*Trigger warning: the content of this piece discusses rape and sexual assault, and may be disturbing to some readers.
“She was asking for it,” “she was wearing revealing clothes,” “she has a reputation of ‘sleeping around’” and “she had been drinking”. When discussing rape, statements such as these are referred to as victim blaming. Victim blaming justifies the rapist’s actions while placing blame on the victim. Rape is never the victims’ fault, but still, victim blaming, believe it or not, is extremely common, even in supposedly unbiased academic research.
While studying psychology at the university, one of the authors came across evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychology basically examines and attempts to explain human behavioral traits and their evolutionary adaptations; essentially that some traits survive because they are adaptive. While reading about evolutionary theories she was astounded by the unmasked and blatant women hatred that appeared so common in the field. For someone who aspired to have a career in the field of psychology this was a complete turn off. As we started discussing different theories of evolutionary psychology together we noticed that many of them came across as misogynist. For example, one scholar claimed that the sexualization of women in media is beneficial to advertising companies because evolutionary adaptations have shown that men prefer attractive women. Therefore advertisements in which women show a lot of skin and are very attractive, and influence men to buy products. The author of that specific piece even encouraged the sexualization of women in advertisements.
As bad as this sounds, we encountered even worse theories. One theory that really struck a nerve concerned rape and rape behavior. Rape is, according to some scholars of evolutionary psychology, an evolutionary adaptive trait that allows men to make sure that they reproduce, father offspring and carry on their genes. According to these scholars men have evolved a psychological response that predisposes them to the tendency to rape. These scholars believe that rape had reproductive benefits to ancestral males, which make rape an adaptive psychological mechanism which behavior is selected for. [Read more...]