Afternoon Inquisition

Afternoon Inquisition 1.30.09

Normally Maria does Friday’s AI, but she cut out early. But Rebecca is demanding we all work overtime this week, so if she asks, you just saw an Indian girl running through here, stack of papers in arm, yelling into her cell phone for someone to have that report on her desk by 5.

It’s Friday, so it’s cute animal day. And it’s Friday, so it’s time for a sex question. And it’s Friday, and I’m sick as a paraplegic leper in a prayer tent. And it’s Friday, so I’ve been drunk for the last 87 hours. And it’s Friday, so animals+sex+sick+probably drunk = the perfect recipe for… what else? Bestiality!

I’ve been reading the book Where do Nudists Keep Their Hankies? by Mitchell Symons. It’s a book of questions you either never asked or never wondered about sex.

One of the topics brought up in the book is the question of bestiality and whether it’s moral. My knee jerk reaction has always been, of course it’s immoral! But I never thought about it more than that. I really don’t want to think about it more than that.  But is it just me being puritanical and refusing to be sympathetic to someone else’s preference? Or is it really wrong?

What do you think? Is it wrong to get tight and shiny with an animal? Is it just weird and gross? Or is it totally fun and I’m just a prude?


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. Its weird and gross and I think it could be described as animal rape. Any of you skepchicks or commenters who have a thing for donkeys really need to keep it between you and your psychotherapist. Please don’t tell us.

  2. Weird and gross.

    Seriously, are you so lacking in imagination that you can’t think of interesting and new activities within your species so you need to roam so far a-field?

  3. I think it is completely wrong, because getting “tight and shiny” with anyone or anything without consent is wrong. Unless you can prove to me that the animal wants to get some from you (and I’ve never heard any of my pets talk), then you can’t say it consented. Unless you’re a sheep. If you’re a sheep, you can eff another sheep.

  4. Well, it’s pretty clear that it isn’t acceptable in our society (nor in most others). It’s also something that I’m not particularly interested in trying. However, I’m of the belief that morality should have a logical basis, and I’m not seeing any requirement that anyone, human or animal, be harmed by bestiality. Specific acts, certainly. Necessarily? No.
    Mark me down as ‘I don’t care what you get up to as long as nobody is harmed’.

  5. There is so much more to this! Isn’t it more about how you treat them post-coitus? Can you still look them in the eye? Can you hang out with them on a Friday night without worrying about things going “there” again? Do you brag to your friends about your exploits, or have respect for the animal and keep it between the two of you?

    Of course, there’s always the legal aspects of it all as well. For instance, how do you get a horse to prove it’s age? If that is a filly and not a mare, you could be in some real legal trouble. And can an animal even consent? I suppose if they are in heat, it could be implied consent. Strutting around the barnyard nekkid all day, she’s practically begging for some action.

    Honestly? I can’t see how you can make it illegal. It may be outside the norm, but depending on where you live, you we are all a little outside the “norm” at some point. I don’t condone it, but if someone feels so attracted to their gold fish or iguana, who am I to judge?

  6. Setting the extreme yuck factor aside, and trying to look at it from a more objective point of view: Animals are incapable of giving informed consent to sexual acts with humans. They don’t have the reasoning capacity to agree.

    It is as wrong as have sex with minors or incapacitated humans who are incapable of giving informed consent.

  7. @MorgannaLeFey:

    But humans are able to give consent.

    Animals never give consent… not even when doing it with each other. Breeding animals as pets is essentially “rape” if we’re demanding that animals consent to sex.

    I honestly don’t know where I stand on this. My initial reaction was that animals cannot consent. But I think it’s more complicated than that.

    Do the animals get pleasure? What if you have a pet that is trained to perform cunnilingus for a treat? The pet certainly gets pleasure… and consents with no issue.

  8. I don’t think that “To boldly go where no man has gone before” was meant to cover this…

    No, thanks. Definitely, no thanks.

    BTW, many dogs are seriously injured every year by this kind of thing.

  9. I think it’s weird and gross, and absolutely wrong. There have been cases where vets have been forced to kill animals that have been the subject of animal rape. For me moral sex acts includes willing adult partners, not someone who can’t speak for themselves.

  10. I am nota prude, not even close; indeed, I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to sex and don’t even find consensual adult incest all that shocking or wrong (except parent-child and other situations where the power dynamic will likely always be a problem). Bestiality, however?


  11. It’s definitely a spectrum issue. I’f you bugger a sheep and need to put her hind legs in your boots to keep her from running, that’s rape and wrong. If a dog starts humping your leg and you reach down to “lend a hand” I can’t imagine that it’s not consensual.

    Either way though I think it’s really creepy but I really don’t like to judge the kinks of others. But don’t ask me to shake hands with you after. :{

  12. @OneHandClapping: “Honestly? I can’t see how you can make it illegal. It may be outside the norm, but depending on where you live, you we are all a little outside the “norm” at some point. I don’t condone it, but if someone feels so attracted to their gold fish or iguana, who am I to judge?”

    As others have mentioned, it can actually be harmful to a lot of animals. They aren’t made to have sex with humans.

  13. Well, the obvious answer (and the one you need handy whenever the “gay marriage leads to animal marriage” argument comes up) is that they’re not consciously capable of consenting to the act. So it’s pretty much always a form of rape, or indistinguishable from it. Certainly I can’t justify it.

    But here’s the catch. What else do we do to animals that’s as bad, if not worse, that’s allowed? Heck, we kill them for food. Is that somehow more noble? Would a cow kept alive for its natural lifespan, living in an open pasture with plenty of cud to chew and nothing to fear except from an occasional, erm, romp in the hay, from the farmer really be worse off than the cow that went in the meat grinder?

    My instinct’s to agree that it’s wrong and unacceptable. But perhaps we need to study what else we’re perfectly cool with using the same goggles.

  14. Consent is definitely not an issue. My dog doesn’t consent to only being fed a cup and a half of food twice a day. And he doesn’t consent to being on a leash in public. Animals aren’t people, and we don’t treat them like people, nor do we expect them to act like people. My dog can take a dump in public, and I have to clean it up. I wouldn’t put up with that from most people.

    I’m with the people who say its all about harm. If what you are doing, as a pet owner physically injures the animal, or renders it unfit in some way (such as making it aggressive) you’re abusing the animal.

    Otherwise, you are just a weird, weird person.

  15. I certainly am not advocating anything, but there are many mammals that are injured while in the process of sex within their own species. I don’t recall off the top of my head which species (and don’t dare do a search while here at work) but there are several types of animals whose male members sport some very gnarly looking “appendages”, which lead to damage to their female partners during the act of mating.

  16. I think more animals than just humans have a sex drive. I think animals can also give implied consent if they initiate sexual behavior. And I think that humans are right to err on the side of caution in determining said consent and the potential for harm.

    Emotionally, I think it’s gross, but I think that about human-to-human sexual acts sometimes, too, and about people having RealDolls.

    I don’t think there should be a complete taboo against this, but you need pretty advanced animal rights and you need to take into account an animal’s cognitive capabilities and then make a case-by-case decision – again, erring on the side of caution, as well.

    Now, necrophilia on the 0ther hand… that’s just sex with an object, isn’t it?

  17. I think for me it’s a matter of consent. An animal can’t really consent to another animal having sex with them either, but when a human (an animal that does have a concept of consent) does it, that seems wrong to me – the human should know better (i.e., that there’s the potential for harm or discomfort to the animal). We shouldn’t hurt an animal for our own pleasure. As for claims that the animal is enjoying themselves…well, how can we really know that what we are interpreting as signs of pleasure aren’t actually signs of pain or grin-and-bear-it acquiescence to authority? We can’t really.

  18. With all this talk of rape, I think first you need to define consent. If a guy is out with a girl, and the girl doesn’t say anything, but hops on the guy and starts at it, is that consent? How about a humping dog? That seems to be the dog saying “even if you don’t go for it, i’m going for it!” How about an animal in heat? That seems to be a good amount of consent. I think consent is a minor issue, though one which squicks out a lot of people.

    That said, sex with an animal is completely unappealing to me.

  19. I think it’s weird and gross and wrong.

    The problem is, I can’t come up with a purely objective line of reasoning as to why. The consent argument falls apart, given that animals don’t consent to being kept in cages either. You get into a whole mess of “Why is it OK to do X to Y but not to Z?”, which leads you to arguments like Kryten’s, “…it seemed to me that if humanoids eat chicken, then obviously they’d eat their own species, otherwise they’d just be picking on the chickens.”

    There a lot of things that aren’t intrinsically wrong but are wrong by general consensus. Conversely, there are a lot of things that are intrinsically wrong but are permissible by general consensus. General consensus, though, is tightly coupled to time period and culture.

    I “know” a lot of things to be right and wrong and I’m unlikely to change my views on them easily. At the same time, I realize that these views are almost entirely a product of where and when I’ve lived.

    Um, what was the question again?

  20. Well there’s consent to sex and there’s consent to a risk of harm. Those can be different things or the same thing. A dog doesn’t know any better, a human does have the concept of consent though and yet chooses to have sex with something that can’t give it. We don’t condone sex with children for the same reasons even though children experience sexuality at varying ages.

  21. @Kimbo Jones:

    “An animal can’t really consent to another animal having sex with them…”

    Yes, they can. Plenty of animals when propositioned with the wild thang will bite, nip, scratch or otherwise make it very clear it’s not their bag at the moment.

    “How can we really know that what we are interpreting as signs of pleasure aren’t actually signs of pain or grin-and-bear-it acquiescence to authority? We can’t really.”

    Again, most animals if they’re into it will be INTO it, and if they’re not will make an attempt to get out of it, running away or some such. Take cats — at the climax when the queen is actually being hurt, she turns around, hisses, and scratches at the tom. And it’s wider spread than cats. If a bitch doesn’t want to breed, she won’t let the dog mount, and will even bite and scratch him if he tries.

    So the consent isn’t verbal. It’s still consent. Or not!

  22. @Kimbo Jones:

    “Well there’s consent to sex and there’s consent to a risk of harm.”

    Oh, certainly! And it falls upon both parties in any such action to act responsibly for that. A person having sex with a maltese is a completely different amount of risk than having sex with a mastiff.

    The risk of harm to the animal could be completely mitigated by choosing an animal of an appropriate size.

  23. @Tiki_Idyll: Yeah I was definitely not careful enough with my wording. Cause that’s not really what I meant. Unfortunately, I think I’m too worn down from a long day at work to be able to clarify.

    But, again – I’m not sure an animal’s behaviour can be interpreted that concretely. Them seeming “into” it may be a fixed modal pattern in response to sex, for example.

    Also there’s the issue of interspecies relations in general. Could that be part of the aversion?

  24. Aha, maybe this will clarify.

    If there is nothing harming the animal and we could determine that they were enjoying themselves, would the only argument against sex with animals then be that there is an inherent taboo with interspecies relations (given the biological imperative to produce viable offspring)?

    So is there some objective reason that such actions are “wrong” or is it mostly “it gives me the willies”, which is not the best of arguments.

    I would err on the side of caution, and not have sex with someone or something that is not able to arrange communication with me in a way we can both understand. Plus I just don’t get a jones on for animals. Me likey human penis.

  25. @Kimbo Jones: Which is why I linked them to sex with animals. They are freaks who don’t understand the difference between murder and scientific tests.

  26. Unless orgasm’s all you’re looking for (and there are better ways of achieving that), I can’t imagine what gratification could come of bestiality. You’re not going to produce any offspring. And I can’t imagine how it could be a bonding experience, insofar as the critter doesn’t even feel the same emotions we do. I guess if you lived in a fantasy world where your addled brain told you otherwise….

  27. But Rebecca is demanding we all work overtime this week, so if she asks, you just saw an Indian girl running through here, stack of papers in arm, yelling into her cell phone for someone to have that report on her desk by 5

    Rebecca is such a cruel task master!

  28. I don’t even know if terms like “consent” and “rape” can be applied to animals. We’ve all seen a dog go and hump another dog. The other dog hasn’t given consent, but we certainly wouldn’t call the act “rape”. Dogs (and other animals) just do what comes naturally to them: perform an act that leads to propagation of the species.

    But then there are other animals (like many birds) that go through mating rituals. If a bird wants to breed, it’s gotta somehow “impress” its potential mate. It’s pretty much impossible for a bird to just jump up on another bird to mate if the other doesn’t want to, because the other can just fly away.

    With all of that in mind, I would guess that most animals are unaffected by acts of bestiality, because to them it’s just another act, like eating and walking. They’ll try to get away if they’re not “interested” (for lack of a better word), but they’re pretty much incapable of feeling violated.

    Really, the only issues here are of custom, societal norms, and the consequences of deviating from that norm, from a social perspective. It’s all about how we feel about the act and how society feels about the act.

    But yes, it’s weird and gross.

  29. yes, it’s weird, gross, and immoral. people should only mate with other people. it sounds like a way to spread disease and i’m going to have to go along with the others who say it’s harmful to the animal.

  30. People keep saying that it’s wrong because the animal can’t give consent. I may have missed it but i don’t think anyone has yet said why it matters that the animals can’t give consent.

    In the case of a small child we care about whether or not there is sexual abuse because of the chance of there being lasting psychological harm, even if there isn’t physical harm. Is anyone seriously entertaining the notion that someone’s pet is going to experience the same thing?

    As far as I know animal brains are not complex enough for that type of thing.

  31. I don’t think it should be illegal except as it violates general animal abuse laws. But since it’s weird and unusual I don’t mind it being defined as abuse in all cases by default.

    It might be bigotted of me, but I really don’t think law enforcement resources should be spent trying to get Lassie to show on a stuffed animal “where the bad man touched you”.

    “What do you mean by ‘woof, woof’? Do you mean ‘He raped me?’, ‘I like sex with hairless apes.’ or ‘Timmy’s trapped in a well’?”

  32. Christ, Elyse. You sure have the Appeal to Prurience down.

    So here’s my take. I don’t really see the appeal of bestiality. I think it’s weird and gross on a personal level. If I found out, for instance, that one of my friends let their dog fuck them, I’d probably need a night with my friends Gin and Tonic to help me process that fact…

    But — inter-species sex is nothing new, and it certainly isn’t limited to people, and anyone who has ever been to a dog park can attest to it.

    The idea of consent has been brought up. A sheep can’t say “yes, let us engage in the act of coitus” (as far as I know) but it can walk away if it doesn’t like what’s going on. If the animal is being restrained or physically harmed, then I unequivocally object and view this as abuse, even in animals where rape is a common mating strategy (such as orangutans)

    But if the animal is enjoying it and not being harmed, then I don’t really see any harm to it.

  33. @Kimbo_Jones: #29. Hear, hear.
    The USHS has also been taken over by PETA, incidentally. I have no patience with PETA.

  34. @QuestionAuthority:

    The HSUS is not to be confused with The Humane Society. The guys that you adopt stray dogs from are a different group. You may or may not have known that, but I tend to think that’s an important thing to point out. I hate that an organization actually doing good for animals gets confused with PETA.

  35. @Elyse: I have no problem with local Humane Societies. The national United States Humane Society is another story. They have been thoroughly coopted by PETA. The ASPCA still seems to have maintained its independence.

  36. So long as I don’t have to watch and the animal is of such a nature that human intercourse won’t harm it, have at it.

  37. All right – let’s start, as many other have, with the understanding that I’ve never had the urge to get it on with anything other than a fellow human being, and that the whole concept sort of gives me the huzz.

    That being said, however, I don’t necessarily think it comes down to consent. We’re all agreed that animals can’t give proper legal consent, though they can show displeasure by nipping, biting, growling, um… oinking or whatever else that particular species might get up to that implies a firm “NO”. Anyone that’s had their leg romanced by a dog, been drug under water by a love lorn dolphin, or… um… you know… heard about certain sex shows and such where horses and donkeys seem quite content to mount what must be an insane woman… *coughs* knows that some animals don’t seem to have a problem with it.

    In the end, I personally think it must come down to harm. Yes, a full grown man is quite likely to severely damage a lap dog by penetrating it, but that same man might not even be noticed by, say… a cow. As for sexual activities that don’t involves penetration – what harm could come of it? Perhaps a little peanut butter induced obesity, but nothing that could really be considered abusive. If no harm is coming from it, I can’t see anything ethically wrong with it.

    It still gives me the huzz… but imagining sex with some humans inspires the same feeling. *shrugs*

  38. Just to let everyone know, I have different standards (than Horsley). She has to be a willing and active participant. I subscribe to the idea that if it isn’t fun for everyone it isn’t fun for anyone.

  39. I go with the “icky, but not immoral” argument.
    We do all kinds of things to animals that it’s not okay to do to even the most mentally deficient human beings. The one that springs to mind most obviously is kill and eat them. If their consent isn’t required for that – and unlike sex, there’s no way we can argue that they’ve consented even non-verbally – I fail to see how it can be needed for sex. If the bestialist (is that the right word?) doesn’t cause the animal any pain, and the animal lacks the consciousness to be psychologically harmed by the act, then where is the problem?

  40. I agree with the earlier posters who assert that consent is a red herring. Further, I do not believe that there is any basis to extend legal concepts relating to human v. human behavior to human v. animal or animal v. animal.

    Rape is non-consensual intercourse between people. Without a person, there is no rape (a person can be guilty of rape of another person if they used an animal in the act – but we would not think that either victim would be a rapist even though the animal or the human victim presumably did not consent.)

    Extending the rape concept to animals based on consent inquiries would seem to logically lead to policing the entire food chain – which gazelle consents to be “dinner” for the cheetah?

    We do have laws (and maybe they should be changed/improved) to ensure that animals are treated “properly” – but there is certainly disagreement about what that means. Ask the advocates/proponents of animal testing, just to name one small area of civil tension that concerns animal treatment.

    Judging from my “take” on the comments, none of the posters admit to having had “…sexual relations with that animal” – and some suggest some sort of deviency for those who have tried, or may wish to try, or who regularly engage in, the practice.

    While the reports are controversial in many respects, the Kinsey Reports rated the percentage of people who had sexual interaction with animals at some point in their lives as 8% for men and 3.6% for women.

    I was told some time ago that K-9 handlers regularly masturbate their charges to make the dogs “better” at their job. (I was not able to explore this in detail at the time – I was much too young to “understand” ). If true, do you all want to lock up your police officers?

    To directly answer the question – I do not believe it is wrong per se. My understanding of zoophilia, and my intense attraction to quality human females, results in this option being personally unappealing for many reasons. Without experience, I could not tell you whether such activities are or could be fun. Will not use the prude label. Labels seem to easily spring from some people on this board.


  41. Well, like you my opinion has changed a little after doing some research. The consent issue was the first thing that popped into my mind, but it does seem to be rather ambiguous. It’s a great point that no cows have ever consented to be my dinner, but I still eat them.

    All I know now, after reading that dolphin FAQ, is this:

    a) If I ever have sex with an animal, it will be a dolphin, and

    b) I will never have sex with an animal.

  42. What if she’s wearing that tight read doggie sweater with all six nipples poking out? You know, really asking for it?

  43. People are all talking about consent.
    It’s kind of the accepted answer. People don’t want to talk about it so they bring up the “animals can’t give consent” argument as if it has the same weight as “little children can’t give consent”

    I think the obvious, begged question is why is sex special to us? Or things we lump in the sexual category which is getting very fuzzy round the edges anyway. If it’s wrong to dress your kid daughter up in a peep-hole bra, is it wrong to dress your poodle up in one?

    The standards are nowhere near equivalent.

    We can agree that you shouldn’t beat your dog (no pun intended) and you shouldn’t beat your children. Straight so far. We agree that you shouldn’t forcefeed, selectively breed, shoot, eat or steal babies from humans, but this somehow doesn’t apply to cows.

    There must be any number of reasons we’re so screwed up about sex. Most animals aren’t. Why are we concerned with whether they mind or not? They presumably mind being held down and having their hair shaved off, too, but that’s ok? If bestiality in this discussion was replaced by running around holding animals down and shaving them, it’d be no problem. A while ago there was a news article about a bunch of women doing that to men somewhere. I read it on the Internet; I’m sure it’s true. Not acceptable. Do it to a poodle, and it’s funny. Except for the owner.

    If you take a ride down the slippery slope and can imagine a sheep brothel next to Starbucks, things get a little more hazy for peripheral reasons, but in the end, I reckon – in the right context – it’s up to you. Whatever blows your goat.

  44. Clearly, animal sex is immoral and animal abuse and cannot be condoned. If you want to have sex with an animal you need to do the only moral thing possible. You need to get a gun, put it to the animals head and pull the trigger killing it. Then it’s just a piece of meat and you can have all the sex you want without without any moral repercussions.

    The issues of abuse and consent are clearly nullified.

  45. In addition to animals , also keep in mind that animals don’t think of sex the way we do. For humans and primates, sex can be an act of pleasure. For animals, its’ instinctual drive that they don’t understand. They don’t do it to show “love” towards their partner.

    Feline sex, for example, is very painful. Especially for the female. But cat do it out of compulsion.

    Plus the relationship between a pet and a human is like the relationship between a child and a parent. The child is totally dependent on the parent for food and shelter. So the pet is really in no position to consent.

    The few bestiality posts I’ve read seem to be by people who are projecting their feelings onto the animal. I’m guilty of having conversations with my cats, but I know that I’m the one making up what my cat is saying. With the posters I’ve read, it’s like they don’t realize that they’re imposing their feelings upon the animal.

    Pets will rub against you, kiss you, and let you pet them to show affection. All the animal research I’ve seen say that animals don’t use sex to show affection.

  46. YourSkepticalGuy:I was told some time ago that K-9 handlers regularly masturbate their charges to make the dogs “better” at their job.


    I also know some folks who masturbate their un-fixed (as they regard such ‘treatments’ as to be abusive) cats with a lubricated cotton bud. They stated otherwise they would go insane with their cats when in heat (these are apartment cats).

    A cotton bud is lacking the barb that male cats have, and the masturbation did quiet their cats down. I thought how creative their idea was, I would never of thought of it! However, I would worry about harming the cat with a cotton bud as the male cat has some innate ability on how to penetrate a female cat, but what does a cotton-bud wielding cat owner have? Un- supervised learning on the job? Luck?

    Our cats are sensuous (they are fixed) and they just accept so fully certain stroking–they purr, they stretch the part of their body they want touched, all very pleasant for the both of us, and no sex is required. They have essentially trained us how to touch them!

    Some of my cats have licked my armpits. At first, I denied that it was sexually arousing for me, and then after I admitted it to myself, I was strongly aware that I was the designated driver (so to speak)–I was the one with the ‘higher consciousness.’ I decided to stop her behavior because feeling sexually excited from a cat licking my armpit was not the way how I wanted or needed to experience sexual arousal.

    My opinion is that if experiencing sexual arousal with an animal on a routine basis rocks your boat, I don’t want to know you. In any way.

  47. @Kimbo Jones:

    A dog doesn’t know any better, a human does have the concept of consent though and yet chooses to have sex with something that can’t give it. We don’t condone sex with children for the same reasons even though children experience sexuality at varying ages.

    I thought the reason why we don’t condone sex with children is because it is psychologically harmful for a child to be sexualized.

  48. If I had to place a moral/immoral tag on it, I’d say immoral, because A) we can’t breed together, but more importantly, B) animals can’t consent, which technically makes all bestiality rape. I cringe when I hear myself using words like “moral” or “immoral”, though. Morality is objective and I can’t speak for anyone but myself!
    We should be treating animals with as much respect as we’re supposed to use towards each other…. Just because it would be nice!

  49. @Wendy:
    So, is all sex for reasons other than breeding immoral? Masturbation? Homosexuality?

    As for consent, can’t they? not verbally, sure. but many people have noted ways in which they could consent?

  50. Beastiality: What do you think? Is it wrong to get tight and shiny with an animal? Is it just weird and gross? Or is it totally fun and I’m just a prude?

    Sex with animals? Sure, why not? So long as said beasty appears to enjoy it, or at the very least, not object to it, what’s wrong with it?

    I don’t mean that I think everyone should run out and shag a sheep. I only mean that if that particular kink floats your boat, what’s so different from S&M freakiness, or any of the other myriad sexual perversities that the human species is comfortable with?

    Ha, ha, ha. What a question. I think I detect some religious creed popping into some of the replies: “I am not an animal. I am a human being. I am a man.” Heh, heh.

    I’ve known a few women, and two men who admitted to having their doggies perform oral sex on them from time to time. The doggies love it. They just lap it right up. Of course doggy-woggies just love them reeky tasty things don’t they?

    I think sex in general, and certainly oral sex, is more of a past-time sport for males of many species. Not so much something that might be termed serious sex.

    As any observant farm boy knows, steers, bulls, and occasionally even cows perform cunnilingus on cows in estrus. And they do it with such a lazy, laissez-faire attitude that one can’t help but think they’re just passing the time. And so far as I know, the males of several simians, and lots of other beasties do likewise.

    Genital intercourse is, perhaps, somewhat different. Again, if said beasty don’t mind, so what?

    We’re all animals, and sex is just sex, to some degree. We humans just frig it all up with our intellects.

    As for informed conesnt!?! From a dog?!? Are you kidding!?! Nonsense. That sounds like PETA guff.

  51. Questions: Considering what the religious already think about atheism, is this really the kind of thing we want to discuss on the board? Isn’t this playing right into their hands for their propaganda? I know that we like to tackle every possible topic, but perhaps we shouldn’t debate things like this where those that already don’t like us can pick up free ammunition. Just a thought.

    Also, if you are going to discuss this topic, you need to consider the possibility of zoonotic disease transfer. It is already well established that bacteria “swap” sections of genome and that many animals are reservoirs of human pathogens. Is interspecies sex really a good idea on scientific grounds?

    Remember the Law of Unintended Consequences.

  52. @Elyse:

    Animals do indeed express consent with one another. Sometimes a male forces himself on a female, but other times the females are receptive. As a person who has witnessed her fair share of horse breedings, let met just say, the mare MUST be consenting or the deed doesn’t get done. If she is in heat, she will likely be very receptive to the stallion, taking an open pose and moving her tail aside. If she isn’t consenting and the stallion tries to mount her, she will give him a kick. Most of the time a mare’s hind legs are tethered a bit so that she can’t really hurt the stallion, but if she isn’t ready and willing she won’t hold still, and he won’t get on top of her.

    Surely the level of consent varies between species, but there are definitely cues animals give to one another, and so I don’t think domestic breeding can be considered rape.

  53. I think it’s gross and weird, but I have a hard time understanding why it’s illegal. Example: you can buy a chicken keep it confined in a small box all its life to get eggs, or you can snap its neck and fry it up for food, that’s all ok, but if, at any time, you stick your dick in it – you’re going to jail!

  54. I agree that “informed consent” is something of a red herring, especially as animals can certainly give non-verbal consent (or refuse it, sometimes violently). But that doesn’t mean there’s no reason to discourage bestiality!

    The big issue to me, would be the risk of zoonoses — that is, picking up other-species infections which just might take hold and make big problems for the human partner, and possibly for everyone around them. (Consider swine flu as a known example of trouble-a-waiting.)

    But even aside from that (admittedly rare) risk, there are social issues: For the human, bestiality is basically socially nonfunctional, but what’s so new there? For the animal, though, it trains them in behavior which will be inappropriate with the other humans they’ll encounter! Given that we humans are the ones who care about social issues, we’re thereby responsible for teaching our animal friends to get along properly within (or alongside) human society, and this fails at that responsibility.

  55. I’m a little disturbed this discussion is still going on. I’m all for stripping away social taboos but you’d think if we all really thought it as creepy as we claim that we’d have covered he issue already.

    But like I said earlier I try not to judge the kinks of others, I just wish I hadn’t requested the email updates on this thread.

  56. @Elyse: Ingrid Newkirk and Peter Singer most certainly DO NOT condone bestiality. They do want to impress upon us humans that despite what we may have read in the the bible, humans are really just another animal species, similar in many ways to other animals, particularly other primates. That clearly doesn’t mean that we are identical, but we do share many abilities that have been denied in the past. For instance, at one point in time it was believed that animals were not capable of feeling pain, and there are still those who would argue that animals do not experience emotions.

  57. @Kimbo Jones: PETA are not a bunch of fucking terrorists. They are not the ALF and they neither advocate nor condone violence against those with whom they disagree. They do use some tactics that are a little out there (i.e. “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur”), but their goal is consciousness-raising, and you can’t deny they’ve done that. How many times do you see people parading around in fur coats these days?

    The people who work there are incredibly dedicated people who behave in ways consistent with their beliefs. The same goes for those at the Humane Society of the United States, which I might add is in no way connected to PETA (QuestionAuthority!), although there is a little overlap in staff. Maybe you’re thinking of Fund for Animals, the group founded by Cleveland Amory?

    Anyhow, if you are in favor of dog fighting, canned hunts – that’s when the animals are fenced in and usually tame, or shooting wolves from low flying aircraft, than you have reason to oppose the HSUS and PETA (i.e. if you’re Michael Vick). Other than that, if you believe those who shoot dogs with crossbows or set cats on fire ought to be charged with a serious crime rather than be given a slap on the wrist, they have been instrumental in changing the laws to make such crimes a felony. They have worked for years to improve the conditions of animals on factory farms, you know, the ones where they squeeze five chickens into a two foot squre battery cage with a wire mesh floor… and those used in animal research. Some of the video footage out there of researchers torturing their subjects and laughing about it would curl your hair.

    So please do your research before you accuse an entire organization of being a bunch of fucking idiots. As far as I can tell, they’re just people working in cubicles and trying to make life a little better for those non-human animals out there. Unless you believe that God created man and gave him dominion over all the beasts, or whatever nonsense is in that book.

  58. @jerilyns: I agree with you that most of PETA is made up of good people trying to better the lives of animals. But when, as a group, you fund an arsonist like Rod Coronado you can’t complain when people call you terrorists. Personally I believe if more of PETA’s supporters knew about the groups activities like that they would refuse to support them, because as you said they are good people.

    I also agree that PETA, and other groups like it have done good in improving the lives of animals around the world. There is no denying that bad people do horrible things to animals. But let’s be honest here, the laws against animal abuse have been around far longer than PETA and PETA has nothing to do with he enforcement of those laws. There are plenty of other people that do good work for animals and they don’t fund arsonists or decry medical research and then turn around and take their medications that derived from said research. If you honestly think it’s worth giving up all of medicine to save the animals then I strongly suggest you do it before demanding I deny my children antibiotics to make you feel better.

    While I truly believe that PETA is doing what they believe to be good I think they have a great lack of perspective for the bigger picture. And I believe that they take credit for a lot of good work that is done by other people who, in many cases, completely disagree with the methods and goals of PETA.

    And whether you believe it was granted by god or not we have the ability to catch, outsmart, train and breed other animals. That sounds a lot like Dominion over them to me. Thankfully most of us are good, and decent animal lover that use our power to better the lives of the animals that we love. The animals that PETA demands we let go and let live free to do what they want. Unless of course they want to come back inside and have some dinner and a yearly checkup, PETA doesn’t allow that.

  59. I’m a PETA member! A lot of things people say about PETA are B.S. but PETA is not perfect I agree.

    Fucking an animal is animal cruelty- enough said. It’s common sense. What sicko would want to do that anyway?

  60. Actually, there is a lot of evidence that animal rights group are becoming more and more violent. This includes, but is not limited to, PETA.
    “national gathering of activists in 2001, when Bruce Friedrich, a PETA official, said “blowing stuff up and smashing windows” was an effective way to liberate laboratory animals.”

    I could keep going, if you want.

  61. Actually, I will keep going…just because I don’t think many people saw this one:

    “The family was home at the time of the firebombing and the victims, including two young children, escaped on a fire ladder from a second-story window, according to police. One family member suffered injuries during the escape and had to be hospitalized briefly, police said. That bombing is being considered an attempted homicide because the family was home, police said.”

  62. @CobaltG: said

    Fucking an animal is animal cruelty- enough said. It’s common sense. What sicko would want to do that anyway?

    Well, that’s an interesting take on the scientific method, critical thinking, and skeptical objectivity, and all rolled up in one neat and tidy little wee post.


  63. @CobaltG: I totally agree with bug_girl here. PETA has gone off into very dangerous territory where most of the community doesn’t want to go. This is exactly why those of us in animal welfare want to make sure the public doesn’t conflate our work with the animal rights movement. We are not connected in any way.

    PETA and its allies (like HSUS) want to completely extinguish all animal ownership in this country. We, OTOH, are too busy trying to do triage on the sick, abandoned and wounded pets in this country. Been down in the trenches of animal rescue lately, CobaltG? It’s noisy, it literally stinks and we get hurt, sometimes severely.

    In rescue, we pull from shelters, rehabilitate anuimals and place them in caring homes. We also monitor those homes. That’s all we do. No politics are involved. We do not agree with violent methods, nor do we condone them. That’s not our mission and we are generally too damn busy to worry about the politics, anyway.

    As I type this, I’m nursing a dog bite on my left hand and a tetanus shot site on my right shoulder. Such is the rescue world.

  64. @QuestionAuthority: I don’t envy you. It’s a rare occurrence in my line of work (software developer for bank) that anyone gets bitten.

  65. @PrimevilKneivel: It appears that you are correct that PETA has send money to Rod Coronado, which is a real shame. When I worked there for a few months in the mid-90’s, they didn’t support terrorists. I would still argue that they have performed some valuable services, not the least in raising awareness of the cruelty inherent in fur, factory farms, and strengthing (as opposed to creating) animal cruelty laws. In terms of animal research, I think they’ve raised the public’s consciousness to some extent, although their methods have been at times counter-productive (and led to some pretty crazy pro-animal research groups who would argue that animals exist for the sole purpose of helping humankind in all it’s endeavors.)

    “And whether you believe it was granted by god or not we have the ability to catch, outsmart, train and breed other animals. That sounds a lot like Dominion over them to me. ” — And this sounds a lot like the “might = right.” Since we can eat them/hunt them/research on them then we should be able to. Except we could do all those things to other groups of humans and we wouldn’t in a million years consider that acceptable. Big strong adults can certainly beat the crap out of small, weak children, but you won’t find anyone arguing that this is either moral or acceptable. I won’t even get into what we’ve done to Native Americans or any of the other myriad groups we’ve chosen to “dominate” and then rationalize said domination.

    In terms of biomedical research, PETA is indeed against the use of animals and would very much like the research community to put some time, effort and money into finding more humane alternatives. (At least they used to be.) Since their time machine is out of operation, they can’t go back in time to undo all the findings that have been found, so they also do not argue that we should throw out the results of past research, no matter how it was obtained. So you kids and mine can keep their antibiotics. As to future research, it makes as much sense to argue that we can only perform it in a certain way as to argue that the earth is the middle of the universe or humans will never walk on the moon. Both neglect the possibility that we may find some new information or techniques that enable us to find out even more than we already know.

    And I have to say that I agree with them completely that animal testing should be banned when it comes to cosmetics and household products. If we don’t have enough information from past tests (like the Draize eye test in which rabbits’ eyes were injected with various substances such as floor wax), then we can damn well live with the myriad of products that have already been cleared for household use.

    And like CobaltG, I would never in a million years hold up PETA or any organization as perfect. They have ignored their members’ wishes in the past and many who agree with their goals no not approve of their methods. If PETA is in fact funding terrorists like Coronad, than shame on them.

  66. @QuestionAuthority:
    Excuse me, but where do you get your information about the HSUS wanting to ban the ownership (or companionship as it were) of all companion animals? They certainly want to do away with unspayed and unneutered animals breeding litters of unwanted offspring that are then euphemistically “EU’ed,” but I’m fairly certain that they don’t have any agenda to make companion animals obsolete. And I worked there much more recently than I did at PETA.

    While it’s no secret that PETA does wants to end animal ownership (by spaying and neutering all companion animals out of existence), I don’t think they believe that’s going to happen anytime soon. And at least when I was there, they were so supportive of those with companion animals that they put up screen doors to make it easier for their employees to bring them into work with them.

    I applaud what you do in there in the trenches. I’ve been there, too, and they can be loud and smelly and incredibly depressing. And if you’ve been in the shelter community, I’m sure you’ve seen first-hand the worst of humanity– animals abused, adopted on a whim then relinquished when they become inconvenient. I’ve seen it all. (The best story I’ve heard was of the people who gave up their cat to the shelter when they redecorated and the cat no longer matched.) I was recently at the shelter for a visit and there were dogs given up for new babies, incarcerated owners, and my personal favorite “personal problems.”

    But I firmly believe that the only way to improve permanently the lives of those living in the trenches is by making institutional changes.
    As the shelter director where I used to volunteer used to say, we are a throw-away society. Tired of your pet? Throw it away. And that isn’t going to change without some significant awareness raising and probably a few good laws, as well.

  67. @bug_girl: I uncategorically condemn this type of cowardly terrorist activity. Unfortunately, the ALF in a very disjointed group without any centralized leadership, which makes it harder to catch. I don’t believe that this was the work of PETA, and I’d be surprised if they condoned this type of thing. And the idiot who said that “blowing stuff up and smashing windows” was a good way to liberate lab animals was reprimanded by PETA and apologized for the remark. There are certainly a few kooks who work there, and animal organizations seem to draw more than their fair share of the mentally unbalanced, but that doesn’t make the whole group guilty by association. Though I repeat that if they are funding the likes of Rod Coronado, I find that very troubling. I don’t believe you’ll find the HSUS giving money to those types.

    That said, I also believe that we should be working much harder to find alternatives to animal testing. I have to note, not all scientific research is created equal. Much of it is driven in the same was as politics: do the experiment that will bring in the big bucks. And scientists don’t have a monopoly over objectivity. If you believe they do, “The Mismeasure of Man” is a good place to start disavowing you of that notion. In addition, if the public knew what was going on in some animal labs, they’d demand an end to the experiments. (Remember when the army was shooting dogs at close range to study field injuries?) Even scientific research needs to have some limits.

    I apologize to everyone on this board for the volume of my comments. This is obviously an issue I am passionate about. And I expect that y’all, as sceptics and skepchicks, can rise about the trraditional mindset that we have some god-given qualities that make us somehow better or more important than all the non-human mammals and that just because we CAN use and misuse them for our own purposes, that we OUGHT to do so.

    There, I’ve said my piece. Now I’ll be quiet.

  68. @jerilyns:
    Note these quotes from Ingrid Newkirk, founder and president of PETA and Alex Pacheco, chairman of PETA:

    “For one thing, we would no longer allow breeding… as the surplus of cats and dogs declined, eventually companion animals would be phased out…We would no longer allow…pet shops” (Harper’s Magazine, Aug 1988)

    “Pet ownership is an absolutely abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation.” (Washingtonian Magazine, Aug. 1986)

    “Arson, property destruction, burglary and theft are ‘acceptable crimes’ when used for the animal cause.”
    (Alex Pacheco, chairman of PETA, New York Times interview)

    Condemned by their own words.

    In addition:
    The HSUS employs several former PeTA employees, and Ingrid Newkirk, president and founder of PeTA has allies within the HSUS directors.
    One of Newkirk’s allies would be Wayne Pacelle, vice president for media and government affairs. Pacelle was hired by the HSUS directly from Cleveland Amory’s Fund for Animals. Amory is also interestingly the mentor of PeTA co-founder Alex Pacheco.
    Newkirk used the help of Amory in 1987 when she seized corporate and financial control of the anti-research New England Anti-Vivisection Society and its multi-million dollar bank account, the first of her moves to consolidate the animal rights movement under her influence.

    Other former PeTA employees and associates who are now employed at HSUS include the chief computer programmer, the head of its national and international investigations, who by the way, also oversees its lucrative Wildlife Lands Trust, two key HSUS investigators and many other people throughout the HSUS corporate structure, including its lab animal section, which handles the medical research issue.

    This is widely known and discussed throughout the animal welfare community. We have noted the increasing use of legislation and ordinances sponsored by PETA and HSUS to weasle-word their agenda into local and state laws.

    We don’t like the throwaway culture, either. If the throwaway mentality were to disappear, so would the need for people to volunteer for rescues and shelters. I’d love to be made obselete because there were no more unwanted pets in shelters. But that’s not the way to do it.

  69. @jerilyns:

    Peter Singer and Ingrid Newkirk do, in fact, both condone bestiality.

    Someone linked Singer’s essay on the topic up above, but here it is again.—-.htm

    And Newkirk was quoted in this article :

    While he came under heavy fire for his comments, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk not only defended Singer, but also bestiality. “If a girl gets sexual pleasure from riding a horse, does the horse suffer? If not, who cares? If you French kiss your dog and he or she thinks it’s great, is it wrong? We believe all exploitation and abuse is wrong…If it isn’t exploitation and abuse, it may not be wrong.”

  70. An editor’s note now states Newkirk is against beastiality:

    Dear Editor:

    There is almost nothing as shocking as a man forcing himself sexually upon an animal (“PETA, Perverts and Horses,” 21 July). As a cruelty officer, I prosecuted cases in which men took small dogs and chickens into alleyways or elsewhere and raped them, often rupturing the animals’ organs in the process. When I was working with the Washington Humane Society, there was one case that I was unable to find a way to prosecute, which will always haunt me. It involved a sex club run by men who, we had reason to believe, were sexually assaulting cats in a private home.

    It is almost as shocking to read my comments about non-assaultive sexual contact as some endorsement by me or PETA of sexual assault on animals. Let me be clear—as the writer was shamefully not—that PETA and I are totally opposed to any exploitation and all bestiality. Philosophical musings on whether there is cruelty when a girl experiences sexual pleasure from riding a horse who is oblivious to that fact or when someone allows a dog to hump their leg are a far cry from an endorsement of bestiality. Bestiality is cruelty to animals and PETA pushes for laws to outlaw it and prosecution when it occurs.

    Please correct the hideously false impression that Alexander Rubin gave in his guest column.ð

    Very truly yours,

    Ingrid E. Newkirk
    People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

    Editor’s Note:
    Neither editors nor its guest columnist, student Alexander Rubin intended in any way to infer that PETA President Ingrid Newkirk approved of bestiality. PETA, whose mission is dedicated to animal welfare, abhors bestiality and cruelty of any kind to animals.












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  71. @jerilyns: I have no doubt that PETA has done good work but the second they entered into the terrorist camp their opinions became null and void IMO. They went from a group I merely disagreed with to a group I believe must be stopped.

    I never claimed that we have the right to do anything with animals, I simply pointed out that we do indeed have dominion over them. Yes we need to take care and be responsible but that does not mean we have to wash our hand and not use animals as we see fit. It’s not either or.

    Sure we already have antibiotics, but due to bacterial evolution we will continue to need new medicines. You can’t claim that animal research has to stop and think that it won’t profoundly affect the human race. No more cancer research, no more aids research, no more vaccines. I’m sorry, I love animals too but I can live with myself knowing that animals have died to save lives, not just human either.

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