Bestiality: the justifications

Before we dive into the reasons why people engage in sex with animals, we need to note that it’s inevitably just a few voices that we hear because of the underground, taboo nature of the activity.  To compile this post I have looked at academic writing but I also felt it was necessary to look at online forums around the topic to try and get a more balanced perspective.  Acts of bestiality occur across a spectrum and hence so do the motivations or justifications for it.  With this in mind, these are a variety of motivations and justifications and won’t all apply to every person who does have sex with an animal.

I have used a lot of different books and papers to put together this series and whilst I’d normally link to resources at the end of each post, for space reasons I’m going to compile a list in a separate post once I’ve finished the series.

Sexual contact with animals has different forms and different motives and Massen proposed that there were nine basic forms of zoophilia:

  1. Incidental experience and latent zoophilia
  2. Zoophilic voyeurism
  3. Frottage
  4. The animal as a tool for masturbation
  5. The animal as a surrogate object for a behavioural fetishism
  6. The animal as a fetish
  7. Physical control and affection
  8. The animal as surrogate for human sex partner
  9. The animal as deliberately and voluntarily chosen sex partner

Primarily I’m looking at the last form.  A study by Hani Miletski looked into the motives for sex with animals and found that they included, in descending order of popularity:

  • Sexual attraction
  • Wish to express love and affection to the animal
  • Animals are accepting and easy to please
  • The animal wants it
  • Relieving sexual tension
  • Feeling animals are more trustworthy
  • Wanting to experience something different
  • Identifying with the animal
  • Seeing it in porn
  • Loneliness
  • No human partner
  • Too shy to have sex with humans
  • “If I did to humans what I do to animals I’d be arrested”

The last motive being especially concerning but it’s really hard to find out much more about that because of the consequences for the human.

The points about loneliness and not being able to have sex with humans for whatever reason doesn’t seem to be a driver for many people.  Indeed, a lot of people I’ve read about have a wife or a husband who may or may not be into animal sex as well but who is often aware of what’s happening.  In the survey, only 12% of people said they had sex with animals because of a lack of human partners and 7% said it was because they were too shy.

It has been argued to be a form of sexuality, akin to homosexuality etc (please please note that I am not saying homosexuality is the same as sex with animals).  Those arguing this suggest it is how someone is born and whilst I don’t feel comfortable with this argument, I have read a lot of accounts where those struggling with attraction to animals experience a lot of the same emotions and experiences as those of us who’ve been through accepting same sex attraction and coming out.  There does seem to be issues around self acceptance and feeling ‘wrong’ for their attraction.

A study that attempted to consider whether zoophilia was a sexuality showed that some people report feelings of love and affection for their animals, have sexual fantasies about them and say they are sexually attracted to animals.  However it did have a number of limitations and inevitably there is a very small sample pool to use for research.

Along with the “it’s natural” justification, we find that prehistoric depictions of bestiality have been used as evidence of the innateness of it.  That animals have allegedly instigated sex has also been used as justification as has that it’s a way of meeting the animal’s needs.

Some people see the animal as an equal partner, that they are in a relationship and that it’s much more than just sex – they are in love with the animal, as opposed to loving the animal.  The idea is that the animal isn’t getting hurt, they wouldn’t tolerate it is tied in with this.  As long as the animal sticks around during sex, it’s ok – if they weren’t enjoying it they’d bite or kick or leave.

“I wish I could fit inside my female lab.  Tried a few times fooling around but that’s just not going to happen without hurting her and I care more about her than anything”
– online forum

On the forum, in documentaries and in an online article, you do get a strong sense of concern for the animal.  The forum had a number of threads that did echo this, including a board about animal health and welfare, threads about how best to do x,y or z.

But it’s a complicated world, as Piers Beirne demonstrates when he writes about watching ‘Barnyard Love’.  The animals had varied reactions – sometimes the dogs seemed to be enjoying it whereas horses seemed bored, indifferent or unaware and that seems understandable because of size differences… With the latter, it’s hard to argue that the animal is enjoying it or actively engaging in sex with humans.

When asked about issues of consent, there are a couple of responses.  One being that the animal would disengage as we’ve discussed, another is that no one asks animals if they want to work for us, be food for us and so on and why is this any different?

One argument I have seen a lot is that it’s no worse than what happens on farms etc and those practices are sanctioned.  Sexual manipulation is routinely practised on farms with chickens, pigs, cows and so on.  As an example, it’s common for pigs to be turned on when you’re artificially inseminating them so that her uterus pulls in the semen.

It could then be argued that animals are routinely abused more brutally by the farm industry than they are in a sexual relationship where the human loves the animal and cares for it as if it were an equal partner.

Having considered this, it seems that the intention of the human is important – if it’s about sexual gratification for the human, that seems to be automatically more abhorrent regardless of the level of cruelty involved.

In my next post I’m going to look at the consequences for the human, of which there are a number, and it does make you ask why, with all these risks, someone would engage in sex with animals unless those rewards were high enough to justify it.

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