409 Comments

Deuteronomy would like to have a word... and what an absurd line of reasoning.

If we take this disturbing premise, it's quite obvious that a woman who is a survivor of sexual assault will have 1) a diminished will and ability to reproduce or 2) a complete inability to reproduce due to the violence of the rape.

It takes an enormous amount of support to help a victim of rape, regardless of their sex or gender, re-enter society in the ways defined here: as friends, as partners, as nuclear family.

Until recently, we lived in small, close communities. The total realm of human social activity, travel, commerce, etc. was restricted to the hamlet, the village, the town, etc. Even up to the 1900s, basic regional mobility was rare and people couldn't marry or even survive outside of their immediate community. In many parts of the developing world, this is still the case.

If rape did not have such severe penalties historically, we would have been extinct a long time ago from the communal and population collapse leniency towards rape would precipitate.

The author also seems to forget that rape is often just one expression of a rapist's larger pathology (note that overall criminality for rapists is significantly higher than non-rapists, as in, they are far more likely to commit other opportunistic or predetermined crimes).

None of the above is true for the cuckolder.

The dyads of rapist/victim and cuckolder/cuckolded are simply not in any way comparable. The author's view is horrific and also totally bizarre.

Expand full comment

Gentle silent robbery is still robbery and still a crime. Gentle silent murder is still murder. Your position is specious. That women seem feminist "railing against rape" is silly. Rape by nature and by definition whether "gentle" or "silent" is still the taking of someone's body without their consent. The key is consent. A woman who has an affair outside her marriage makes a cuckold of her husband. But she consents. I challenge you to provide proof most men don't mind raising a child that is not biologically theirs. Tell that to children murdered by a step parent or partner. That cuckoldry was punished more than rape in "farmer" societies" as you point out shows that men did not want to raise other men's children and speaks to their possessiveness of women and children. The fact that in many societies women are blamed for their own rape shows that same possessiveness and ego. Men are so fragile they cannot control their own behaviors around women. Educated societies understand consent and choice. Rape by definition is not something the raped choose or consent to.

The definition of a cuckold is someone who is raising someone else's children. That too is without the consent of one partner.

These things are not equal. Taking someone's time, money, and effort to raise a child that is not his is not worse than or equal to invading a person's body without their consent. In would think in court the former would be a civil offense and the latter a felony offense.

Your theorem is ridiculous because it's based on falsehoods to begin with.

Expand full comment

I think there's a real distinction between violating a contract, and violating a person. Thus we have criminal penalties for assault, false imprisonment, rape, and so on, but civil penalties for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and similar.

Cuckoldry seems more similar to contracts than it does to criminal assault. You have a contract (marriage), you violate it by cheating, nobody is physically harmed.

You could ask why cuckoldry is not enforced even at a contract level. This, I think, is for two reasons: first, the damage done is emotional. This does not make it less important, but it makes it less measurable, which is problematic from a legal enforcement standpoint. Plus, there are many other harms that can occur in a relationship that are as significant -- for instance, a breakup -- that we would not want to enforce as a civil crime.

Second, adultery rates are very high. Some googling suggests the rate among married men is maybe 60%, with slightly lower rates among married women. So penalizing adultery would penalize a huge proportion of the population. We've tried that with the drug laws, and it hasn't worked out so well. Do we want to try that with marriages, too?

Lastly, if foragers permit more and varied relationships, as I think you've argued here, then as we become richer and more forager-like, shouldn't we expect less authoritarian enforcement of relationships?

Expand full comment

I wonder this quite a bit when our society values bodice-ripper romance novels. It seems like the rape (or forcible sexual act) becomes "okay" when the man gets the woman to fall in love with him and eventually marry him. All within 200 pages, it turns from a violent crime to a celebrated relationship.

As far as books go, it's a profitable formula so it's not hard to see how society can (and does) send mixed signals.

Expand full comment

Rape is a violation of consent, autonomy and bodily integrity; cuckoldry is a violation of loyalty. Even gentle silent rape is non-consentual, compromises autonomy and compromises bodily integrity. Further, rape is an "intimate" crime, cuckoldry less so.

As for your argument that "men would prefer rape to cuckoldry" my guess is that you're not referring to anal rape, which my intuition is that most men would prefer to be cuckolded than anally raped.

Cuckoldry is not a larger biological harm than rape. If women are the "selectors" and men are the "selected" to override the woman's biological imperative is more harmful than to go "unselected," which, biologically speaking, is what happens in cuckoldry. In biological terms, rape is a more significant harm.

Expand full comment

It is because the female and her offspring are far more resource intensive and valuable than the experimental XY sperm giver. He can make 20-40,000 potential babies every second where she can only make hundreds in her life. Biologically it does not matter what happens to him, only what happens to her. She is sexually more valuable dimorphically so her sexual nature is protected at all costs, and reflected in our legal system.

Expand full comment

Do you have a blog or anything? You articulated yourself so well!

Expand full comment

You represented two of Hanson's points as the reverse of what he actually said. Hanson's point about "gentle silent rape" is that it is as bad as other forms of rape, and should be punished as much as other forms of rape. In your first sentences you are directly supporting his point, while seeming to think you are refuting it.

The other thing you got backwards is where you said "I challenge you to provide proof most men don't mind raising a child that is not biologically theirs." That claim was not Hanson's; Hanson listed it as a counter-argument to his own argument, i.e. a reason why cuckoldry might deserve a less severe punishment.

Expand full comment

I have never heard anyone (apart from potentially Hanson) use "bias" in a way that didn't imply illegitimacy or error (at least in the context of human behavior, I am aware that the term is also used in statistical modeling). Heck, even this blog is titled "Overcoming Bias" implying that Hanson sees bias in general as a flaw to be avoided. In his recent "Is Nothing Sacred?" post, he argues in favor of treating math as sacred because it's the least biased thing to hold sacred. Wikipedia says bias is "a disproportionate weight in favor of or against an idea or thing, usually in a way that is close minded, prejudicial, or unfair." The media is awash with discussions of gender bias, usually in the context of bias against women, such hiring gender bias, where the word "bias" is always used in the context of condemnation.

With all this in mind, I think it is entirely reasonable for someone to read this post and come to the conclusion that Hanson is making a normative argument in favor of cuckoldry being treated as seriously as rape. Calling this a "dog whistle" makes it sound like this is some kind of obscure meaning that people are reading into the text, but this is just basic pattern matching on how words are usually used in contexts similar to this one. That said, I can't be sure whether Hanson intended this meaning (I am genuinely unsure here), but if he didn't, I believe this represents a huge failure of communication on his part. At the very least, the fact that he was using the same language he had previously used for normative judgements should have made him realize that he should add a clarification ("Just to be clear, I am not arguing that cuckoldry should be punished as harshly as rape here") to avoid predictable misinterpretation.

Either way though, I was mainly here to respond to "That's an interesting fact, and I don't get why it makes people mad." The reason is that they are interpreting this post as arguing for cuckoldry to be punished as harshly as rape, and they strongly disagree.

Expand full comment

> the fact that this was harshly punished can't be evidence of gender bias.

Not on its own but combined with the fact that there is no punishment of women who make fraudulent claims of parnethood against men it does demonstrate this. Because rhe only difference is that in the hospital the women is also the victim. And there is huge drama and huge damages. When men are the only victim no-one cares.I admit this takes one extra step of logic but OB readers should be assumed to be capable of this.

Expand full comment

Does gender bias imply that it's illegitimate? I thought that sentence literally just offered up an explanation as to why concerns about bodily autonomy won out - not whether or not it *should*. Like gender biases probably explain why men like Ford Mustangs more than women, but that's not to say that it's inherently illegitimate to like Mustangs. That's how I interpreted it, at least.

Kind of a related question, have you read this post by SSC about conflict vs mistake theory? https://slatestarcodex.com/...

It's an attempt to categorize people into two modes of thinking, where people are more or less predisposed to think in terms of either 'conflicts' or 'mistakes'. If you're predisposed to think in terms of conflict, you're more likely to interpret what Hanson wrote as him first and foremost trying to fight for his class/identity/economic/etc interests. If you're a mistake theorist you're more likely to interpret it as Hanson honestly just offering up a dispassionate analysis to an interesting puzzle.

But I think crucially, Hanson himself is temperamentally speaking a strong mistake theorist, so he will be quite clueless about whenever he gives off what conflict theorists would think of as "dog whistles". A strong mistake theorist *never* concerns himself with dog whistles. Think of strong mistake theorists almost as people with Aspergers.

Expand full comment

So, correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be arguing in favor of the "gender bias in favor of women" angle. But your example situation isn't properly controlled like the hypothetical situation in the parent comment was: Babies switched in the hospital are equally not the man and the woman's child. Both have been cuckolded, not just the woman. So the fact that this was harshly punished can't be evidence of gender bias.

Expand full comment

We generally assume participants in discussions about norm-adjacent topics are obliquely conveying their normative views with every statement, because in most cases, they are.

The fact as you've just stated it likely wouldn't make people mad, because there's no obvious normative interpretation of your statement. But in his post, it *really seems* like Hanson is making a normative argument for cuckoldry being punished as much as rape.

He starts by laying out reasons that cuckoldry may be expected to be punished as much or more than rape.Then he states that he is considering an argument that the current norms that punish rape more than cuckoldry are due to "gender bias", implying they are illegitimate. Then he challenges his readers to offer alternate explanations, implying that if they don't, he will adopt the view that our current greater disdain for rape than cuckoldry is a biased viewpoint that has no legitimate basis.

All of these things would strongly suggest to the average reader that Hanson is making a normative argument for punishing cuckoldry as much as rape. If Hanson was trying to avoid being interpreted as making normative statements, he did a fantastically poor job of it.

Expand full comment

Yea, we evolved certain norms (like bodily autonomy) which came in conflict with evolutionary pressures pushing the other direction (norms against cuckoldry), and apparently in the case of cuckoldry, bodily autonomy won out. That's an interesting fact, and I don't get why it makes people mad.

Expand full comment

Precisely. Seems self-evident the difference is born of relatively modern norms that confer greater bodily autonomy to people which ultimately intruded upon and overrode our earlier sentiments. For example, the Christian Bible's 10 Commandments explicitly list an injunction against adultery and yet not rape.

Expand full comment

rape is rape NO means NO there is no "gentle silent" rape & the only thing damaged in cuckoldry is PRIDE & trust me, you cannot die from a blow to your pride, Incel.

Expand full comment