Friday, July 12, 2013

Passion in the Desert

This film has been sitting in front of me literally for two years.  Has anyone ever put off seeing something so relevant to their interests for so long?  Why would I do that?  Quite simply, it's because I was introduced to the film via its Wikipedia entry, and I knew, for absolute certain after reading the plot synopsis, that I would cry at the end.

SPOILER WARNING!  Because this film is so very relevant to this blog's main topic, and because of my feelings about it, I'm not going to skirt around plot events, so if you haven't seen the film, want to see the film, and want things to be a surprise, read no further.  That having been said, if you want a plot synopsis, I recommend mine over Wikipedia's, which is incorrect in several parts and, frankly, very cold in the rest.

Also, I totally did cry at the end.



Passion in the Desert opens with relative innocence, taking place in Egypt as Napoleon Bonaparte's armies march across it in an effort to wrest it from the hands of the Arabs.  The protagonist is a French soldier by the name of Augustin Robert, who seems quite unremarkable apart from his current duty, which is to escort artist Jean-Michel Venture de Paris ("Venture"), who despite his name is most definitely from the Middle East and so is very mistrusted by the other French soldiers.

When one first sees the movie, one's inclined to think that this eccentric painter may be the focal point of the film: when the two are separated from their unit during a Mamaluk attack, he drives our poor protagonist half-mad with his obsessive depiction of the desert - the natural and cultural world of Egypt alike even as they try to survive in the desolate environment, climaxing when the old idiot uses the last of their drinking water to mix his paints.  Unable to continue, Venture stays behind at a pair of dead trees and, after being assured by Augustin that he'd be picked up once the soldier had found the Nile, promptly drinks down his paints with lead-induced ecstasy.

Augustin doesn't find the Nile, and as a consequence, those who are particularly fond of horses might want to be wary of a certain scene in which he is forced to put his steed down (at the same instant a giggling Venture does himself).  It's at this point the real crawling through the desert begins, until he finds a Bedouin camp.  He steals water from a veiled and beaded woman, whom in his delirium he believes a sorceress and does what any of us would do in his shoes: he quickly takes his knife to her hair and jets with the whole tribe in pursuit behind him.

He finds an ancient temple and hides there as night falls, and his superstitious assailants leave him to be picked clean by the jinn - malevolent spirits who appear as anything, from humans to animals to wisps of sand.  The concept of the jinn is one revisited throughout the film, particularly in animal form, to, of course, foreshadow our protagonist meeting one.

That is, as he turns in for the night, he finds himself bunking in the same sandstone room as a leopardess.  She ignores him entirely as he nearly wets himself and prepares for the inevitable confrontation.

It comes, but not to him: in the morning, when one of the Bedouins comes looking for him, sling in hand, the leopardess gives the Frenchman a nuzzle and goes out to hunt his attacker.  From this point on, we have a slow but steady movement from a supposed predator-prey relationship between Augustin and the cat, to the point that, in his hunger, he steals the remnants of a kill (a deer this time, to our relief) from her - which she is more than happy to share.

Before too many more cuts, we have the absolute sweetest scene I have ever seen in a film before: he's stroking this fully-grown leopard, to rubbing her ears, caressing her chest; she washes his hair and ears, then his face, and soon enough he's tossed away his inhibition and kisses her back - on the face, the lips, until he's cuddling her passionately and licking with his own tongue her head and neck.  The scene starts at 56:00 on the nose in the video above.

At this point, I found three things: firstly, that this is beyond doubt an art film.  Secondly, that I have just witnessed the most loving and honest zoophilic scene that I ever have in my life.  Thirdly, that I just witnessed said scene on a film that is an hour and a half long, has big-name reviews, and is available on DVD.

The rest of the film - a healthy portion - is about the energetic, loving relationship between soldier and leopardess (whom he calls Simoom).  For those wondering, there is never anything explicitly sexual between them, but a turning point in the film is when Augustin discovers Simoom playing and presumably mating (in what is at once a very catlike and very playful and humanly relatable fashion) and becomes visibly jealous.  She runs off, and in an effort to win back his lover her strips what's left of his uniform to decorate himself with mud and sand to look like, of course, a leopard.  It's difficult to say this while keeping a straight face, but even this scene is in my opinion done believably.  Most certainly it depicts the soldier's madness, but it's still not a madness that's depicted as explicitly negative.  It's a desperation that comes to a head when Augustin's unit enters the area, and the lovesick, rosetted soldier has to choose between his own kind and his feline companion as the former takes aim at the latter.  The tension ends with a boulder hurled at the young soldier's terrified skull and a snarl from a half-dressed Augustin to a cheery Simoom: "Where have you been?!"

Fed up, Augustin cleans himself up and dresses for the first time in however long, and prepares a makeshift rope to tie Simoom to a pillar as he makes his departure back to civilization, protesting to her that he does not want to be a deserter.  Simoom, however, takes offence that he'd desert her for his old comrades, breaks the rope and gives chase.  In his terror, realized from all that time before when he was certain Simoom would kill him, Augustin stabs his lover in the chest as she pounces on him, and kills her.  Horrified with himself and weeping terribly, he turns blankly to the desert, cradling the corpse of the leopardess in his arms, to aimlessly walk the sands until at last he collapses, thus ending the film.

There are some neat literary things done in this film.  The very veiled foreshadowing of the artist Venture's mania, love of the desert, and self-imposed death against Augustin's own madness, infatuation and (near) death in the end.  The dead pair of trees that they come to a second time, the use of jinn as a metaphor all lend themselves well to an art film.  And like its source, its finale very nicely symbolizes one of the most prominent tragedies: that of the conflict between love and mistrust.

I also appreciate the story itself, of course.  Some critics have rated it low because, as I've found in my life people are wont to do, they can't stand the idea that a human and a wild animal can get along.  From both personal experience and from stories like that of Kamunyak, I know that animals can have compassion for other creatures, sometimes without any clear reason, and sometimes even for animals they would normally be the enemy of.  I know at least someone is going to laugh at me for this, but I find the story to be wholly believable. (And it should be: the original short story was written by Balzac, who championed naturalism in writing).

The reason I want to talk about this here, though, is because of all the films, short and long, about zoophilia and zoosexuality that I've reviewed: A Tale of Forbidden Love, COMING SOON, and others that I haven't like Equus and Animal Passions, despite not even being a documentary it paints the most accurate portrait of zoophilia.  It doesn't play it for laughs like so many do, or demonize it like Equus does, or represent it as a cold sexual fetish as do COMING SOON and Animal Passions: it's a romance, and a beautiful one.  It doesn't anthropomorphize the animal but depicts the relationship in all its beauty as well as all its strangeness. Indeed, I also found it nearly unique in realistic animal films (Old Yeller, etc.) in how little it anthropomorphizes the actions of the central non-human: there's never even the classic confused head-cock.  Also interesting is that the animal (and the actor) are never computer-generated (though Simoom is played by two different cats, one of whom is actually male), so there's an earthy realism there even in production that's missing from so many modern films.

What all this means to me is that it's entirely possible for one to successfully depict zoophilia for the masses and do so successfully artistically while actually being fair to individuals like us who might just fall in love ourselves with the creature on-screen.  I'd highly recommend this film for any zoos or zoo-sympathizers out there; although an art film and a little slow at times, it was made with a lot of love (the director put $5 million in from her own pocket) and is truly a diamond in the rough.

And with that, here's hoping that we can find more beautiful depictions of interspecies romance out there, and that more will continue to be made.  Though I'm not sure if she will or won't appreciate the sentiment, Zoopoint salutes director/producer/writer Lavinia Currier for this lovely film.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Romance?

The other day, I was approached by a close friend about zoophilia.  She knows about my sexuality and had a simple question for me: Doesn't it get lonely?  This is a subject that comes up a lot both by zoos and allies.  A relationship in which you can't communicate using language, where you can't bring up complex topics or go to a fancy dinner or even say the words "I love you" seems to many, not unjustifiably, to be hardly worth calling a relationship at all.  And, looking back at this blog after a long hiatus and seeing it being almost purely read by people who I'd like to think are legitimately interested in pleasuring/relieving their female feline friends but are probably just looking for images and videos that they will not find on this blog or hopefully anywhere else ever, I think this topic is a good one to bring up.

My response to my friend might have seemed a little cynical.  I've been in love both with humans and with animals in my life, and while there are pros and cons to both, I don't believe one is superior to the other, and here's why: while a relationship between two humans does indeed have all of those riveting aspects about it, and I particularly myself enjoy sweet nothings and little romantic back-and-forths, it's precisely the same capabilities humans have that make relationships between them at the same time less communicative.

When using language to communicate, there are all sorts of things that can go wrong.  Grice's Maxims are, in essence, a list of things that cause communication to fail: lying, changing the subject, oversaturation of information, obscurity, etc.  These things, unfortunately, also exist within love, and if anything, exist more in romantic exchanges than elsewhere due to the strong culture of taboos, expectations, implications, etc. most of the world has when it comes to love.  We are actually required to deceive our romantic partners and potential romantic partners to avoid coming across as cold or oversexed, unsympathetic or clingy, to avoid commitment while still seeming committed, and so on and so forth.  Examples range from "playing hard to get" to consenting to sex despite not wanting it; we're all very familiar with the deception that goes on in romance to the extent that we all do it without even thinking about it: think of the meaning behind common little deceptions like "X really isn't a big deal" or "Yes, I really enjoyed Y".

Love with an animal, on the other hand, is very forthright: from the perspective of the non-human: if they don't want to be with their partner, they don't, and they do if they do.  If they want sex, they make that extremely clear; if they don't, they make that equally clear.  They make both their platonic adoration and physical pleasure well-known without restraint, and won't hesitate to make you aware of the opposite either.  They don't find mates to please their parents, to get revenge on an old lover, or because they feel sorry for someone.  So a human who falls in love with an animal is in a very real sense freed from those, in my opinion ridiculous, cultural constraints around romance.

So when I see a zoophile and his or her lover, my heart automatically melts.  I see a very happy and affectionate dog, cat, horse, and think, if I can say so without sounding sappy, that that's the purest love right there.  No holds barred, no secrets kept or lies told; whether there's a sexual relationship there or not, you know for certain there's love.  On the other hand, when I see a couple kissing on the street, holding hands, I can't help but look at their expressions.  Once in a while I get to talk to them.  Sometimes, certainly, I'm convinced that the two are very true to one another and to their relationship, and walk away feeling my heart warmed.  Much of the time, though, I can only think of a candle that someone's covered in diesel: it's going to blaze bright and hot, but it's going to burn out fast and, more importantly, it's going to smell awful: it's a couple that is fundamentally dishonest with one another and is formed by two people searching for love while missing the point of love in the first place.  It's a reason the divorce rate is so high in many countries, and I've never heard of a zoophile falling out of love or otherwise having emotional difficulties related to their partnerships.

This isn't to belittle anthrosexual romance at all.  After all, those who are lucky enough to find that individual with whom they can share a completely open and loving relationship have found someone they can understand implicitly.  As long as they're together, they'll never be lonely, while a zoophile, even one with a very adoring mutual relationship with their lover, will still of course want close human friendships to fill that gap (or, at least, they should).  But just as an anthrosexual can find that truly special someone, a zoophile can make those very close friends.  It's two different approaches towards the same goal.  The only difference is how they are viewed by greater society.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

More from ZETA

This will be a short post because I have time but not a whole lot of it.  I was notified by an active member of the German zoo rights group ZETA a week beforehand that they were planning on organizing a public screening of COMING SOON as well as a public talk from one (modern) EFA member, Karel, in Berlin.  For reasons I have discussed before, I vehemently warned my contact against this, but was updated on Friday, after the demonstration, and assured that the film was introduced by Karel as being wholly a work of fiction.  Furthermore, the twenty members of the public who attended the screening, who were not favourably disposed towards upon arriving, left stating in a poll that they were much more likely to be more empathetic towards zoophiles.

Two ZETA members also gave an interview (German) on Sunday.

All in all, however critical I may be of everything that goes on, I must salute ZETA for stepping up and changing minds across Germany and hopefully, soon, across the world.  I hope that their actions will inspire other groups in other nations to stand up and ignite crucial debates.

The Local
NYT

Friday, December 7, 2012

Zoophilia and Pedophilia

This is another topic I touched on in another post, a long time ago, but given the amount of discussion I've had on it recently I feel I ought to talk more about it.

Almost invariably, like some sort of sexual Godwin's Law, when debating with someone about the morality of zoosexuality my opponent will claim that zooerasty (or "be(a)stiality" as it is far more often termed, which as far as I'm concerned is like calling anal sex "assrape") is just the same as pederasty because animals, like children, have no concept of sex and are too uneducated to appropriately respond to it.

There are many arguments against this.  Most shouldn't be necessary: any ethologist, comparative psychologist, or animal breeder will know from study or observation that animals frequently proposition others for sex, have sex, react favourably towards sex, and eventually come back again for more sex.  Sex can even be used as a reward stimulus in Pavlovian conditioning.  Humans too.  And anyone with any knowledge of natural selection would surmise that if every animal on the planet apart from humans was not capable of showing sexual readiness, propositioning others for sex, and enjoying sex, then biodiversity would be very slim indeed.  And this enjoyment of sex is definitely not limited to same-species intercourse.





But let's assume correctly that these assertions are not enough for many people, who believe that the reason children should not have sex with adults, and therefore the reason animals should not have sex with humans, is because children do not have the mental capacity to understand it.  This is true, but what these individuals do not realize is that this truth does not extend to mature animals, and that this fact is readily observable.  The easiest way to find the onset of sexual interest is to examine sex hormone levels.  These hormones are necessary not just directly to the sex drive but also to the development of various somatic and neurological structures.  We can actually see a child's brain readying itself for sexual intercourse, and this does not take place until puberty.  The same goes for any mammal, and the chemicals (mainly estrogen and testosterone) and brain structures (especially the hypothalamus and other subcortical structures in the forebrain, such as the pituitary gland, nucleus accumbens, and caudate nucleus) involved are universal, with only slight changes to relevant structures and none suggesting any human exceptionalism.



There have been organizations of pedophiles who have suggested otherwise.  Perhaps most famous is the Party for Neighbourly Love, Freedom, and Diversity (Partij voor Naastenliefde, Vrijheid en Diversiteit) in the Netherlands, in existence from 2006-2010.  It advocated initially for a drastic reduction of age-of-consent and eventually its elimination, and it and other organizations have released pamphlets, for adults and children, with the suggestion that pre-pubescent youth can desire and even frequently proposition adults for sex.  Is this any different from what zoosexuals say about animals?

I would naturally argue that it is.  Active pedophiles tend to view entirely innocuous gestures as sexual proposition: an eight-year-old girl does a headstand and inadvertently shows her panties, or a six-year-old boy urinates at a campground, unaware or uncaring of his visibility.  Children themselves, of course, don't respond sexually when they see one another's undergarments, and even were adults to perform them, these gestures would never be recognized as sexual overtures.  The assumption would then have to be that not only are children capable of making such overtures, but have a far more complex social and sexual mind than do their post-pubescent counterparts that belies the fact that they may not get why peeing in public should be embarrassing.

It is sometimes suggested that prepubescent children masturbate or even engage in sexual conduct with one another, but this is a misrepresentation: while children may touch themselves, or touch one another in what is called "sex play" by developmental psychologists, these never result in orgasm, nor do they ever result in consistent sexual attention.  It is best regarded as exploratory, in the same fashion that a seven-year-old child who plays around with the terminal of a Linux box is not intending to learn to superdo his way into becoming a hacking sensation.  He's just curious about what's going on.

Animals are entirely different: the signals they give off, whether they be humping, displaying of genitalia, or other relevant actions, are unmistakably sexual in nature and could not conceivably be perceived to mean anything else.  As expected, animals respond sexually to one another when presented with these signals.  And unlike children, and like adult humans, they seem to benefit from consensual sexual intercourse physically and psychologically, whether their partner is of their own species or not.  It should be noted that there are many long-term physical and psychological consequences for victims of child sex abuse; indeed, the majority of individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder are victims of child sex abuse.

Finally, there is the question of authority.  This, I think, is best answered with observation and common sense: while a child, even if he or she really does not want to do something, such as going to school, washing the dishes, or eating their broccoli, they will usually do so when told to by an adult, especially one with authority, such as a parent or a teacher.  This is because we as humans have a very developed social intelligence; we have language, we have culture as a result, and we have very complex social norms that often even supercede basic needs and conditioning: that child will eat his broccoli even if it makes him vomit later, because his mother told him to.

Anyone with an animal, on the other hand, even an animal traditionally regarded as very loyal, like a dog, will know that there are many things they will simply not do without a fight no matter how much they seem to dote on you otherwise.  Whether it be going to the vet, going outside when it's cold out, or swallowing a pill, their resistance is clear even if they eventually give in.  With animals such as cats or horses, this resistance is even more clear, and more likely to result in injury to your person.  While there may be a social hierarchy in the mind of your animal, then, the importance of that power you have over them is not nearly as important as their basic needs to not be ill, not be cold, or indeed, not be used or abused sexually.  Any animal, particularly a female, will make it incredibly clear that she is not in the mood for sexual intercourse, regardless of how much she loves you: as an adult, she knows what it is, and knows that now is not the time, and that knowledge is more important than any thought that you might take away her walk privileges.

Which brings up the notion that an animal will jump to these conclusions in the first place: we don't tend to punish our animals for resisting when we want them to go outside, or take a pill.  We just make them go outside, or take the pill.  This is of course different for children: "If you don't stop whining and eat your greens, you won't have TV for a week," isn't that uncommon of a statement.  Children are trained early on to do everything their parents, and other authority figures, want, for fear of punishment.  We are far more lenient on our animals, so why should an animal ever even imagine that should they not consent to sex with us that something bad will happen?  If anything, this is much more likely to happen with our (adult!) human partners, who have been educated socially to believe that sex is necessary for a stable relationship.  To imagine that animals have any such concept is, frankly, to afford them some very hefty intuition about how our modern human culture is organized.  This is not to say that we do not have some level of control over the lives of our animals, and therefore responsibility particularly to take care of them and to ensure they act appropriately in the public space, it is not to all the same extents as children with developing biology and views of the world.

That's the end of my argument.  This took a lot of time out of a day that maybe should have been focused on something that will be productive in my career or for my family, given the time of year (Happy Holidays, zetas & friends!) but given the discussion that has been happening recently, I really felt I needed to update the blog again.

I would just like to finish on one note: despite the abuse and lunacy propagated by the most visible of pedophiles, I believe the average pedophile is someone to be pitied.  The PNVD actually advocated for a ban of zooerasty in the Netherlands, interestingly enough, all the while proclaiming that they should be allowed to have sex with prepubescent children; however, the large majority of pedophiles are not only fully aware that pederasty is grievous abuse, but are indeed terrified and often traumatized by the idea that they may someday lose control and be perpetrators of such abuse.  They have nowhere to turn in our current social system, and even mental health professionals that are willing and capable of assisting pedophiles are few and far between.  So while it has nothing at all to do with zoosexuality, I would like to appeal to the readers of this blog to empathize more with those sad individuals who are cursed with a sexual attraction to prepubescent youth.  It is only through this empathy, and the resulting support, that these individuals can be helped, and thus child sex abuse prevented for the future.  Thank you.

Friday, November 30, 2012

ZETA Responds to Anti-Zoosexuality Law

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/germany-plans-to-outlaw-sex-with-animals-a-869402.html

Many of you may be familiar with the law that is being tossed around German parliament at the moment, intending to re-criminalize sex with animals.  I personally know little about what is going on there, which I suppose helps anyone intent on discovering who I am as they now know that I am either not German or else I am very sneaky.

In any case, though, while this news is absolutely terrible for any zoos in Germany -- and really, eventually, all of Europe -- it does come with a hefty silver lining: zoo rights group ZETA is showing its face and opposing the movement.

A month or two prior to today, I had contact with a member of ZETA via email.  We had an excellent discussion about some sensitive topics, and particularly how best to achieve greater tolerance from the public.  Now, I am thrilled to hear that, at least to some extent, they are putting themselves into action when they are most needed.

Unfortunately, it seems sometimes their message is being taken the wrong way by people.  This article spends much of its time relating the group to people running sex farms and painting their dogs' claws with nail polish.  Another logical fallacy comes in when they quote a vet who notes that it is abusive for dogs to have sex outside of their heat cycles, purely because they are heat cycles (to which we, as enlightened individuals, respond, "So women can only have sex for a few days per month?")

So it seems there is a ways to go: what needs to be done is for a solid line to be drawn.  We can't be viewed as people who just think sex with animals is great and let's all be free and use the critters however we please.  We need to let the public know that we hate sex farms and abusers, if anything, even more than they do.  A common enemy is the best way to forge an alliance; the public just needs to be shown that this enemy exists, and it's not us.

I also think that more than one person -- as it is now -- need to get their face out there.  Write to news stations or to relevant politicians who are likely to be sympathetic.  Tell people your story.  It's mentioned again and again in these articles just how common zoosexuality is, but it's also implied again and again that all or almost all of these individuals are delusional and selfish animal abusers.  People don't go looking for the truth in this incredibly taboo area; they want to stay as far from it as possible and continue hating it, so we really do need to get up in their faces ourselves at this crucial time.

ZETA's website.

Dec 9, 2012: A fantastic interview by Mr Kiok.