Bestiality: The Next Wave in Sexual Freedom ?

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Article publié dans Edge Boston, un journal LGBT, qui revient sur l'article publié dans plusieurs journaux locaux au sujet de la bestialité: THOMAS Francis, 18 août 2009, "Animal Instincts. Zoophiles love and have sex with animals. Will the world ever accept them?", Miami New Times.

Etonamment, l'auteur rend précisément compte de l'article paru dans le Miami New Times et pointe du doigt les difficultés que peuvent avoir les gays à soutenir la cause des zoophiles.

Texte intégral

Des leaders anti-gay comme l'ancien sénateur Rick Santorum, lient les relations sexuelles de même sexe au sexe avec les animaux. Aujourd'hui, un groupe qui émerge – les zoophiles – commence à faire de même (Source:Associated Press)

Bestiality: The Next Wave in Sexual Freedom?

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday Aug 21, 2009

Religious fundamentalists and practitioners of "zoophilia" have one big commonality: they both point to the gay and lesbian community when talking about sex with animals.

The way in which they differ is profound, but in terms of social impact, that deep divide in philosophy and approach may be negligible. Anti-gay religious and political leaders like former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who likened sexual intimacy between people of the same gender to "man on dog" intercourse, insist that if gays and lesbians are relieved of the social stigma and legally imposed inequalities under which they suffer, society will be quick to embrace other modes of sexuality as well. Bestiality heads the list, along with incest, pedophilia, and necrophilia – or, in plain English, sex with close relatives, children, and dead bodies, respectively.

All of those proclivities may well have their adherents, but gays and lesbians say that they should not be lumped in with child molesters and people who have sex with animals.

For one thing, gays and lesbians pursue relationships, not merely sex, with their same-gender partners. That entails consensual contact with a person old enough, and mature enough, to make those sorts of decisions for him- or herself. And that, say GLBT equality advocates, means that gays and lesbians have families, and have a legitimate right to demand the same rights and protections,including marriage, that heterosexuals avail themselves to for the benefit of their own families.

It’s a logical and emotional argument that has come to be understood and endorsed by more and more Americans, from the man in the street to influential political and religious leaders. But the successes that gay and lesbian families have enjoyed in recent years – six states now extend marriage equality, though federal recognition is still denied gays due to the 1996 "Defense of Marriage" Act – are seen by zoophiles as holding out a promise that their day of acceptance will also dawn.

If so, it won’t be with the endorsement of mainstream GLBT equality groups. Though anti-gay leaders and pundits may try to blur the lines, most gays and lesbians are repulsed by bestiality, just as many straights are--maybe more so, given the continual efforts by gay rights foes to smear gays as "perverts" who will have sex with anything, even animals and corpses.

As reported in an Aug. 18 article posted by the Broward Palm Beach News, zoophiles see themselves as the next wave in sexual liberation. The article relates the story of a young man who was mocked by classmates for being "gay." However, the unapologetically bisexual youth had a far more outre revelation for his tormentors: he liked horses and dogs.

The article quoted him as saying, "I just couldn’t keep it in anymore.

"Just for the hell of it, I figured I’d throw it out there and have them make fun of me even more."

But whereas rational people can hear the stories of gay and lesbian families and come to understand the pain that same-sex parents endure when their children are harassed at school or their rights to visit a sick spouse in the hospital are challenged, the "right" of a human being to have sexual relations with an animal is a much harder sell.

Animal welfare advocates protest zoophilia on the grounds that an animal cannot agree to sexual activity with a human being, noted the Broward/Palm Beach News article. From that standpoint, any sex with an animal is forced and is, therefore, animal abuse.

Much the same argument is made against pedophiles, whose sexual predations of minors have the potential to scar children for life.

But zoophiles are not swayed by such arguments. Indeed, the article points out, as cases of bestiality (and political action to outlaw it) make the news, individual zoophiles learn they are not alone, and by turning to the Internet they can swap stories with others who share their sexual appetites.

By observing the gay and lesbian equality movement, zoophiles might even hope to adopt some of the same arguments: people like them have existed throughout human history (the article notes that cave drawings seem to depict human sexual activity involving animals); closeted zoophiles have even held positions of authority (such as the Arizona deputy fire chief the Broward/Palm Beach News cited as being arrested in 2006 for having sex with a lamb).

Indeed, popular myth has it that even royalty boasts a celebrated zoophile: according to legend, the Russian Empress Catherine the Great died while having sex with a horse, when the harness supporting the horse’s weight broke and Catherine was crushed. ( sets the record straight: Catherine the Great died in bed, but of an illness, not of a falling horse. Just as is the case with gays today, prominent women of Catherine’s time were slandered through wild, and fictitious, tales of their sexual excesses.)

For better or worse, opponents of zoophiliacs--chief among them animal welfare advocates--also use arguments that sound familiar from the anti-gay culture wars. The article quoted Human Society spokesperson Bernard Unti, who said, "A bazillion cultures worldwide have prohibited this behavior."

And just as some anti-gay organizations have attempted to paint same-sex intimacy, no matter how tender or consensual, as inherently violent, animal welfare advocates have taken a similar tack. "We have tried to reclassify ’bestiality’ with ’animal sex abuse,’" the article quoted Unti as saying.

Unti himself sees the difference between gays and zoophiles quote clearly. "The example of homosexuality may offer some comfort to such persons, but [human-animal relationships] are fundamentally unequal relationships... more akin to taking advantage of minor boys or girls," the article quoted him as explaining.

That parallel to pedophilia was echoed by author and criminologist Piers Beirne, who has written a book on the subject titled "Confronting Animal Abuse."

From Beirne’s perspective, human sexual contact with domestic animals is inherently abusive because those creatures, like children, are "completely dependent on us for food, for water, for shelter, and affection."

The article noted that the scientific literature provided by animal welfare advocates uniformly proceeded from an assumption that any sexual contact with an animal would be abusive by definition; indeed, one individual pointed out that serial killers often start out with acts of cruelty targeting animals.

Others in the article argued that animals possess sentience, and therefore they can recognize what they are doing with a human being and consent to it.

Another argument was that human beings, in their sexual activity, were acting from a deeper, more animalistic place of their own; sexuality is a function not of the human-defining neocortex, but of the limbic system, comprising more ancient, underlying brain structures inherited from pre-human ancestors, who were non-human animals themselves.

But moral questions persist. Even if animals could be shown not to look at sex and power relationships the same way we do, however, the fact remains that the person having sex with an animal is still a human being, and still subject to the human view of sexuality and its associated power dynamics.

It may well be the case that power is ultimately the metric through which sexual practices must be deemed normal or perverse, natural or unnatural--with questions of an individual’s inherently occurring sexual urges being put aside.

But sexuality is a topic charged with emotion, and often not examined through any sort of rational lens. For many people, gay or straight, the idea of sex with animals--or children, or dead bodies--provokes an instant and visceral horror, in part because of the irremedial objectification of the person or creature with whom sex is taking place. A sense of defilement attends most people’s consideration of such activities, and anti-gay leaders find it easy to exploit feelings of unease around sexuality by aiming such feelings at GLBTs.

Indeed, bestiality and homosexuality are deliberately linked in anti-gay rhetoric for just that reason. At anti-gay Web site Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (a title not everyone agrees is fitting, given the site’s content), anti-gay myths are taken as axiomatic. Moreover, the site boasts that it is "devoted exclusively to exposing and countering the homosexual activist agenda."

Indeed, an August 16 posting at the anti-gay site attempts a critical analysis of certain anti-gay Biblical passages, making claims both grandiose--homosexuality will destroy any civilization that attempts to extend such "sin" social acceptance--and incidental: the posting’s author makes the perhaps not-so-discerning observation that, in the Book of Levitcus’ long list of dos and don’ts, gay sex is condemned after child sacrifice to the idol of another religion, and just before sex with animals. "Seen any Bestiality Pride parades lately?" snarks the author, paranthetically.

Tellingly, the passage regarding the Book of Leviticus glosses over the same catalogue’s warnings against sewage disposal within city limits, the eating of shellfish, the serving of meat together with dairy--cheeseburgers are sinful, as it turns out--the cutting of hair, and the wearing of blended fabrics.

The article takes care not only to link homosexuality with bestiality, but also to point out that the Biblical penalty for gay sex is death.

But the Broward/Palm Beach article took the time to explore the question of whether there might be more subtle nuances to the question of zoophilia. The answer was yes: zoophiles, the article said, are appalled by accounts of cruelty toward animals and very much against any sort of animal harm or rape. They don’t see themselves as acting out of sadism, much less as preparing for a serial-killing career: they see themselves as offering pleasure and perhaps even companionship to animals.

The journalist who wrote the article managed an interview with one zoophile who was so paranoid about being identified by authorities that he would only agree to meet in an online simulation called "Second Life," where multiple users may assume the identities of people – or, in this case, human-like animals – utterly unlike themselves and live out a "life" that fulfills their fantasies.

The zoophile that the journalist spoke with made a distinction between bestiality as a "fetish" and zoophilia as a form of intimate relationship between man and animal. "He’s a male. I’m a male. I wanted to make him feel good," the zoophile explained, recalling his childhood dog.

The zoophile went so far as to call his affection for dogs "an orientation" and "a lifestyle."

The journalist’s informant disclosed that his attraction was deep-seated, and that his disinterest in human beings was just as inherent to his identity.

"The human body turns me off – women wear perfumes; guys sweat. It irks me," the zoophile was quoted as saying in the article.

"You can show me pictures of nude models and it doesn’t turn me on," he continued. "I think the human body is kind of stupid.

"A big-horned sheep, certain breeds of dogs, are much more physically attractive to me than a woman with big breasts or a man with a big penis."

Another man, a Southern Baptist by background, told the journalist that he had had a conflict with his sexuality and his religion before reconciling the paradox for himself. "God is more concerned with how we treat others than what sex we have," he said – a sentiment not unlike those uttered by gay persons of faith when explaining how they deal with religious rejection of their orientation.

One informative nugget in the article indicated that at least some zoophiles may actually identify with animals, at least in their sexual fantasies, rather than necessarily keeping a mental picture of themselves as human beings at all times.

One man – who reportedly was authoring a novel based on his own sexual relationship with a dolphin, themselves animals known occasionally to approach humans with amorous intent – explained that at an early age his sexual fantasied involved seeing himself as an animal having sex with another animal.

That fantasy came in as useful when, as an adult, he married. Sex with his human mate, he said, involved fantasies rather like the ones closeted gay men might resort to in order to get through sex with their wives. Only, in his case, "I fantasized I was a wolf having sex with another wolf," the zoophile said.

That same informant made a sharp distinction between popular views of bestiality and his definition of zoophilia, saying that "what gets reported in the news," such as sex with small animals or rough sex in which an animal dies, "is not zoophilia.

"These are instances of bestiality that have injured the animal."

In one respect, zoophiles may indeed have a commonality with gays and lesbians, the article reported. A sex researcher named Hani Miletski launched a study over a decade ago, in an effort to discover what made people into zoophiles. But the subjects of her study – nearly 100 participants – showed no unifying theme; zoophiles, like gays or straights, came from every ethnicity and socioeconomic background. The one thing they all had in common was a sexual attraction to animals, leading Miletski to theorize that zoophilia – like homosexuality, or heterosexuality for that matter – was innate.

While that is a conclusion that anti-gay religious and political leaders will use to lump gays in with those who have sex with animals, the GLBT equality leadership is certain to take the opposite tack and draw clear differentiations between their cause and that of zoophiles.

The Broward/Palm Beach article explored this, to the best of the journalist’s ability to do so, but GLBT leaders were unwilling to talk much about it other than to declare, in no uncertain terms, that whatever zoophiles might want, their battle was not at all that of America’s gays and lesbians.

The article quoted the leader of Equality Florida, Brian Winfield, who stated, "We believe that most people are capable of distinguishing between committed relationships between consenting adults and forcibly having sex with animals.

"It’s just not at all an appropriate analogy."

Appropriate or not, it’s a comparison that will continue to be made by the anti-gay contingent and, in all probability, by zoophiles who see in the growing social progress of gays and their families hope for a future in which their own proclivities are met with something other than repugnance.

Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.


MELLOY Kilian, 21 août 2009, Bestiality: The Next Wave in Sexual Freedom ?, dans Edge (Boston MA).

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