Getting the dolphin wet
I keep imagining the Venn diagram: set one labled Human, set two Other Animals, and the union . . . well, that’s where the magic happens. Really.
Zoophilia is here, queer, and, like just about everything that lives on the muddy periphery of normative human sexuality, is extremely difficult to talk about without dropping a moral anchor into the murky depth. Watch it, though. As with almost everything interesting in the world, it only starts getting real once you get beyond the ewww.
Human sexual arousal is pretty plastic. And I don’t just mean petro-chem & battery-operated, though that’s an obvious example. The kink that fills our fantasy, bedrooms, closets, dungeons, hotel rooms, magazine racks, craigslistings, and, um, I think there’s one more venue — maybe it’ll come to me later — is a testament to the old “what’s bred in the bone will out in the flesh” trope. Emphasis on bone, flesh, and, uh, breeding.
(Just to quickly dispatch with breeding. Obviously we’re biologically driven to fuck because that’s the historic precursive behavior to getting our genes kicked down a generation. But with the crap-shoot of fertilization & viability not guaranteed, and even still about 39 debauched weekends hence until any potential full-term birth, the coded behavior is well removed from the specific evolutionary fitness it’s selected for. So, to state the overly-simplified obvious, biology makes us want to screw first-and-foremost by making screwing feel good — not because we want to birth babies, which most certainly does not.)
When you’ve got an itch, the world becomes full of scratching posts. Humans mostly fuck other humans, true. But not exclusively. And there are even some who exclusively fuck non-humans, or at least exclusively prefer to. As Jesse Bering adroitly and tactfully covers in a recent column, the literature is scant, but indicative. And the stereotype of a sub-intelligent, farm-rural, last-resorter does not bear out in recent research surveys.
Concerns of animal mistreatment, abuse, and exploitation are unavoidably wrapped up in the zoophilic cultural package. But hold on all you critical-eyed, neutral-pov science-dorks. Can a human have sex with an animal and not harm it? It would reactionary to insist that the answer to this is always no.
Almost all zoophilic-positive writing seems to spend effort clearly marking the line between zoophilia and bestiality, the term most often used to describe deliberate abuse and rape of animals and those who get off on it. In an October 2009 Bizarre Magazine interview, a couple who create and distribute “pet-love” porn through their website (and also live the life, it seems) touched on this sensitivity:
There’s certainly a grey moral area when it comes to men sticking their cocks in female or male animals, and I don’t show any of that on my website – it feels too close to rape . . . But a dog fucking a woman is a different situation entirely. A male dog won’t get an erection and actively take control of humping a woman unless it wants to; I know, because I’ve had dogs wander off or lay down and go to sleep on set if they’re not in the mood! And of course, you can’t make a male dog fuck a woman against its will. And they must enjoy it, because they come back for more.
Remember, our cultural attitudes toward non-human animals are anything but consistent, and subject to the winds of political, social, and scientific context. This ambivalence is expressed succinctly by internet-person Robofish in a comment attached to the Bering column.
Most of us, myself included, are happy to eat animals and wear their skin, and for them to be used in scientific experiments; so for us to then condemn others for having sex with them seems kind of hypocritical.
I’m not sure what to think about that – maybe it is the case that there are certain kinds of sexual contact with animals that are not necessarily abusive. Or maybe I should just accept that *all* mistreatment of animals is equally wrong and become a vegetarian.
Contrast the tasering of meth-addled sheep with this first-person description of a boy’s first horseplay (Earls & Lalumière, A Case Study of Preferential Bestiality: Arch Sex Behav, 38:605–609, 2009):
At first, I didn’t even know that you can’t get close to a horse by sneaking up on it! They have millennia of programming to be suspicious of such approaches! You need to be open: Non threatening, body language is subtle but critical; they read you like a book. But when that black mare finally just stood there quietly while I cuddled and caressed her, when she lifted her tail up and to the side when I stroked the root of it, and when she left it there, and stood quietly while I climbed upon a bucket, then, breathlessly, electrically, warmly, I slipped inside her, it was a moment of sheer peace and harmony, it felt so right, it was an epiphany.
Pop rhetorical quiz: Viewed dispassionately, which animal — stun-gunned ewe or consummated mare — would you say exhibits more consent to their exploitive objectification?
I use that word consent quite deliberatively, because it is so central to human sexual dynamics. But what can possibly be meant by consent when applied to non-humans?
Malcolm Brenner thinks he has a pretty good idea. He has novelized his autobiographical relationship with, and seduction by, a female bottlenose dolphin in his self-published book Wet Goddess. Mr. Brenner has shown up over at Southern Fried Science and Deep Sea News to comment on a few dolphin-related posts, and has shown he holds some rather tenuous scientific views about the minds and communication styles of cetaceans. But his experiences with his dolphin lover are probably not so tenuous, and knowing how ornery dolphins can be I have difficulty imagining that their pool-bound coupling (I am assuming he is not lying about this event) could have occurred against the dolphin’s will.
I’ve not read Wet Goddess (his tale has got some legs, and his website says he is sold out of his initial printing) but, if I may state the painfully obvious, a book like this lives and dies on the verve, style, and writing chops of the author. And if the sample chapter Mr. Brenner has published online is representative, I’m afraid I’ll hold on to my $19.95. At least until he finds a hard-working editor.
However, I am touched by Mr. Brenner’s honesty about his past love. He seems like a nice guy, and it can’t be easy to speak so plainly to the TV news and morning radio shock jocks about getting fucked by a dolphin.
After everything, though, after Wet Goddess and canine cunnilingus and sex zoos, I can’t help feeling the usual way I feel after I’ve spent way too much time with my head up the ass-end of humanity’s great delusions of grandeur. Like I feel after having a conversation with a sociopathic co-worker. That it’s bleak to be imprisoned inside the confines of your own psychodrama.
And you don’t even have to have sex with ponies to get caught in that place.
Oh, arrogant humans. It’s not enough that the world is your oyster, must it also be your bearded clam?