Re: sex crimes [2]

From: Chris Taylor (
Date: Thu 18 Mar 2004 - 13:34:31 GMT

  • Next message: Chris Taylor: "Re: sex crimes [1]"

    > 1) There is also an element of social status in rape since success with
    > girls confers status (if what I hear about locker-room conversations is
    > true). The only instance I read of "rape" amongst primates was in
    > Robert Sapolsky's book. A newly-deposed (ex)alpha male pursued and
    > "forcibly copulated" with a female who screamed and protested throughout
    > the whole process. So the old adage that "rape is about power, not
    > about sex" may be true. And it may be more about status with other
    > *men* than it is about women. It may be about exerting dominance -
    > frustrated power. I wonder whether some of the "misogyny" which
    > underlies rape is just years of frustration because they haven't been
    > successful with women - which leads us back to social skills etc. Maybe
    > their sexuality becomes imprinted/associated with confusion, fear and
    > rage. I wonder if a really good prevention program might be targeted
    > toward teaching social skills and facilitating *appropriate*
    > interactions between teenage boys and girls. All those high school
    > proms and after school activities may be really important after all.

    I think the demystifying of the opposite sex is a good way forwards in many cases (especially when 'lads' are so trendy and tolerated, apparently). However I think the key to rape is power, very clear cut in male rape, and the way that applies with women is that women will always have one card they can play over men and men hate it; women are the only people that can give a woman's approval of a man. if you can't get that legitimately, you extract it in a 'safe' way (for the rapist, obviously). The advice for potential victims is (i think) to react strongly up to the point that it is clear that the rapist is serious, because once committed there is a strong chance of the rape becoming extremely ugly (degrees of rape i know but it's true). Some women have actually 'befriended' their attacker and manage to arrange to meet them again (along with a couple of coppers)! Factor that into a simple model of power plays, or sex. Rapists have been known to call taxis for their victims out of concern for their welfare -- again very strange -- potentially not bad people, driven to commit crimes to seize what they psychologically need, but can never ask for. Mothers come into this sometimes (especially for male kids of prostitutes).

    Of course there are also some really nasty ones out there that just want to hurt as much as they can. There's a spectrum.

    > 2) Poor impulse control/high aggression level. I just read a book which
    > linked some of these traits to unusually high testosterone levels - with
    > the caveat that proper socialization can channel these impulses
    > productively: the firefighter who rushes into the building because of
    > the adrenaline rush, altruism and impulsiveness. Heroism as a cocktail
    > of high-testosterone and good socialization. If good socialization can
    > ameliorate risk factors, then conversely, "bad" socialization
    > exacerbates them - the spur posse. There have been times - like feudal
    > lords who had a go at young brides before their husbands did - when rape
    > was enshrined within the social order (another alpha male thing). And
    > certain environments (like prisons) where it continues to be a fact of
    > life. Status and dominance again. And I agree Thornhill and his ilk are
    > dangerous because they threaten to undermine social norms against rape.

    Yeah I think there was many a hero war veteran who became a criminal in a dull peacetime. War gives an outlet that is hard to find (like you say, firefighter, er, not police or army in peacetime really but maybe, pretty tricky really).

    > 3) Sociopathic tendencies. There is not a lot of hard research out
    > there on empathy, but IIRC it is supposed to develop around the age of
    > seven. The one kid I worked with who had no empathy floored me until I
    > realized that he *was* *really confused*

    nice emphasis :)

    I saw a thing where a nightmare-rat-boy-kid-from-hell on an estate turned out to have been short sighted, but too shy/ashamed (questions on stuff he already missed, for e.g.) to sit down the front in class, and when he opened up was lucid and really gutted about losing out educationally (would never say in front of peers, family or teachers though -- just lived up to their expectations).

    about why people wouldn't just
    > let him do whatever he wanted to. People were instruments of
    > fulfillment or frustration and nothing else. The definition of
    > sociopath in the DSM-IV is not without it's critics. The search for a
    > neurological underpinning is difficult because at this point it looks
    > like it may actually be two different things lumped together.
    > Sociopaths who don't have violent impulses often manage to avoid
    > imprisonment/diagnosis (often synonymous) their whole lives.

    Like I said I've worked with several -- they're all over.

    So the
    > diagnostic criteria which include violence may be misleading. I think
    > there's a genetic component - no known effective therapy - the only
    > thing that these kids seem to learn is to keep their behavior "below the
    > radar". Don't know what advantage it might confer in the population
    > unless it is like sickle-cell anemia - a recessive trait that confers
    > some advantage when paired with a dominant gene, but which can be
    > dangerous when it is paired with another recessive.

    Full-on psychopaths really see people as objects yeah. Something i once read said that frenzied attacks on corpses by psychopaths are often simply frustration with the victim dying on them (like a faulty cellular). No empathy at all. You have no hope of reasoning. Phineas Gage without the fourteen pound iron javelin through the skull.

    > Or maybe this represents the same dilemma which we faced with the kid I
    > worked with: we knew he was bad news, but you can't lock someone up
    > until he's done something bad enough to warrant it (and done it to
    > someone willing to press charges). Our own social prohibitions against
    > being "unfair" create the niche which sociopaths exploit. So the
    > $64,000 question is: will he be able to find some young thing he can
    > bully or manipulate into having sex with him before he ends up in
    > prison? Maybe sociopaths continue to exist because we haven't figured
    > out a good way to deal with them. They represent a threat to the social
    > fabric of a community because they create great stress and destroy
    > trust/group cohesiveness. But they continue to exist so long as their
    > number is small enough that they don't destroy the group. Social
    > parasites who continue to exist as long as they don't kill their host.
    > Maybe this is something which makes more sense at a group level than it
    > does at any other level. Maybe *socio*path is a good name.

    The social parasite thing is interesting. Do artists fit too ;)

    It's a weird world. Like with PC -- I fully support taking account of other people when you use language (I think it was once called politeness), but it gives the right (esp. the far/religious right) a stick to get beating with every time. Thought crime would be another.

    There is a solution though as i see it. The border between life-victim and 'genuine' batman-style criminal is fuzzy to say the least; now I wouldn't want to explain away (and apparently thereby excuse) all crime
    (although I'm not sure you couldn't). However with abusers who abuse, I really see them as victims (even the worst of the worst, and I have a kid now so I am *really* *not* saying this lightly); so I say section them. You can do that on a docs recommendation, without any tangible evidence, indefintiely (and would have the equivalent of life licence'
    *if* they were released). The justifications (1) they are in for treatment (cog therapy style remediation is all i think you could realistically do though), and importantly, for research, but not punishment. (2) We need to start to break these chains of abuse. (3) The recidivism rate is screamingly high so forget about early release, and think a *lot* harder about sneaky ways to asses their true internal state (*that* is really valuable research that could be done on the

    Anyway we just need to find ways to bang 'em up without shattering our liberal worldview -- some people just shouldn't be free. All we need is the good old golden rule, and a dollop of Bentham's utilitariansim to help us skirt round the somewhat thorny issue of banging up people who haven't done anything (yet). I'd say good oversight of it all would help too (and oversight of the oversight committee).

    Is there a Mr Eric Blair in the house?

    Cheers, Chris.

      Chris Taylor (
      MIAPE Project --

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu 18 Mar 2004 - 13:47:55 GMT