Unmedicated vaginal birth and breastfeeding are natural. So is rape.


“It’s natural.”

That’s often the beginning and the end of many arguments about the relative merits of C-sections and epidurals vs. unmedicated vaginal birth. It’s also supposed to be the beginning and the end of any argument about the relative merits of breastfeeding vs. formula.

The declaration “it’s natural” is presumed to have cricital advantages over other claims: being inarguable and reflecting science not morals. As natural childbirth and breastfeeding advocates delight in saying, “Facts are not attacks” and the claims that unmedicated vaginal birth and breastfeeding are natural are certainly facts.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Is rape best because it is natural?[/pullquote]

“It’s natural” is also imagined to have prescriptive value. If it’s natural, it must be good because it is what we are “designed for.” Millions of years of evolution can’t be wrong, can it? That’s why we should “normalize” unmedicated vaginal birth and breastfeeding. It is culture that has caused them to fall our of favor, but culture must bow down before nature.

So if unmedicated vaginal birth and breastfeeding are best because they are natural, what does that tell us about rape? Rape is natural, too.

If we define rape as forced copulation, it isn’t merely natural among humans, it is natural throughout the animal kingdom.

From insects to birds to higher animals, reproduction in many species depends on the female choosing her mate. This evolutionary strategy involves females judging males for fitness based on species specific displays like plumage. The peacock with the most elaborate plumage is more attractive to peahens because they are fittest evolutionarily. A peacock with elaborate plumage will pass on its “fitter” genes to the peahens’ offspring.

In other species, males fight to demonstrate their evolutionary fitness with the winner claiming the right to mate with a specific female or all females within a harem. The strongest male is winner in more ways than one; not only does he get the mating opportunities, but he is able to spread his genes into more offspring. In evolution, the individual with the most offspring wins.

In species where females pick or accede to males based on fitness, rape represents an important evolutionary strategy for less fit males. Instead of leaving the choice of mate to the female, the male who forces copulation on a female who wouldn’t otherwise choose him is given a chance to spread his genes that he wouldn’t otherwise get. If he is a successful rapist, he will father many offspring. Rape offers this male an extra opportunity to be an evolutionary winner. So rape isn’t merely natural in such settings, it is a winning strategy.

If unmedicated vaginal birth is best and breast is best, then rape must be best, too!

That can’t be right, can it?

It can’t and it isn’t and the reasons demonstrate why unmedicated vaginal birth and breastfeeding aren’t necessarily best, either.

Evolutionary fitness is all about leaving the most offspring who survive to adulthood. Nature is agnostic as to how that is accomplished.

For example, if the successful moose rapist leaves more offspring than the moose who battled all the other males to win the right to mate, the rapist is the winner. Moreover, he didn’t have to risk his health or his life for the opportunity to mate.

Similarly, nature doesn’t care how a mother and baby survives childbirth, only IF they survive childbirth. Nature doesn’t care whether or not a baby is breastfed, only that the baby is FED.

While specific strategies may be evolutionarily better overall, ignoring those strategies may be better for individuals.

Letting females choose their mates may lead to greater success for a species as a whole, but each individual within the species is struggling to pass on his genes and success for him might require rape.

It makes no difference to the individual woman or baby whether unmedicated vaginal birth or breastfeeding is a successful strategy for the species overall. To them, it only matters if they survive. If C-sections and formula increase the chance of survival, then they are better.

What is adaptive in one setting can be maladaptive in another.

Rape may be an evolutionarily successful strategy among animals. It is less likely to be successful in human societies that have laws to prevent cuckholding. While a rapist in human society might be successful if not caught, he might be killed in a society that punishes rapists with death.

Unmedicated vaginal birth and breastfeeding were the most successful of all possible strategies among human beings until the advent of technology. Now that technology can improve upon or even replace natural processes, refusing to use lifesaving technology is maladaptive.

Just because a tactic is evolutionarily successful doesn’t make it good, particularly when considering the victim.

Males stand to benefit when they rape. The species as a whole may benefit, too, since valuable traits that aren’t connected with display or strength may be carried on. There does not seem to be any benefit at all for the female who was raped; she is deprived of the opportunity to make her own mating choice and she was violated and perhaps injured. Just because rape is natural, doesn’t make it something we wish to emulate or even allow.

Similarly, unmedicated vaginal birth and breastfeeding can be natural, but that doesn’t make them best nor something we can or should wish to emulate; that’s especially true because the natural deprives women of the opportunity to make the choices they deem best for themselves.

The bottom line?

Natural isn’t best, even in nature.

It’s good for some, bad for others, and therefore nobody else’s business what a woman chooses for herself.