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Is sexual aggression primarily the product of sociocultural factors? Sanday (1981, 1986) takes this position. She divides societies into what she terms rape-free and rape-prone societies, and she lists the sociocultural characteristics she maintains accompany each type.

However, a number of scholars have taken the position that sexual aggression is largely biologically determined (see Thornhill, et al. 1986 and Eibl-Eibesfeldt 1989; see Palmer 1989 and Sanday 1981 for a review of this literature).

Parker (1976) in reviewing a variety of evidence concludes that there is a close functional association of the sexual and agonistic responses. Some of the evidence comes from experimental psychology where the subjects show increased aggressive arousal when their sexual arousal is heightened experimentally and vice versa. But these were American subjects who were culturally conditioned to link sex and aggression, as demonstrated by the prevalence of rape behavior in American society and the use of sexual metaphors in abusive language (see G. N. Appell 1987). Would the same results have occurred in those societies where the drives of sex and aggression are socioculturally highly individuated?

Parker also brings in evidence from research on the brain to show that the loci for sexual arousal and aggressive arousal are closely interconnected. However, Restak (1984:142) concludes that aggression is not a unitary entity with a concrete existence. Instead, "the brain is like a mosaic in which only the complete aggregate of seemingly unrelated parts suggest the whole picture" of drives such as aggression (1984:133).

Furthermore, as the brain has some plasticity in its organization, and as the final wiring of it occurs after birth as a result of early experience (see Aoki and Siekevitz 1988; Annis and Frost 1973), the close wiring of sexual and aggressive arousals claimed by Parker may in some way be a cultural artifact.

However, if those who claim that sexual aggression has a strong biological component are correct, then we would expect some cost for the redirection of this biological impulse in Rungus society, some evidence in the biosocial energetics of the cultural control of these biological factors (see Appell 1984, 1986). Yet there is little evidence of psychological, physiological, or behavioral impairments as a result. There is the fear and anxiety over the consequences of illicit sexual intercourse. It is believed illicit intercourse can cause illness and death of children, the loss of crops, loss of fecundity of domestic animals, and the withering of swiddens. And these consequences are believed to touch everyone, not just those who have been engaged in illicit intercourse. So Rungus individuals have to cope with the anxiety over the proper behavior of their village mates, and even those in neighboring villages. And this anxiety may produce dreams in which sexual intercourse can indicate that one's soul is in jeopardy from malevolent spirits, and illness may follow. However, the anxiety created can be relieved by the sacrifice of a pig or chicken, which also provides a source of protein unusual in the regular diet.

There is also the cost from the discontinuity in cultural conditioning of young men and women in that some are anxious over performing the role of spouse and reject for a brief time their spouses' sexual attentions. But this does not appear to be a significant psychosocial cost, as for those who experience it the anxiety quickly dissipates into the typically close, mutually dependent relations with their spouses.

Furthermore, all societies regulate sexual relations. But if there are strong biological roots to sexual aggression, those societies that do not inhibit illicit sexual intercourse to the degree the Rungus do must experience other costs. There is the cost of the fear of sexual aggression; the cost of the fear of rape. And there are the psychic and physical costs to the victims of sexual aggression.

The inhibition of aggression in Rungus society does have the consequence of producing an intropunitive modal personality (see Appell 1966). And this is manifested in threats of suicide when an individual finds himself frustrated in achieving his goals or believes that he or she has not been given sufficient consideration or respect. And actual suicides do occur. But the prevalence of the threats and actual suicides do not appear any greater than the fighting, assaults, and murders that accompany an extropunitive modal personality.

Thus, up to this point I have been unable to discover any significant costs to Rungus society from the individuation of the drives of sex and aggression. This suggests that claims for the biological basis of rape need to be reassessed.

However, this does not eliminate the possibility of any biological component to sexual assault. Rungus males do phantasize about this, do talk about it, do have examples of it in their projective systems. The fact that there are few if any behavioral manifestations of sexual assault and that, furthermore, there are few if any biosocial costs of redirecting this impulse suggests that if there is a biological component in sexual aggression, it is a weak one, the control of which requires little investment.

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