Skip to main content

Peter Singer's ``Heavy Petting'' and the Politics of Animal Sexual Assault

Abstract

This essay confronts PeterSinger's (2001a) controversial suggestion thathuman-animal sexual relations should betolerated if they do not involve cruelty, apseudo-liberal position contradicted by theauthor's recent testimony in favor of a Bill tocriminalise bestiality. Against Singer, thisarticle argues that human-animal sex is a harmthat is wrong for the same reasons as isinter-human assault – because it involvescoercion, produces pain and suffering, andviolates the rights of another being. Positively, however, Singer's text opens up fora much overdue discussion some difficultquestions about the politics of animal sexualassault.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Adams, C.J. (1995). Woman-battering and harm to animals. In C. Adams andJ. Donovan (eds.), Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, pp. 55–84.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Beirne, P. (1997). Rethinking bestiality: Towards a concept of interspecies sexual assault. Theoretical Criminology 1(3), 317–340.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Beirne, P. (in press). On the sexual assault of animals: A sociological view. In A. Creager and B. Jordan (eds.), Identity and Alterity: Essays on the Human/Animal Boundary. Brussels: Brepols, and Davis Center, Princeton University.

  4. Dekkers, M. (1994). Dearest Pet. Translated by P. Vincent. London: Verso.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Høeg, P. (1996). The Woman and the Ape. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Kinsey, A.C.,Pomeroy, W.B., andMartin, C.E. (1948). Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Kinsey, A.C.,Pomeroy, W.B.,Martin, C.E., andGebhard, P.H. (1953). Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Liliequist, J. (1991). Peasants against nature: Crossing the boundaries between man and animal in seventeenth-and eighteenth-century Sweden. Journal of the History of Sexuality 1(3), 393–423.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Monter, E.W. (1980). Sodomy and heresy in early modern Switzerland. Journal of Homosexuality 6(1/2), 41–55.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Murrin, J. (in press). Things fearful to name: Bestiality in early America. In A. Creager and B. Jordan (eds.), Identity and Alterity: Essays on the Human/Animal Boundary. Brussels: Brepols, and Davis Center, Princeton University.

  11. Noske, B. (1993). Hoe heet is een ezelin? Opzij, Feministisch Maandblad 21, 26.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Pierson, M.H. (2000). Dark Horses and Black Beauties. New York: W. W. Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Regan, T. (1983). The Case for Animal Rights. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Salisbury, J. (1994). The Beast Within: Animals in the Middle Ages. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Singer, P. (1975). Animal Liberation. New York: Avon.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Singer, P. (2001a). Heavy petting. Nerve (March/April). www.nerve.com/Opinions/Singer/ heavyPetting.

  17. Singer, P. (2001b). Clarification [of] the circumstances and intent of [my] review of Midas Dekkers' book Dearest Pet. Princeton University press release, April 14.

  18. Tester, W. (1991). Darling. New York: Alfred A Knopf.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Beirne, P. Peter Singer's ``Heavy Petting'' and the Politics of Animal Sexual Assault. Critical Criminology 10, 43–55 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1013119904480

Download citation

Keywords

  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Relation
  • Bestiality
  • Animal Sexual