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

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news