Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rape Culture or the Perversion of Nature

There exists a portion of academia that I  continually denigrate and mock. Namely, the sociobiologist pseudo-intellectual who argues that all, or most, present gaps and differences between races, genders or religions are a product of evolution. More often than not, they are responsible for completely non-sensible conclusions, unsupported by their own research, to explain how things like the American male aversion to pink or the female dissatisfaction with casual sex are biological imperatives rather than learned social behaviors.

In case you did not already conclude this, I am very much a tabula rasa breed of philosopher. This examination of social forces has largely gone out of style. I imagine that this is because sociological fields require quite a bit more creativity and intuition than the hard sciences. While evolution is undoubtedly more rational than creationism, using it to justify every single minutia of human deviancy is intellectually dishonest. Evolutionary biologists adhere to their theories with all the fervor of religious dogma. Like evangelists, who think that all sins are forgiven, as long as one has faith, the sociobiologist justifies deviant behavior, including his own, with the claim that "we just can't help it".

While claims of the biological inferiority of the female sex never fail to inspire eye-rolls and immediate dismissal from my good favor, nothing quite inspires anger like the evolutionary rape apologist.

Rape, this pseudo-intellectual might claim, is a natural imperative. Men cannot control their penises by design. Even if they could, rape is responsible for the continuation of the species and the fulfillment of the biological imperative to procreate by any means necessary.

First of all, such thinking is not only incredibly dangerous, but also more a product of old Christian ideas on human nature than empirical science. If rape is natural, and we take it as a priori that rape is bad, then humanity is bad. The root of such conclusions does not lie in Darwinism, but in the doctrine of original sin and influential Western philosophers that parroted such notions; namely, Hobbes and Machiavelli.

Secondly, the idea that rape best serves the continuation of the species is completely nonsensical. The biological imperative to procreate is undoubtedly mutual to both sexes. However, sex is hardly an act that requires brutality. On the contrary, the female sex organs are designed for pleasurable stimulation, and new studies have shown that the female orgasm might play a role in strengthening the kelgel muscles for successful childbirth or that the orgasm itself may increase the chances of fertilization.

However, not all rape is brutal. The idea, however, that the manipulation or force of rape encourages sex is absurd. Women are biologically just as likely to want sex, intimacy, and reproduction as a man. Manipulation of her will or the enslavement of marital duties hardly makes the act enjoyable or a female more likely to partake of it. Even a child can tell you that chores are things which they pull out all stops to prevent their necessity or command. Women are quite capable of enjoying sex and motherhood on their own, thus the manipulation of natural inclinations would be more rooted in religion and delusion than science. The loss of control, the violation of selfhood, that rape creates would not increase the rate at which women have children or men have successful sexual encounters. Rape inspires sexual dysfunction, stress disorders, and various other psychological scars that would prohibit a woman from wanting to bear more children and discourage her from all future interpersonal relationships, vastly decreasing the chances that she would bear further offspring.

Pretending that all of the above is irrational, rape still is not a valid evolutionary response. If the purpose of rape is to increase the proliferation of the human species, than leaving a now prospective mother with feelings other than love for the resulting children is hardly rational. The imperative to hunt the most vulnerable female or to manufacture female vulnerability as a cultural norm, likewise, is in opposition to the idea that the biological imperative is to create healthy and strong offspring. Animals hunt the weakest, but they mate with the strongest. A man who claims that his urge to rape a young child or someone he thinks of inferior to himself is not the characteristics of natural sexuality. Reproduction between equals, not a monster and his created inferior, would result from the healthiest genetics.

This deviancy echoes in our society. The acquisition of sexual conquests is expressed with such metaphors related to hunting, such as "on the prowl". In this rape culture, the dominant definition of sex is not, by any rational justification, the makings of an evolutionary imperative. The default definition of intercourse, the having of the woman by the man, has much more to do with cruelty and manufactured sociopathy than healthy proliferation of the species. To say that rape is about power, not sex, is not as accurate as it was once thought to be. Rape, by definition, is the sexualization of power.

Rape and the manufacture of female inferiority, as I have clearly explained above, is also a massive deviation from the idea of evolutionary success. Any intellectual who purports any differently is not a intellectual at all, but a dogmatist seeking to rationalize his, or others, sexual deviancy with a hijacked perversion of science.



an.optimistic.cynic said...


thank you thank you thank you thank you!

I agree with everything you said.

except one:
I would argue that the preoccupation that ALL gender differences exist due to evolution, or biological functions, exist as a result of evolutionary PSYCHOLOGY.

If ever a pseudoscience existed within academia, this is it.

Jen said...

Ah, an acknowledgment of that hack, Freud, right? If I wanted to go back to the roots of such scientific bullshit, Freud would obviously be the source. I completely agree there. In particular, I was referring the works of evolutionary biologists such as Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer. A bit more modern, of course, but it was what was on my mind while I wrote the post. I had come across a quote of theirs that was remarkably foul, so I was inspired to post. It was something along the lines of how men are such beasts that women must take great pains to avoid inciting their urge to rape.

Actually, now that I think of it, Thornhill and Palmer might be more anthropologists than anything else.

Nevertheless, Freud is a hack. I was trying, however, to stay away from the reasons behind rape (penis envy, women are inferior, blah blah blah) and focus on the bizarre thought that rape is natural because of its role in reproduction, not pleasure.

I could write a very long post on how pleasure in rape is behind horrible and disgusting, but I'm sure that it's been done, more eloquently than I can accomplish, many times before.

Nevertheless, now I have all the sciences messed up in my head.

musingsofabittergirl said...

I enjoy your blog and am adding it to my blog roll (esp love the name btw). I have a somewhat more 'base' diatribe that dissects some of the rape-is-natural apologists - specifically Camille Paglia here (done in a punk, rather than intellectual style) that you might find humorous ... it was published in a 'zine in Chicago in the mid-90s.