Sexual Factors That May Affect Research Paper

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For instance, according to Begley, "Men who were promiscuous back then were more evolutionarily fit since men who spread their seed widely left more descendants. By similar logic, evolutionary psychologists argued, women who were monogamous were fitter; by being choosy about their mates and picking only those with good genes, they could have healthier children" (2009, p. 52). Although modern men and women may not look like Cro-Magnums, they all want to act like them deep down inside because of these primordial drives. In sum, Begley concludes that, "We all carry genes that led to reproductive success in the Stone Age, and that as a result men are genetically driven to be promiscuous and women to be coy, that men have a biological disposition to rape and to kill mates who cheat on them, and that every human behavior is 'adaptive' -- that is, helpful to reproduction" (emphasis added) (p. 52).

This argument does make sense in many ways. After all, the argument goes, alpha males in other animal species routinely kill young offspring and even induce abortions in pregnant females in order to maximize their reproductive opportunities, and it is reasonable to postulate that the act of rape can be viewed in this context, even among purportedly "modern men." For example, Alfred Kinsey's seminal work in sex research explicated in Sexual Behavior in the Human Female found that "sexual behaviors that were considered rare and deviant in the 1950s were actually quite common" (Duke, 2009, p. 34). Citing a wide range of "deviant" sexual behaviors that were regarded as rare at the time, McKinsey concluded that, "Sexual promiscuity was normal, that children are sexual from birth and that rape is one of the most 'forgettable' crimes" (Duke, 2009, p. 34).

Likewise, Sanday (2007) suggests that the act of rape must be viewed in light of contemporary social practices as well as these innate biological drives that somehow compel even "normal men" to engage in abnormal acts. According to Sanday, "Anthropologists argue that while the capacity for sexual pleasure may be constitutional, human sexual behavior is rather a sociological and cultural force than a mere bodily relation of two individuals. This means that human sexuality sits precariously on the divide between individualized sensations and culturalized meanings, making it both preeminently social as well as physiological" (2007, p. 11). In other words, rape is a relative and temporally fluid concept that can change over time and from time to time. In this regard, Sanday suggests that the concept of "sexual culture" can help discern how criminal acts such as rape are viewed at a given point in time: "As sexuality straddles two worlds -- the biological and the social -- the major question for research concerns the social purposes served by types of sexual behavior. This question is answered by introducing the concept "sexual culture" (2007, p. 11).

Consequently, the act of rape involves a wide range of sociocultural as well as temporal factors that affect how it is perceived. In societies where rape is regarded as "normal," it is reasonable to expect higher rates of rape. Conversely, in societies where there are severe penalties associated with the act of rape, it is reasonable to suggest that rapes would be less commonplace, making this analysis dependent on time and place. In this regard, Sanday emphasizes that, "Because human sexual behavior is a sociological and cultural force guided by public sexual cultures -- such as reflected in pornography, the media, and religious education -- we must begin by examining popular, historically-based models for human sexual expression" (2007, p. 11).

In order to understand how rape is viewed at a given point in time, then, requires an investigation of the larger social context in which it takes place, including the perspectives of the women who are involved who may have simply been looking for a mate. As Sanday points out, "Understanding how sexual behavior has been conceived at various times in our history uncovers trends that promote female sexual choice in some contexts and deter it in others" (2007, p. 11). The determent of rape based on criminal sanctions is one thing, especially in countries where the resources exist to enforce the laws, but some authorities argue that rape is just part of the human condition because man is part of the animal kingdom. For instance, Harlow (2010) points out that, "A range of evidence establishes that virtually all of the acts considered 'sinful' in humans are part of the natural repertoire of behavior among animals -- especially primates, but also birds, insects, and other species -- behaviors including deception, bullying, theft, rape, murder, infanticide, and warfare, to name but a few" (p. 179).

Despite the "naturalness" of the act, rape is a crime in most countries. According to Black's Law Dictionary (1991) rape is the "unlawful sexual intercourse with a female without her consent; the unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman by a man forcefully and against her will" (p. 1260). Although Black's definition for marital rights includes "society" and "comfort," it does not specifically stipulate that there is a legal right to sexual intercourse within the marital relationship. Nevertheless, married men around the world in developing and developed nations alike have largely enjoyed the right to unrestricted sexual relations with their wives based on longstanding traditions related to religious views or social practices. Many women, single and married, of course, have different views about this issue. In this regard, Auster and Leone (2001) report that, "Human rights activists and women's rights advocates have fought to change U.S. legislation prohibiting a wife from pressing criminal charges against her husband for marital rape. As of 1993, marital rape became a crime in all fifty states, in at least one section of the sexual offense codes, usually regarding force" (p. 141). In spite of these reforms, there remain some exemptions for husbands from prosecution for rape in 32 states, and some states consider marital rape to be a lesser crime compared to nonmarital rape or rape by a previously unknown assailant (Auster & Leone, 2001). On a positive note, increased awareness and attention from lawmakers suggests that the penalties for marital rape may be enhanced in the future (Auster & Leone, 2001). For instance, these authorities add that, "Nevertheless, greater public awareness of such issues as domestic violence, child abuse, and incest has led to increased attention to family violence in general, and, more recently, some social scientists have become attentive to the issue of marital rape" (Auster & Leone, 2001, p. 141).

These advances, though, have been constrained by the nature of the rape act itself. In this regard, Lukima (2011) emphasizes that, "Sexual violence is a crime of secrecy and silence, and it often invokes denial. Rape, a form of sexual violence, is a devastating and often violent crime" (p. 48). Likewise, Goode (2008) argues that the act of rape is a criminal act by definition since it involves violence which is illegal under existing laws as well as others specifically related to the act of penetration by force. According to Goode (2008), the violent act of rape not only satisfies the strict criteria for a crime, the crime itself is far more horrendous than this definition indicates because of the enormous effect it has on its victims. In this regard Goode emphasizes that, "The reality of rape can be an ultimate submission out of fear, terror, or the inability to demonstrate nonconsent (because of drugs, alcohol, or mental or physical disability), but rape occurs in the absence of consent, not in the absence of dating (Goode, 2008, p. 137).

As noted above, although precise numbers are lacking, a study reported by Goode (2008) involving 6,100 students on 32 college campuses concerning whether they had experienced or committed unwanted sexual intercourse or other sexual victimization (anal or oral intercourse or penetration by objects where physical force or alcohol or drugs were used) determined that 15% of the women reported being raped and another 12% had experienced an attempted rape since they were age 14 years, a rate that the researchers estimated might be as high as 25% for all women (Goode, 2008). Confirming previous studies, the study also determined that an overwhelming majority (84%) of rape victims knew their attacker and that in more than half (57%) of these cases, the attacker was a date. More recently, Fisher et al. (2000) surveyed a national random sample of 4,446 college women with detailed questions about their sexual victimization experiences and determined that almost 5% of college women are sexually victimized every year on American college campuses. Furthermore, an alarming percentage of these rapes involved more than one attacker (Goode, 2008). Some other indications of current rape levels can be discerned from Glassman, Miller, Maureen et al. (2012) who report, "In 2005, an estimated 599,000 college students experienced injuries due to their drinking, 696,000 were assaulted, and 97,000 were victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape" (p. 203). In…

Sources Used in Document:


Begley, S. (2009, June 29). Why do we rape, kill and sleep around? Newsweek, 153(26), 52.

Black's law dictionary. (1991). St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Co.

Druzin, B.H. & Li, J.C. (2011, Spring). The criminalization of lying: Under what circumstances, if any, should lies be made criminal? Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 101(2), 529-540.

Duke, S. (2009, April 27). Kinsey: Deviancy is the new normal. The New American, 25(9), 33-35.

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