The evolution of rape: The fitness benefits and costs of a forced-sex mating strategy in an evolutionary context

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Abstract

Past theorizing on the evolution of rape adduced the hypothesis that this act constitutes the behavioral expression of a mechanism which has evolved to enable men of low mate value to circumvent female choice. This has recently been questioned on the grounds that during human evolution, women's mate choices were controlled by their parents. It, therefore, remains unclear which were the evolutionary forces likely to have shaped this mechanism and whether such a mechanism exists in the first place. Accordingly, this paper employs anthropological and historical evidence in an attempt to reconstruct the evolutionary context in which a forced-sex mating strategy emerged. On the basis of this evidence, it is argued that forced sex is the outcome of an innate conditional strategy which enables men to circumvent parental and female choice when they experience a competitive disadvantage, or when the costs of doing so are low. The implications of the operation of this mechanism during human evolution are further explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-490
Number of pages7
JournalAggression and Violent Behavior
Volume18
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

Keywords

  • Anti-rape mechanisms
  • Female choice
  • Forced-sex mating strategy
  • Parental choice
  • Rape

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