Now let’s take this knowledge and apply it to Pet and Puppy Play. But for this, we first need to look at a few key findings from Human-Animal Studies.
I tried to explain how our socialization might unintendedly produce our fetishes. And one element that plays a massive role in our socialization, apart from, for instance, gender or race, is species!
In Western philosophy – which has a substantial influence on our culture, our thoughts, and our behaviour – there are countless dualisms: men vs women, whites vs BIPOC, heterosexual vs homosexual, God vs Lucifer, culture vs nature, humans vs animals, reason vs emotions, ratio vs instincts/desires, and so forth.
One of the probably oldest dualisms is the culture-nature-dualism, which can also manifest itself as the human-animal-dualism.7 Culturally, we often see animals as the opposite of humans. But scientifically, humans are part of the animal kingdom. We are one animal species among many. But when we talk about animals – and it is this meaning that is dominant – then we mean millions of different species, from the worm to the gorilla, with humans excluded8, even though the gorilla has more in common the human than with the worm. Humans are animals and at the same time, the opposite of animals.9
This human-animal-dualism is central to the idea of domination over nature by (Western) human culture. The animal becomes the key symbol of this domination over nature. Social scientist Birgit Mütherich, therefore, stated that by seeing an animal as a product of a blind, unconscious natural process, and by that in contrast to the cultural human being, we enable its submission, objectification and industrial mass exploitation.10
It would be too much here to go into the complete historical details of Western philosophy. However the human/culture-animal/nature-dualism can be found in the majority of Western philosophies, starting in the antiquity, going through Christianity, and up to Kant, Descartes and the era of enlightenment. The age of enlightenment brought an amplification of this dualism. Here humans were described as the moral, rational beings while animals were seen as driven by instincts and impulses, an idea that remains until today. Over the course of this dichotomy, humans construct themselves in clear differentiation to non-human animals as superior, morally pure, clean, good, non-violent and non-deviant.11
This dichotomy is internalized by all of us over our socialization. To better understand this, we can use another theory from sociologists Berger and Luckmann: the social construction of reality.12 The social construction of reality occurs over three stages: externalization, objectification, and internalization.
We created (or externalized) the construct of humans as the opposite of animals (as well as of culture as the opposite of nature). With this construction & externalization “human/culture vs animal/nature,” we also created the first step towards the Pet Play fetish. Without this juxtaposition of human vs animal and the belief that a human being is the opposite of an animal, a human being cannot put himself in the supposedly contradictory role of the animal within a fetish.
This, then, is followed by objectification: the belief that humans are the opposite of animals become a universally valid, social “truth”. Even if this has little to do with scientific findings: it nevertheless becomes an invisible self-evidence, a law that is no longer questioned. And that also – and this is decisive here – puts external pressure on people to submit to this belief.
This leads to the internalization of the idea that human beings are the opposite of animals. The belief inscribes itself into the subconscious of every human being within their socialization. The external pressure becomes an internal pressure. From now on, we unconsciously control ourselves in order to act and think according to this faith.
The internalization leads to an inscription of this belief in the habitus of every human being. These behaviours, these patterns of thinking and acting based on the world view of human/culture-animal/nature dualism become “second nature”, the habitus of the western socialized human being. I have already described how, through objectification in the social construction of reality, belief in the human-animal opposition becomes a socially created “truth”. It is this truth, this “natural” and this self-evident, that becomes the doxa, that is, these fundamental beliefs and values of human culture’s control over nature and animals. This doxa, which is deeply inscribed in our subconscious over the internalization, then guides the nature- and animal-controlling thinking, seeing and acting.
However, this not only leads to the control and subjugation of animals “outside human beings,” but it especially also leads to the control and subjugation of what we have learned to see as “the animal within ourselves.” Apart from the domination over nature, the enlightened human being also is compelled to dominate over their inner nature. The subjugation of the inner nature is seen as a necessity for civil subjectivization in modern times.13 Socialization teaches us to behave “civilized” (i.e. not like “wild animals”), to comb our hair, to cut our nails, to shave unwanted body hair, to dress neatly, to hide body smells, to not eat with bare hands, to use a toilet behind closed doors. And above all, socialization teaches us to control “the worst part of the animal within us”: our sexuality. Every human being not only has to participate in the subjugation of the outer nature but to achieve this, they also have to subjugate their inner nature: Domination over nature includes domination over humans.14
The idea of the human being in European history is expressed in its differentiation to non-human animals. With the non-human animal’s irrationality, we try to prove our human dignity.15 It is one of the greatest taboos for man to fall back into the status of an animal after he has ‘liberated’ himself with the greatest effort from the state of total deterioration of nature.16 Remarkably, many of our kinks are directly or indirectly linked to that image of nature and “wild animals.” It’s those denotations that make “wild sex” wild. Piss-sex, BDSM, exhibitionism, sex with faecal matter, and so on: Either, all these fetishes are linked directly or indirectly with natural/body processes, or they remind us of our own naturality, of the “animal within.” Or they may also be related to the loss of the control over that “animal within” – a control that we have so laboriously learned via our internalized socialization.
Many of our kinks are directly or indirectly linked to our idea of nature and “wild animals.” It’s those denotations that make “wild sex” wild.Tweet