The view that men are “designed by evolution” to impregnate when they can has been used to explain, if not justify, rape. But surely its too simplistic to be true. We are a social species and rape is destructive in too many ways.
As far as I know, we now have argument # 3 on this blog against the hypothesis that rape is an evolutionary imperative, as opposed to simply morally adhorrent. (For the others, see here and here.) And it’s in today’s NY Times. The argument is qualified, but more importantly it shows the potential complexity in the situation.
What’s the argument? Well, if the research is correct it turns out that the scent of a women in a fertile period actually turns off men already in relationships. It is all done below consciousness. Successful reproduction is helped by partners also invested in providing for their children. Evolution has selected for men who react in ways that enhance their fidelity.**
There are more details. It is worth a read, but I don’t have time to check out the research. If you do, and see a problem, please let us know. We love articles on how the press distorts science and/or on how science can get confused on gender issues.
**Pace all those who are irritated by the idea of evolution as some active quasi-deliberate force, of whom I am one.