Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Study Confirms Sexual Assaults Caused By Darkness and Trees

Study Confirms Sexual Assaults Caused By Darkness and Trees

by Anne Russell
April 23, 2014

In the wake of reports of sexual assaults near the path from Boyd Wilson Field to The Terrace in Wellington, researchers at Victoria University of Wellington have released a study which found that sexual violence in public places is primarily caused by a lack of street lighting.

The study was conducted by evolutionary psychologist Julian Smith and anthropologist Jonathan Armisen over a period of six months. Drawing from a range of media reports, interviews with students, and field observations, Armisen and Smith found that most male-on-female sexual attacks on campus occurred after dark. They thus concluded that darkness is a precondition for sexual assault.

Smith suggests this behaviour may have some roots in genetics. "When men walk around in the dark for extended periods of time, it activates a gene left over from the Pleistocene Era,” said Smith. “We know from past research that small bands of Neanderthals largely inhabited caves, which were of course quite dark. Since survival in these caves was quite difficult, the males of the group needed to assert their sexual dominance over the females in order to reproduce the species.” Smith noted that while New Zealand's post-feminist society means this situation is no longer a reality, prolonged periods of ‘cave-like’ darkness can still revive these throwback genes in males.

According to Smith’s research, which draws heavily on past findings by leading botany psychologist Alan Davis, a similar phenomenon occurs in areas with extensive foliage. “That same gene can be aroused by bushy areas that resemble the foliage of our early ancestors’ habitats. Forests in those times were areas where sexual conquests often took place,” said Smith. Other theorists speculate that particular plants may evoke male arousal through the suggestion of hidden female nudity. This is known as the ‘Adam and Eve effect’.

Smith and Armisen’s study has had a significant impact on Wellington’s local response to sexual assaults around Victoria University. Police have proposed to clear some of the foliage around the path from Boyd Wilson Field, and the university has agreed to install better lighting in order to lower the likelihood of these attacks.

However, Armisen believes a longer-term solution may be necessary. “Of course, if we lived in a world of perpetual daylight, sexual assault cases would decrease almost to the point of non-existence.” He supports the actions taken by the Swedish government, who have recently commissioned scientists at the Blekinge Institute of Technology to develop a mechanical device known as a ‘super-sun’. This device takes its design from SAD therapy sunlight lamps, but works on a much larger scale. When placed at the top of Mount Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest mountain, the light emanating from the device is predicted to reduce darkness in Sweden to minimal levels at all hours of the day.

This technology, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said, would virtually eliminate rape in a country that is already well-known for its progressive gender politics. It would additionally lower the country’s population of owls, who in the darkness of wintertime often deafen Swedish citizens with incessant hooting. While some New Zealand feminists doubt the viability of this technology as a solution for sexual assault in Aotearoa, Armisen believes their objections are in part formed by the feminist community's social and financial ties to several prominent morepork lobbyists.

In the mean time, Armisen recommended that women try to avoid either leaving or returning to their homes in order to minimise rape.

*************

Anne Russell has a university degree. Follow her on Twitter: @elvisfchrist

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Binoy Kampmark: Dysfunctional Hagiography: Australia & Gough Whitlam's Death

Hagiography is the curse of the Australian Labor movement. It is a movement that searches for, and craves, mythical figures and myths. Such a phenomenon might be termed mummification, and detracts from closer examination. More>>

David Swanson: On Killing Trayvons

This Wednesday is a day of action that some are calling a national day of action against police brutality, with others adding 'and mass incarceration,' and I'd like to add 'and war' and make it global rather than national. More>>

Uri Avnery: Israel Ignoring “Tectonic Change” In Public Opinion

If the British parliament had adopted a resolution in favour of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the reaction of our media would have been like this: More>>

ALSO:

| UK MPs blow a “raspberry” at Netanyahu and his serfs

Byron Clark: Fiji Election: Crooks In Suits

On September 17 Fiji held its first election since Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama seized power in a 2006 coup. With his Fiji First party receiving 59.2% of the vote, Bainimarama will remain in power. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: ‘Islamic State’ Sectarianism Is Not Coincidental

Consider this comical scene described by Peter Van Buren, a former US diplomat, who was deployed to Iraq on a 12-month assignment in 2009-10: Van Buren led two Department of State teams assigned with the abstract mission of the ‘reconstruction’ of ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Case For Using Air Power Against The Islamic State

There is an Alice Through the Looking Glass quality to the current response to the Islamic State. Everything about it seems inside out. Many people who would normally oppose US air strikes in other countries have reluctantly endorsed the bombing of IS positions in Iraq and Syria – not because they think air power alone will defeat IS (clearly it won’t) but because it will slow it down, and impede its ability to function. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news