Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rape As Evolution Eliminates Need To Blame Rapists

From a comment by Jason Dick at Finally Feminism 101:

If I accept that the research shows that rape is an evolutionary mechanism, which seems extremely likely to me, then because I very much do not want to rape any woman (or girl, or boy), then the proper course of action is to learn what sort of situation is likely to lead to rape, and then do my best to avoid being put in that situation in the first place. Because even if I may be able to prevent myself from giving in, I would be a fool to count on that.

This view supports the idea that rape comes from a purely biological set of stimulus and response pairings with purely biological motivations and payoffs. It presents men as Pavlov's rapists. Rape prevention under this theory should focus exclusively on how not to ring men's bells.

If physical violation really came about because of irresistible stimulus then all those who salivate as they approach a restaurant would snatch the plate away from the nearest diner or they would have to be engaged in a heroic struggle not to do so. Taking other people's food would never come from a sense of entitlement or resentment.

The "don't blame the rapist because of evolution" mantra is a scienced-up excuse to live in denial of the ongoing and often brutal reality of rape and it pretends that there is no rational premeditation in sex crimes.

The rape as biological urge to gain offspring totally ignores the rape of young children, the rape of those who clearly can't get pregnant and it ignores rapist/murderers.

Rather than 6 degrees of separation from the reality of rape that many people try to keep because the topic is upsetting, this is a thousand degrees of separation from the reality of rape which is maintained even when rape is the topic of choice.

Detachment and objectivity are not the same thing. Detachment is not a virtue. It doesn't make a person smarter or more logical or more insightful.

For those who disagree and say detachment is superior, the best example I can give you is to talk about what happens when someone is detached from the physical pain of injury.

At it's most extreme, a genetic defect causes people to fail to protect their own bodies from injuries. Diabetics who lose pain-sensing nerves in their feet are more likely to ignore injuries to their feet and this can contribute to serious infections and can lead to amputations or even death if the infection is ignored long enough.

Pain and emotional reactions then are important protective mechanisms when they occur in proportion to the stimuli. If a parent cannot feel their child's pain, they won't know the difference between spanking and physical abuse which puts the child's life in danger until the child is dead or has been removed by child protective services. This is why many child development experts say that the safest option is for parents to never spank their children.

For the emotionally detached, it becomes possible to view rape as if it happens to the rapists as much as it happens to rape victims. Tab A simply went into Slot B with some difficulty.

This indicates a serious problem whether it comes from a man making excuses for rapists or whether it comes from a rape victim who maintains her disassociation to hold back overwhelming pain.

Since the definition of rape is nonconsensual sexual contact, the development of the brain and the development of interpersonal skills allowed humans to negotiate consensual sex. This ability to seek consent and to respect lack of consent is the more developed behavior.

That means that men who rape are proving themselves to be evolutionary failures if rape is indeed an evolutionary mechanism.

But is the evolutionary theory only about understanding rape and not about excusing rapists? Apparently, this is false at least according to Jason Dick.

Today blame is just a liability. It is an evolutionary adaptation, but one that just does not work well in modern society. Remember that the goal, on this topic, is to reduce rape. Stating that anybody is to blame, whether the rapist or the victim, places the issue in an emotional context that prevents us from thinking rationally.

I'm not surprised at all to see the claim that those who blame rapists for rape are thinking irrationally and that blame for rape is something to be avoided. The failure to have any emotional response to rape is deeply troubling -- possibly psychopathic. It is not a virtue. It does not help prevent rape.

Blame when assigned in proportion to the wrong done is not a liability at all. However, blame alone doesn't teach a boy or man how to behave ethically. Many men talk as if these interpersonal skills are something they should gain passively, but that shows a lack of commitment on their part. Getting in touch with emotions which have been shut off can be painful so it is easier to avoid doing so while searching for excuses for avoiding emotion.

If we believed that behaviors are evolutionary mechanisms simply because they provide some selfish benefit, then we should also call genocide an evolutionary mechanism where mass murderers are blameless. Yet 2 of those allegedly involved in Cambodia's Killing Fields were charged with crimes against humanity.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   0 comments links to this post


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