Jane's Reviews > A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion

A Natural History of Rape by Randy Thornhill
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's review
Sep 12, 2007

did not like it
bookshelves: non-fiction, utter-crap
Read in January, 2002

In their repeated attempt to rationalize and justify rape, Thornhill and Palmer spend the whole book trying to tell you that they are not trying to rationalize or justify rape. I read this and shook my head in anger the whole time.

I thought maybe I would get some insight into one of the most terrifying experiences anyone can have. I thought perhaps I'd hear another side of the story, one that we don't hear very often. I was disappointed.

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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Ianw19 I haven't read the book, but I'm a little confused by your review. If the authors spent the whole book trying to tell you that they are not trying to rationalize or justify rape, then why do you think that the authors are trying to rationalize and justify rape? Can you honestly not think of any other reason why they might try to explain rape in evolutionary terms?

message 2: by Maya (new)

Maya @Ianw19 If you read countless other reviews of this book (some of which appear in peer-reviewed scientific journals, written by actual sexologists, sociologists, and psychologists rather than the authors of this book who are a biologist and an anthropologist) you can find more specific reasons why someone would say that this book rationalizes and justifies rape.
Some reasons include the fact that their main thesis centers around the idea that rape is an evolutionary human adaptation. That sounds quite a bit like justification and rationalization....

Although I personally am fascinated by an evolutionary approach to psychology and biology in general, the well-cited reviews I have read (written by professionals in the actual field of human sexual behavior) make me believe that this book's assertions are based on personal ideologies of the authors, and backed up by inaccurate data and the mere prediction of future empirical results rather than data from studies that exist on this topic.

message 3: by William (new) - added it

William Wenge-Murphy "rationalize and justify". Whoa, whoa, check your Naturalistic Fallacy. It is you who is inserting the assumption that "natural=good, so a biological explanation is a rationalization"

Explanation of a phenomena is not justification any more than saying that gravity caused someone to fall to their death "justifies" or demeans the tragedy.

message 4: by Maya (new)

Maya I don't think that this book does a good job of scientifically / biologically explaining the phenomena of sexual violence and rape in our cultures and our world. Period.

So, the "rationalization and justification" I think is more easily seen when looking at the biases and perspectives that clearly got in the way during the writing of this book, and prevented it from being a scientifically-sound, comprehensive explanation of rape.

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