Search Results

63 items found

Blog Posts (37)

  • Why Animals Don’t Have Rights

    A discussion of animal rights in terms of the mental properties that make humans ends-in-themselves and able to enter a Social Contract The title is deliberately confrontational. I could have chosen instead “Should Animals Have Rights?” However, I prefer this title for two reasons. First, I have seen authors, intellectuals who I admire like Steven Pinker and San Harris, state categorically that animals have rights. Second, this is factually wrong. No legal system in the world recognizes the rights of animals. What legal systems do is to grant legal protections to some animals, which is something entirely different. Legal protections and rights are different things There are many things that are granted legal protections: A national park is a legally protected piece of land. You cannot take animals, plants or even rocks from it. Building on it is generally prohibited, and even visiting it can be restricted. An endangered species is protected by law. You cannot kill endangered plants or animals. The environment in which they live is also protected, to the point of prohibiting building in it or even visiting it. A public monument is protected by the law against stealing or vandalism. This article is protected by law against plagiarism and censorship, because these things would infringe on my rights as an author. As we can see, legal protections are put in place to protect things - tangible things like parks and monuments or intangible things like species and books - because they benefit societies or persons to do so. They protect the rights of people or the common good, but the things being protected do not have rights themselves. Today, the law of most countries gives some animals legal protections. You cannot torture a stray dog. Even if the dog has no owner whose rights are being infringed on by what you do to it, society has decided that it is unethical to make a dog suffer. However, this does not apply to a roach or a starfish, because most people agree that these animals do not suffer. Therefore, legal protection of animals is species specific. They are also context specific. A sewer rat can be given a poison that will kill it slowly and painfully, but the same thing cannot be done to a lab rat. Kant’s categorical imperative as a foundation to human rights Humans have rights because of who we are: conscious, autonomous beings with free will. It goes back to the philosopher Immanuel Kant and his categorical imperative (second formulation): “You act with reference to every rational being (whether yourself or another) so that it is an end in itself in your maxim” (Wikipedia). Humans are ends in themselves, so it is unethical to treat them solely as means to an end. The problem with this is that we treat other human beings all the time as means to an end. If I go get a haircut, isn’t the barber a means to my end? Well, not exactly, because in the process I also take into consideration the barber’s own goals, like getting paid for the haircut. I may also engage in conversation with him, partaking of his life experience as an Apache (this actually happens). By talking to him, I recognize his humanity. Why animals are not “ends in themselves” At this point, you may think of your favorite pet and say: “Wait a second! Why is not my Fido an end-in-itself?” After all, animals appear to have their own goals, just like we do. They want to come and go as they please, to eat, to drink, to nap… And most of all, they want to stay alive. How are those goals different from ours? Isn’t denying their goals while protecting ours an act of species egoism, of “speciesism”? According to scientists like Stuart Kaufmann - in his latest book, A World Beyond Physics: The Emergence and Evolution of Life - agency is a feature of all living beings. He calls agency the ability of life to organize its functions in order to survive and reproduce itself. He points out that without this idea, it is hard to explain saying things like “the function of the heart is to pump blood.” The pumping of the blood seems to serve a goal - moving the blood to oxygenate and nourish the organs of the body - which is just part of the larger goal of keeping the body alive. From this point of view, all living beings are agents because their essence is to keep on living, to survive. Reproduction is just an extension of this: to keep life going in future generations. However, having this sort of agency doesn’t make living being ends in themselves because they do this in an unconscious, automatic way. There is no more purpose to their agency than there is purpose in the Earth turning around the Sun. When scientists say that the goal of living beings is to survive, the word “goal” is used as a metaphor. Having goals implies conscious planning, and this is something that only humans can do. Only humans? Aren’t some animals capable of planning, too? The key word in that sentence is “conscious.” Animal consciousness is an extremely hard scientific and philosophical problem that hasn’t been solved yet. However, we know about some differences between the human and the animal minds that shed light on whether animals can formulate goals in a way that makes them end-in-themselves. Unique properties of the human mind that allow us to have conscious goals I explored the characteristics that differentiate humans from animals in another article: Not just intelligence: Why humans deserve to be treated better than animals. The most important ones for this discussion are: Extended Consciousness: This is a term coined by neuroscientist Antonio Damasio (Damasio, 1999) that refers to our capacity to see ourselves as selves that existed in the past and will continue to exist in the future. Some animals - like dogs and cats - have what Damasio calls “core consciousness”: they have a sense of self limited to the present. Extended consciousness is not the same as having memories. It is realizing that the entity that we see in those memories is the same self that we perceive now (Suddendorf and Corballis, 2007). Without realizing that we are a self that persists over time, it is not possible to have a conscious goal, because that means planning for a future state of our self. Theory of mind: This is the ability to model the minds of other people in our own minds. For example, we are able to imagine the emotions of a friend who we see crying, the next move of our chess adversary, or whether our business partner plans to cheat us. Novelists can keep alive in their minds characters who think, feel and act in ways very different from themselves. Surprisingly, animals and young children do not have a theory of mind (Penn and Povinelli, 2007). Recent research found a vestigial theory of mind in chimps (Krupenye et al., 2016) and intelligent birds like corvids, but this is a far call from the multiple recursive theory of mind that we have: “I know that you know that I know that you are lying.” Theory of mind is what allows us to have real empathy (Gu et al., 2010; Preis et al., 2013) - to walk in somebody else’s shoes - and not the mere contagion of emotions that we find in animals like rats. It also allows us to understand the consequences of our actions, how what we do may cause happiness or suffering in others. Hence, it is the foundation of our moral sense, our conscience. Social emotions like shame, pride, guilt, envy, fairness, loyalty, awe and regret, are also absent in animals. They also form the foundation of our social behavior, our ethics and our conscious planning. Emotions are our motivators, the drivers of our actions. Human emotions are what give human goals their meaning. In the past, the idea that humans and animals had a different moral status was based on religious beliefs. Humans had souls and animals didn’t. In a scientific worldview, we abandoned those religious beliefs, leading a lot of people to think that humans and animals are basically the same. If humans and animals had the same moral status, then there is no logical reason why they should not be treated the same way. If humans have rights, animals should have them, too. However, science is starting to show that the minds of humans and animals differ in ways that are ethically meaningful. Of course, since we are the products of evolution, these unique properties of the human mind show gradually in the most complex mammals and birds. Still, some epic change must have happened in the evolution of our ancestors that changed their minds into ours. It was not just intelligence, or language, or even theory of mind and extended consciousness, but a synergy of changes that produced an entirely new type of being: the human being. Neuroscientists like Bud Craig have mapped the growth of certain regions of the brain cortex during human evolution that seem to be responsible for these changes: the anterior insula (Craig, 2009, 2011), the anterior cingulate cortex and the prefrontal cortex (Craig, 2010). For example, while the posterior insula integrates sensations and emotions, the anterior insula is able to imagine hypothetical sensations and emotions: “if I hit my toe with this hammer, this is what it would feel like.” This can form the basis for theory of mind. Likewise, the anterior cingulate cortex is in charge of formulating complex goals, which are evaluated by the prefrontal cortex for their social and ethical value. We don’t need religion to establish that humans have a higher moral status than animals. The Social Contract as a foundation to human rights Apart from the Kantian end-on-itself view, a more practical foundation for human rights is the idea of the Social Contract. “In moral and political philosophy, the social contract is a theory or model that originated during the Age of Enlightenment and usually concerns the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual. Social contract arguments typically are that individuals have consented, either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority (of the ruler, or to the decision of a majority) in exchange for protection of their remaining rights or maintenance of the social order.” Wikipedia. Basically, the idea is that I respect your rights if you agree to respect mine, and we both agree that the State is the ultimate arbiter to resolve our differences. In the process, we grant the State the monopoly of violence to enable it to administer rights and responsibilities. Laws, armies, police, jails and the whole paraphernalia of the modern State follows from this. Animals are unable to enter a Social Contract According to this view of human rights, animals do not have rights because they are intrinsically unable to enter a social contract. If you agree with a lion that you won’t shoot it if it doesn’t try to eat you, the next thing you know is that the lion is pouncing on you when you turn your back on it. It has been tried with different animals and in different ways, and it just doesn’t work. The human always ends up being bitten, clawed, gored, mauled or stomped. Entering a social contract requires extended consciousness to see how it benefits our future self; theory of mind to understand how the suffering of others is identical to our own suffering; human emotions like shame, pride, guilt and fairness to understand its meaning, not just intellectually, but emotionally. The animal brain is incapable of even beginning to understand a social contract. You might as well ask a rock to sing. Without understanding the social contract, an animal cannot reciprocate any rights we give it. This is important, because our social order is one made not just of rights but of responsibilities. We acquire rights at the same time we accept responsibility. We may be born with a right to life, but all our other rights are granted as we take on responsibilities. Thus, we get the right to open a bank account at the same time that we get the responsibility to pay taxes. We get a driver’s license and the responsibility of paying fines or going to jail if we drive recklessly. It doesn’t make sense to give animals rights when they cannot take on any responsibility. But there is more. Having a right only really makes sense if you understand that you have that right. You may give dogs and cats all the rights you want; they will never get it. Without the mental properties that I list above, animals would never understand that they have rights. Therefore, they will not get the psychological benefits that humans get from knowing that we have rights. There is also a practical concern: since an animal doesn’t understand that it has rights, it cannot defend them. What would happen, in practice, is that some humans would appoint themselves as defenders of animal rights. In fact, this is what animal rights activists do. The result would be a transfer of power to the activists, who are likely to use it for their own benefit. They would become a new priestly class who, instead of interpreting the will of God, will translate to the rest of us the wishes of the animals under their protection. Not a bad racket, when you think about it. Utilitarianism: “But do they suffer?” Another major body of ethical philosophy is Utilitarianism. “In ethical philosophy, utilitarianism is a family of normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals. Although different varieties of utilitarianism admit different characterizations, the basic idea behind all of them is, in some sense, to maximize utility, which is often defined in terms of well-being or related concepts.” Wikipedia. For some reason, utilitarian philosophers like Jeremy Bentham and Peter Singer have been the most staunch proponents of animal rights. Peter Singer is credited for having launched the animal rights movement. I think the link between utilitarianism and animal rights is due to two basic ideas: They assume that animals have the same moral status as humans. Since utilitarianism pursues the wellbeing of all individuals, and animals qualify as individuals, then the wellbeing of animals must be taken into consideration. The first assumption is not explicitly stated, much less justified, by the utilitarians. I have argued against it above. It is also absurd on its face because, if animals have the same moral status as humans, then all animals have the same moral status. This would make us treat a mosquito the same way we treat a dog. This is absurd and would prevent us from being able to fight parasites, as pointed out in the article Speciesism and the “Fleas on Dog” Ethical Dilemma. The problem of animal suffering in a serie is addressed s of articles in Speaking of Research: The Uniqueness of Human Suffering. The difference between pain and suffering. More thoughts on animal suffering. The main idea in these articles is that pain is not the same as suffering, and that humans suffer in particular ways in which animals do not. I call this “deep suffering” because it requires extended consciousness, theory of mind and culture. Moreover, since suffering requires consciousness, only some species of animals can suffer. This solves the problem of why it is ethical to treat some animals better than others. It also justifies why we should prioritize human suffering over animal suffering. Therefore, even if we adopt the utilitarian perspective of maximizing wellbeing, we cannot equate human wellbeing with animal wellbeing. For many animals - ants, corals, clams, barnacles, shrimp, jellies, starfish - the concept of wellbeing is not appropriate at all. Even if they have agency - all living beings do - they do so as unconscious automatons. Animal rights are not necessary to treat animals well But, most importantly, giving animals rights is not the best way to ensure their wellbeing. The concept of rights is not useful at all when applied to animals because rights only make sense when the being who has them understands them. The best way to ensure animal wellbeing is to give them legal protections. This is the position of animal welfare, as opposed to animal rights. Having the law protect animals against suffering, abuse and mistreatment bypasses the difficult philosophical problems of them being ends-in-themselves, conscious and able to suffer. We can simply determine that it is wrong to treat animals a certain way because of who we are, not because of who they are. It is wrong to make animals suffer, just like it is wrong to destroy a national park or cause a species to go extinct. We value things - national parks, species, monument, works of art and animal wellbeing - because it is in our human nature to do so. Isn’t that enough? References Craig AD (2009) How do you feel--now? The anterior insula and human awareness. Nat Rev Neurosci 10:59-70. Craig AD (2010) The sentient self. Brain Struct Funct 214:563-577. Craig AD (2011) Significance of the insula for the evolution of human awareness of feelings from the body. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1225:72-82. Damasio AR (1999) The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. San Diego, New York, London: Harcourt, Inc. Gu X, Liu X, Guise KG, Naidich TP, Hof PR, Fan J (2010) Functional Dissociation of the Frontoinsular and Anterior Cingulate Cortices in Empathy for Pain. Journal of Neuroscience 30:3739-3744. Krupenye C, Kano F, Hirata S, Call J, Tomasello M (2016) Great apes anticipate that other individuals will act according to false beliefs. Science 354:110-114. Penn DC, Povinelli DJ (2007) On the lack of evidence that non-human animals possess anything remotely resembling a 'theory of mind'. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 362:731-744. Preis MA, Schmidt-Samoa C, Dechent P, Kroener-Herwig B (2013) The effects of prior pain experience on neural correlates of empathy for pain: An fMRI study. Pain 154:411-418. Suddendorf T, Corballis MC (2007) The evolution of foresight: What is mental time travel, and is it unique to humans? Behav Brain Sci 30:299-313; discussion 313-251.

  • The Birthday Present

    Excerpt from my novel Games of Love and Kink Madrid, Saturday June 4, 1977 Lorenzo let them into his house. It was a small apartment on the ground floor of a two-story building. The main door opened directly to a rectangular living room with white walls. At the other end, there was a sliding glass door that opened to an inner patio with a pair of motorcycles scrapped for parts, and other junk. The other rooms were on the right: first a tiny kitchen, then a recess that hid two doors to the bedroom and bathroom. The furniture was quite Spartan: a rectangular dining table next to the entrance and, in the back, a three-seat sofa, a coffee table and a turntable. The entire wall on the left was covered with bookshelves. “Wow, you have so many books!” said Cecilia. “Not what you’d expect from a simple mechanic, right?” said Julio. “Lorenzo is actually a self-taught intellectual. He has read everything.” A smell of lamb roast with rosemary filled the place. “Come to the table, Cecilia,” said Julio. “That smell is making my mouth water!” “Me too!” she said, sitting down by him. Lorenzo came out of the kitchen with a platter of meat. “Help yourselves.” Lorenzo picked up the bottle of Rioja wine and uncorked it. “See? I told you this guy cooks like a chef! We should do something to thank him.” With a playful smile, Julio unfastened the buttons of her blouse. Cecilia let him do it, directing a mischievous look at Lorenzo. “What the hell are you guys doing?” “Just letting her tits out, to make lunch a bit more pleasant.” Julio took off her blouse and dropped it on the floor. “Like in Peña Sirio, right, Lorenzo? Remember? You couldn’t peel your eyes from me!” “So, you’re at it again?” “No worries, you’re with friends. Come on, just look at her and enjoy yourself, damn it!” Julio and Lorenzo drained the bottle of wine. She didn’t have any. There was custard for dessert, which she loved. Lorenzo then invited them to sit on the sofa, where he served them coffee and Galician herbal liquor. He tried to act normally, but his hands shook a little and his eyes constantly wandered towards her chest. He took out a chunk of marijuana wrapped in foil from his pocket and rolled a joint. “Shall we play some music?” she asked. “Yes, take your pick,” said Lorenzo, absorbed in his task. Julio watched them with an amused air, taking small sips of his liquor. She rummaged through his records. She chose the LP Entre Dos Aguasof the flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía. She went to sit on the couch, pushing Julio aside so she could squeeze between them. Lorenzo, taking slow pulls from his joint, moved away from her. “Don’t move away,” she said with a teasing smile. “Today, you may touch me. Right, Julio?” “Yes, man, don’t be shy! Enjoy! Today is your birthday!” “You guys are messing with me, aren’t you?” “No, man, we’re totally serious! You can touch Cecilia all you want.” “Damn, man! She’s your girlfriend! How can I touch her?” “This way, look! You caress her breast like this, then you squeeze it.” Julio demonstrated. “Can you see how firm they are? Then you pinch the nipple a bit to get it hard, like this!” Julio’s hand evoked shivers of pleasure all over her body. “Come on Lorenzo, get in the mood!” she said. “I know you are dying to do it.” Lorenzo left the joint in the ashtray and put his hand on her other tit, caressing it, first softly, then weighing it, squeezing it. Julio continued his demonstration. Being fondled by two guys was deliciously perverse. The notes of the guitar of Paco de Lucía streamed playfully, like the pleasure from her nipples. The drums of the rumba beat with the rhythm of her heart. Julio withdrew his hand, leaving her to Lorenzo, whose eyes were fixed on her chest with absolute concentration. After a while, he released her to give the joint another draw. She took the opportunity to sit on his lap. Lorenzo, holding the joint between his lips, placed a hand on each beast. She grabbed the edge of her miniskirt and slowly pushed it up, revealing her shaved pussy. “You guys have really turned me on! Do you want to touch my pussy to see how wet I am?” she whispered. Lorenzo seemed to wake up from his dream. He took his hands away from her chest and crushed the joint in the ashtray. “What are you trying to do? What the fuck is wrong with you?” “Come on, man, don’t get upset now!” said Julio. “We thought that, since today you’re old enough to vote, this might be a good time for you to lose your virginity. So I’m loaning you Cecilia so you can fuck her.” “You are out of your minds!” Lorenzo stood up so suddenly that she didn’t have time to get up from his knees, and fell on her butt. Lorenzo ran from the living room and locked himself in his bedroom. “That’s what I was afraid of! We screwed up!” said Julio. “Well, being shy is just natural.” She got up from the floor. “Come on, go talk to him!” Julio went to stand in front of the closed door. “Come on man, don’t be shy! I don’t mind, really! I know how much you like Cecilia.” He waited for a little while, but there was no answer. He returned to the living room. “It’s hopeless! We should leave.” “May I try?” “Go ahead… But I don’t think you’re going to get him to come out.” She went to the bedroom door. “Lorenzo, please, let me in! I just want to tell you something.” “You’ll end up traumatizing the poor guy,” Julio said, sitting on the couch. “He’s not a poor guy! He’s a man with a pair!” she said aloud so Lorenzo could hear her. “Come, Lorenzo, open up! Please, don’t make me speak through the door. That’s rude!” Lorenzo let her in, closing the door behind her. “It was my idea, I’m sorry. I wanted to be the one to take your virginity. It would mean so much to me! Come on, please!” she pleaded. Lorenzo looked at her tits. He was a bit pale. He approached her slowly. “It’s just that all this is so awkward, girl!” “Of course, I understand… You know? Maybe we shouldn’t have told you that this is your birthday present, as if we were doing you a favor. The truth is, I would like to do it. It would be a big disappointment for me if you rejected me, after going this far.” “But, what about Julio?” “He agrees, can’t you see? We talked it over. Please! I’m really turned-on!” She unzipped her skirt and let it drop to the floor. “See? Here I am, all naked for you! You do like me, don’t you?” “That’s not the problem. I like you a lot, but…” “You see, it’s like making a difficult move when you are climbing. You just get started and then your body knows what to do, right?” she ran her hand over the bulge in his pants. “I know you’re dying to do it, you dummy!” “Can’t we do it here?” “Well, it’s just that… this isn’t what I had agreed with Julio. What’s the matter, does it embarrass you that he watches us? You two are best buddies, aren’t you?” She grabbed his trousers and slowly unzipped them. She inserted two fingers into the fly. “Do you have any idea how much pleasure I can give you?” she intoned seductively as she rubbed the tip of his cock. “No, you don’t have the slightest idea of how utterly amazing is to make love! Being able to touch me wherever you want… And then push your cock inside me… Can you imagine how soft and warm is the inside of my pussy? And then being able to see the pleasure in my face while you fuck me. And when you come, it’s a thousand times better than when you jerk off! You’ll see!” As she spoke, she pulled down his underpants until he was able to wrap her fist around his rod, taking it out of his fly. She held it while she opened the door. He let her lead him by it to the living room. At the sight of Julio, Lorenzo stopped in his tracks. Realizing that she was humiliating him in front of his friend, Cecilia let go of his cock. She kneeled in front of him and put it in her mouth, feeling him shudder with pleasure. She unbuttoned his jeans and pulled them down, along with his underwear. All the while she sucked him gently, enough to capture his attention but without getting him too excited. She took it out of her mouth to admire it. It was the only cock she had seen other than Julio’s. It was long and thin, slightly curved upwards. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Julio watching them from the sofa. He looked nervous and excited. * * * Julio had mixed feelings as he watched Cecilia kneeling in front of Lorenzo, sucking his cock with total concentration. He had hoped that Lorenzo would refuse to have sex with her. He knew him well: deep down, he was a prude. Moreover, his strong sense of loyalty would make him refuse to do anything that could look like betrayal. But he had not taken into account Cecilia’s stubbornness and her unexpected talent for seduction. Besides, it seemed that there was already a certain intimacy between her and Lorenzo. That should have made him jealous. He wondered why it didn’t. Lorenzo stumbled, his ankles held by his pants. “Come, lay down on the rug,” Cecilia said. Lorenzo obeyed, and she carefully removed his shoes, pants and underpants. Naked, in profile in front of him, she was gorgeous. Her delicate gestures revealed a total dedication. Her gaze moved from Lorenzo’s slim body to him, as if to be sure that he was fine. When she had Lorenzo naked from the waist down, she began to make love to him, kissing the inside of his thighs, licking his balls, and putting her lips back on his swollen gland. It was a beautiful sight, loaded with eroticism. That’s why he wasn’t jealous. His own penis attested to it with a strong erection. Cecilia had taken over Lorenzo, had him completely subdued with her beauty and her skill. Just as Laura had subdued him when she took his virginity, doing something very similar to what Cecilia was now doing to Lorenzo. That thought bothered him. Cecilia was his sexual servant, he didn’t like the idea that she knew how to dominate a man. Cecilia’s lips left Lorenzo’s penis and continued their journey up his body, tracing a vertical line on his belly with her tongue. She pulled his shirt up so she could suck on a nipple, and ended up kissing him on the lips. Julio was paralyzed, unable to take his eyes off them. Part of him wanted to shout at them to stop, that they had already gone too far, that he couldn’t take it anymore. But a stronger part of himself enjoyed watching Cecilia’s entranced look, and the expression of pleasure and bewilderment on his friend’s face. He could not stop such a beautiful thing. Cecilia straddled Lorenzo, rubbing her crotch against his hardened penis. Then, in a fit of impatience, he saw her seize it, lift her butt, and impale herself. It was so neatly done that he could imagine the sensation of Cecilia’s warm vagina wrapping around his own cock. Lorenzo stiffened, on the brink of climax. “Not yet, champion! Take a deep breath, the best part is yet to come!” she said, her gaze fixed on Lorenzo’s face. Cecilia lowered herself until she sat on his belly, smiling at him with complicity. Lorenzo put his hands on her tits, squeezing them. She giggled and corresponded by pinching his nipples. “You have trapped me, girl!” “It’s to keep you from coming too soon, buddy! I lost my virginity the same way.” The sound of his own voice surprised him. He had not been able to speak up to that point. Lorenzo and Cecilia turned to look at him, and suddenly he felt part of what they were doing, not an invisible spectator anymore. “Man, this is amazing!” murmured Lorenzo. “Once you’re a bit less excited, we’ll start moving, okay?” said Cecilia. Lorenzo nodded. Soon, she started to move up and down on him, putting her hands on his chest. Lorenzo’s cock slipped out. She grabbed it and put it back inside. Lorenzo grabbed her buttocks and guided her in the up and down swing. They were completely focused on each other, and Julio felt the sense of complicity drift away. A certain uneasiness fought against the excitement of the scene. Cecilia seemed to have found the right angle and was now moving up and down in a mad frenzy, her tits bobbing in voluptuous waves, her curls shaking in the air. Suddenly, she stopped. He heard Lorenzo moan with pleasure. Cecilia threw her head back and abandoned herself to her own orgasm. It was the first time that he had seen Cecilia climax from afar, without being him who was giving her pleasure. It was a sight of remarkable beauty. It was over. It was too late to go back. He felt that a door had been opened to an unknown dimension. Until now, Cecilia had been his alone, but she had just shown him that she could enjoy another man. She was in full control of her sexuality. She had proved to be a great seductress. His uneasiness returned with renewed intensity. By the way she looked at him with a worried expression, Cecilia must have felt his mood. She got up and came over to sit on his lap. She kissed him tenderly. “Now it’s your turn. Come on, fuck me!” That was unexpected. He couldn’t deny his arousal, his cock was still hard. But he felt too confused inside. He couldn’t make love to her. Not in front of Lorenzo. “Come on! Don’t you have enough already? You just came!” “Yes, but only once… I want more! Besides, with you it’s different.” Lorenzo got to his feet and looked perplexedly at his half-naked body. He picked up his jeans, his underpants, and his shoes. “Thank you for my birthday present, guys!” he said, as if not quite sure what to do. He went to the bathroom. He must have realized that he needed privacy to make love to Cecilia. The privacy that Julio had not wanted to give him. How would he feel about Lorenzo from now on? Would they dare to talk about what had happened? Or was the whole thing going to become an obstacle to their friendship, something they would carefully avoid in all their conversations? Cecilia, on the other hand, would surely want to know how he felt. What was he going to tell her? The thought of confessing to her how much it had excited him to see her fucking Lorenzo frightened him. Maybe she’d take it as an invitation to do it again. He didn’t feel capable of going through this again. “Come on, don’t be so stubborn!” she whispered. “Do I have to seduce you, too?” Cecilia’s hand settled on his belly, caressing his erection through his pants. She already knew. She understood that he had enjoyed seeing her fuck Lorenzo, and now she wanted to wrap up the whole thing by making him cum too. But he couldn’t allow her to control him as she had controlled Lorenzo. He had to show her that he was still in control, of his own desires and hers. “Yeah, I see you’re a born seductress. Come on, get dressed, we’re leaving,” he said, giving her a swat on the butt. “Then you don’t want to do it? Is there anything wrong?” she said with a hurt look. “Come on, don’t be annoying, Cecilia!” “You are not jealous, are you?” “Well, yes, a little! But you were right: jealousy is fucking great!” If you enjoyed this story, you will find more erotic scenes like this in my novel Games of Love and Kink. Copyright 2022 Hermes Solenzol.

  • Lies About Prostitution: 1 - Equating Prostitution with Human Trafficking

    The majority of prostitutes choose their work — the real moral failure of human trafficking is the exploitation of immigrants from poor countries The difference between prostitution and sexual slavery This is the one Big Lie about prostitution. It has been denounced in prestigious medical journals, like The Lancet (Butcher, 2003; Steen et al., 2015) and others (Decker, 2013). But politicians are paying no heed. They use the words “prostitution” and “trafficking” interchangeably, like they are the same thing. It is true that some prostitutes are coerced into sex work. Common definitions of sex trafficking include two different set of criteria: 1) minors under the age of 18 years being sexually exploited (Willis and Levy, 2002), or 2) adults doing sex work “under conditions of force, fraud or coercion” (Decker, 2013; Steen et al., 2015). Forced sex work should not be called prostitution, but sexual slavery. Sex with minors is statutory rape. Scientists have also pointed out that this lie has grave consequences, not just for the sex workers, but also for the general population, because it seriously undermines the prevention of HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases (Ditmore and Saunders, 1998; Steen et al., 2015). What percentage of prostitutes are “trafficked”? The excuse for this deliberate confusion is that most prostitutes are trafficked, as the Spanish newspaper El País proclaimed in its editorial of September 4, 2018, without any evidence. In fact, it is far from clear how many women who get paid for sex are forced into it (“trafficked”). This is not by accident. Research into this topic seems to be purposely discouraged. Or maybe it’s just that doing statistics on a business in which the worker, the client and the manager risk being thrown in jail is extremely hard. When research is done, it is in developing countries in South Asia like India, Thailand or Bangladesh (Decker, 2013). Then their conclusions are mindlessly applied to create legislation in Europe and the United States. A study carried out by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Trafficking in Persons to Europe for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation (PDF in Spanish; details on pages 7-9) addresses the dimension of prostitution in Europe and the percentage that comes from sexual exploitation. Number of victims of trafficking identified in Western and Central Europe (in 2006): 7,300 victims. Assuming that only one out of 20 victims is identified, the total figure would be 7,300 x 20 = 146,000 victims. This assumption is from the UN report, not mine. Estimated number of prostitutes in 25 European countries: 700,000 prostitutes. Extrapolating to the total population of Europe gives about one million prostitutes. 146,000 victims / 1,000,000 prostitutes = 14.6% of the prostitutes are victims of sexual exploitation in Europe. There is great a study by Aella in her blog Knowingless. She compares different sources for the number of prostitutes trafficked in the USA: “So in the US: the Trafficking In Persons report says ~16,000 newly trafficked per year (if we assume 2 years spent trafficked, this is ~32,000 currently sex trafficked). The Human Rights Center report says 4,600 currently sex trafficked, the Ohio study says (maybe?) ~76,000 currently sex trafficked, and mine says ~39,000 currently sex trafficked. I don’t know if averaging these is the right thing to do, but I did it anyway, which leaves us with 37,900 (or ~0.01% of the US population).” What Percentage of Sex Workers in the US are Trafficked? by Aella. She estimates the number of sex workers in the USA as being between 830,000 and 1,200,000, which is similar to the number for Europe. Putting both numbers together, she concludes: “So: given my estimated sex trafficking prevalence, I estimate about 3.2% of active, in-person sex workers in the US are currently being sex trafficked.” What Percentage of Sex Workers in the US are Trafficked? by Aella. Using the numbers she gives, the higher and lower boundaries for the percentage of prostitutes trafficked in the USA would be 9.5% and 0.38%. Even the higher number is still lower than the estimate in the UN study for Europe. I think that their assumption that only 1 in 20 victims is identified is wrong. This assumption involves a lot of guesswork, and can significantly change the resulting percentages. In any case, even the higher estimates show that it is false to equate prostitution with trafficking. The great majority of prostitutes choose this work voluntarily. The real human trafficking: immigration from poor countries A fact that is rarely discussed about human trafficking is that a lot of people want to be trafficked - in the sense of wanting to migrate from poor, developing countries in Africa, South Asia and Central and South America to the rich, developed countries of Europe and North America. They are so desperate to do this that they are willing to risk their lives in the process. Being exploited for their labor - including sexual labor - it’s not the worse outcome they face. Much worse is to die, lose their children, being forcibly sterilized, or being imprisoned at the hands of the same State that sanctimoniously preaches against the horrors of prostitution. Undocumented women from Mexico or Central America crossing the border into the USA assume that they are likely to be raped on their way. These women, and those crossing the Mediterranean in precarious boats to reach Spain, Italy or Greece, have to give large sums of money to their coyotes or smugglers. Often, they don’t have money at hand, so they assume a debt to the smugglers. Prostitution is just the most expeditious way to pay that debt. Of course, this is coerced sex, but the fact that sex is involved is not the most salient moral issue here. It is the economic injustice that forces people into these extremes. There have been cases in which immigrant women have been locked in secret factories and made to work excruciating hours in what can only be described as modern-day slavery. Others have been forced to work as intern maids in the households of the rich. Often, their children are held as ransom. The immorality of confusing prostitution and human trafficking Most prostitutes are not trafficked. Most trafficked women are not prostituted. These two things are confused on purpose to advance a repressive ideology that could not gain traction otherwise. This is a huge ethical failure. It involves turning a blind eye to an injustice much larger than sexual exploitation: the steep difference in wealth between rich countries and the poor countries that they colonized in the past and continue to exploit economically. Famine and violence make life in some of these poor countries so harsh that the risks of migration seem the most rational option. If you lived there, you would want to be trafficked, too. References Butcher K (2003) Confusion between prostitution and sex trafficking. Lancet 361:1983. Decker MR (2013) Sex trafficking, sex work, and violence: evidence for a new era. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 120:113-114. Ditmore M, Saunders P (1998) Sex work and sex trafficking. Sex Health Exch:15. Steen R, Jana S, Reza-Paul S, Richter M (2015) Trafficking, sex work, and HIV: efforts to resolve conflicts. Lancet 385:94-96. Willis BM, Levy BS (2002) Child prostitution: global health burden, research needs, and interventions. Lancet 359:1417-1422.

View All

Pages (23)

  • Bio | Sex,Science&Spirit

    Hermes Solenzol Hermes Solenzol is the penname I use for writing. ​ My life has been complex, interesting and full of adventure. I am Spanish but I was born in Rome, where I spent the first years of my childhood. I still have many memories of that Italian stage. When I was five my parents returned to Spain. We lived in the Canary Islands for a year and then in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Northwestern Spain. Galicia got under my skin. My early years were forged by days of incessant rain punctuated by the few sunny days that filled my eyes with radiant colors, as if somebody had just washed the landscape. Things started to change for me when my father dragged me to a children's club run by the conservative Catholic organization Opus Dei. They begun a long period of indoctrination. At fourteen I traveled to Rome to visit the Pope and the “Father”, Saint José María Escrivá de Balaguer, the founder of Opus Dei. And so began the pressure to make me a member of Opus Dei. ​ When I was fifteen, we moved to Madrid. My last year of High School was at a school run by the Opus Dei. Paradoxically, that was what saved me. I was in love with science and had also started reading books on Eastern mysticism. The training they gave us at school was steeped in the most stale Catholicism and collided with my self-taught science and spirituality. I had a painful crisis that culminated in my abandonment of Christianity. What followed was like a huge breath of freh air. I went to college to study Chemistry and then Biochemistry. I practiced yoga, read a lot and started climbing. With a friend, I went exploring all the organizations and sects that we could find in Madrid: the Children of God, the Baha'i, Guru Maharj Ji, Swami Yogananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi... I was mostly drawn to the yogis of Swami Sivananda, and then the Siloístas, an organization halfway between mysticism and politics from Chile and Argentina. I lived in Paris a couple of times while doing my doctoral thesis and my first postdoc. I started practicing Zen Buddhism. In 1986, I came to the United States for the first time. I had the feeling that I was leaving Spain forever. However, I returned to Spain after three years, where I spent two years that ended up disappointing me with the state of science in my country. In the US I had tasted the sweet liquor of independent research and I could no longer adapt to the hierarchy and narrow-mindedness of the Spanish university. In 1991, I returned to the US for good, this time to California. I married a woman whom I had met during my previous stay in the US. Here I was able to dedicate myself thoroughly to my favorite sports: climbing, scuba diving and skiing, for which California is a true heaven. The thirty years that I have lived in California passed like a dream. There were some major changes in my life during that time, however, such as having a daughter and changing my research topic to pain physiology. In 2010, another unforeseen change occurred. I began to write a novel, putting in it certain erotic fantasies and some autobiographical details. I was hooked. I couldn't stop writing. Every night I would come home tired from work, turn on the computer, and type until well after midnight. On the weekends I no longer wanted to go climbing or diving, but to stay at home living the adventures of my character Cecilia Madrigal. In just over a year I had finished the first draft, which had grown to such inordinate dimensions that I decided to turn it into a trilogy. After an unsuccessful attempt to publish on Tusquets, I was convinced that it was best to self-publish using Amazon Kindle, Smashwords and D2D. ​In 2020, coinciding with the coronavirus pandemic, I retired from my position as a university professor. At 63 and in excellent health, it may have been a bit early to retire, but I want to start a second career as a writer. It hurts to leave scientific research behind, but if I want to carry out my book projects, I have to start now.

  • Cecilia Domesticated | Sex,Science&Spirit

    Where to buy it Spanish version only. Universal Book Link Cecilia Domesticated Book 3 of the trilogy Cecilia's Liberation . Description Cecilia lives in a world turned upside down, full of confusion. She has an injury that prevents her from making love, but that does not prevent her friend Lorenzo and her ex-boyfriend Julio from screwing at her. Lorenzo must be stopped, of course. She's not going to cheat on Malena, her best friend. He is not going to betray her like Laura betrayed her. Of course Malena seems to be strangely indifferent to the situation. ​ Julio... that's something else. Cecilia is still madly in love with him. So when Julio proposes a domination-submission relationship, why not accept? Lorenzo and Malena try to warn him that he is going to get into a very careful mess, but to enjoy Julio's body again and the perversions of his mind is an irresistible temptation. And if that serves to cheat on Laura, all the better. ​ However, Laura is not stupid and has taken her precautions. Like a spider, it has been weaving its web with patience, for months, and when Cecilia wants to realize it, it is impossible to escape. His friends, Lorenzo, Malena and Chino come to the rescue. Cecilia, Julio, Laura, Lorenzo and Malena find themselves trapped in a maelstrom of intertwined emotions, a paradoxical game in which you can only win by giving up. Pasajes de la novela ​​ ​ ​ No posts published in this language yet Stay tuned...

View All