Real Women Get Raped

Real_Men_Don__t_Rape_by_Kissing_ConcreteWhen I read in a news report that a court said that forceful sex on post-menopausal women is not rape, it was obvious to me that they were misinterpreting the judgment. When journalists hear something bizarre, they do not have the brains to know that they are probably misinterpreting what they heard. Now, it seems that the court said that consensual, rough sex is not necessarily rape. This is, it seems to me, a legitimate distinction.


“There is no reference to menopause anywhere else in the judgement, and it does seem like a complete outlier, with no real inference being taken from it. One could interpret the court’s assertion of it being simply a way of establishing age or health, but it shows no evidence to suggest that menopausal women are, say, more vulnerable to forceful sex or more likely to have gastric reactions thereafter. The rape law does feature different punishments for women who are pregnant, where menopause would be relevant, but that is a question of sentencing, not conviction.”

What has menopause got to do with this? Now, feminists often claim that rape has nothing to do with sexual desire and that we should not tell women how to dress because it is vulnerability that makes women susceptible to rape. But, is this true? If this is true, post-menopausal women would have been raped more often because they are very vulnerable, and physically weak. This doesn’t seem to be the case. Men rarely rape post-menopausal women. From the “The Natural History Of Rape”  by Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer:

“There is no question, however, that rapists primarily target females of fertile ages. This pattern is seen in every available set of data on female rape victimization. Thornhill and Thornhill (1983) tabulated all the major US data sets available at that time on female rape victim ages. They also commented on several additional but more limited data sets from other industrial societies. They concluded that young women are greatly overrepresented and that girls and older women are greatly underrepresented in the data on victims of rape. The authors cautioned that these data were based primarily on reported rapes and may thus have been biased. However, numerous later studies indicate that both reported and unreported rapes show the same age pattern. One national study of reported and unreported rape included a representative sample of women and older and found that percent of the victims (at the time of the rape) were of ages 11-29, only 6 percent were older, and 29 percent were below 11 (Kilpatrick et al. 1992). However, these data were not broken down by the nature of the rape (which was defined broadly to include any sexual penetration, by finger, object, or penis, of mouth, rectum, or vagina), nor were data collected on the proportion of the victims under 11 who were exhibiting secondary sex ual traits (e.g., estrogen-facilitated development of breasts, buttocks, and/or thighs). 

Men’s evolved sexual psychology is predicted to be more sexually motivated when the latter traits are present. Meeting this prediction, Studies in which data on the ages of female rape victims under 15 are broken down by year show increased rape victimization with increased age (Hursch 1977). The increasingly early age of menarche in Western females (Barber 1998) contributes to the enhanced sexual attractiveness of some females under 12. Also, the youngest rape victims are raped in proportion to their occurrence in the population: child (defined as under 12) rape victims comprised an estimated 16 percent of US rape victims in 1992, when females under 12 comprised 17 percent of the US female population (Langan and Harlow 1994). Another large study of reported and unreported rapes and other sexual assaults in a representative sample of US females 12 and older—the National Crime Victimization Survey Report Of data for 1993 (Perkins et al. 1996)—showed that population-based rates were highest in the age range 16-24 and next-highest in the range 12-15. Rates decreased in each higher age range after 24, and there were few cases in which the victim was older than 50. A similar study for 1994 (Perkins and Klaus 1996) revealed exactly the same pattern, and earlier National Crime Victimization Survey Reports show the same pattern. In analyses of data on attempted and completed rapes for the years 1973-1982, the ages of female rape victims ranged from 12 to 96, the median age was 21, and 92 percent of the victims were 40 or younger (Felson and Krohn 1990). The average age of female victims of robbery and rape (28) was significantly younger than the average age of female victims of robbery only (35)—that is, when the victim of a male robber was young, the robber was more likely to rape her As Greenfield (1997) found when he reviewed more than two dozen data sets maintained by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the same pattern—great overrepresentation of adolescent and young adult female victims—is seen in all available data sets involving only rapes reported to police or involving ages of victims of imprisoned sex offenders. Data on female rape victims’ ages during wars (across societies and over considerable time spans) also show that most were young. 

Rapes and other sexual assaults of males by males constitute only about 1-3 percent of sexual assaults, but data show that these sexual assaulters also prefer youthful features in their victims (Perkins et al. 1996). This pattern is likely to be a by-product of men’s evolved preference for young sex partners (Symons 1979; Quinsey et al.1993; Quinsey and Lalumiere 1995). 

We are not claiming that the available data on rape victims’ ages are perfect depictions of rapists’ sexual desires. (Presumably, rapists weigh benefits and costs and select victims accordingly, just as other people select from available options in sexual and non-sexual domains of life.) Nor are we claiming that the data are without bias. Rape probably remains significantly underreported, even in surveys that strive to obtain the highest degree of accuracy.1S There is some evidence that young women, relative to post-reproductive-age women, are more likely to desire to keep a rape secret (Thornhill and Thornhill 1990a). Thus, it may be that young women’s rapes are most subject to underreporting and hence even more disproportionately frequent than the studies based on reported rapes suggest. And false accusations (Kanin 1994) may bias the data on purported rape victimization if such accusations are a function of age. Despite these concerns, however, we are safe in concluding that young adult females are vastly overrepresented and that female children and post-reproductive-age females are greatly underrepresented in the population of rape victims. This pattern has been shown so many times, across so many settings, by so many methods, that it is established beyond any reasonable doubt.”

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