“What is the relationship between consent, agency, and responsibility in this posthumanist landscape? …Does this starting point commit us to the idea that many, myself included, find difficult to swallow: that bestiality has the potential to go the way of other practices labeled ‘deviant’ and become sexually progressive?”
When philosophy professor Margret Grebowicz, who teaches at Groucher College in Baltimore, wrote these words it was after she’d spent considerable time browsing zoo porn online. “How do I know? I looked,” she writes, “…searching for free imagery, taking ‘tours’ of pay sites, registering as a user of file-sharing sites, and just clicking around, getting a general impression of what is available and under what conditions…I was interested in the intersection of this particular technological mediation with graphic narratives of interspecies desire on an experiential level…’who are the consumers of this imagery?’ is a very different question than ‘What is it like to be a consumer of this imagery?'” Though, after that much effort and thought, I find it difficult to believe myself that Grebowicz stopped at just ‘clicking around.’ At least on her mouse!
Half-joking aside, as her essay suggests, Grebowicz focused on “the interspecies imaginary that [zoo] porn produces,” and the role of this ‘imaginary’ in the ongoing construction of both femininity and feminism. Not only that, but it was clear in her writing that she sought to foster a discussion of animals as “active co-agents in the production of meanings, rather than passive screens for our anthropomorphic projections.”
Catharine MacKinnon, a feminist theorist known for her objection to pornography in most of its forms, pushed the idea that women and animals in zoo porn were victims, eroticized and made subordinate to men, objectified solely for men’s pleasure. Grebowicz disagreed, and her findings are telling. She writes:
“The most widely available [zoo porn] depicts women having sex with male horses and dogs, two species which have evolved in close proximity to humans, and that appear as figures of masculinity throughout our culture. Indeed, horses and dogs almost always appear as the male actors in the pornography itself, situated in narratives in which animals are substitutes for men where men are missing. What is eroticized in this imagery is not the power difference between the male viewer and the animal…but something very different: the size and virility of the horse, the eagerness of the dog, and so forth…humans and dogs (and many other animals) are semiotic agents. They both actively create meaning in the course of their interactions, rather than just having meaning or ‘culture’ projected onto some substratum of ‘nature.'”
Sex columnist Mish Way had a similar experience with her ‘research’ for an article on Vice. “Why would anyone want to have sex with anything other than a human being?” she writes, “But, as I logged into every bestiality forum that would accept me, read all the comment threads, uncovered all the theories from therapists, doctors, and sexologists, and talked to some female zoophiles themselves, my thoughts changed. I’m not for it, but their arguments started to seem…if not valid, at least understandable. Did my nights on Beast Forum create a type of Stockholm Syndrome?”
“I’m generalizing here, but in my clinical studies women are less interested in sexually deviant behavior,” Dr. Hani Miletski, whose groundbreaking book ‘Understanding Bestiality and Zoophilia’ is at the forefront of academic research on the subject, told Way over the phone as she began her research. “The women that were in my study actually cherished the relationship to their animal partner. That was a big part of the whole appeal to these women, and all their partners were male dogs.”
One major focus of Way’s article was famed Zoogirl Bodil Joensen. “During her peak of acceptance and popularity, Joensen did a bestiality advice column in ‘Screw’ magazine, helping other curious zoo females intimate sex with animals safely,” Way writes, “In one entry, a reader asked her what the point was in sucking off a pig, since the semen ‘is so thick and clots so fast and it can stick in your throat and choke you to death.’ Joensen responded with a beauty tip in broken English. ‘But don’t you know the semen is making a beautiful cold cream compress for the shinningness [sic] and smoothness of the face skin? No pimples any more I am having since this wonderful discovery.'”
Way’s article ends there, and it’s hard to imagine she hasn’t at least teased the idea of trying it out for herself. Same goes for Grebowicz. Point being, most of the academic literature out there on zoophilia, and the subculture we here on Art of Zoo are fostering, is being written seemingly exclusively by women. Not only that, but reputable feminist theorists.
It begs the question – are Zoogirls at the forefront of an emergent wave of feminism? A true petfan is respectful of our Ladies’ privacy and anonymity, so they may continue exploring their sexuality in the ways they themselves see fit, unhinged by society, ungoverned by archaic laws written by closed-minded men. And, should they choose to show themselves, that is absolutely their choice. It is their expression. Not ours. Not anyone’s.
On this site, we tend to stick to the eroticization Grebowicz initially points out, but perhaps we should be talking more about the ‘wonderful discovery’ Way ended her article with. Art Of Zoo is not just a place for Petfans to consume images, in other words, but a platform where women can be themselves freely, and voice themselves freely. The images, videos, and words they share are an extension of their true selves.
If anything is going to change in our society for the better, it will come from women. As for our Ladies? Let us commit ourselves not only to allowing their voices to be heard, but let’s make sure they are the loudest in any room.
Grebowicz, Margret. “When Species Meat: Confronting Bestiality Pornography.” New Views On Pornography: Sexuality, Politics, and the Law. AbeBooks. 2015.
Way, Mish. “Animal Urges: Women and Bestiality.” Broadly Vice. Online. https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/contributor/mish-barber-way. 2015.