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This is a book about people who have sexual relations with animals, a behavior known as "bestiality," and people (known as "zoos") who are sexually and emotionally attracted to animals, a condition known as "zoophilia." More specifically, this book details my journey conducting a study about bestiality and zoophila.
It all started when my client, I'll call him Chris, told me he could not find any literature about bestiality/zoophilia. I had been seeing him, in my psychotherapy practice, because he could not stop having sex with dogs. He was a very religious man and believed it was wrong to have sexual relations with anything other than women, and even then, only when you are married to that woman. However, he could not control his urges to have sex with the dogs in his neighborhood.
I asked the librarian at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) to conduct a literature search for me (at that time I was not connected to the Internet), which resulted in very disappointing findings - there was nothing out there about bestiality and zoophilia other than one autobiography by Mark Matthews: The Horseman; Obsessions of a Zoophile. In this book, the author describes his struggles to accept the fact that he loved his horse more than he loved his wife. He portrayed himself as an intelligent, professional individual, sexually attracted to horses, and eventually, after admitting to himself his love for his horse, he married his horse.
I was intrigued with the idea that there are people who may be sexually attracted to animals, and may even prefer animals as sex partners to humans. I decided to dedicate my doctoral dissertation to this topic and began to study bestiality and zoophila.
This was not an easy thing to do. Some of my colleagues and friends thought I was out of my mind: "You are going to study what?" Some concluded there was something wrong with me, that I needed therapy, and/or that I myself was having sex with animals. The man I was dating at that time could not even handle discussing the topic. But, there were others who encouraged me and my controversial investigation, and I was set to be one of the first researchers to study this virtually unknown phenomenon and to conduct a large scale, professional study on bestiality/zoophilia. This book describes my journey and my findings.
My findings provide abundant and rich information about the life and behaviors of its participants. Most of the data are new information that can begin to give sexologists elementary knowledge about the relatively unexplored lives and behaviors of individuals who have had sexual relations with animals.
The book is divided into two sections. The first section, Literature Review, begins with defining sexual relations with animals (chapter 1). Throughout the literature review, it is very obvious that authors perceive sexual relations with animals in very different ways. Definitions of various behaviors and attitudes are often conflicting, leaving the reader confused. Terms such as "sodomy," "zoorasty," "zoosexuality," as well as "bestiality" and "zoophilia" are often used, each having a different meaning depending on the author. This first chapter describes the confusion and conflicting view points, while providing the different definitions.
Chapter 2 describes the phenomenon of sexual relations with animals and the attitudes about it throughout history and in various cultures; from prehistoric times, through ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, through the Middle ages, the Renaissance period, the American colonies, and to Europe today. Chapter 2 also discusses bestiality in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. All the information in Chapter 2 (and in this first section) was taken from the literature. Most of the material reviewed and discussed is anecdotal, some is unbelievable, and occasionally authors provide conflicting data. It is important to keep in mind that many of the facts and views presented in this chapter came from works that are highly questionable with regard to their validity.
Chapter 3, Theories and Opinions, reviews what different authors have said about the mental health status of zoophiles and bestialists, why people engage in sexual relations with animals, the frequency of bestiality, the issue of animals' consent, animals' cross-breeding, and bestiality and the arts. Again, views are conflicting and often confusing.
The most important part of a literature review is the review of other studies on the related topic, which is the subject of Chapter 4. The five most relevant and important studies for comparison purposes with my study are: Kinsey, Pomeroy and Martin's (1948) study on the sexual behaviors of American men; Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin and Gebhard's (1953) study on the sexual behaviors of American women; the Hunt survey (1974); Peretti and Rowan (1983); and Donofrio (1996). Most other works on bestiality involve "case studies," and are usually written in a pseudo-scientific manner. Chapter 4 provides a chronological description of research findings and related studies, including four examples of pseudo-scientific reports which are highly questionable as to their validity and reliability.
After the Introduction to the second section of the book, My Own Study on Bestiality/ Zoophilia, the fifth chapter describes how I found the subjects/participants for the study. I placed ads in different places and talked to many people. Most importantly, I posted an ad on the Internet at alt.sex.bestiality bulletin board. This enabled me to make contact with the zoo community on the Internet, resulting in an invitation to meet with them in a chat room, receiving many phone calls from potential participants, and a visit to a zoo gathering.
In Chapter 6, I describe the Focus Groups I conducted while attending the zoo gathering. These focus groups provided me with further data about the issues with which zoos are dealing. They talked about how difficult it was to be a zoo, to find other zoos, and to "come out" to their family members and friends. They complained about the fact that the media made zoos look like perverts, pedophiles, and rapists, and cried about losing their animal sex partners whose life span is much shorter than humans'. Chapter 6 provides most of the transcript of these focus groups.
Chapter 7 discusses my research project. It describes how I designed the questionnaire and the methods I employed in this study. It was very important to me that all volunteers for the study make telephone contact with me to allow me to screen them for authenticity, and to obtain the individual's postal address. Every questionnaire that was sent out had my original signature on its cover letter. The cover letter was the same page the participants had to sign as their Informed Consent. If it were to come back as a photocopy, the questionnaire would have been eliminated from the study. A copy of the questionnaire is in Appendix II.
Next, I provide the results of the study. All the participants' answers are tabulated and displayed in tables in addition to my summaries and comments, and all percentages are rounded off for coherency. In Chapter 8, general information about the participants, such as their age, religious background, education level, marital/relationship status, owning pets and other animals, living situation, social life, and mental health status is discussed.
Chapter 9 addresses the participant's childhood history. Issues such as who raised them, where they were raised, with whom they spent time, what pets did they have, and when did they find out that other people had sex with animals are discussed. In Chapter 10, sexually oriented childhood history is provided. This chapter deals with where and when the participants learned about various sexual issues such as masturbation, orgasm, heterosexual and homosexual sex. A discussion about childhood abuse (mainly sexual) and incest is included as well.
In Chapter 11, the participants' current sexual behaviors and attitudes (not necessarily related to bestiality/zoophilia) are explored. This chapter gives the reader an opportunity to find out what sexual relationships the participants have had other than with their animals, what sexual activities they have engaged in, and in what frequency. The chapter further reviews the participants' sexual attitudes and philosophy.
Chapter 12 includes all the data about the participants' sexual relations with animals. It describes their first sexual experience with an animal, the number and kind of animals they had sex with, what sexual behaviors they engaged in with animals and in what frequency, what they think the animals feel about having sex with them, and how the participants define themselves. It provides answers to questions such as how would their life be different if they had a close intimate/sexual relationship with a human being, and why would they or why would they not want to stop having sex with animals. Since many of the questions were open ended, many of the participants' answers are quoted so that the reader could more objectively understand their responses.
Chapter 13 repeats and summarizes the answer to the basic research question in the current study - is there a sexual orientation toward animals? The definition of "sexual orientation" was adapted from Francoeur (1991) in his discussion of homosexuality, heterosexuality, and bisexuality. According to this definition, sexual orientation consists of three interrelated aspects: (1) affectional orientation - who or what we bond with emotionally; (2) sexual fantasy orientation - with whom or what we fantasize having sex; and (3) erotic orientation - with whom or what we prefer to have sex.
Since the current study was a descriptive one and had some inherent flaws, Chapter 14 describes its limitations. Also included is a discussion about my bias; a bias not about bestiality, zoophilia and the individuals involved, but rather against discrimination and hatred of people who are misunderstood.
Chapter 15 compares my findings with Kinsey et al.'s (1948) study on the sexual behaviors of American men, Kinsey et al.'s (1953) study on the sexual behaviors of American women, the Gebhard et al.'s (1965) study on sex offenders, the Hunt survey (1974), Peretti and Rowan's (1983) study, and Donofrio's (1996) doctoral dissertation.
Chapter 16 goes back to describing the participants. Here, two women and 13 men (all but one man randomly chosen) are described in more detail as separate individuals. Each case study depicts a participant's own unique story, describing his/her different backgrounds, experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Obviously, the participants' names and identifying details were changed.
The Epilogue reviews what happened since I sent out the questionnaires and collected my data in 1996. After the References, four Appendixes follow. The first appendix depicts the transcript's excerpts of a conversation I had in an Internet chat room with zoophiles before I began my study.The second appendix provides a copy of the questionnaire. The third appendix includes some of the comments made by the participants in response to the last question in the questionnaire, which asked "Is there anything else you would like to share?" The forth appendix is an amusing quiz ("Are You a Zoo") that one of the zoos sent me. I decided to include it in the book since it provides another glimpse into the zoos' way of thinking.
There is a lot of material in this book. Different readers may find different parts of the book more interesting. For some, the literature review may be of most interest, for others, the results of the study. Yet others may find the personal stories in Chapter 16 or the first appendix most engaging.
I hope this book will begin to provide you, the reader, with some basic knowledge and understanding about the understudied and misunderstood phenomena of bestiality and zoophilia, and the individuals involved. Hopefully, this work will help to demystify a topic which has long suffered ridicule and pseudo-scientific rhetoric, and will open the door for further, much needed research.