Added: July 13, 2013 – Last updated: April 25, 2015


Author: Menelaos Apostolou

Title: The evolution of rape

Subtitle: The fitness benefits and costs of a forced-sex mating strategy in an evolutionary context

Journal: Aggression and Violent Behavior: A Review Journal

Volume: 18

Issue: 5

Year: October 2013

Pages: 484-490

ISSN: 1359-1789 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1873-6335 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: Research: Evolutionary Theory


Link: ScienceDirect (Restricted Access)


Author: Menelaos Apostolou, Department of Social Science, University of NicosiaAuthor's Personal Website,

Abstract: »Past theorizing on the evolution of rape adduced the hypothesis that this act constitutes the behavioral expression of a mechanism which has evolved to enable men of low mate value to circumvent female choice. This has recently been questioned on the grounds that during human evolution, women’s mate choices were controlled by their parents. It, therefore, remains unclear which were the evolutionary forces likely to have shaped this mechanism and whether such a mechanism exists in the first place. Accordingly, this paper employs anthropological and historical evidence in an attempt to reconstruct the evolutionary context in which a forced-sex mating strategy emerged. On the basis of this evidence, it is argued that forced sex is the outcome of an innate conditional strategy which enables men to circumvent parental and female choice when they experience a competitive disadvantage, or when the costs of doing so are low. The implications of the operation of this mechanism during human evolution are further explored.« (Source: Aggression and Violent Behavior)


  Abstract (p. 484)
  1. Introduction (p. 484)
  2. The evolutionary context of rape (p. 485)
  3. The evolution of rape (p. 485)
    3.1 Circumventing parental choice (p. 485)
    3.2 Circumventing female choice (p. 486)
    3.3 Opportunistic sexual access (p. 486)
  4. Parental anti-rape mechanisms (p. 487)
  5. Forced-sex mating strategy across cultures (p. 488)
    5.1 Forced-sex mating strategy in agropastoral and in hunting and gathering societies (p. 488)
    5.2 Forced-sex mating strategy in post-industrial societies (p. 488)
  6. General discussion (p. 488)
  References (p. 489)

Wikipedia: Sociobiological theories of rape