Rob Quinlan (C611417@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU)
Mon, 16 Jan 1995 13:01:38 CST

There's a statistic that I've heard that one in four women in this
country has been raped. This means there must be a lot of men committing
rape or that some men are doing it multiple times. Either way, before
effective birth control this would have resulted in a lot of pregnancies.
Now, I agree that rape is an act of dominance and a sexual act. Lieber
seems to suggest that it must be one or the other. Pinsker is a little
more realistic about it and admits that sexual arousal has a part to play.
Lieber's stance is essentially polemic coming down on the "nurture" side
of the "nature-nurture" dichotomy. This dichotomy is a Western cultural
construct that has little analytical value and may impede understanding.
Here we need to look at the interaction of culture and biology. Lieber
is amused by Symons hypothesis -- that's strange. Here is a datum lending
some support. Preusse (1993 [I think] _Behavior & Brain Sciences_ v.?)
found that high SES males get significantly more copulations than do
low SES males. Where does this leave the extremely low SES males? Desperate.

As for the symbolism of rape Whitehead says I'm niave. I agree and would
add that I'm ignorant of symbolism (perhaps even symbolically impaired).
I don't see symbolism in very much except obvious cases. The Shavante
Wai ritual and maybe biker gang rapes have obvious symbolism about male
dominance and perhaps even group unity or cohesion. Beyond those the
symbolic nature of the act of rape blurrs.

Rape is an act of dominance and it may well reflect societal notions of
the asymmetry of male and female statuses. But, more than a symbolic act
of dominance, it is a *real* act of dominance. That the act is
communicative is probably ancillary to the motives of the rapist who is
seeking a copulation. Lieber and Spear say that the data are clear that
it's motivated by power and the desire to dehumanized the victim. Well,
let's hear about these data so we can assess their quality. I've
admitted that I don't have any data so I don't have that rhetorical
ploy to hide behind. All we need is a couple of examples.

The burning question here is why dominate women? A Darwinian perspective
suggests that dominance is employed to control access to reproductive
resources. What does the symbolic approach suggest about the purpose of
domination? Is it for fun or self gratification?

Finally, here's a suggestion. A culture provides the excuse for rape
("women are inferior to men") and sometimes an evolved psyche provides the
motivation ("get copulations"). Many men do not commit rape because
there are fairly high costs to the act (loss of status, prison, etc) and
because they come from family cultures (culture being shared knowledge
and environment) where the asymmetry of men and women is diminished -- not
to mention a host of sexual notions about the propriety of certain acts.
This suggests that in cultures which holds that the sexes are equal, there
is less rape. Does anyone know of reports of rape in foraging societies?

Rob Quinlan