monkey’s, porn and consent

Yesterday a(nother) liberal dood I know wanted to share how science totally rocks.  his evidence is that a study was done that shows monkey’s like porn and he read about it on the internet. now I don’t know if he read about it at ABC, but I figured if I was going to rant about it, I should look up an article about it.

Then he got really upset that i thought it was horrible. Later he even sent me an email along the lines of, “but I’m a nice guy why do you think I’m a horrible person?” Which makes the issue, not about my reaction to porn, not about rape culture, not about animal captivity, but about poor him and his feelings. Because my feelings hurt his feelings and that is so mean.

This means that I now I have to spend my time letting him know I don’t think he is a horrible person. Well I have to do this if i want to keep the peace. And I do want to keep the peace since I work with him, and we rely on each other to help each other out when studying, and things like that. GRRRR.

But on to the monkeys. First, the article is about how “The study is the first to show that monkeys appraise visual information for its social value and can then use this data to spontaneously discriminate between images of their fellow monkeys.”

but just like with humans the scientists understood “monkeys” to mean MALE BODIED monkeys.

Twelve adult male rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) participated in the study

so already there was bias. that female bodied monkey’s don’t count and we don’t need to see how they think since they are the “other sex” anyway.

The monkey’s were given headshots of both males and females, and hindquarters of females to look at. The article does not discuss how the monkeys responded to headshots of the females. but high social ranking males and female hindquarters were “paid for” more often.

Did they pay for headshots of the women too? would they pay for hindquarter shots of the socially high ranking males? how do we know that “sexiness” of the picture had anything to do with it? Maybe social desirability of the subject was important regardless of the position of the monkey in the camera frame. (not to mention that heteronormative assumptions are made about all subjects in the test).  So again, bias about how humans (i.e. heterosexual male humans) view naked pictures comes into how the experiment was organised, and how the data is interpreted:

Camerer says it is “no surprise” that male monkeys “really like looking at female posteriors”. But he is puzzled that males would pay with juice to see high-status males, but would not look at them for very long.

so already we can see this is a problematic study, immersed in patriarchal structure. feminsiting has a post today about science being used to objectify (human) women.

But what about the monkeys? they were “housed in captivity”.  And someone tells me about this study and expects me to be thrilled because no monkey’s were “physically harmed”(quote from self proclaimed nice guy)? Um… vegan here, I’m for autonomy of creatures. that means I’m against captive animals as a slave class for experimentation, regardless of the nature of the experiment.

And onto the issue of consent. This is the biggest issue involved. I don’t know about you, but If I was hanging around and people took pictures of my genitals and butt, and then sold it as porn to someone else, I’d feel angry and violated. But we can do that to monkeys, and its no big deal. More specifically, we can do that to FEMALE BODIED monkeys and it is  SCIENCE.

But you know what? People do this to FEMALE BODIED PEOPLE too. and there is no recourse. If I’m at a nude beach, and someone takes a picture to use as porn, that’s sick right? but shit like this happens, and it is legal, since I’m in a public place. CREEPY. Even if it were illegal, I can’t go to the cops. That could close down the beach, and everyone would “know” its my own fault, and really I wanted it anyway because otherwise I wouldn’t have been naked and teasing men with my nudity.

so this whole taking pornographic pictures without consent issue is both personal and political.

Just more evidence that female bodies are the bodies of the sex class. To be used by men, for sex and porn whenever they want to.  Whether it is male scientists using female monkey bodies to observe monkey objectification, or male monkeys paying to view female bodies as a commodity. Or if it is male humans jerking off in public at a female body who is minding her business and just wants to enjoy the beach. Female bodies are only good for sexual gratification of men and to hell with what women think about it.  Guess what that looks like to me: rape culture.

but you know, getting upset about this hurts the feelings of all those liberal nice guys who really do respect women “both as a group and as individuals”, but who still find this study awesome. /snark.