that the model would show that the choices a woman makes result in only very small differences in the final probability that she is raped. I would also add that even if a woman chooses to be aware that her behavior can result in slightly elevated chance of being raped, she might also consider that her behavior is also intended to attract a desirable mate, and will have a stronger affect for that goal. If she takes into account all of these factors, she might make the very rational decision that the reward to risk ratio is well in her favor.

    My own sexuality is one of dominance and I prefer my lover to be submissive. But as D&S goes, I’m pretty tame. I like blindfolds and tie downs, and I have no interest in humiliation or pain. But even so, my own experience gives me some insight into men who are interested in humiliation and pain for sexual pleasure, and I have read enough about D&S to know some submissive women find pain sexually stimulating (even though that seems very weird to me). I wonder if there is a continuum between the kind of mild D&S I have on one end and the psychopathic sexual behavior that results in serial rapist on the other end. If there is such a continuum, are any male hormones correlated with the continuum? What genetic variations result in those differences? These are interesting questions and I think scientists should be allowed to pursue them.

  143. Avatar of daedalus2u
    April 8, 2011 at 12:32 pm —

    The problem is that really complex behaviors can’t be instincts because the genome can’t encode complex behaviors in DNA. The behaviors have to be the product of a phenotype, not a genotype.

    For example, the ability to acquire a first language is innate, but the language itself is not. A first language needs to be learned at a particular time. There may be compulsions to act in certain ways that lead to the acquisition of language depending on the environment one is in, but language itself can only be learned.

    Everything complex that humans do is a product of a phenotype, not a genotype. The phenotype is the end product of an ongoing process of development that includes the genome and the interaction of that genome with the environment.

    Language acquisition is a property of a phenotype, even though language acquisition is an innate human ability. An infant can be born with such severe neurological deficits that it will be unable to learn a language, an infant with anencephaly will not be able to exhibit the human trait of language acquisition that is encoded in his/her genes because the process of development got screwed up.

    When people take steroids, many of them exhibit roid rage. Their genotype hasn’t changed, but their phenotype has changed. Exogenous steroids trigger neurodevelopment that generates a more violent phenotype. Humans didn’t evolve the trait of exogenous steroids skewing neurodevelopment to a more violent phenotype. Human ancestors did not have access to exogenous steroids. What evolution did was configure human physiology such that endogenous steroids are part of a signaling pathway that uses higher levels of steroids to produce a more violent phenotype.

    When someone takes steroids and becomes more violent, that is not an excuse. If being around women makes you want to rape them, that is not an excuse. If you can’t control yourself, then don’t allow yourself to be in a situation where your lack of control harms someone else.

  144. Avatar of bug_girl
    April 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm —

    @jim3652: sure, you can make a model. But you have failed to do anything to actually address the key questions of evolution:
    is it heritable? Does it affect reproductive outputs?

    This is the fundamental flaw in these sorts of sociobiological scenarios. It is the key component that PZ and Jerry Coyne focus on. It’s just a bunch of anecdotes.

    My beef is not that I think no one should study rape. It is that these studies are poorly done, don’t help answer any important questions, and ignore existing (and extensive) sociological studies of rape.

    @daedalus2u: That is a really good analogy. Thanks!

  145. Avatar of slignot
    April 8, 2011 at 1:00 pm —

    @jim3652:
    One of the best blogs I’ve found that discusses the intersection of kink, feminism and consent is Holly’s The Pervocracy. She talks about how there is a vast difference between BDSM play and non-consensual actions.
    http://pervocracy.blogspot.com/

    It’s nice to find places where you can talk about diversity in sex and sex-positive issues while recognizing how consent and feminism play into them.

  146. Avatar of bug_girl
    April 8, 2011 at 6:53 pm —

    An additional post at almost diamonds, discussing evolutionary psychology and rape further:
    http://almostdiamonds.blogspot.com/2011/04/more-on-science-of-rape-adaptations.html

    THIS:
    ” I fully support researching rape, and I highlight the results of that research on this blog. I also demand, and intend to keep demanding, that this research be of as high a quality as we can manage. Scientists can, and many of them do, do much better than to produce studies and statements that completely ignore vast swaths of our knowledge of rape and of victimization in general. We produce good science on this topic. There is no reason to tolerate bad science and every reason to sharply criticize those who produce it. “

  147. Avatar of SmarterThanYouLook
    April 8, 2011 at 7:08 pm —

    I’d just like to point out that anyone complaining about the science and then asserting that ‘rape is strictly about control’ is jumping headfirst into a hypocrisy tar pit.
    Unless you’ve got research to back up your claim you’re bootstrapping your personal opinion and nothing more.
    I’ve seen the statement before but it’s never been more than a repeated quote. Back the claim or admit that the spectrum of possible causes are unknown to you.

    Assuming that rape only occurs for one reason does nothing to educate people or prevent it. Should we assert that murder only happens because of money?

    And before anyone accuses me of devaluing anything that may have happened to them, I am challenging the format of argument presented.

    I’m a victim of sex crime myself. I would not presume to know the cause.

  148. Avatar of gregladen
    April 8, 2011 at 7:48 pm —

    If forced copulation of any kind was an adaptation (and it is in some species, but the evidence for this in humans is pretty dark weak) then it would not be called sperm competition. This speaker is obviously some sort of professional pop psychologist.

    It is kinda fun to tune back in after a couple days away from the internet and see that it can still melt down like the old days of … earlier this week!

    • Avatar of bug_girl
      April 14, 2011 at 4:21 pm —

      Exactly Greg. Sperm competition is a term used almost exclusively on non-human animals. It further dehumanizes the women who are raped, and make them a passive arena in which males compete.

      Except.
      They are living humans who are horribly damaged by the process.

  149. Avatar of gregladen
    April 8, 2011 at 7:58 pm —

    dark = darn… .sorry, I can’t use the middle finger of my left hand properly owing to a recent mishap …

    But while I’m here, I’ll note that this should be (and to some extent is, but not enough perhaps?) a conversation about the topic and not a meta conversation about whether it is OK to tell someone that they disagree with the topic. or not.

    This is a bit of an old topic, though, mostly left aside after Thornhill’s book was shredded. (unduly … its not a terrible book, just a fairly incorrect idea.)

    jim3652: A nuanced view from Pinker? Ruh Roh.

  150. Avatar of lygypsy
    April 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm —

    pernicat: did you seriously use the “you’re not helping your cause” fallacy? LOL. Anyone got a bingo card handy?

    I’m such a silly girl! Why didn’t I realize that only posting things YOU want to readr is the one true path to acheiving my goals!

    As amazing as this thought will be to you – YOU do not decide what helps my causes, since you know FUCK-ALL what my “causes” are.

  151. Guest
    April 12, 2011 at 11:44 pm —

    "This kind of “research” perpetuates the idea that women who are raped had it coming. It makes up an evolutionary just-so story to imply that rape is “natural.” IMHO, it normalizes a violent crime. And that really pisses me off."

    You're committing the naturalistic fallacy. Whether rape is natural has nothing to do with whether it is right. It's obviously wrong, but it's also obviously natural because it sometimes occurs in so many species in nature (including Chimps and Orangutans). Murder is natural too, but that doesn't excuse it.

    • Avatar of bug_girl
      April 14, 2011 at 4:19 pm —

      No, I’m not committing Naturalistic Fallacy, because i’m not saying rape can’t be studied.

      I’m saying that this guy (and this whole evolutionary psych field, IMO) does a shitty job of trying to rationalize rape as an adaptation–in the absence of any EVIDENCE.

      It’s trivial to say something is an adaptation. It’s much harder to have any evidence, which Buzz reiterates above (and which I discuss in this post). Is it heritable? Is it selected for? None of that is covered in this research, and they ignore huge areas in which data suggest just the opposite.

      Some really quite good research is being done on rape by sociologists and psychologists. This is not it.

    • Avatar of Stephanie Zvan
      April 14, 2011 at 5:52 pm —

      There also seems to be some confusion going on here between understanding that the naturalistic fallacy exists and has real effects that should be accounted for and committing the fallacy. Whether bad research perpetuates a bad idea has nothing to do with whether that bad idea hinges on a fallacy. Fallacies occur. They’re common, particularly in situations where their occurrence is to someone’s advantage.

      Also, I have no doubt whatsoever that even if the research were good and pointed to rape being an adaptation, being natural, Bug Girl would be perfectly willing to say that rape is an awful idea. If there’s a fallacy here, I think it belongs to someone else.

  152. Buzz Parsec
    April 13, 2011 at 3:18 am —

    I can't see any (save one) of the many comments on this thread, but something occurred to me while I was away, and I don't remember if anyone has already pointed this out. For a trait to have an evolutionary basis, it not only needs to exist, and be adaptive, it also has to be heritable. The speaker's paper seems to address point 2 while ignoring points one and three. If there is no such thing as a "rape trait" (e.g., it is entirely a learned behavior), or if it is not heritable (e.g. the result of some sort of physical or psychological injury, rather than some combination of genes or epigenetics), then theorizing why it might be adaptive is useless speculation. Is there any evidence that it actually exists or that it is heritable?

    To reiterate, even if it is an adaptive, heritable trait, that doesn't mean it's in anyway good. It just means the rest of us have to do something about it before the rapist assholes take over the world. There are lots of adaptive, heritable traits that serve no one well, not even the carriers. For example, being a sickle cell carrier which may protect you somewhat from malaria, but causes a dreadful, painful disease and in many cases, early death in 1/4 of your children.

    Of one horrifying topic and on to another; I think I need to go look at a some kittens for a while.

  153. Avatar of jwray
    April 16, 2011 at 6:21 pm —

    Stephanie Z & BugGirl:

    BugGirl is assuming without any evidence that the researcher (or his audience) are committing the naturalistic fallacy. Nothing in the research had anything to do with the immoral status of rape, yet BugGirl immediately assumed this research would lead to people excusing rape. That, by the way, is not even relevant to debunking the research unless you are making the argument from final consequences fallacy.

    Speaking of fictions without any evidence to back them up, how about this one: The idea that there is any significant number of people out there think rape is “ok” because “it’s natural”. “Rape culture” is a fiction — rape occurs across all cultures, which points towards biological explanations. Certain aspects of culture can contribute to it, but there is no such thing as a blank slate.

    Homicide occurs across all cultures too — there are certain ancestral circumstances in which altruism increased survival, and certain circumstances in which it did not. The selective pressure was not adequate to eliminate homicide from humans because of these mixed circumstances. Similar things can be said of rape. It was not maladaptive enough to be eliminated by natural selection. It does, after all, involve producing additional offspring who will carry whatever genes increased their father’s predisposition to rape.

    Whether someone is born with a predisposition to a particular behavior has absolutely nothing to do with whether that behavior is okay — e.g. homosexual behavior is okay because it has no victim, not because people are born that way.

    Your text and links about debunking the actual research was almost entirely about debunking other people’s EvoPsych studies or vague strawman generalities about the whole field of EvoPsych, not the specific statistics and methodology used in Shackleford’s book. That is an instance of the association fallacy.

    • Avatar of bug_girl
      April 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm —

      I read many, many of Shackelford’s papers–they are linked in this post, and are all on his web page.
      How many have YOU read, since you are so quick to criticize? And just how long would you have read anything if I went into the technical details of his work, at a blog that is written for a general audience?

      The argument you are making here does the same thing as Shackelford–making an evolutionary claim for something there is -No- evidence for. This is why evolutionary psychology as a field is very weak.
      It’s all stories about how something MIGHT have been selected for, and tends to ignore alternative explanations for why certain behaviors might occur.

      As Stephanie said:

      “There also seems to be some confusion going on here between understanding that the naturalistic fallacy exists and has real effects that should be accounted for and committing the fallacy. Whether bad research perpetuates a bad idea has nothing to do with whether that bad idea hinges on a fallacy.”

  154. Avatar of jwray
    April 20, 2011 at 5:28 am —

    The only real critique of Shackleford’s own work in all of your blog entry’s direct links is a few paragraphs in Almost Diamonds that are very unconvincing. He shows the age vs. rape incidence graph next to the age vs. robbery incidence graph and claims that they have the same shape, but they clearly do not. If you graph age vs. (rape incidence) / (robbery incidence) you still get a peak over the fertile years because the robbery distribution has a much larger standard deviation.

  155. Avatar of Courtney Healy
    March 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm —

    Did you even attend this presentation? I have this particular speaker as a professor and I find it hard to believe (especially after his presentation of this same research in my class) that his message could have been so misunderstood. His point of view was very factual and never once did he in any way, shape, or form advocate that woman was at fault as a victim of rape. You also have attacked his methodology; he has conducted his own research and also built off of other well known and published data. Please at least view his work YOURSELF before you decide to critique it.

  156. Avatar of cara
    June 2, 2012 at 11:58 pm —

    it’s more about the example i’m now giving for the 4th time because i like it so much, and because i actually know it’s a pretty common version of the friend-rape,

    Yuck.

    Old post, I know. Still, yuck.

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