I have always considered the sexual act as something between consenting people (of whatever gender) who are mature enough. Indeed, you would probably find shocking the idea of adults having sexual desires for children and sometimes acting on them. We consider pedophilia an act of absolute sickness. But it may come as a surprise to think that some animal advocate do not apply the same principles when it comes to other animals.
In the past few months, I have been deeply involved with an investigator in looking into the zoophilia/bestiality issue (to expose people who abuse other animals sexually) and I have been horrified at not only what is being done to other animals but to see where some so-called « animal lovers » actually go in the way they think of other animals. I have seen pictures of dogs being raped and people commenting things like « it’s cute! ». I have seen people (in our movement) being asked about just sexual desire for other animals and not having any problem with it.
Zoophilia is all over the web (if you know where to look) and you can find tons of « secret » groups on Facebook devoted to people who get a sexual kick at watching men (and women) having sex with other animals. My research (with the investigator) has allowed me to witness some rather gruesome and disgusting imagery and in some cases videos that these people proudly display while they get cheered on by others.
What I also found out is that some of them masquerade as animal rescuers in order to get an animal as sexual partner. So if you run a shelter, a sanctuary or simply want to find a home for a rescued animal, you may not even know that your animal is going to get sexually exploited.
From a legal perspective, laws vary by countries and states but there are exemptions like this one (quoted from Wikipedia):
Sexual handling of an animal for the purposes of veterinary practice, or animal husbandry (breeding), is normally exempted where such laws exist. In public discussion for the recently passed Oregon law, however, one animal shelter’s spokesperson wanted the husbandry exemption kept out, as he was concerned that someone might use these « accepted farming practices » as a legal loophole to then have (legal) sexual contact with an animal only for personal enjoyment. One of the legislators responded by asking if they were trying to outlaw an act (of sexual contact), or a state of mind. The veterinary and husbandry exemption was left out of Oregon’s law in the final, enacted version.
We know for a fact that some farm workers in factory farms do sexually abuse animals. It has been reported by undercover investigators over the years and by authors.
But maybe it is necessary to explain a little more what science and psychology have to say. The difference between zoophilia (the term comes from the Greek, which means « animal lover ») and bestiality are, according to Wikipedia:
Zoophilia and the law looks at the laws governing humans performing sex acts on animals. Laws against humans performing sex acts on animals, where they exist, are concerned with the actual act, which it commonly refers to as bestiality, rather than the sexual attraction to animals. For this reason, prohibitions of zoophilic pornography is more varied; they may be unlawful if an actual sex act with an animal is involved, but the status is not clear cut if there is a mere representation, such as a painting or cartoon. In that case, normal obscenity laws will normally apply. All zoophilic imagery is widely regarded as pornography.
Some people seem to think that zoophilia is not and shouldn’t be an offence or be considered as a psychological disorder. However, let’s assume Wikipedia above referred to this in the case of children and most people would be horrified. There is, as is often the case, a double standard between how we treat human versus non-human animals. Therefore accepting just zoophilia is to me speciesist because no human (I hope) would agree that a man with sexual desires for children is a healthy mentally balanced human being.
In both the case of children and other animals, one party is non-consenting. What is shocking is to see famous authors (and philosophers) in our movement in fact defending it, like Peter Singer:
But sex with animals does not always involve cruelty. Who has not been at a social occasion disrupted by the household dog gripping the legs of a visitor and vigorously rubbing its penis against them? The host usually discourages such activities, but in private not everyone objects to being used by her or his dog in this way, and occasionally mutually satisfying activities may develop. Soyka would presumably have thought this within the range of human sexual variety.
Mr. Singer forgets one thing. He would probably never say that about children. And yes the household dog sometimes grips the legs of visitors but there is a huge difference, the dogs can’t control their sexual urges, we can! And we have a moral obligation to do so because not doing so would violate an animal (as it would violate a child). And also, what does he know about a dog’s thinking anyway? We are supposedly moral animals who can choose what is acceptable or not. As vegans, we have an even better responsibility towards those at our mercy. Because a dog or a orangutan (he does quote the example of an orangutan making sexual advances to a woman) may not understand or see the difference between a human or one of his kind (even if we are closely related to apes). And, as I stated above, animals do not have the ability of controlling their sexual urges and are also probably (because of us) deprived of the necessary relief they would get with their own species in most cases. But then, not wanting to control sexual urges towards anyone is also what brings us damning statistics like the ones from the United Nations where we learn that at least one woman in three will get raped in her life. So maybe, humans (particularly men in this case) are not that good at controlling their libido!
In fact, psychology is clear about zoophilia:
[…] paraphilia wherein animals are recurrently favored or solely utilized to reach carnal arousal and satisfaction. The animal, that is generally a household pet or farm animal, is either utilized as the object of sex or is conditioned to lick or rub the human partner, called a zoophile. The most typically utilized animals are sheep and pigs, in rural settings.
As you can see in the definition above, the animals are « conditioned », therefore manipulated. This is not about the free will of the animal himself, it is about the selfish needs of humans.
Peter Singer also seems to suggest that something done through history is therefore acceptable. Then the same could be said about eating the flesh of animals, wars, slavery, and rape.
To accept the behavior of zoophilia (and therefore potential bestiality) in our movement is equivalent to the Church hiding pedophilia in its ranks for many years because it is politically incorrect. Why do we think it is a horrific act towards children but not animals? I have to ponder at the degree of speciesism still in the thinking of some people.
Michael Kiok, the president of the only (fortunately) official worldwide federation of zoophiles believes he is being persecuted by the German government for finally banning bestiality because he can’t have sex with animals anymore. Should I feel sorry for this pervert who abuses other animals for his own self-gratification?
The French author Franz-Olivier Gisbert, in his book « L’Amour est éternel tant qu’il dure » (Love is Eternal as long as it lasts) makes also the apology of bestiality and zoophilia. As someone noted on the commentary section of his book (on Amazon.fr):
This object in paper that I don’t dare calling a book is a firework of junk of all kinds. The author inflicts the poor reader who didn’t ask for much an exhaustive catalog of his sexual obsessions without notice except in Chapter 41 (if you get there!) where the charitable Mr. FOG (Franz-Oliver Gisbert) advises weak minds to go directly to [chapter] 44 to avoid the scenes of bestiality, which he seems to be a refined connoisseur. We reasonably can advise to read such opus whose title is deliberately misleading. Any honesty would add a cover band indicating that it is a text reserved for « warned » adults.
Some people (as I’ve seen in the case of Germany) go as far as having brothels so they can act on their sexual desires for other animals, which means that animals are brought in and definitely are NOT consenting to this. Where is even consent in having a sexual desire for an animal? Does a child have consent over the sexual desire for him by an adult? I leave that to the reader to decide.
From a health perspective, sexuality with other animals is linked to penile cancer. So in effect, someone having sex with a (non-consenting being) is also putting himself at risk. And let’s note also that exposing a child to acts of bestiality is considered child abuse.
What does the scientific community think of it? In a big clinical psychological study done on zoophiles (translated in English) by Marion Nasswetter, we find this:
The tenth version of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, published by the World Health Organization (2008) and in short called ICD-10, categorizes the sexual human-animal contact under F65 –deviating sexual preference. If unusual sexual fantasies or sexual urges are focused on exceptional non-human objects, on children, on suffering or humiliation of the self or other persons, then the condition may present an adverse effect in several areas of the life of the affected. Additionally, it is pointed out that almost exclusively men are found to have these deviations. Besides fetishism, exhibitionism, pedophilia, and others, the sexual human-animal interactions is subcategorized under F65.8 – the other deviations of sexual preference.
There, activities like indecent phone calls, rubbing on people on crowds or public transport (frotteurism), or sexual acts on corpses (necrophilia) are also found. The sexual intercourse with animals is called sodomy in this source.
My personal conclusion:
I consider animals under my care as my children and friends, not potential sexual partners but they are, as psychologists suggested, conditioned, therefore not willing participants. What can two different species, although capable of affection towards another, communicate in terms of what one party wants or not? There is a huge difference between « petting », caring and loving an animal in the case of protecting, sheltering him/her, feeding him/her and making sure he/she is healthy and imposing a sexual « preference » on him/her which he/she can’t agree verbally with. You might as well try to explain to a child why you want to have a sexual relationship with him. In both cases, you have no real consent or dialogue with the other being because that being doesn’t have the capacity (in terms of communication or maturity) to understand it and agree with it. Therefore, you’re dealing with someone who can’t consent at all unless, as mentioned above, manipulated into agreeing.
I find zoophilia and, in its worst form, bestiality, to be a psychological disease which I place on the same level as wanting or having sex with a (obviously non-consenting) child. Zoophilia, just like pedophilia, should be something that vegans should be aware of and outright reject.
And let’s not forget that, as Dr. Will Tuttle said many times, what we do to animals, we end up doing it to humans. It isn’t a coincidence that most cases of bestiality are committed by men just like in the case of rapes towards women.
– If you want to sign a petition against bestiality in the USA: Forcechange.com
– Peter Singer’s article « Heavy Petting ».
– Article (in French) about Peter Kiok, the head of the World Official Zoophilia Federation.
– List of commentaries (in French) about Franz-Oliver Gisbert’s book
– Cases of zoophilia/bestiality: The Crime of Bestiality/Zoophilia: Sexual Assault of an Animal.
– Article from the Lectric Law Library on the criminality aspect.
– Zoophilia and the law on Wikipedia.
– Article from Live Science: Sex With Animals Linked to Penile Cancer
– Psychology Dictionary: What is ZOOPHILIA? definition of ZOOPHILIA (Psychology Dictionary)
– Marion Nasswetter’s study on people who are zoophiles: A clinical psychology online study into zoophilia
– Think Progress article: What We Can Learn From The Largest International Study On Rape That’s Been Conducted So Far
– UN women article: Fast facts: statistics on violence against women and girls
– Video from PETA on the sexual abuse of farm animals in factory farms.
– Huffington Post video about the Sexual Abuse Of Cows In Factory Farms Is ‘Not Uncommon’
– My essay of the Link Between Violence to Animals and Humans which explores more general violence.
– And of course, the best reference on the link between the abuse of women and animals for … anything is Carol J. Adams.
Photo: Man and dog, http://www.Pixabay.com (Free photo stock site)
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