The Origins of Pet & Puppy Play

Human Pup is being photographed.

Conclusion

We are continually surrounded by a constant, profound, omnipresent, all-encompassing control of external and internal nature. We internalize the doxa of the control over nature in our subconscious so that we also consistently and profoundly control ourselves and the “animal within us”. Even if this pressure usually works completely unconsciously, it is still there. And it lies upon us like an oppressive shadow. What liberation, what salvation might it offer to free oneself from it for a moment? To finally let oneself entirely fall? To let out all that we control and suppress, to let it out unrestrained for once?

That might be how the anti-habitus, i.e. the fetish, is born. The pressure from the internalized doxa must be released. The doxa, one one hand, creates the habitus of controlling nature and animals. On the other hand, however, it also needs a diverting counter-side due to the tensions arising from this: the anti-habitus. The fetish takes over this role. The anti-habitus (i.e. to put oneself in the position of the animal) is the opposite of the habitus (i.e. the control of the “inner” animal). To do the opposite (anti-habitus) of what we have learned to do (habitus) might thus make us horny. Any attempt to suppress the anti-habitus might be predestined to fail. Any attempt to suppress a fetish will not only fail but will actually increase the desire.

Graphic showing the formation of habitus and anti-habitus (puppy play) over the internalization of the doxa.

It remains irrelevant whether the human-animal dualism and the idea of an animal within humans correspond to a scientific reality or whether it is a social construct. The sociological Thomas Theorem states that every human action has real consequences, no matter how unreal the definition of the situation that led to the corresponding actions was: “If people define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.”17

If people define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.

William Isaac Thomas

The animal within us, all these dualisms are not real. They are social constructs. But because they are perceived as real by humans, the consequence of the inner tensions is real. And so are the fetishes that might arise from them.

Society itself thus might “inadvertently” create the fetish as a “byproduct” of socialization. It might create it by trying to suppress it. The more it tries to suppress it, the stronger the desire for it might become. The more we are supposed to control this animal within us, the more arousing it might be to slip into the role of the animal.

Might that kid that I observed laughing with a puppy player barking at them develop a puppy play fetish as an adult? Who knows… But one thing is for sure: That kid will definitely also internalize the belief that humans are the opposite of animals and that they should always control anything within them that might tell them otherwise.




Jeff Mannes
Jeff Mannes

I am a social scientist, speaker, tour guide, and freelance writer, living in Berlin, Germany. I have been studying sociology and gender studies at the universities of Trier, Göttingen, and Berlin (Germany) and focussed my studies on human sexualities, queer theories, postcolonial studies, and human-animal-relationships.

Footnotes

  • Cf. Langdridge, Darren; Lawson, Jamie (2019): The Psychology of Puppy Play – A Phenomenological Investigation, Archives of Sexual Behavior (2019) 48, 2201–2215, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-019-01476-1
  • Cf. idem, 2208
  • Cf. Bourdieu, Pierre (2014): Die feinen Unterschiede – Kritik der gesellschaftlichen Urteilskraft, 24th edition, Frankfurt am Main.
  • Cf. Bourdieu, Pierre (2015): Entwurf einer Theorie der Praxis, 4th edition, Frankfurt am Main.
  • Cf. Münch, Richard (2004): Gesellschaftstheorie (= Soziologische Theorie Band 3), Frankfurt am Main, p. 422.
  • Cf. Bourdieu, Pierre (2015): Entwurf einer Theorie der Praxis, 4th edition, Frankfurt am Main, p. 200.
  • Cf. Buschka, Sonja; Rouamba, Jasmine (2013): Hirnloser Affe? Blöder Hund? – ‚Geist‘ als sozial konstruiertes Unterscheidungsmerkmal, p. 25, in: Buschka, Sonja; Pfau-Effinger, Birgit (publishers): Gesellschaft und Tiere – Soziologische Analysen zu einem ambivalenten Verhältnis, Wiesbaden, p. 23-56.
  • Cf. Mütherich, Birgit (2015): Die soziale Konstruktion des Anderen – Zur soziologischen Frage nach dem Tier, p. 50, in: Brucker, Renate et al. (publishers): Das Mensch-Tier-Verhältnis – Eine sozialwissenschaftliche Einführung, Wiesbaden, p. 49-78.
  • Cf. Mütherich, Birgit (2003): Das Fremde und das Eigene – Gesellschaftspolitische Aspekte der Mensch-Tier-Beziehung, p. 18, in: Brenner, Andreas (publisher): Tiere beschreiben, Erlangen, p.16-42.
  • Cf. idem, p. 17.
  • Cf. Buschka, Sonja; Rouamba, Jasmine (2013): Hirnloser Affe? Blöder Hund? – ‚Geist‘ als sozial konstruiertes Unterscheidungsmerkmal, p. 25, in: Buschka, Sonja; Pfau-Effinger, Birgit (publishers): Gesellschaft und Tiere – Soziologische Analysen zu einem ambivalenten Verhältnis, Wiesbaden, p. 23-56.
  • Cf. Berger, Peter L.; Luckmann, Thomas (2003): Die gesellschaftliche Konstruktion der Wirklichkeit – Eine Theorie der Wissenssoziologie, 19th edition, Frankfurt am Main.
  • Cf. Sebastian, Marcel; Gutjahr, Julia (2013): Das Mensch-Tier-Verhältnis in der kritischen Theorie der Frankfurter Schule, p. 102f, in: Buschka, Sonja; Pfau-Effinger, Birgit (publishers): Gesellschaft und Tiere – Soziologische Analysen zu einem ambivalenten Verhältnis, Wiesbaden, p. 97-119.
  • Cf. Horkheimer, Max (1991): Die Revolte der Natur, p. 106, in: Horkheimer, Max: Gesammelte Schriften Band 6: ‘Zur Kritik der instrumentellen Vernunft’ and ‘Notizen 1949-1969’, Frankfurt am Main, p. 105-135
  • Cf. Horkheimer, Max; Adorno, Theodor W. (2004): Dialektik der Aufklärung – Philosophische Fragmente, Frankfurt am Main, p. 262.
  • Cf. Sebastian, Marcel; Gutjahr, Julia (2013): Das Mensch-Tier-Verhältnis in der kritischen Theorie der Frankfurter Schule, p. 105, in: Buschka, Sonja; Pfau-Effinger, Birgit (publishers): Gesellschaft und Tiere – Soziologische Analysen zu einem ambivalenten Verhältnis, Wiesbaden, p. 97-119.
  • Thomas, William Isaac (1928): The Methodology of Behavior Study, in: Knopf, Alfred: The Child in America – Behavior Problems and Programs, New York, p. 553–576.

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