Affectionate regard, friendship, usually between equals.
Honestly, I'm not a fan of labels. To sum up one's relationship with the concept of gender, romance, or sexuality in single, discrete words seems incredibly limiting. These words always lack nuance, because while they hold the possibility of broader identity, typically people have assumptions, and to them, any one label means just one thing. But labels can have more depth of identity than they suggest, and seemingly contradictory labels can exist in harmony.
For instance: I am aromantic, asexual, and a zoophile. That just seems impossible, doesn't it? If I don't feel sexual or romantic attraction... How does zoophilia fit into the picture?
Well, for starters... I think that not experiencing sexual attraction, and having absolutely no desire for romance (which is, at the end of the day, a completely manmade social concept) has simply broadened my horizons. I'm not pinned down by desiring any one particular thing- I'm attracted to nothing, which means I can be interested in anything. I'm asexual but not sex-averse, so for me, while nothing inspires sexual desire from me, I find interest in anything I find aesthetically pleasing, anything I find psychologically thrilling. My "sexuality," as it were, exists not through something so simple as sexual attraction, but through what fascinates me on a deep mental and emotional level. The programming of my brain sees no reason to exempt nonhuman animals from this. A wolf or tiger is large, powerful, wild, and almost mythic in their rarity. A pure white borzoi or a midnight black groenendael are like faerie hounds of light and darkness, ethereal and swift beings who would never exist naturally. If my fantasies are not tied down by attraction to any one species or gender, why shouldn't they sometimes revolve around these beautiful, strong, and fascinating creatures? I'm an animal person- I always have been.
And on that note... why should I exempt nonhumans from my emotional relationships? I find romance unnecessary for partnership, as platonic love can be just as strong. Not only can an animal be a source of that love, they have no expectations of romance- would never be upset you don't love them in a specific, artificially constructed way, would never be upset you have no interest in particular human rituals, would never be upset you wouldn't want to get married or call them your boyfriend or girlfriend. (For the record, I disagree with imposing gender upon nonhumans, as they can't choose for thereslves and I find it objectifying to choose for them and base it purely off of their genitalia.) In this sense, nonhuman animals are the perfect partner for me, as our emotional needs line up more closely than they would for me and most humans. I already have a "kitty-cat partner," who is the purely platonic love of my life. We care for each other so deeply, and I try to prioritize her in my life. She's a total cuddlebug, and we spend our nights with her curled up in my arms, cozy and purring. My love for her and my dedication to her goes far beyond that of a normal "pet owner," and our relationship could only really be called a partnership.
Because of all this... I would find it silly to assert I'm not a zoophile. Your average "not-zoophile" doesn't fantasize about dogs as much as humans, nor would they put a cat at the same level as their human partner. It's undeniably zooey, just as I and many other aroaces are undeniably gay. The kinds of relationships one partakes in goes far beyond a simple basis of romantic/sexual attraction, and it would be silly to say the shoe doesn't fit just because one's neurology didn't push them there. You don't need to be sexually or romantically attracted to animals to be a zoophile, in my opinion- anyone with an above-average love for animals, who regards them as equals, and finds interest in a physical relationship with them, could be one. It's more about taking on the label and living up to it, by treating the nonhumans in your life with as much respect and kindness as the humans in your life. It's not about sex, it's not about romance- it's just about love. Philia means friendship, after all.
Article written by Reign (July 2023)
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