Annotated Bibliography: “Heavy Petting” by Peter Singer

Protection of rights of bestialists in America can soon become a thing just as commonplace as the fight for the rights of homosexuals and other minorities (Williams 523-25). An acknowledged expert in bioethics, professor at Princeton University Peter Singer, has long preached that once animals are capable of reasoning and self-consciousness, they are no different from people. This time, however, in his essay, placed on the highbrow porn site Nerve, the professor has taken another step forward, assuming that the prejudices against bestiality reasoned by “unnaturalness” of this type of sexual relationship is very similar to the arguments against homosexuality.
Singer starts with marking that the reproofs of separating sex for pleasure from reproduction by using contraception are now simply old-fashioned, so practically all the taboos, concerning masturbation, oral sex, sodomy, homosexualism, have fallen in the contemporary society. However, the author states that one taboo still exists, and it is sex with animals. Trying to prove this point, Singer presents the results of M. Dekkers’ research, where the biologist describes the fantasies of a human being including animal sex in the Bronze Age, in Ancient Greek society, in Indian, Japanese and European culture of the 17-19th century.

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The only question is to which extent the fantasies described in historical evidences were fantasies. Being consequent, Singer presents the data paragraph on the fact of animal-human sexual contacts. E.g., during Kinsey’s survey in the 1940s, 20 000 Americans were asked about their sexual conduct: 8 % of male and 3.5 % of female respondents reported having at least once at some period of time, a sexual connection with an animal. Moreover, men living in rural areas confirmed the fact in 50% of the answers. But here, Singer draws the attention to the fact that much depends on how exactly the essence of sexual contact is interpreted (touching, masturbating, licking, vaginal intercourse), besides, such a contact with animals usually means different thing for men and women, for town and rural people (Williams 528).
Further, Singer comes to the discussion form another side, explaining the preconditions of human attitude to animals, as, according to the author, these relations are ambivalent in there simultaneous factual existence and being a taboo. Thus, in the Christian tradition, people have always felt the great gap between a human and animal being (immortality of human soul; likeness with God; and dominance of a man over animal supported by religion and laws). On the other hand, contrary to spiritual side, people and animals are similar in many physiological processes (like mating, structure of organs). Therefore, Singer suggests that though this taboo may have originated from the idea of non-reproductive coupling, now it’s more about the desire of people to differentiate themselves from animals.
Going further with his arguments, Singer groups the ideas of his forerunners (Freud, Soyka) supporting the variety of sexual acts and desires as a natural process, if they do not include cruelty and abuse. However, the author later proves that sexual act with animals doesn’t always involve cruelty. He makes his last argument, comparing human beings with apes on the example of sexual interest of orangutan towards the worker of animal rehabilitation center, and her non-disturbance on this fact. Thus, those the barriers between species can’t be totally erased, sexual relations with animal, according to Singer, should no more be a factor threatening one’s social status or dignity.

Works Cited
Singer, Peter. “Heavy Petting”,, Inc., 2001.

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