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The authors base their argument partly on statistics showing that in the United States, most rape victims are of childbearing age. But disturbingly large numbers of rapes of children, elderly women, and other men are never adequately explained. And the actual reproductive success of rape is not clear. Thornhill and Palmer's biological interpretation is just that--an interpretation, one that won't withstand tough scientific scrutiny. They further claim that the mental trauma of rape is greater for women of childbearing age (especially married women) than it is for elderly women or children. The data supporting these assertions come from a single psychological study, done by Thornhill in the 1970s, that mixes first-person interviews with caretaker's interpretations of children's reactions.
While Thornhill and Palmer claim that they are trying to look objectively at the root causes of rape, they focus almost entirely on data that support their thesis, forcing them to write an evolutionary "just-so" story. The central problem is evident in this quote, from the chapter "The Pain and Anguish of Rape":
We feel that the woman's perspective on rape can be best understood by considering the negative influences of rape on female reproductive success.... It is also highly possible that selection favored the outward manifestations of psychological pain because it communicated the female's strong negative attitude about the rapist to her husband and/or her relatives.
Women are disturbed by rape mostly because they are worried about what their husbands might think? In statements like this, the authors repeatedly discount the psychological aspects of rape, such as fear, humiliation, loss of autonomy, and powerlessness, and focus solely on personal shame.
A Natural History of Rape will no doubt have people talking about rape and its causes, and perhaps thinking about real ways of preventing it. In fact, the authors suggest that all young men be educated frankly about their (theoretical) genetic desire to rape. And it reopens the debate about the role of sex in rape. But without more and better data supporting their conclusions, Thornhill and Palmer are doing the very thing they criticize feminists and social scientists of doing: just talking. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Despite the grisly subject, his book was a quick and outstanding read. Thornhill and Palmer reveal why current rape/sexual assault prevention strategies haven't and won't succeed... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Ben
This is an excellent book that sets out the causes of rape in clear and easy to understand terms. If it wasn't for the fact that it goes against the mainstream neo-feminist... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Kane Starling
This book is exactly what I expected. Nature is not moral. If you seek an explanation for why rape is natural, you will probably enjoy this a lot. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Clay Emerton
Many, if not a majority, of the reviewers who give this book poor reviews are women, and most negative reviews are written by folks that seem to think this book attempts to justify... Read morePublished on December 15, 2012 by M-Stew
My PhD dissertation is on the subject of rape and how it's understood in social, medical, legal, and governmental contexts. Read morePublished on August 19, 2012 by RhetoricPhD
This is one of the best books I've ever read. It thoroughly debunks the grotesque lies of feminism regarding rank-and-file males. Read morePublished on April 27, 2011 by Bernard Chapin
The authors use bad science to promote violence. I feel sorry for the wives, mothers, daughters and female colleagues of Thornhill and Palmer. Read morePublished on May 24, 2010 by Karl
If this book is true, and that rape is caused by biology, then wouldn't the only way to make this world a safer place be keeping a sperm bank and emancipate all men? Read morePublished on March 11, 2010 by K. Chu