Pain, Pleasure And The New Culture Of Small Bits

The year was 2004, and we used to wait for someone to write in our Orkut scrapbooks. Broadband connections were nowhere nearly as fast as it is today, but we refreshed our scrapbooks every few minutes.  The arrival of each scrapbook entry made us happy. It’s easy to call us losers, but social networking websites met a fundamental human need. There was a time when I used to wake up at 6 to log into my Yahoo mail account. My internet connection was too slow that I couldn’t read mails before 8.  But when I could, I felt happy.

I spent many hours every day in Yahoo chat rooms. The boys in my hostel found this a waste of time. But I was instantly a hit with chicks. I metamorphosed into an online Casanova. Jocks in my college were worried. They said I was cheating. The plain truth is that I wrote well. Always on the lookout for great genes, teen girls didn’t miss this. Nerd is the new man. I felt pleasure when I was flooded with offline messages when I logged into Yahoo Messenger after many days. When I did not see enough of them, I was sad. Such pleasures and disappointments are what the internet and social media are all about. It is easy to call all this trivial. But this is big deal, because social media is our culture. For a nerd, the cost of sending out an instant message isn’t much, when compared to walking up to someone. Through small chunks of text I sent out and took in, I was creating a whole world inside my mind. My understanding of human nature became deeper over a long time.  Continue reading “Pain, Pleasure And The New Culture Of Small Bits”

Why Do I Find It So Difficult To Understand Sarcasm?

She wanted to name our baby “Sachin”. I believed her.

When I was in college, a 16 year old girl promised to marry me. She wanted to name our baby “Sachin”. I believed her.

When a policeman once asked me whether I’d like to get my passport on time, I smiled with gratitude and slammed the door on his face.

When I once read, “Ron Paul is a gynecologist, and he is self-taught.”, I did not understand why this evoked laughter in an audience. I still do not.

I’ve always had a tenuous understanding of sarcasm and double-speak. I take words literally. When I was a child, it took me many years to understand hidden insults. 

I’ve never had it any other way. I was not sarcastic as a child. I was too innocent to understand the art of insinuation. When a teacher was sarcastic to me at 9, I understood her only a year later. When I fully understood her, I felt numb, as if I were struck by lightning. I stood still, staring at my coconut tree. It was too late, because I’d left that city and moved into another school. There was nothing much I could do about this. This was deeply unsettling. Continue reading “Why Do I Find It So Difficult To Understand Sarcasm?”

How Demonetization Changed My Life

Do you write as well?

It was November. Shorts were fading rapidly out of the streets. Many girls queued to the ATM machines near my home in night clothes around midnight, their t-shirts knotted at their waist. Aren’t their parents home? I don’t read newspapers, and I don’t watch TV. The bright fellows I follow on Twitter and Facebook don’t like news either.  So, I didn’t know what was coming. I slept for many hours without knowing that those clever girls were trying to get cash before the news got through to everybody.

There are always enough such girls to go around in Noida. My landlady’s niece is one of them. When I first met her, she was sitting on the bed, pouting and sulking, complaining about some ridiculous thing. My landlady and her mother tried to calm her down, but that didn’t have any effect on her. I, the scholar and gentleman, was at my desk, poring over tomes on economics of culture. It was not that I did not see her, but my mind wasn’t there. When her mother said that it was time for them to go, she snapped straight and scratched her back, raising her top. She then turned  around  and  smiled  at  me,  her  eyes  twinkling.  I  raised  my eyebrows, glanced at her and smiled. “Bye”. Continue reading “How Demonetization Changed My Life”

The World Is What It Is: We Are What We Are

My favorite Naipaul story has sexist undertones. My mother doesn’t like me arguing when my father is driving. This is not because that’d distract him. She just doesn’t like it. She usually changes the subject or turn silent when I argue. Or she looks here and there. When I ask why, she wouldn’t answer, or say that she knows I’m wrong. Women hate arguments. Usually, when their husbands debate me on some abstract topic, women ask them to stop. They won’t say this, but they see debates as a sign of conflict. It took me so many years to see this. Continue reading “The World Is What It Is: We Are What We Are”

Steve Jobs And The Nature-Nurture Debate

a-young-steve-jobs-smelled-so-bad-he-had-to-be-put-on-the-night-shift-at-atariMany years ago, I dropped out of college. People have often asked me whether I felt fear when I dropped out of engineering college. But, people are cowards. They do not understand college dropouts. The night I decided to drop out, I paced on the terrace of the college hostel, throwing stones, watching their trajectories. I felt exhilaration and a great sense of relief. Then onward, I had all the time in the world to read whatever I wanted to read.  Everything I did since then—and before—was rooted in my absolute confidence in creating a world of sublime beauty and tenderness by pressing my fingers on the keyboard.  

In the years I spent there, I cut myself off from the outside world to read the tall pile of books in my otherwise Spartan wooden room. My hostel mates called it “The Eiffel Tower”. All they could hear was me shutting the door loudly behind their backs. So, they often loosened the screws of my room to see what went on inside my room. Each time they did, I filled those holes with my large collection of ancient pens and pencils. Once, they did not allow me to sleep till 2 past midnight because they wanted to know what was in my briefcase. It was a battle I won.

In one of those days, I read a speech by Steve Jobs on dropping out of college. It was beautifully written. If Steve Jobs were not a visionary leader, he would have been one of the greatest writers of our times and of all times. The impulse that drives men like Steve Jobs to lose everything for their beliefs is the same that drives me to burn inhuman energy to create a work of unparalleled beauty. Over years, I read his speech many times because what kept me going was that I loved to write. Nothing else mattered much to me. Years later, when I was working in a run-down building in Safdarjung, I wept reading a beautifully written eulogy. It was the most beautiful tribute written when Steve Jobs died. It was written by Steve Jobs’ sister Mona Simpson, a successful novelist who was unaware of his existence for the first 25 years of her life. Mona Simpson’s husband is a writer for The Simpsons.

Similarities do not end there. Steve Jobs’ biological father ran a popular Mediterranean restaurant in Silicon Valley. Once Steve Jobs’ biological father told Mona Simpson without knowing that Steve Jobs was his own son: “Even Steve Jobs used to eat there. Yeah, he was a great tipper.” Steve Jobs called his biological parents his egg and sperm bank. But, it was his egg and sperm bank that shaped him, and not the working class parents who raised him.

When Steve Jobs’ high school sweetheart visited his home for the first time, she wondered “how these hardworking, blue-collar parents, these people with common sense but so few books, gave him the space to be completely otherworldly. To be extraordinary, in fact.” But, Steve Jobs’ biological father was a PhD in Economics and Political Science. He was his mother’s teaching assistant when she was a doctoral candidate. Steve Jobs was born when his father was 23. When Steve Jobs was young, his girl friend gave birth to a child he was not willing to raise. He was then 23 years old. Jobs’ biological parents wanted him to be adopted by a wealthier couple that rejected him at the final moment because they wanted a baby girl, and not a baby boy. So much for the belief that parents prefer baby boys. Anyone who has read enough about gender knows that parents prefer to adopt baby girls.

Is Steve Jobs’ case exceptional? No. As Bryan Caplan points out:

“In early 1979, a pair of identical twin brothers who had been separated at four weeks were reunited after 39 years. Both named Jim, they discovered that they smoked the same brand of cigarettes, vacationed in the same town and both called their dog “Toy.” Struck by the story, psychologists at the University of Minnesota started studying separated twins that same year. Their efforts blossomed into the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart, which ran for a quarter century, attracting world-wide fascination and antipathy.  The Minnesota researchers tracked down every pair they could find—and measured traits related to almost every aspect of life: health, cognition, personality, happiness, career, creativity, politics, religion, sex and much more. The Minnesota study reveals genetic effects on virtually every trait. The breakdown between nature, nurture and everything else varies from trait to trait. But Ms. Segal emphasizes the uniformity of the results—the consistent power of genes, the limited influence of parenting. Some findings go down easy: As most would expect, identical twins raised apart have virtually identical heights as adults. Some findings seem obvious after the fact: Genes, but not upbringing, have a pretty big effect on personality traits like ambition, optimism, aggression and traditionalism. Other findings perennially cause outrage: The IQs of separated identical twins are almost as similar as their heights. Critics of intelligence research often hail the importance of practice rather than inborn talent, but a three-day test of the Minnesota twins’ motor skills showed that how much you benefit from practice is itself partly an inborn talent.”

Nabokov’s Little Girl

I really love Nabokov ‘s description of a 12 year old girl. Nabokov claims that he did not know any such girl when he wrote “Lolita”. I do not know how great writers do it:
“We washed zillions of dishes. ‘Zillions’ you know is schoolmarm’s slang for many-many-many-many. Oh yes, last but not least, as Mother says — Now let me see — what was it? I know we made shadow-graphs. Gee, what fun.”?

I don’t read much, but I have read the Harry Potter series a zillion times.

From Krishnapriya’s Orkut Profile:

Favorite Writers: Marquez

Enjoyed, but not appreciated: Mario Puzo, Ayn Rand.

Paulo Coehlo is great.

And I love Dan Brown. Why? Dan Brown is cool, and he knows the stuff.


“You know, I missed you terribly, Lo.”

“I did not. Fact I’ve been revoltingly unfaithful to you, but it does not matter one bit, because you’ve stopped caring for me, anyway. You drive much faster than my mummy, mister.”

“The word is incest,”said Lo—and walked into the closet, walked out again with a young golden giggle, opened the adjoining door, and after carefully peering inside with her strange smoky eyes lest she make another mistake, retired to the bathroom.

Gail Wynand, My Favorite Fictional Character

“Gail Wynand lived with his father in the basement of an old house in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. His father was a longshoreman, a tall, silent, illiterate man who had never gone to school. His own father and his grandfather were of the same kind, and they knew of nothing but poverty in their family. But somewhere far back in the line there had been a root of aristocracy, the glory of some noble ancestor and then some tragedy, long since forgotten, that had brought the descendants to the gutter. Something about all the Wynands–in tenement, saloon and jail–did not fit their surroundings. Gail’s father was known on the waterfront as the Duke. 

Gail’s mother had died of consumption when he was two years old. He was an only son. He knew vaguely that there had been some great drama in his father’s marriage; he had seen a picture of his mother; she did not look and she was not dressed like the women of their neighborhood; she was very beautiful. All life had gone out of his father when she died. He loved Gail; but it was the kind of devotion that did not require two sentences a week. 

Gail did not look like his mother or father. He was a throwback to something no one could quite figure out; the distance had to be reckoned, not in generations, but in centuries. He was always too tall for his age, and too thin. The boys called him Stretch Wynand. Nobody knew what he used for muscles; they knew only that he used it. 

He had worked at one job after another since early childhood. For a long while he sold newspapers on street corners. One day he walked up to the pressroom boss and stated that they should start a new service–delivering the paper to the reader’s door in the morning; he explained how and why it would boost circulation. “Yeah?” said the boss. “I know it will work,” said Wynand. “Well, you don’t run things around here,” said the boss. “You’re a fool,” said Wynand.

He lost the job.  Continue reading “Gail Wynand, My Favorite Fictional Character”

Happy Women’s Day, People

Oh, Happy Women’s Day. But, sorry. It is not true that women are more oppressed in any society—or that they were, at any point in time. It is just that women’s suffering is taken more seriously. These two books are good places to begin:

“I think one unfortunate legacy of feminism has been the idea that men and women are basically enemies. I shall suggest, instead, that most often men and women have been partners, supporting each other rather than exploiting or manipulating each other. Nor is this about trying to argue that men should be regarded as victims. I detest the whole idea of competing to be victims. And I’m certainly not denying that culture has exploited women. But rather than seeing culture as patriarchy, which is to say a conspiracy by men to exploit women, I think it’s more accurate to understand culture (e.g., a country, a religion) as an abstract system that competes against rival systems — and that uses both men and women, often in different ways, to advance its cause.”

Roy F Baumeister, Is There Anything Good About Men?

“Sexism negatively affects not only women and girls, but also men and boys. While the former manifestation of sexism is widely acknowledged, few people recognize or take seriously the fact that males are the primary victims of many and quite serious forms of sex discrimination. Male disadvantages include the absence of immunity, typically enjoyed by females, from conscription into military service. Men, unlike women, are not only conscripted but also sent into combat, where they risk injury, both physical and psychological, and death. Men are also disproportionately the victims of violence in most (but not all) non-combat contexts. For example, most victims of violent crime are male, and men are often (but again not always) specially targeted for mass killing. Males are more likely than females to be subject to corporal punishment. Indeed, sometimes such punishment of females is prohibited, while it is permitted, if not encouraged, for males. Although males are less often victims of sexual assault than are females, the sexual assault of males is typically taken less? ?seriously and is thus even more? ?significantly under-reported. Fathers are less likely than mothers to win custody of their children in the event of divorce.?”?

David Benatar, The Second Sexism


False Rape Accusations

alia_bhatt_4_0There were many news stories on women making false rape accusations against men, in the recent past. When this happens, most people assume that this might be rare. Why would a woman do this? Of course, in offices, what happens often can at best be expressed along these lines: The office harlot’s attempt to nail a man, again, fell flat. Then all the contemptible mediocrities that were hiding behind the rocks for long, seething with resentment, came crawling out to ruin the superior man—to get closure.

Many columnists have pointed out that it is unfair to shift the burden of the proof to the accused, in a rape case. But, how would we know whether there should be a strong presumption in favor of the “victim” or not? Find out how common false accusations are. That seems to be the only way there is. A typical scenario:

“The ‘Rohtak Sisters’  is a curious case which started with a video upload showing the two sisters beating eve-teasers in a public transport bus. Hyped by the media, these sisters were hailed as brave hearts who fought back against sexual abuse. Haryana Government even announced that the girls will be honored on the occasion of Republic Day. Few days later a second video was released which showed these sisters beating another guy in Public Park for not so clear reasons. And then local witnesses started giving statements against these sisters blaming them of occasionally harassing and falsely accusing men of sexual abuse.”

Deepika Narayan Bharadwaj tries to find out the truth here.

Now, contra feminist dogma, evolutionary psychologists have always known that a man being victimized by rumors, gossip and ostracism, and manipulation of public opinion is very common. It is fashionable to say that there “ought to be” a change in the attitude of sexist Indian men. But then, how would we define primitivism? A primitive man rejects facts without giving it the fair hearing it deserves. The feminists are guilty here, not the lone, sane voices.

From A Natural History Of Rape:

“Women have evolved to compete for limited resources and mates not so much by direct physical aggression as by indirect and low-cost (relative to physical aggression) means. In fact, research shows that in social competition human females use a sophisticated suite of indirect, low-cost tactics. Girls and women, relative to boys and men, tell more false stories about adversaries, gossip about them, start rumors about them, and use ostracism and manipulation of public opinion as tactics. We know of no studies of social knowledge that males and females differ in these ways, but we predict that such studies would reveal that such knowledge exists. Thus, the requirement for corroboration in rape cases may reflect, in part, evolved knowledge of the tactics females may use in social competition. We suggest, also, that people are especially concerned about the credibility of women’s allegations when sex is involved. As we have mentioned, people everywhere understand sex to be something that women have and that men want. This intuition about social life arises from the sex difference in minimum investment necessary for the production of offspring. That males want sex itself appears to have selected, in human evolutionary history, for females who used sex and promises of sex to manipulate men and get resources from them. Clearly, women behave this way far more often than men. Studies reveal that, relative to men, women seem to be more deceitful about their sexual interest in individuals of the opposite sex, about sexual arousal, and about personal sexual history (e.g., claiming to have had fewer partners than the actual number). Studies also suggest that women are more deceitful with respect to mateship infidelity. Thus, especially when sex is involved (as it is in rape), there may be an evolved intuition that women sometimes lie for their own gain. This is not to say that men don’t lie about sexual matters. They obviously do, and presumably for personal gain, because a high number of sex partners is associated with high status and high self-esteem in men, and not in women. However, social intuition about women’s use of sexual allegations, in combination with their use of low-cost competitive tactics, may lead to skepticism and to reluctance to judge in favor of a woman who “cries rape.” False rape allegations have received little systematic study. To some feminists, the concept of false rape allegation itself constitutes discriminatory harassment. However, a careful study of 109 rape cases in the United States found 41 percent of rape accusations to be false as evidenced by the women’s own recantations. The women studied gave three reasons for their false reports: providing an alibi for a consensual sexual encounter that might have led to pregnancy, seeking revenge against a rejecting consensual male partner, and obtaining sympathy and attention from kin and/or friends. Kanin emphasizes that false rape allegations “reflect desperate efforts to cope with personal and social stress situations”.

Scott Alexander has some of the best arguments I have ever read on this, and a good guesstimate:

“Many scholars critique the police’s judgment, suggesting many police officers automatically dismiss anyone who doesn’t fit their profile of a “typical rape victim”. A police-based study that took pains to avoid this failure mode by investigating all cases very aggressively (Kanin 1994) was criticized for what I think are ideological reasons – they primarily seemed to amount to the worry that the aggressive investigations stigmatized rape victims, which would make them so flustered that they would falsely recant. Certainly possible. On the other hand, if you dismiss studies for not investigating thoroughly enough and for investigating thoroughly, there will never be any study you can’t dismiss. So while not necessarily endorsing Kanin and the similar studies in this range, I think they make a useful “not provably true” upper bound to contrast with the “near-provably false” lower bound of 2%-10%. But this only represents the number of false rape accusations that get reported to the police. 80% of rapes never make it to the police. Might false rape accusations be similar? Suppose you are a woman who wants to destroy a guy’s reputation for some reason. Do you go to the police station, open up a legal case, get yourself tested with an invasive rape kit, hire an attorney, put yourself through a trial which may take years and involve your reputation being dragged through the mud, accept that you probably won’t get a conviction anyway given that you have no evidence – and take the risk of jail time if you’re caught lying? Or do you walk to the other side of the quad and bring it up to your school administrator, who has just declared to the national news that she thinks all men accused of rape should be automatically expelled from the college, without any investigation, regardless of whether there is any evidence? Or if even the school administrator isn’t guilty-until-proven-innocent enough for you, why not just go to a bunch of your friends, tell them your ex-boyfriend raped you, and trust them to spread the accusation all over your community? Then it doesn’t even matter whether anyone believes you or not, the rumor is still out there. This last one is the one that happened to me. I wasn’t the ex-boyfriend (thank God). I was the friend who was told about it. I took it very very seriously, investigated as best I could, and eventually became extremely confident that the accusation was false. No, you don’t know the people involved. No, I won’t give you personal details. No, I won’t tell you how I became certain that the accusation was false because that would involve personal details. Yes, that leaves you a lot of room to accuse me of lying if you want. So I know three men who have been accused of rape in a way that did not involve the police, and none (as far as I know) who have been accused in a way that did. This suggests that like rapes themselves, most false rape accusations never reach law enforcement. While rape victims have some incentives to report their cases to the police – a desire for justice, a desire for safety, the belief that the evidence will support them – false accusers have very strong incentives not to – too much work, easier revenge through other means, knowledge that the evidence is unlikely to support them, fear of getting in trouble for perjury if their deception gets out. So I consider it a very conservative estimate to say that the ratio of unreported to reported false accusations is 4:1 – the same as it is with rapes. A more realistic estimate might be as high as double or triple that.”

Today, we have mail archives, chat logs and CCTV footages. Many false accusations and selective representations of reality are harder to maintain. Many such women won’t get very far. But, does that matter?

If you really are stupid, I would call that a disease.

Nobel laureate Dr. James D. Watson, Chancellor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.I believe you are the kindest to people when you tell them exactly what you think, in the clearest possible terms, in the most uncompromising manner, without hostility, without manipulative intent. It is sheer evasion and malice that stops people from seeing this. Normal human beings find this very hard to understand, because they are cheap. But, the details of their narrow-mindedness doesn’t interest me at all.

Little people evade the truth because truth is not a great ally in persecuting brilliant, honest men. This is what happened to James Watson. Watson now wants to sell his Nobel Prize to make quick cash. Read what he has to tell you:

“I’ve had strong opinions probably since I was born. It makes you unpopular, but what can you do?”

“If someone’s liver doesn’t work, we blame it on the genes; if someone’s brain doesn’t work properly, we blame the school. It’s actually more humane to think of the condition as genetic. For instance, you don’t want to say that someone is born unpleasant, but sometimes that might be true.”

“People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would be great….”

“I think it’s irresponsible not to try and direct evolution to produce a human being who will be an asset to the world.” 

“When you interview fat people, you feel bad, because you know you’re not going to hire them.”

“All our social policies are based on the fact that Africans’ intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really. People who have to deal with black employees find equality is not true.”

“If you really are stupid, I would call that a disease. The lower 10 percent who really have difficulty, even in elementary school, what’s the cause of it? A lot of people would like to say, ‘Well, poverty, things like that.’ It probably isn’t. So I’d like to get rid of that, to help the lower 10 percent.”

“If we could make better human beings by knowing how to add genes, why shouldn’t we? What’s wrong with it? Evolution can be just damn cruel, and to say that we’ve got a perfect genome and there’s some sanctity?”

“Ultimately, we’ll help the people we discriminate against if we try to understand more about them; genetics will lead to a world where there is a sympathy for the underdog.”

“One could not be a successful scientist without realizing that, in contrast to the popular conception supported by newspapers and mothers of scientists, a goodly number of scientists are not only narrow-minded and dull, but also just stupid.”

“To succeed in science, you have to avoid dumb people… Even as a child, I never liked to play tag with anyone who was bad as I was. If you win, it gives you no pleasure. And in the game of science-or life-the highest goal isn’t simply to win, it’s to win at something really difficult. Put another way, it’s to go somewhere beyond your ability and come out on top.”

“If you accept that people are the products of evolution, then you have to have an open mind to the truth. Unfair discrimination exists whether we like it or not; I wouldn’t have married a gum-chewing vegetarian.”

“It is necessary to be slightly under employed if you are to do something significant.”

“No one may have the guts to say this, but if we could make better human beings by knowing how to add genes, why shouldn’t we?”

“Never be the brightest person in the room.”

“I just can’t sit while people are saying nonsense in a meeting without saying it’s nonsense.”

“Constantly exposing your ideas to informed criticism is very important, and I would venture to say that one reason both of our chief competitors failed to reach the Double Helix before us was that each was effectively very isolated.”

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.”