Re: Patriarchy: Re: What Matriarchy?

Bryant (
28 Jul 1996 20:32:38 -0600

In article <>,
Stephen Barnard <> wrote:
>I have a friend who spent some time among the Orangutans at the research
>center in (I think) Indonesia. He said that the males would try to rape
>the women in his group. This is hearsay, but I believe him.
> Steve Barnard

All it takes for this behavior to be species (and sex) typical is that
ancestral male Orangs with a proclivity to coerce sex passed on more of
their genes than males who were gentle about courtship.

That, in a nutshell, is what the Thornhills argued about human sexual
coercion: that it may be an evolutionary mating adaptation.

That this is a *possibility* worthy of researchers' attention seemed
evident to me and other students of evolutionary biology. It was less
evident to feminists and anthropologists, who attacked the theory (and
the Thornhills) on two fronts. Firstly, it was argued that finding an
evolutionary "purpose" (an adapted function) for a trait made that trait
"natural" and therefore "good" or acceptable. This, of course, is known
as the "naturalistic fallacy."

Secondly, those who attacked the evolutionary psychology approach to rape
pointed to the low frequency with which rape leads to pregnancy as
evidence that it's not a mating tactic. The relevant question is, did it
improve rapists' reproductive success over what it would be without
resorting to rape, in ancestral populations? That a tiny percentage of
mutually agreed upon copulations lead to pregnancy is not evidence that
copulation has nothing to do with reproduction, after all.