Amidst all the species on the planet, the act of “sex” plays an important role for all, human and animal alike. For humans in modern society, “sex” is more than just an act to reproduce but also stands for the longing for pleasure, and for many people it has to do with the intimate connection of “affection”. What about other animals? Is it easy to say that their “sex” is merely for reproduction?
To take this one step further, what about the animals that are considered pets, such as cats and dogs? Humans have always had strong affections toward them, and pet dogs and cats are even considered to have feelings and emotions. In this scope, what does “sex” mean for them? It is still merely for reproduction? Does the concept of sexuality and sexual desire equally apply to pets as it does to humans?
From a scientific point of view, when it comes to the “sex” of pets, nowadays veterinarians suggest “spaying/neutering surgery”, for it prevents undesired pregnancy which might cause the problem of strays. Spaying/neutering can also further prevent some illness of cats and dogs (for example, removing a cat’s uterus prevents diseases like Pyometra). It also prevents cats and dogs from going into heat, and thus they will become more “tame”, more “suitable” to live with human in urban environment. However, the sexuality of pets is barely discussed in the field of science, and the animals’ sexual desire is even not yet recognized at all by science, thus almost completely ignored. Veterinarians tend to look after the bonds between pets and humans rather than those pets’ own need for sex.
Beyond the scientific point of view, gauging from the philosophical point of view, are we, human beings, really capable of understanding other animals’ feelings? In the book of Zhuangz, from the chapter “Qiu Shui” (Autumn Floods), a story goes as following: Zhuangzi and Huizi were strolling on a bridge over the River Hao. Zhuangzi said, "See how free the fishes leap and dart: that is their happiness." Huizi replied, "Since you are not a fish, how do you know what makes fishes happy?" Zhuangzi said, "Since you are not I, how can you possibly know that I do not know what makes fishes happy?" The discussion between Zhuangzi and Huizi implies a philosophical proposition: how can one understand the feelings of another species? And, is it possible for one to fully understand the feelings of the other person’s?
Hence, the feelings and perceptions of animals’ are unknown to us on the philosophical level. Yet, even though we, humans, cannot fully understand animals’ needs, many of us are determined to “protect” animals and even attempt to stand in their shoes to fight for their rights. For example, human beings try to “protect” animals by all sorts of means and even want to treat them in a more “humane” way. Legally, we have the “Animal Protection Act” to protect animals and to respect their lives. In literature, “animal studies” attempts to connect the ideas of feminist theory, queer theory, and so on to reflect the patriarchal oppression of “the Other” of all sorts in human civilizations in which females, queers, colored races, and animals seem deemed as the inferior minority deprived of subjectivity.
From what has been mentioned above, hopefully it is clear that even though we cannot discern if pets have the need for “sexual pleasure”, we cannot otherwise totally deny it. Hence, if pets really have this sort of need, how should we, as the owners, deal with it? Do we really have the rights to remove the organs in the name of love? Is our control over pets’ bodies being another representation of supremacy? In contrast to human’s case, if there is an adequate contraception method available for pets, is it possible for pets to enjoy the right of “sex”? Is there any chance for us to sympathize with animals regarding their sexual desire?
This project, based on the original concept, is aimed to explore the possibilities of pets’ sexuality. Meanwhile, the research methodology of “Design Fiction” will be employed as the guideline to create a science fiction style of imagination. This will be extended to envision, under the impact of advancing veterinary medical technology, how the relationship between human and pets, and pets and pets will change, and how human and pets will cohabitate.
Appearance and lifestyles of pets have constantly been changed due to “artificial selection”; on the contrary, are humans likely to change themselves to adapt to the ways of living of their pets? Under these imaginations and questions about the future, I create a future scenario to criticize and reflect on the power structure in which contemporary humanity exercises control over pets’ “sex”.
In the future scenario of this project, the contraception technology for pets will have been well-developed in order to extend the concept of humans using an app to look for sex or dates for their pets, like some future version of Tinder, to allow an owner, based on “pet-centered” concept, to look for a sexual partner for their pet. Even though nowadays there are some social networking apps available for pet owners, the main purpose caters to the owner’s social networking. The pet social networking app proposed in the future scenario will be pet-centered and will allow the possibilities for pets, other than just pet owners, to make their own friends and sexual partners.
For this same scenario, considering there might be the need for a pet, after finding its sexual partner, to live closer to its partner, we reverse the patron-client relationship which reflects that a pet’s living environment have always depended on humans alone. Furthermore, it forces us to re-think the spatial planning according to pets’ sexual habitual behaviors and preference, to re-imagine common living spaces and public spaces of the future, and to design prototypes to accommodate these imaginations ranging from pet condo, hotel, cruising park, and so on.
In order to explore possibilities of social networking between people, we will plan the imagined future city space in 30 years and reshape the shared space based on the imagination of the pets’ sexual right.
This project is co-collaborated by four people—Kuang-Yi KU, a dentist/artist; Yi-Ling Wu, an engineer; Tzu-Yen Chen, an architect; Wen-Yu Tsai, an image maker—respectively from different backgrounds. These four people, with their varied backgrounds, deal with the proposition of pet sexuality from various perspectives. Through this interdisciplinary collaboration, they propose a new way of thinking, by which they can break the ossified boundaries between distinct fields, and subsequently, in this more flexible research environment, explore philosophical subject as complex as animal sexual rights.
Story background: 2046, Taipei, Taiwan
Being the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, the capital, Taipei, adopts “Top Pink City in Asia” as the tagline for its tourism marketing campaign. In line with the campaign, a hotel company launched a love hotel specially designed for pets in response to the prevalent use of pet networking apps, so that pet owners would have themed hotel as an option, aside from their own place, for pets’ sexdating. Each hotel room is specially designed, divided into two areas, one for dogs to make love, and the other one for the owners to chill. Through the one-way transparent glass, the owners can see pets’ activity as they please. Besides, in case the owners feel bored in the room, the hotel has common facilities such as gym, sauna, bar, etc. In the common area there is also a one-way glass partition to make it convenient for the owners to do their leisure activities while keeping an eye on their pets.
Attracted by the biggest gay parade in Asia, Tomoya Iida, from Tokyo, came to Taiwan. During this trip, not only did he use the networking app he frequently used for himself, but also used “Patpet”, a pet networking app, to look for a sexdate for Tarō, his Shiba Inu dog. Upon seeing the advertisement of the pet themed hotel in Taiwan, appealed by the idea of arranging a sexdate for Tarō in the hotel and the gym facilities which catered to his workout habit, he booked it right away.
On the weekend, in concert with a series of festivities after the parade, the pet themed hotel launched a marketing campaign with Patpet Technology Co. and organized a speed dating event with pick-up service by a love bus for the pets to the hotel, in the lobby of which the event was held. Iida also booked the package for Tarō. Later that day, the shuttle bus came to the site of the parade, notifying Iida and Tarō through Patpet, and then drove them to the hotel.
In the bustling lobby, each dog hopped around so excitedly, sniffing one another’s ass, that the owners had to take quite some time to settle their dogs in the seats. In the lobby were two concentric circular tracks, on which the owners could put their dogs in the seats, which moved a notch forward along the track every few minutes. The seats were equipped with chemical sensors, of which the red light would go on once having detected two dogs emitting high level of sex pheromones. The owners could then decide if they liked the other dog as their dog’s sexdate by opening the door to complete the matching process. Right after the matching procedure was over, the matched pairs were announced and the popularity award was presented.
At the end, Tarō paired up with Momo, an Akita dog. Momo’s owner, Brian, living in Shinyi District, also took the love bus to the event venue. After pairing up, Iida and Brian took their pets to the partition in the common area for sex, and they worked out in the gym while discussing about workout topics and how they felt about the fact that leg training is as important as chest training.
Since Brian had some time off between shifts at a PR company the next month, he met up with Iida in Tokyo, and Momo was brought along for this vacation as well. In Shinjuku there is also a pet themed hotel, and Iida and Brian booked a two-partitioned room for themselves and their pets. That was a special and passionate night, in which the owners and their pets eagerly explored the other’s body. The two pet owners explored every inch of each other’s skin while watching their pets having sex in the other partition. The whole experience of having sex with their pets in the same space was unique for Iida and Brian alike, and both of them felt that a new relationship and an emotional bond beyond expression formed between themselves, the sexdate and their pet.
Story background: 2046, Paris, France
Maurice has been homeless, lingering on the streets by Centre Georges-Pompidou, ever since his company went bankrupt and the divorce from his wife. When winter days come, the cold weather always amplifies the penetrating loneliness. Fortunately, ever since Maurice adopted Isidore 3 years ago, its company has made winters warmer, both physically and mentally.
Isidore is a big dog, with the size of a Husky, eyes of different colors, and brown-ish hair— probably a mix of various breeds, because it doesn’t look like any typical pure breed. Maurice and Isidore live on the pennies handed out from tourists and allowance from French government for homeless people with a dog. Life hasn’t been too hard on them and normally they can scrape through. However, after Isidore had fully grown-up, keeping Isidore’s sex life has become part of Maurice’s daily tasks, since he doesn’t have money to have Isidore neutered, and additionally, he doesn’t want to deprive Isidore of its sex right.
Maurice is aware of the fact that nowadays those who value animal sex rights would use dating apps to find a sexdate for their pet, and that pet hotels are booming, but unfortunately these options are for the bourgeoisie. After all, he doesn’t even own a mobile phone. In this social context, animal sex rights have already been included in the main public policies by the government. And some legislators have already proposed solutions to the sex-related problems of those pets owned by homeless people. One of the most iconic solutions is the redesigning project of Tuileries Garden. In order to create an unprecedented garden, Paris Municipality had gathered local designers and veterinary institutes to conduct a regeneration project called “Sex Park FOR Dogs”. The project consists of placing several dog hormone sensors in the park. Once a dog in heat is brought near the sensor, the red light will flash to indicate that it’s a male dog, while the green light means that it’s a female dog. As a result, when you take your dog to the park, you can quickly spot if there are dogs in heat, and this has become a special scene. In addition, slopes and concealed spaces have been incorporated into the design of the park, so that dogs can have sex without disturbance from their owners, but the owners can still observe what is going on from a distance.
This specially designed public space has proved to be important for homeless people without enough economic resources who often walk their dog to Tuileries Garden to find a sexdate. But finding a suitable match is not always easy and often takes some time. For Maurice, the garden not only helps solve the problem of Isidore's sex life but also gave himself more things to do and makes his life more fulfilling as he has made new friends in the process of finding his dog a sexdate.
The project by Paris Municipality, right after it was launched, has become an important exemplary case as a reference for other countries around the world to plan their animal sex rights policy. Moreover, homeless people strolling around Tuileries Garden in the featured landscape of scenic lighting has made Tuileries Garden regain its past glory as a touristic attraction. Tourists in Paris usually make it a destination and pay visit to check out this intriguing sight. The concealed space not only fulfills pets’ need, but has also surprisingly become a perfect spot for people who are up for trying outdoor sex and for those who are into exciting sexual activities. Furthermore, the garden has even greatly contributed to the rise of tourism in that area.
In the public sphere, it has been deemed a positive public policy; under the table, it has quietly formed a sex culture shaped by men and their pets. However, the seemly dark outcome of this project does not make startling news headlines anymore. After all, in this sexually open-minded era, which is way far different from what it used to be 30 years ago, such thing is no big deal anymore.
Story background: 2046, West London, United Kingdom
Three years ago, 60-year-old Lucy found her British Shorthair cat, Galaxy, a life-long partner called Sophia, through an app. Galaxy and Sophia got married last year. And, Sophia’s owner, Tony, is a 30-year-old freelancer graphic designer.
Due to this marriage, Tony and Lucy moved in together to a new neighborhood in East London, built by the construction company under the same corporation of the pet app. The construction company built a few different neighborhoods for distinct types of purebred cats. Once a cat has entered a stable relationship after meeting its partner on the app, the owner can move into a specific neighborhood according to the breed of their cat. Lucy and Tony moved into a British Shorthair Cat neighborhood named Victoria, and live on the 3rd floor in building C.
Considering the huge differences in their lifestyles, Tony definitely would not want to share the same living space with Lucy, who is 60-year-old and already retired. Fortunately, the design of the neighborhood allows the owners to have their own space without interaction. The two living spaces are connected through a passageway, which also provides privacy for the cats, allowing them to have sex fully away from the owners’ disturbance.
As a beautiful couple of purebred grey British Shorthair, Sophia and Galaxy are always under the spotlight in friends’ gathering. However, Tony has always been opposed to Lucy taking the cats out to show off; because for Tony, cats are individuals instead of some accessories. But they’ve failed to come to a consensus regarding this issue.
Even though the two have disputed over their pets’ marital life issues, a year of marriage has slipped through. Not until this winter has Tony been forced to ponder on the continuation of this marriage, after he discovered that Sophia has been secretly meeting another British Shorthair living in the 9th floor and thus seeing Galaxy less and less.
Months later, the marriage has finally come to its doom, but the divorce lawsuit drags on. Lucy’s lawyer employed several acts in the new animal protection law against Tony to get a huge amount of alimony. Even worse for Tony is that the expenses, caused by the reconstruction of cat passageway from 3rd floor to 9th floor, is due. Thus, he’s got a lot of bills to pay. Fortunately, he had purchased divorce insurance, and the reconstruction expenses could be covered.
The next spring, with the flowers blossoming, everything seems to flourish. Things are going well between Sophia and her new partner Mark, a British Shorthair slightly bigger than Galaxy. Despite the efforts of taking the cat elevator to go to the 9th floor from the 3rd, the two cats meet frequently.
Interestingly, the relationship between the owners has been much better than the last one. Kai-Chu, Mark’s owner, is from Shanghai, currently studying Fine Arts in London. Both Kai-Chu and Tony feel contemptuous of the latest exhibition they saw in the Tate Modern; their tastes for aesthetics click perfectly. They are planning to move to the 5th floor of building B in the neighborhood Victoria for there are two condos put up for rent, and this way Sophia and Mark can spare the efforts of taking elevators.