Added Oct ’13: Warning: you may find this post disturbing if you are disturbed by the topics of rape, abduction, or being drugged.
A year ago I wrote two controversial posts (each 150 comments) that compared cuckoldry to rape. I was puzzling over why our law punishes rape far more than cuckoldry, arguing:
Biologically, cuckoldry is a bigger reproductive harm than rape, so we should expect a similar intensity of inherited emotions about it.
Counter arguments included:
what the cuckold doesn’t know can’t hurt him
lots of men don’t mind raising genetically unrelated kids
rape victims are more socially disapproved of
rape has direct physical effects, while cuckoldry does not
rape victims are more often diagnosed “post traumatic stress”
rape victims they know seem more expressively upset
I presented evidence that most men would rather be raped than cuckolded, and that even though men complain less, they gain and suffer more from marriage and divorce, and the birth and death of kids. Someone noted that many past societies did punish cuckoldry more than rape.
It occurred to me recently that we can more clearly compare cuckoldry to gentle silent rape. Imagine a woman was drugged into unconsciousness and then gently raped, so that she suffered no noticeable physical harm nor any memory of the event, and the rapist tried to keep the event secret. Now drugging someone against their will is a crime, but the added rape would add greatly to the crime in the eyes of today’s law, and the added punishment for this addition would be far more than for cuckoldry.
Now compare the two cases, cuckoldry and gentle silent rape. One remaining difference is that the rapist might be a stranger, while a cuckolding wife is not. But we could consider cases where the rapist isn’t a stranger. Another difference might be that punishing the cuckolding mother financially may punish her innocent kid. But we could specify the punishment to be non-financial, perhaps torture. Consider also that it tends to be easier to prove cuckoldry than rape, so if we avoid applying the law to hard-to-prove harms, that should favor punishing cuckoldry more than rape.
Even after all these attempts to make the cases comparable, however, I suspect most people will still say the law should punish rape far more than the cuckoldry. This even though most farming societies had the opposite attitude (I’m not sure on foragers). A colleague of mine suggests this is gender bias, pure and simple; women seem feminist, and men chivalrous, by railing against rape, but no one looks good complaining about cuckoldry. What other explanations you got?
Added 11p 1Dec: 95 comments so far, almost all of which ignore my “gentle silent” modifier, and just argue about standard rape. Seems a post mentioning rape and cuckoldry is treated by most as a red flag urging heated discussion on those topics without regard to anything else that the poster might have said.