As you’d expect, this post is going to include references to bestiality, to sex with animals and animal abuse.
When I started researching bestiality, I expected to have enough material for one short blog post. I was wrong, very wrong. After just a couple of days of looking into the topic, I found I had enough for a short series and I know there is much more out there that I’m not going to be covering. I also found that it’s much more complicated than I first thought.
Bestiality strikes a cord of revulsion and disgust in most people, and it is this instinctive reaction that it’s clearly wrong that limits the conversation. Many times, it’s cast as an obvious black and white issue and in doing that, the issue can be put aside, it goes out of the way but as we’ll see, it’s not always so clear cut.
Looking into the history of human and animal sex reveals a lot about how perceptions of animals have changed over thousands of years; from the ancient idea that they were very similar to us, to the Christian approach of animals as less than man, to animals as objects through to animals as creatures with agency.
Over a number of blog posts, I’ll be looking at:
- Definitions and statistics
- The history of bestiality
- Motivations and justifications
- Arguments against
- Bestiality in folklore and fairytales
To limit the length of these posts, I am going to focus mostly on the western world and may revisit the topic looking at other parts of the world.
- Bestiality: the act of having sex with an animal
- Zoophilia: a persistent sexual interest in animals that may include an emotional bond with animals, emotional involvement and perception of the animal being in love with the human
- Zoosexuality: used to designate feelings and attractions towards animals as a sexuality, akin to homosexuality. Tends to be used by people self identifying as zoophiles as it is a more neutral label.
Zoosexuality, as a term, seems to have emerged online during the 1980s and 90s. By the mid 90s you could unofficially marry your animal partner at the First Church of Zoophilia. This highlights the difference between bestiality as an act and zoophilia or zoosexuality as a ongoing thing.
Some people will engage in bestiality but not have any emotions towards the animal. Some people will engage in bestiality and have feelings towards the animal akin to pet owners. And some people engage in bestiality and have very strong emotional feelings and attachment.
Another thing of note is that historically bestiality had been intertwined with sodomy and buggery.
It is hard to get accurate statistics because of the taboo around the issue, this means that self reporting isn’t reliable. There is also a lack of research into the topic.
We do have statistics from Kinsey’s study in the 1940s, again self reported and obviously a number of years old now but arguably the best we have. He found that 50% of males raised in a farming environment in US had had some form of sexual encounter with animals. Nationally the average at the time was 8% males and 3.5% females.
More recently Midas Dekkers has estimated that the percentage of humans who have sex exclusively with animals is far below 1% although the evidence seems lacking to back this claim up.
The second thing I want to consider is how bestiality has been perceived and punished throughout history and as that is going to be an epic post, I’m going to end this one here.