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Does Evolution Explain Rape?
Randy Thornbill and Craig T.Palmer argue rape takes place with species of animals other than humans. They also argue men have evolved, through evolution men psychologically developed mechanisms enabling engagement in forced copulation, reflecting a “rare adaptation.” Conversely Susan Brownmiller defines rape as the male-female struggle demonstrated through physical power. Additionally Susan the crime of rape is not impulsive, irrational, uncontrollable lust, instead a violent act of possession and degradation. The two opposing sides of the argument will be analyzed below to include strengths and weaknesses of the two sides, author’s credibility, and current research supporting one of the arguments.
Facts and Opinions
Thornbill and Palmer use some facts to support their side of the argument. First, women evolved and select their mate for support of current or future offspring. Secondly, the choices of females in male counterparts cause men to understand sex is something of a barter tool for females. Finally, rape takes place with all species. Brownmiller factually argues men who do not rape benefit from separation of genders through hierarchy. In the hierarchy, men are on top. It is the opinion of Thornbill and Palmer argues rape is a sexual act. Men’s capacity for impersonal sex is greater than women’s capacity. Brownmiller’s opinion defines rape as the violation of freedom and intrusion of one’s body. Additionally her belief embraces prostitution as instutionalizing men’s belief of sex as a monetary right.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Thornbill and Palmer demonstrate strong points of their argument by using scientific data in which no determination resulted in studies proving a lack of sexual desire in the rapist. Further they state rapists are not equally motivated. Some rape out of fear of dying a virgin, other reasons include, sexual arousal, and biological phenomenon. They debate lack of research on the topic from Darwinian perspectives. Weaknesses occur when the two cannot agree on rape as a result of other sexual adaptations or an adaptation.
Brownmiller’s stance of rape as an act of force, defining women’s role in society as lower than men is strength. Another strong point concludes the symbolic nature of rape as a conquest of economics. Women, since the beginning of time have been objects of acquisition, or property. She loses a bit of respect when explaining a connection between rape, prostitution, and pornography. At this point she almost embraces the opposing ideas of rape as a sexual conquest.
Susan Brownmiller’s argument appears more credible. She uses researched information to support her opinions. Thornbill and Palmer twist research to support their argument. They support their argument by taking the researched conclusion and addressing what it does not cover.
Author’s Opinion
Lanel found this argument informative. She never considered rape as an aspect of evolution. Plausible points were made by those believing evolution contributed to acts of rape, with the inclusion of other species. Brownmiller’s point of view at times borderlines sexual discrimination. Her points portray women as helpless and bullied by men. Although, she defined reasons for the act of rape occurring and convinced the reader the situation a possibility, her manner of presentation places doubt in the reader. The article almost appears as a feminist point of view. When she describes men as desiring control over women and the reason they rape is to prove control ability, Lanel dismissed much of what Brownmiller discussed previously. The message may have been received differently with male delivery.
Current Research
Currently using the social interactionist approach and social learning theory, determinations conclude rape is used to punish and to enhance identity. Further, the man lacks inhibitions and is satisfied by the behavior. By committing the act, the man receives satisfaction of harming the victim, dominating the victim, and participation in sexual behavior. Determination has not been resolved as to which of the above are motivational and which are incidental outcomes (Felson, 1993). The perceived outcome is social influence, and justice. Using this model, one concludes biology and evolution do not contribute to rape.
Men rape for dominance and sexual satisfaction, current research proves. Prior knowledge concerning motivations for rape aside, one may consider the role of evolution in the act of rape. Women choose their mates for reproduction. Men are more powerful and dominate women. Both, sides agreed on that point. Brownmiller’s points were more believable due to research. In the end, current research agrees with Brownmiller as opposed to Thornbill and Palmer.

Felson, R. B. (1993). Motives for sexual coercion. In R. B. Felson, J. T. Tedeschi, R. B. Felson, J. T. Tedeschi (Eds.) , Aggression and violence: Social interactionist perspectives (pp. 233-253). American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/10123-010

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