Why Animals Can’t Be Your Valentine: Understanding Zoophilia 

 

Written by

Lay Sion Ng @ Issues Under Tissues

Chinese Malaysian, American Literature at Osaka University, Japan.

 

Some days ago, I watched a documentary called “Animal Passion” on YouTube. Ever since then, I cannot stop pondering the subject of zoophilia (derived from the Greek, zoo means “animal” and philia means “friendship” or “love”). I am curious in what sense humans would prefer to have sex with animals rather than humans.

Hani Miletski, the author of Understanding Bestiality and Zoophilia (2002), suggests in her latest research that zoophilia might be counted as one of our sexual orientations. Miletski’s analysis is based on Francoeur’s theory of sexual orientation, which can be defined in terms of “affectional orientation,” “sexual fantasy orientation,” and “erotic orientation” (40). During her research, Miletski discovered that there are people who are in love with their animals (affectional orientation), fantasizing about having sex with animals (sexual fantasy orientation), and claiming to being sexually attracted to them (erotic orientation). Also, Miletski’s research shows that zoophilia is not limited by gender, age (from 17 to 70), sexual orientation (homosexual, heterosexual), and education levels (some zoophilias are highly educated professionals such as engineers, professors, physicists and so on). This enables Miletski to conclude that “there may be a sexual orientation toward animals” (41).

It is suggested that in zoophiles’ eyes, animals are regarded as their life partners—they are more than just animals. As one of the zoophiles claims,

“I don’t just value the sex. I love and cherish my animal partners as I would a human partner”

(Miletski 40). This description highlights the difference between zoophilia and bestiality, in which the former claims to have an emotional attachment and affection toward animals while the latter claims to have sex with animals just for the sake of sex. This is why zoophiles exclude themselves from animal abusers. Moreover, some zoophiles reveal that to ask them to have sex with humans is the same as asking a homosexual to have sex with someone of the opposite gender—thus pushing the argument toward Miletski’s conclusion (41).

On the other hand, arguing from a non-anthropocentric viewpoint, professor Andrew Linzey argues that humans’ emotional reactions are not sufficient to approach anything because “[e]motions are wayward things and can never be infallible guides to what is right or wrong” (29). Is a dog wagging his tail saying “yes” to sexual intercourse? Sadly, at this stage there is no way to confirm if animals feel the same way as humans; what we feel towards our animals is totally one-sided and thus unreliable in this case. Here, the key ethical consideration is consent and basically any sexual behavior without consent is viewed as compulsory. Meanwhile, as Linzey suggests, zoophiles highlight another ethical contradiction: while bestiality leads to life-long imprisonment in the United Kingdom, the torture (in some cases) and killing of animals for food is legal (29). This contradiction is worth pondering.

One of the reasons why sex with animals is preferable to sex with humans for some zoophiles is because humans have become increasingly artificialized through the advance of scientific and medical technology. In Miletski’s research, a zoophile who is attracted to animals’ pheromones claims,

 

“I enjoy stimuli that are not found in human sexual relationships…Artificial perfumes leave me completely cold, as do conventional standards of “attractiveness” and “beauty.” There is something altogether more straightforward and earthy in the experience of animal sex, and it is that which I seek in my sexual activities.” (41)

 

This description recalls what Linzey has articulated in his article: “What is left of ‘natural life’ in a world of organ transplants and open-heart surgery, or even blood transfusions?” (29). Certainly, there is nothing much we can call “natural” in this modern society, which results in the yearning for naturalness (“straightforward” and “earthy”). This leads to an assumption that zoophilia is a byproduct of consumerism, anthropocentrism and social repression, to name a few.

According to U.S. News, except for Hawaii, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming, and the District of Columbia, most of the states have anti-bestiality laws (Smyth, 2017). Meanwhile, except for Oregon, the ownership of zoophilic pornography is considered as legal. On the contrary, countries such as Germany and Russia prohibit the promotion of zoophilic pornography while permit zoosexual activity. In any case, the exploitation of animals—which includes rape, mutilation, torture and killing—cannot be ignored. It is suggested that the main issue of animal abuse is the thinking that animals have no consciousness. But the fact is that animals do have consciousness. Animal sentience studies show that psychological states of suffering and joy are also included in the pain and pleasure experienced by animals. One study further states, “Where there is sentience there must also be consciousness. This is because sentience, the ability to feel pleasure and pain, requires consciousness” (Animal Ethics.org). Thus, the suggestion that animals lack consciousness simply cannot be upheld.

If we look at zoophilia from a broader perspective—the feminist lens, both the one-sided declaration of emotional attachment and the argument about animal consciousness are based on the anthropocentric perspective. This perception itself is opposed to feminism as feminism aims for equality not only in terms of gender but also race, species and so forth. From the ethical standpoint of ecofeminism, humans are sharing the planet with all other living creatures and therefore it is necessary to give voices to the nonhumans. As Linzey claims, “We need to distinguish between a kind of love which respects animals for what they are and allows them to pursue their own lives according to their natural instincts, and another selfish kind of love which seeks to condition animal lives in accordance with our own desires” (29). Here, Linzey’s description not only emphasizes the rights of animals but also highlights the parallel structure between the exploitation of animals by humans and the subordination of women under a patriarchal system. In this sense, the idea of feminism needs to be expanded in order to protect the rights of minorities, especially the living organisms that lack voices, so that the symbiotic relationship between each group can be maintained. Overall, feminism is here to stop us from the greed of blindly satisfying our own desires without care or concern for the welfare of other living creatures; feminism reminds us that why animals cannot be our valentines.

 

Work Cited:

“Animal Consciousness and Cognition.” Animal Ethics. Web. 3 February 2018.

Linzey, Andrew. “On Zoophilia.” The Animals’ Agenda, May/Jun 2000. 29. Print.

Griffiths, Mark D. “Animal Passion: A Brief Look at Zoosadism.” Psychology Today. 1 May 2014. Web. 3 February 2018.

Miletski, Hani. “Zoophilia: Another Sexual Orientation?”. Archives of Sex Behavior 46, 2017. 39-42. Print.

Smyth, Julie Carr. “Bestiality Crimes Targeted by New State Laws, FBI Reporting.” U.S. News: Best States. 1 April 2017. Web. 3 February 2018.

 

Text © Lay Sion Ng

 

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Lay’s Previous Contribution To Edge Of Humanity Magazine

The Hidden Pedophiles: What to do with them?

 

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