Penguins are turning to prostitution. Where I have been wrong as an activist

World: Asia-Pacificfrom BBC
Pick up a penguin

Penguins are turning to prostitution. But instead of doing it for money, Antarctic dolly-birds are turning tricks to get rocks off their menfolk.

Stones are essential for penguins to build their nests. A shortage has led to the unorthodox tactics.

“Stones are the valuable currency in penguin terms,” said Dr Fiona Hunter, a researcher in the Zoology Department at Cambridge University, who has spent five years observing the birds’ mating patterns.

Prostitution is described as the world’s oldest profession. But Dr Hunter is convinced it is the first time it has been seen in animals.

Penguin partners

All of the female penguins Dr Hunter observed trading sex for stones had partners.

Penguins stick to the same mate, she said, but none of the males twigged what was happening.

“There was no suspicion on the part of the males. Females quite often go off on their own to collect stones, so as far as the males are concerned there is no reason to suspect.”

She added: “It tends to be females targeting single males, otherwise the partner female would beat the intruder up.”

Dr Hunter and Dr Lloyd Davis of the University of Otago watched the penguins at work on Ross Island, about 800 miles from the South Pole as part of a Antarctica New Zealand programme.

Tricking their prey

On some occasions the prostitute penguins trick the males. They carry out the elaborate courtship ritual, which usually leads to mating.

Having bagged their stone, they would then run off.

“The courtship display is a head-bowing display,” Dr Hunter said. “It usually starts with the male, who bows his head and looks out the corner of his eye.”

She said she does not think the female penguins are doing it just for the stones.

“The female only takes one or two stones,” she said. “It takes hundreds to build the nest to get their eggs off the ground.

“I think what they are doing is having copulation for another reason and just taking the stones as well. We don’t know exactly why, but they are using the males.”

She said the female penguins could also be testing potential future mates, in case their existing partner died before the next mating period.

The single male penguins appeared to have only their own pleasure as a motive.

The action takes place during a three-week mating period starting in late October.

The most stones Dr Hunter saw a single female taking was 62, although she said she suspects her final total was higher.

The number of prostitute penguins is quite low, she said.

“It’s probably only a few percent,” she said. “I was watching opportunistically, so I can’t give an exact figure of how common it really is.”

Other animals have been seen trading food for sexual favours but only within a partnership. –>End Main Story –>

Jill Brenneman’s thoughts begin here,

Ok, I owe abolitionists and a police officer an apology.

From BBC above is a true article about studies which show penguins engage in prostitution. And reveals that abolitionists and police that have criticized my activism and speeches in the past may in fact have been correct.

In 2002, Day of No Prostitution activist Beth Ribet fought successfully against my opposition to include animals in the abolitionist call for a day boycotting the sex industry. She called for animals to be rescued from systems of prostitution. She stated that I was a human supremacist for criticizing the inclusion of animals as part of activism on sex work. It turns out she is correct. Female penguins apparently are in fact in some cases prostitutes. I never even gave penguins a thought.

In a May 2002 speech in Chicago, I openly made fun of a police officer member of the audience who had stated most prostitutes he knew were just trying doing it to get their rock. Again, I thought in terms of humans. I had no idea he was thinking about penguins. I thought he was just being a jerk. He was miles ahead of me in terms of evolved understanding. While my focus was only on humans apparently his was on all species. Go figure…..

In a 2006 interview with Kim Kasaeric, I am quoted as saying prostitution is not a black and white issue. Many abolitionists have been saying it is for many years. After seeing pictures of female penguin prostitutes, what can I say? I’m wrong again.

I went to Chile last July to work with Beatriz Mercado, Amanda Brooks and Chilean orgs Angelina Lina and Margen on an effort to get condoms to sex workers in Chile after USAid funding was cut by the Bush Administration essentially wiping out many Chilean street outreach organizations ability to do HIV prevention with sex workers. Not once did I even consider the significant Chilean penguin population both in Chile itself and in Chilean controlled parts of Antarctica.

Now let’s go to some study results and analysis, Researcher Clarissa Marley determined,

Up to 100 percent of prostituted penguins studied suffered from PPTSD, Penguin Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Up to 100 percent of prostituted penguins studied stated if they were provided with rocks to build nests by other means they would leave penguin prostitution immediately.

Up to 100 percent of prostituted penguins studied indicated lack of other job opportunities including being flightless and if they were taught to fly they would leave penguin prostitution immediately and become flight attendants or pilots.

Up to 100 percent of prostituted penguins did in fact cross international borders to engage in prostitution going from areas controlled by various countries

Date ↓ Country ↓ Territory ↓ Claim limits ↓

Trafficking of prostituted penguins from Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, And Australia and their related Antarctic territories including to those controlled by the US and European powers is significant. Up to 100 percent of prostituted penguins have crossed at least 1 border.

It has been revealed that the US has in fact trafficked penguins to California, Florida and Raleigh, Baltimore and Raleigh, NC for use in theme parks and zoos and aquatic life aquariums and that some of the female penguins have engaged in prostitution.

Studies above indicate the prostitution of penguins causes disloyalty in Penguin marriages and relationships, that it is filled with deceit and trickery, and there are few studies. Doctor Marley stated in reading Dr. Hunter’s research above that at least one penguin was prostituted on at least 62 times and probably more. Marley added in an interview “we are just beginning to understand the issue of penguin prostitution but let me tell you, what we know so far is just the tip of the iceberg and that no sex worker rights activists have ever gone to Antarctica on behalf of prostituted penguins”. “Please” Dr. Marley begged, “don’t leave female prostituted penguins out in the cold”. And her point resonates. I have often talked of the need for resources for the human female sex worker in the winter in Minneapolis but never considered the prostituted penguin in Antarctica is in far worse shape having no shelters and not even any clothes. As a flightless bird they can not move to better areas with more food and better housing as migratory birds such as Canadian Geese.

I stand humbled in the face of my lack of macro level understanding of prostitution as it impacts all species and have to admit I never considered that abolitionist researchers and police officers may be talking about penguins as I have found many of their points and studies to be flawed. But I was viewing those from the perspective of a human female. Viewing it from the perspective of a prostituted female penguin desperate for rocks to build a home in a harsh brutal climate perhaps I can see where they may be coming from. And I have to admit hemispheric bias thinking of continents no farther south than Australia and South America. I have completely forgotten Antarctica and so many species in the prostitution equation and viewing it from this new perspective perhaps some abolitionist activism, research and belief makes new sense. Nikki Craft wanting a porn store burnt down. If I was a prostituted penguin in Antarctica that was freezing in the cold winter of July and someone burned down a porn store I would be one of the first to run to it for heat also, not even considering the first amendment rights of the store owner.

This is a perspective I humbly admit I hadn’t given thought to and perhaps explains why my critics have said I just don’t understand.

Jill Brenneman

3 Responses

  1. “It has been revealed that the US has in fact trafficked penguins to California, Florida and Raleigh, Baltimore and Raleigh, NC for use in theme parks and zoos and aquatic life aquariums and that some of the female penguins have engaged in prostitution.”

    LOL!

    Marine World is driving demand!

  2. Thanks for this Jill!

    You’re also completely forgetting that there must be a societal system for prostituting penguins — primarily pimps. There must be. No prostitute works on her own. And what of childhood abuse? Or drug addiction? Surely other things are driving penguin prostitutes other than the need for survival (and successful chick-rearing).

    But I have to disagree with Dr. Hunter. I’ve read articles of prostitution in primates as well. It seems the animal world is not immune.

    XX

  3. Tourists go to Antarctica all the time. I had completely forgotten this. One can take a Pacific Cruise starting an Acapulco and going all the way down to Chile with a side trip to Antarctica.

    I had completely forgotten drug addiction. I know strange moss and lichens grow in the Antarctic, who knows how those could possibly be misused.

    Amanda, many feminists feel the use of the term chick in reference to females is derogatory. I’m certain prostituted penguin females must be equally effected by the terminology of calling them a chick rather than a female non human penguin prostituted person.

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