Cover image for Theories of rape : inquiries into the causes of sexual aggression
Theories of rape : inquiries into the causes of sexual aggression
Ellis, Lee, 1942-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Hemisphere Pub. Corp., [1989]

Physical Description:
xiii, 185 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes indexes.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV6558 .E45 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



A comprehensive and up-to-date synthesis of what is currently known about the causes of rape. Professor Ellis summarizes three theories - feminist theory, social learning theory, and evolutionary (or socio-biological theory) - and provides evidence both for and against specific hypotheses resulting from each. Building upon this foundation, the book creates a new theory drawing on the strengths of the three examined.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Over the past 15 years a large literature on rape has developed, inspired by the feminist perspective exemplified by Susan Brownmiller's Against Our Will (CH, Feb '76). This perspective sees rape as a product of a male-dominated culture. Rape is promoted by pornographic representations of women, and is motivated more by a desire to degrade woman than by sexual desire. Ellis, a sociologist, counters the cultural emphasis of feminist theory and other sociological theories by advancing a "synthesized" theory that heavily emphasizes biogenetic factors. The author painstakingly, if dryly, reviews principal theories--which he identifies as feminist, social learning, and evolutionary--for explaining rape, or sexual aggression. Ellis argues that there is significant scientific evidence that evolutionary and biogenetic factors have produced a fairly large class of males (and a very small number of females) prone to committing forced copulation. Cultural and social learning factors play a secondary and more limited role in determining specifically who will rape, and when. The argument here--as the author recognizes--is highly controversial, including suggestions that genes may play a role in victim proneness, and the assertion that blacks are biogenetically more predisposed to commit rape than are whites! Although Ellis's synthesized theory is certainly open to challenge, this book does provocatively complement such feminist interpretations as D.E.H. Russell's Sexual Exploitation (CH, Apr '85). References; indexes. Upper-division undergraduates and above. -D. O. Friedrichs, University of Scranton