The Evolution Of Rape

A couple days ago, the Dish noted Jesse Bering's article on rape. PZ Myers pokes holes in Bering's thesis:

The story is that women have evolved specific adaptive responses to the threat of rape. In support of this conclusion, the author cites various studies that claim to show that ovulating women show stronger handgrip strength (the better to fight off men who want to assault their eggs with sperm), that ovulating women are more suspicious of men, that ovulating women are more likely to avoid risky behaviors, and that ovulating white women become more fearful of black men. I'm unimpressed.

All of the studies involve small numbers, typically of college students at American universities (and even more narrowly, of psychology students), and all involve responses to highly subjective stimuli. When you examine the literature cited in these papers, you discover that different investigators get different results the handgrip study even admits up front that there are conflicting results, with other papers finding no differences in performance across the menstrual cycle. None test anything to do with inheritance, none try (or even can) look at the genetic basis of the behaviors they are studying. Yet somehow evolutionary psychologists conclude that "women may have been selected during human evolution to behave in ways that reduce the likelihood of conception as a consequence of rape."