A paragraph from Lawrence Keeley’s “War Before Civilization”:
“The capture of women was one of the spoils of victory – and occasionally one of the primary aims of warfare – for many tribal warriors. In many societies, if the men lost a fight, the women were subject to capture and forced incorporation into the captor’s society. Most Indian tribes in western North America at least occasionally conducted raids to capture women. The social position of captive women varied widely among cultures, from abject slaves to concubines to secondary wives to full spouses. In a few cases, female captives could be ransomed or of course, escape. In situations where ransom or escape were not possible, the treatment of captive young women amounted to rape, whether actual violence was used against them to enforce cohabitation with their captors or was only implicit in their situation.”
Perhaps I’ve absorbed too much of Caplan’s abject-surrender pacifism and even some feminism (who knows how), but it occurs to me that the treatment of young women in primitive agricultural societies frequently amounted to rape, with violence generally implicit in their situation and often enough explicit, even without any war. In “Demonic Males” Richard Wrangham discusses how murdering a female’s children is an effective tactic for bachelor males among gorillas and lions to show harem-members that their current male isn’t doing an effective job of protecting them. The Darwinian perversity of its effectiveness I found one of the most memorable parts of the book. For human beings we would certainly classify that kind of behavior as among the worst examples of war and rape, but it’s just part of that circle of life for animals. Human beings are animals, and in the past our species more closely resembled its peers.