Understanding Bestiality & Zoophilia.
Hani Miletski. Bethesda, MD: East-West Publishing LLC, 2002, 273 pp..
Reviewed by Vern L. Bullough, Ph.D., R.N., 3304 West Sierra Dr., Westlake Village,
CA 91362; e-mail: email@example.com.
the best overall survey of bestiality that I have read. It is based
on a doctoral dissertation at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human
Sexuality in San Francisco, and is one of the few dissertations from
that institution to be published. The title itself is important since
Miletski, following the work of Mark Matthews (1994), believes there
are two general classes of people who have sex with animals: (1) the
"bestialists" who have had one or a few sexual contacts with an animal
or use animals when a more "normal" outlet is not available; and (2)
the "Zoophiles," individuals who prefer an animal as a sex partner,
often forming deep emotional relationships with them. Whereas these
definitions are useful for studies of people currently involved in animal
relationships and those who can be interviewed, they are not so useful
for historical study of such activity, which tends to be confused by
use of such terminology as "sodomy," "unnatural acts," and "zooerasty."
wide range of secondary sources dealing with the history of sexuality,
Miletski examines animal and human sexual contacts area by area, from
prehistoric times to the most recent, all in less than 30 pages. In
spite of its brevity, it is the most comprehensive summary listing that
I have seen in print. References to actual contacts are not always easy
to locate and it is worth noting that some observers, for example, report
animal-human contacts as widespread in China, whereas others claimed
they were comparatively rare. Such
contradictions only amplify the confused state of, and lack of research
on, this topic.
the widespread existence of animal-human contact, Miletski then turns
to surveying the explanations for such conduct offered by earlier investigators
ranging from Krafft-Ebing (1935), Freud (1963), and Menninger (1951),
to Kinsey (Kinsey, Pomeroy, & Martin, 1948; Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin,
& Gebhard, 1953)and his associates (Gebhard, Gagnon, Pomeroy, & Christensen,
1965), to John Money (1986). The differences in findings is evident
in the changing explanations provided in the Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual from the first edition (published in 1952) to the fourth
edition (published in 1994).
clear from Miletski's summary of the existing literature that very little
is actually known about bestiality and there is not anything approaching
a consensus as to why animal-human sexual contacts occur. Research on
the topic, while out of the mainstream of sexuality research, has been
further complicated by the growing groups of advocates of animal rights
who wonder whether animals can consent, or whether animal-human sexual
contact is harmful to animals, which drive potential respondents further
underground. Miletski simply reports the conflicting views of the various
positions on this issue and does not take sides.
of the topic is still further complicated by the fact that much of the
existing reports and studies should be classified more as pseudo-science
than serious research. As far as data on actual numbers involved, Kinsey's
research is probably the most objective attempt to define the extent
of the practice, although Miletski believes Morton Hunt's (1974) study
was helpful. Unfortunately little survey data on the topic exists since
those earlier works.
this discussion is by way of introduction to Miletski's own study which
is based on detailed responses to a mailed questionnaire by 82 men and
11 women. The average age of the men was 38 (range = 19 to 78, median
= 37) and of the women 36 (range = 21 to 48, median = 35). The major
hurdle in conducting the study was obtaining respondents. Miletski received
referrals from professionals through advertisements in sexuality newsletters,
from references from survey respondents who knew others, and from contacts
made via the Internet. It was really the Internet and its vast resources,
including chat rooms, that made such research possible. To verify her
Internet data, however, Miletski also had face-to-face contacts with
a number of individuals in her sample.
the book is devoted to reporting the responses to the lengthy questionnaire.
The statistics analyses are simple, generally percentages who responded
in particular ways, with no attempt to go beyond a descriptive account.
There is also copious quotation from respondents since, once they found
an interested researcher, many had a lot to say. The author calls her
study a descriptive one, and recognizes that it has inherent flaws.
This makes Miletski hesitant to claim any generalized significance,
in part also because she found that there was little other than their
sexual relations with animals that would distinguish her respondents
from other Americans. Instead Miletski indicates the hope that she has
opened the door to others and she describes what kind of future studies
are needed. Miletski has given such future researchers a foundation
upon which to build.
end Miletski provides a summary comparison of her findings with those
of earlier studies, and her lengthy quotations from her subjects shoud
prove invaluable to those seeking elaboration of how those engaged in
animal contacts view themselves. Miletski concludes with excerpts of
what transpired in a chat room in 1995 when she logged onto the Internet
for the first time. Her questionnaire is also included.
this study is a path-breaking one, and gives us a better understanding
of the topic. Much work still needs to be done, but Miletski should
be complemented for her pioneering efforts. That it was not easy to
do is evident from some of the comments she makes in passing, especially
about the hostility of other sex professionals, as well as the public
at large, who were repelled by her topic. Hopefully, current ongoing
studies undertaken by Martin Weinberg and Colin Williams in the United
States and Andrea Beetz in Germany will be able to build on what Miletski
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Hunt, M. (1974). Sexual behavior in the 1970's. Chicago: Playboy Press.
A. C., Pomeroy, W. B. & Martin, C. E. (1948). Sexual Behavior in
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Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy W. B., Martin, C. E., & Gebhard, P. H. (1953).
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