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

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Delusions Driving The “Leave” Option

Voting for “Leave” requires (a) a fantastically unbalanced view of the impact of immigration on modern Britain (b) a demonizing of the EU “regulations” that are commonplace within a modern economy and (c) a simple-minded optimism that Britain would not suffer any major damage to its economy, or to the status of the City of London. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The “T” Word, And This Sunday’s Election In Spain

Once again, the RNZ news packages from the US and UK this morning underlined the striking difference in the treatment of the Pulse night club killings in Florida and the murder of the British Labour MP, Jo Cox. More>>

Werewolf: Getting Roasted, Kiwi Style

Roasting coffee beans is an essential step in the process from plant to cup. New Zealand does not grow any coffee, so it therefore imports 100% of its coffee supply from other countries. New Zealand does however roast a lot of coffee beans. More>>

Alastair Thompson: Jo Cox's Killing Looms Large As Brexit Heads Down To Wire

The mourning period for the brutally slain pro-remain Labour MP and mother of two Jo Cox was always going to be brief. Today, Sunday 19th June, with four days to go till polling, the Brexit campaign resumed. More>>

ALSO:

Pledge Me Goal Met!
On Scoop's Current Journalism Project

Gordon Campbell: Before this crowd funding effort wraps up tonight, I thought I should provide an update on the mental health journalism project that Scoop – and its readers – are funding. More>>

ALSO:

Thanks Joining Us! Scoop Turns 17; Has Party

Margaret Thompson welcomed visitors to Scoop's birthday celebration on Wednesday night and reflected on the state of the media during a year in which Scoop formed its new structure... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news