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Evolution, Gender, and Rape Paperback – January 17, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Leading a group of determined scholars, Travis-professor of psychology and chair of women's studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville-conducts a comprehensive refutation of A Natural History of Rape by biologist Randy Thornhill and anthropologist Craig T. Palmer (2000), which proposed that men are biologically predisposed to raping women because (in our evolutionary past) the act supposedly increased men's chances of reproducing. Contributors to this book regard the duo as evolutionary psychologists who practice unsound, narrow-minded science. The critiques aimed at Thornhill and Palmer include their dismissal of feminist arguments that rape has as much to do with dominance as it does with sex, their refusal to seriously account for sociocultural factors that affect rape rates, their use of data on scorpion-fly mating as correlational to human behavior and their lack of data comparing the reproductive success of rapists to nonrapists. Some of the thinkers offer compelling alternatives. One research team offers the theory that forces in family structures, school, work and the individual interconnect to shape rape's incidence. Most of the contributors write for fellow academics, though "Of Vice and Men: A Case Study of Evolutionary Psychology" is accessible, and "What Is `Rape'?: Toward a Historical, Ethnographic Approach" shows in clear language how biases can shape scientific observation. Even evolutionary straw mama "Primeval Pru" makes an appearance, with her perennial dilemma over choosing a suitable mate. Though the book is separated into 17 distinct sections, there's plenty of overlap in contributors' critiques, which highlights the collection's message that rape is a phenomenon that requires an interdisciplinary approach. Yet while contributors argue that media coverage of A Natural History exploited the public's desire for easy answers to abhorrent social behavior, too much of their own prose here is intimidating and unwieldy.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"I would not have anticipated that anything good could come from the notorious recent attempts by so-called evolutionary psychology to understand human rape. But perhaps every cloud does have a silver lining. This book not only says exactly what is wrong with the crudely biological approach to rape, but also provides a wealth of real information about rape, evolution, and a good deal else besides. If you prefer complex insights to sound bites, this is a book you will want to read."--John Dupre, Director, ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society, University of Exeter



?A comprehensive refutation of A Natural History of Rape.? Publisher's Weekly



"A comprehensive refutation of A Natural History of Rape." Publisher's Weekly



"A valuable resource for anyone who is wrestling with concerns about gender dynamics, sexual aggresion, or evolutionary psychology." Joanna L. Bettmann Psychiatric Services

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 472 pages
  • Publisher: A Bradford Book (January 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262700905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262700900
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,946,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Hello on January 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book sets out undermine the argument laid out in A Natural History of Rape by Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer that the act of a male raping a female in our pre-human past may have been a successful enough strategy to impregnate an unwilling female and reproduce under certain circumstances that worked well enough to have become a behavioral option that modern humans still inherit. Hence rape remains a terrible problem in human communities that we must continue working to prevent. I read three of the essays in Evolution, Gender and Rape before giving the book a rest. It seems the intent of the contributors to this book is to show their utter contempt for Thornhill and Palmer. It has serious problems in that the three essays I read completely misrepresented Thornhill and Palmer. The last essay by Sue Rosser "Coming Full Circle: Refuting Biological Determinism" is just a nasty attempt to lump Thornhill and Palmer with the worst of males who would look to justify a view that men are superior to women and that white men think they are superior to all races. A Natural History of Rape says nothing of the sort but you would never know from reading Evolution, Gender and Rape. Did Rosser even read Thornhill and Palmer? She just seems to hate all efforts that even suggest that many aspects of human behavior are due to a biological disposition. She mistakenly thinks that evolutionary psychologists are claiming that ALL behavior is predetermined and that the social environment accounts for nothing. This is very far from Thornhill and Palmer's position. I can understand wanting to challenge a theory or proposing an alternative, but the tone of what I managed to read before I was too disgusted to continue showed no interest in a dialogue or furthering our understanding of evolution. Perhaps I'll get to read through the other essays in the future but the three I happened to start out with put a real damper on my enthusiasm.
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4 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Martin Ahouse on October 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
Just read the essay of J. Coyne included in this book. It is the best rebuttal of the seudoscience in sociobiological books like "A natural history of rape". And nobody can deny Coyne a deep knowledge of biology and evolution. There is much to think about the 'mumbo-jumbo' in present day biology, even in highly SCI rated journals.
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13 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Nom de plume on June 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
It is very common for males of other animal species to rape females. Mating involves little investment on the part of the male and much investment on the part of the female. As a result, males will attempt to mate much more often than females. It is a question of economics. No amount of shouting from the proactively empowered left can change the results of one billion years of contest between males and females.
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