Ce texte relativement daté a largement été diffusé sur les premiers forums et newsgroups consacrés à la zoophilie. Il a accompagné le développement de notre communauté.
Do animals consent to have sex with a human partner?
On Consent, by Nevyn
A quick note: This is an edit of the original file 'On Consent' and was written to cover a number of errors and inadequacies that the original had when it came to arguing the case pro-bestiality in any situation other than a group of people who are already pro. In other words, it has been re-written with the intention of making it less subjective.
I've changed words, lines and even added and deleted entire paragraphs in order to re-hash it for use in a more objective environment. (Nevyn has just looked over my shoulder and said he's happy with it, so I'll leave his name on it for now). Have fun with it.
" Do animals consent to sex with a human partner?"
The issue of consent is one that lies at the very center of many of the more reasonable arguments put forward in opposition to bestiality. The question of whether an animal can actually 'consent' to sex with a human becomes such an emotive one for some people (especially, so it seems, those who are searching for justification for their condemnation of bestiality) that oftentimes the facts are ignored in favour of blind faith in the fact that 'animals just can't'. Hopefully, I can present here some arguments that will help dispell some of the objections people may develop through ignorance.
The issue of consent is one that covers many more areas than the specific area of sex. Despite the fact that the attention sexual consent has been given by the media has given it a much more prominent profile than its counterparts, it can conceivably be extended to cover most aspects of the way we as humans treat other animals due to the passive role we force them into. Many people are quite happy to eat meat that was obtained without the specific consent of the animal, they are happy to wear wool products that were made from wool taken without the consent of the animal and they are happy enough to drink milk taken from cows without their specific consent.
The point isn't that those things are DONE, that's another argument, the point is that when most people think of doing those things the issue of consent doesn't cross their minds for a moment. Why should it? After all, the animals aren't being harmed by the latter two, and when asked why they eat meat responses range from 'I like it' to 'If we didn't cultivate animals for meat many species would have become extinct by now'. But the instant the issue of sex is brought up consent leaps to the forefront of their minds.
The society I live in will allow me to scratch the belly of my dog as much as I please without the need for a specific demonstration of consent from him but the instant my hand moves six inches lower, and I scratch his genitals, I have entered the realms of animal abuse I have become a pervert who is using an animal in a non-consentual manner. Though that example may only bring upon me society's distaste, if I go further and allow my dog to mount me I am, in many areas, committing a criminal offense.
There are two main points I would like to cover in this essay:
- An animal CAN consent to sexual activity with a human partner, which can be demonstrated.
- Consent is not an issue: the animal actively seeks sexual release with a human partner.
Demonstration Of Consent
I'm always willing to challenge my own convictions, to test whether what I believe will remain valid under close scrutiny. I devised a test to demonstrate an animal's consenting to sexual activity with me.
To help understand the test, I would like to do a brief review of the theory behind training a dog to perform some task: 'Sit', 'Stay', or 'Heel' for example. Training a dog is a relatively simple process; reward is given to the dog for correct behaviour, and depriving the reward (or punishment) is the result of incorrect behaviour. The repetition of this process enforces the pleasure of doing what the trainer considers 'right', and the pain of doing what is 'wrong'.
Training a dog to 'sit' on command provides a good illustration of the training process. Firstly, the trainer says the word 'Sit' in a clear, commanding voice. Then he pushes downward on the dog's rear while he pulls back on the dog's lead. The dog is forced to sit, and the trainer praises and rewards the dog. After several repetitions, the dog associates the reward with sitting after hearing the sound 'Sit'. The dog willingly performs the action without the trainer's having to force his rear down. Later, if the command 'Sit' is given, and the dog doesn't comply, the trainer says the word 'No' in a voice the dog has learned to treat as threatening or uses some other form of punishment for the incorrect behaviour. So the dog has two associations with the sound 'Sit': Pleasure (reward) at the correct action of sitting, and pain (punishment) for the incorrect action.
This is the fundamental way to train a dog. If the trainer punishes for correct behaviour, and rewards for incorrect behaviour, the dog will not perform the action correctly after the command is given.
I have the good fortune of spending my life with two male Great Dane dogs. After their evening meal, I began encouraging one of my dogs to jump up and place his front paws on the roof of his kennel. If he complied with my command, I masturbated him to orgasm while he leaned against the kennel. No other reward or encouragement was given. I didn't even say " Good dog!" when he complied. The action taken if he didn't comply was simply to carry on with the evening's normal routine. The dog wasn't deliberately ignored, he simply received no reward for his actions.
Previous to my starting his training, he would have spent several minutes after completing his meal examining his feeding area for any morsels of food that might have escaped his attention. After five evenings, the dog I was training would finish his dinner, and then practically leap onto his kennel without any encouragement from me at all. He would look back at me over his shoulder, wagging his tail.
My interpretation of this was his beginning to associate the completion of his meal with the possibility of reward if he placed his paws on the roof of his kennel - and he was rewarded each time he did this with my masturbating him. This didn't really surprise me. What DID surprise me was the reaction of my other male dog after a few more days of this training: my other dog also began to jump up against the kennel after dinner without any training from me! He observed the attention the other dog was receiving, and wanted the same attention, so I rewarded him in the same way.
This was sufficient to convince me that my dogs enjoyed being masturbated; and they were showing their consent to the act by their unsolicited jumping up against the kennel.
It is important to realise that this test has a fundamental flaw that invalidates it in some circumstances, it is made from the point of view of a person who already believes that bestiality is not per se an abusive practise. The flaw in the test is that the animals were encouraged at all. Yes, to someone who is happy with the concept of animal consent, this is no problem. The dog has demonstrated at the very least that he enjoyed the attention and for some that will be enough. But the argument still stands that the dog had to be trained before he would accept any form of sexual contact. He had to be encouraged into a position where he could be masturbated, and that is hardly a form of consent.
So is there any way to disprove the idea that a dog needs to be coached to accept sex? Well, in the majority of cases it seems there isn't. In some way, shape or form it is likely that if you have had sexual contact with your dog, it has been you that instigated it at the start. Unless you can say that without any prompting from you, your dog approached you for sex, AND you can say that the approach for sex was clearly an approach for sex and not just an approach for something you interpreted as sex it is both pointless and without value in a debate on consent.
Easier to argue is the second point I want to make: Consent becomes an issue only when sex is involved. Dogs will actively seek out sexual activity with a human partner.
Does a dog consent to having its stomach scratched when it rolls over? I would like to step back a little here and first illustrate how a dog consents to having its head scratched. How do you know a dog wants you to scratch its head, or whether it is just tolerating the act and humouring you or maybe even scared that if it doesn't react like that it will be punished? I can offer consistency of the dog's reaction as one method of explanation.
Take the head-scratching example. I am certain one of my dogs likes to have his head scratched, by his reaction when I stop. If I put my hand in my pocket, he will force his nose between my arm and my hip, and flick his head sideways to pull my hand out of my pocket. Then he will position his head underneath my hand so all I have to do is flex my fingers and I am scratching his head again.
A similar reaction occurs when I scratch his belly. While I'm scratching him, he gives little obvious reaction. If I stop, he will practically crawl under my arm and roll over so I can carry on. EXACTLY the same occurs if I scratch his balls instead of his belly. The only difference, therefore, is the social stigma attached to the scratching of dogs' balls. It is socially acceptable to scratch a dog's stomach; it isn't socially acceptable to scratch a dog's balls. The dog doesn't care, since both sensations are pleasurable to it.
Similar reactions occur when I extend our playing to masturbating the dog. During our play, my dogs often become sexually aroused. If we stop playing, they will walk and stand in whatever position is the most convenient for me to begin masturbating them. If I put my hand out, palm upwards, one of the dogs will position himself so his genitals rest in my hand.
I have been accused in the past of training my dogs to participate in sex with me. If you have ever owned a dog, you may appreciate the fact that while you are training your dog, your dog is often training you. When my dog swats the door with his paw, my reaction is to open it and let him out. I didn't train him to do that, he trained me.
As one final example of one of my dogs " consenting" to sex, I would like to illustrate what sometimes occurs in the evenings as we are going to sleep. My Danes sleep in my bedroom with me. One in particular likes to sleep on the bed. Occasionally, if I'm tired, I'll try to make him sleep on the sheepskins on the floor with the other dog. Normally he is the quietest of dogs, but when I won't let him onto the bed, he'll wait until I'm dozing off, and then he'll start making a noise that sounds similar to him talking to himself. The sound is a little hard to describe: neither a bark nor a growl, just a quiet vocal sound. Then he'll stand and stare intently at me and the spot on the bed where he would like to be - and snort. If I relent and let him onto the bed, he will settle down quietly and sleep.
The above example has relevance here because he will display very similar behaviour under one other circumstance. That is: he would like sex (demonstrated by trying to mount the other male dog, and myself). Instead of giving in to his wishes, I have turned off the light and tried to sleep. He makes the same vocal sounds even if he is on the bed, and will often go further and swat me with one of his front paws until I relent.
I could quote further examples of my dogs' actively seeking sex from me; have you ever tried to say " no" when 140 pounds of Great Dane is pinning your head to the bed with one of his front paws, and is mounting you because you were foolish enough to bend over to tuck the sheets in... ?
The result of all these points is one clear argument. With only a minimal amount of encouragement, the dog is actively seeking sex. To argue that it is perfectly acceptable to encourage your dog to sit on command but not acceptable to offer your dog pleasure in the form of masturbation or some form of penetrative sex is to fall into the trap of 'moral outrage'. Morality engendered by religion or upbringing is a hard force to argue against. In many cases the person making the complaint will go as far as dismissing any argument or example you come up with with a simple statement such as 'Yes, but it's WRONG'. This form of denial is a particular problem when it comes to sexual morality. Popular sexual mores have been put on the pedestal of popular morality for such a long time that they have gained an almost teflon-like resistance to stones cast at the irregularities in the logic of their proponents. If you try to argue them down, you end up hitting the brick wall of social acceptability. This problem makes it very difficult to claim validity for any of the arguments presented here.
Animals can consent to sex with a human partner. I have been able to demonstrate this as far as it is possible to demonstrate such an abstract thing. Animals can also actively seek out and request sexual release from a human partner. On many occasions I have been on the receiving end of these requests.
One final word on consent, before I close. The question of whether animals can consent to inter-species sex is not easy to answer.
Animals are exploited quite openly by humans; hens are kept in small cages to lay eggs commercially, cows are forced to breed, and be milked, and then are slaughtered for their flesh. There are many cases where animals are used solely for human benefit. I am certain none of the animals involved consented to the treatment they receive. And almost certainly they are getting no pleasure out of it. Yet it is quite socially acceptable to exploit them. And it is this fact that provides us with the most concrete form of attack when we are approached with the accusation that we are abusing animals. Why should specific consent be required for an activity that it can be shown the animal is enjoying when animals are killed without the need for even a general form of consent?
So I won't recognize condemnation of my sexual activities with animals as valid unless the person condemning me can prove the animal involved is being forced, or is not willing to participate, the fact that the animal has been encouraged is irrelevant. The nature of encouragement in this case is merely informative. You are demonstrating to the dog that if he wishes to seek some form of sexual release, you are willing to provide it. After that initial encouragement, if the dog is willing, and he enjoys it, consent is implied by his attempts to repeat the initial contact.
Also, the person accusing me must have no involvement with exploiting animals in any way himself (including, but not limited to: consuming dairy products, eggs, meat, any vegetables grown in any area where animals have been forced to leave their natural habitats, wearing any woollen or leather clothing, drinking water from a catchment that has caused any animal to be re-located or killed without its consent, walking on woollen carpets, etc. - also using any product from any company whose employees did any of the above.) Of course, the argument is ridiculous, but it serves to highlight the fact that animal abuse is rife in human society but has been covered up under the general heading of being 'good for us'. The simple fact is that any form of abuse is unacceptable. If bestiality was an abuse of the animal then anyone, even someone who murdered animals for a living, would have every right to condemn us (it's no defense to say 'yeah, I do that, but look at what YOU do!'). But it can be demonstrated as far as such things can be demonstrated that the animals involved are happy with the situation, no matter how they were introduced to it, and that happiness is the strongest argument we can have in support of bestiality as a practise that is neither abusive nor coercive, and as such a practise for which there is no logical justification for criminalisation.
by Nevyn, edited by anonomous