The ethical corollary of “sex is a basic human need” is that rape is justified.

(Trigger Warning: This post discusses rapist logic and rape.)

Some men argue that when women “withhold sex” from men, we are depriving men of their basic needs:

A sense of entitlement? That’s what you want to call the basic human need for love, companionship, approval, and sex? […] And then you wonder why guys perceive hostility from women. Gee, I wonder.

— unapproved comment from a Geek Feminism post

If a woman declines to have sex with a man, is she violating the man’s human rights, his alleged “right to sex”, or is the man’s experience of being deprived of his rights actually evidence of his sense of “entitlement” over women’s bodies?

Physiological - breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion. Safety - security of body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, property. Love/belonging - friendship, family, sexual intimacy. Esteem - self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others. Self-actualization - morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts. This visual representation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs puts “sex” at the bottom base of the pyramid (falling under the category “Physiological” needs, which are the most basic needs), but “sexual intimacy” is also at the third rung from the bottom, falling under the category of “Love/belonging” needs. “Security of body” is at the at the second rung from the bottom of the pyramid, falling under the category of “Safety” needs, which is above “Physiological” needs but below “Love/belonging” needs.

If the “right to be not raped” falls under “Safety” and “security of body”, then is the alleged “right” to obtain sex a more basic need than the “right to be not raped”? Or does “Safety”/”security of body”/the “right to be not raped” have higher priority than fulfilling everyone’s alleged “need” for sex?

Of course, if one assumes that sex is a more basic need than security of body, then the ethical corollary would be that rape is justified. If you accept “rape is wrong” as an axiom, then you should agree that a person’s security of body/the right to be not raped has a higher priority than a person’s “need” for sex.

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Some scientists criticize the field of evolutionary psychology.

In The evolution of rape?, PZ Myers writes:

There are days when I simply cannot bear the entire field of evolutionary psychology: it’s so deeply tainted with bad research and a lack of rigor. And that makes me uncomfortable, because the fundamental premise, that our behaviors are a product of our history, is self-evidently true. It’s just that researchers in this field couple an acceptance of that premise to a deep assumption of adaptive teleology, the very thing that they should be evaluating, and produce some of the most awesomely trivial drivel.

I’ve just finished reading an article titled “Darwin’s Rape Whistle: Have women evolved to protect themselves from sexual assault?“, and it’s everything I despise about evolutionary psychology. It’s nothing but sloppy thinking and poor science propped up by a conviction that plausibility is sufficient support for certainty.


Another way to look at it is that they are hypothesizing that women are more likely to behave in ways that invite physical attack and brutal abuse when they aren’t ovulating. That is a remarkable assertion. It also carries the strange implication that the consequences of rape can be measured by the likelihood of immediate fertilization, rather than by the toll of physical injury and emotional trauma, a peculiar thing for psychologists to neglect. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a general hypothesis that people, men and women, who can avoid violence at any time in their life, are more likely to be reproductively successful and thereby pass on their genes to subsequent generations? That’s all they’re saying, essentially, and the straining to sex it up by tying globally useful behaviors to reproductive cycles is unconvincing.

In Evolutionary psychology for the masses, Jerry Coyne writes:

Now I don’t oppose evolutionary psychology on principle. The evolutionary source of our behavior is a fascinating topic, and I’m convinced that the genetic influences are far stronger than, say, posited by anti-determinists like Dick Lewontin, Steve Rose, and Steve Gould.  Evolved adaptations are particularly likely to be found in sexual behavior, which is intimately connected with the real object of selection: the currency of reproduction.  I’m far closer in my views on this topic to Steve Pinker than to Steve Gould.  And there are many good studies in the field, so I don’t mean to tar the whole endeavor.

But, for crying out loud, let’s have the journalists and scientists show a little more responsibility when reporting on evolutionary psychology.  If there are problems with a study, describe them.  If an idea is pure speculation, say it.  If there are other explanations for a phenomenon, give them.  Let’s not gull the public into claiming that we understand something with near certainty when we don’t.   These lax reportorial standards, pervasive in evolutionary psychology, seem to be much tighter in other areas of science, like physics or molecular biology.  And this despite the enormous difficulty of demonstrating that any human behavior is an evolved adaptation.

Every time I write a piece like this, one that’s critical of evolutionary psychology, I get emails from its practitioners, chewing me out for being so hard on their field.  And my response is always the same: I’ll stop being so hard on your field when you guys start being more critical yourselves.  If you policed your own discipline better, I wouldn’t have to.

Of course, not only practising scientists see the poor logic of many evolutionary psychology arguments. Members of the general public can generally detect the logical fallacy formally known as affirming the consequent.

White people empathize with animals over people of colour.

During an interview with The Guardian Weekend, Morrissey, a white vegetarian and animal rights activist, stated:

“Did you see the thing on the news about their treatment of animals and animal welfare? Absolutely horrific.”


(except he probably didn’t yell it out in capital letters)

Ironically, animal rights activists often complain about “speciesism“, but Morrissey’s statement reveals that not only does he think that Chinese people are of a non-human species, but that there is a ranking of species and that Chinese people are below the human species, assumed to be white. In other words, not only is Morrissey a racist, but he is also a speciesist and hypocrite.

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Asians are not all rich.

There is a ridiculous post at 8asians titled Asian Men Have The Highest Salary that was linked from Racialicious for some reason. The author, Tim, writes:

If you were looking for another reason to date an Asian male, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics just came up with one. In their latest report on earnings in the 2nd quarter of 2010, Asian men topped the charts again, making $901 in median weekly earnings. Asian women were second at $854, followed by white men at $838.

Let us ignore the often sexist stereotype that women are attracted to rich men for now and look at the issue of race and income. The data I have comes from Ontario, Canada, and the great thing about Canadian race statistics is that Asians are not all lumped together.

Average Employment Income By Racialized Group, Ontario, 2005

Men Women Total
Japanese 73079 40572 56170
Non-racialized 50255 31682 41335
Chinese 41283 30129 35717
Multiple Visible Minority 39940 29156 34613
South Asian 37198 24897 31711
Arab 36894 24258 31963
Southeast Asian 36506 24549 30619
Visibly Minority not included elsewhere 35943 26583 31201
Filipino 35323 28798 31472
Black 33497 27485 30337
Latin American 33218 22518 28145
Korean 32828 22326 27757
West Asian 30212 21660 26502

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Science is not anti-feminist.

Jill Psmith of I Blame The Patriarchy writes (bold emphasis mine):

The argument has been made that intuition is superior to science because it is somehow free of the oppressive misogynist entanglements that encumber its dude-dominated counterpart. A spin-off of this argument says that, because academia has traditionally given (and continues to give) women the stink-eyed bum’s rush, science is antifeminist and, presumably, must be shunned in favor of this women-centric intuition dealio.

Unfortunately, it is not possible for any concept, process, person, or cognitive function to exist outside of patriarchy. That’s what patriarchy is: a world order with firmly established and inescapable auspices. Science, like everything else on the planet, is Dude Nation’s minion, yes, but “intuition” doesn’t exist in a magical patriarchy-free zone merely because it is associated with women’s reality. In fact, it is because of patriarchy that women were assigned the supposedly unique and mystical power of hunchiness the first place.

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Male IT geeks tend to think they are “low status” males.

Why are male IT geeks less successful in attracting women than other males, on average? Why are there few women in IT?

Among male geeks, a popular explanation for both these phenomena is that women avoid “low status” males, because women are programmed by evolution to have sex with men in exchange for men’s material resources.

the average person in the United States with an IT career makes $0.13. the average American household makes $0.096.

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White people think they know all about you from reading a book.

Sometimes a white person says something about people of colour that is untrue, and when you correct her, the white person will insist that she is right because she read it in a book.

You know that it is untrue because you do not (or somebody you know does not) fit into that generalization; thus, it is inaccurate to say that people of colour have that property, without qualifiers. For some reason, the white person believes that the written word should override the lived experiences of people of colour, even when that book is a fictional portrayal of, a study of, or an interpretation of our lived experiences.

Note that to give priority to one’s lived experience over a book in this case is not a case of anti-intellectualism. (However, it is probably often dismissed as anti-intellectualism by the white person, because of the assumption that people of colour are against book learnin’ and are opposed to something because it comes from a book.) Instead, disproving a universal claim by using one counterexample is an application of predicate logic.

To disprove the claim, “All X have property P,” all you need to do is to show, “There exists an X without property P.”

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