This article queries whether an evolutionary analysis of rape may be more compelling in explaining a rape victim's fear than a defendant's sexual aggression. Such a victim-oriented approach could help legal decisionmakers assess the reasonableness of the victim's fear when determining whether sex was forced or threatened. These ideas are explored in the context of two well-known rape trials, State v. Rusk and State v. Smith. This article concludes that evolutionary biology can contribute to an understanding of rape. However, the supposed evolutionary underpinnings of male sexual aggression should not justify such behavior or render it acceptable as a criminal defense. Moreover, evolutionary research must be evaluated in a social frame so that generalizations do not unfairly or inaccurately bias plaintiffs or defendants.
Deborah W. Denno,
Evolutionary Biology and Rape, 39 Jurimetrics 243
Available at: https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/faculty_scholarship/110