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Bunny bollocks: to chop or not to chop? - click opera
February 2010
 
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Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 07:42 pm
Bunny bollocks: to chop or not to chop?

Hisae and I are debating whether to get our rabbit Baker's testicles chopped off. He harasses us sexually all day, biting and bruising our feet and ankles, making them sticky with his sperm. We love him, but the sekuhara is hard to deal with. Our attitude veers between amusement and annoyance. Is this the real him? Should we intervene? Would we still love Baker after an operation that changed his personality? And what are the bigger issues at stake, issues about the nature of identity, animal rights, respect and free will? Are there even political dimensions to the question of "to chop or not to chop"?



"Do you wonder why your little bundle of fluff has changed from your cute little cuddly bun to a moody, growly, sometimes aggressive bunny?" asks pet advice website BoingOnline. "Hormones I'm afraid!! Your bunny is now a teenager. This is the time when you might want to think about desexing. Desexing your bunny is something to really think about if you want to get to know your bunny's real personality."

It sounds so simple. Your baby bunny has his "real personality". Along comes a gremlin in the form of the extraneous "hormones" that appear as sexual maturity approaches. Solution: chop off the intruder in the form of your bunny's cojones. All will return to normal.

Being me, of course, I'm immediately suspicious. This notion of Baker's "real personality" being his childhood one (but which childhood personality? He seemed to go through dozens of distinct stages) strikes me as inherently rockist. What is normal? What is my real identity, and does it include my sexuality -- with all its chemicals, its Barneyesque testicular shenanigans -- or not? I'm sure my parents must have noticed how I, like Baker, became growly and aggressive when I passed through puberty. How would I feel (and how would I speak and sing?) if they'd desexed me to get "the real me" back? (It would have extended my lifespan, apparently.)

Being me -- being growly, hormonal, macho and sexed, that is -- I'm suspicious of the advice I've been reading on vet-sponsored websites. Naturally, these sites don't go into questions of what identity and free will actually are. But I can't help wondering whether the financial incentive for vets to recommend surgical procedures (bunny desexing can net them $250 a pop) skews their opinion a bit. What happens in the parallel world where the government obliges vets to perform bunny desexing free of charge on request? In that world, do we get vet-sponsored websites telling us how unnecessary the procedure is? It's not impossible. Glass half empty, glass half full.

I'm also worried by the model of sexuality proposed by these (mostly American) websites. Does it reflect cultural prejudices about the impact of gender and sexuality on identity? Americans love to think of gender as something they can rise above, as they love to rise above all determinisms and limitations. They love to see sexuality as a sort of rucksack they could leave at the cloakroom when they don't want to be burdened by it. They hate to think these things might limit their opportunity to be anything they choose to be. Does this anti-deterministic (but also anti-sexual) ideology come through even on American vet-pet websites?



Behind this debate lies the huge question of whether we have free will, of course, and what role our genes and hormones play in it. The experts at AllExperts at least exhibit some doubt. "It's hard to say if [your rabbit's] personality will change [after surgery]" they opine. "He will be calmer, and less sexually motivated. But how much of that is what you perceive as his "personality" is hard to say. Most of the rabbits I've known have not had major personality changes after neutering, though a very few have." It's a bit contradictory. How can being "less sexually motivated" fail to be a personality change?

Behind the reassuring tone of the vets looms a lot that disturbs us, a lot we still haven't worked out. Is it right to make a "surgical intervention" to alter an organism -- or a nation? Will it all go as smoothly as the experts assume? Is it really so simple to cut out the bad stuff and just leave the good stuff? Aren't good and bad -- aren't sexuality and personality, like culture and identity -- all tangled up in a warp and woof too complex for even the best surgeon's knife?

When we think of this stuff we can't help thinking of scary demagogues and cautionary tales. We think of "Chemical Sarkozy", with his recent proposal of chemical castration -- compulsory hormonal treatment -- for sex offenders. The unsettling scientist Craig Venter -- the Dr Frankenstein of the gentech age -- is there too, as is poor post-Ludovico Alex from A Clockwork Orange, Big Brother-loving Winston Smith from the end of 1984, and a crowd of moronic "epsilons" from Brave New World. Must our rabbit now become a character from these scary dystopian novels? Is carrying him to the vet the equivalent of sending in the Fahrenheit 451 fire engines?



Asked "Why do you burn books?", the fireman Montag in Truffault's film is as clear as our pet experts: Books "make people unhappy. Books disturb people, they make them antisocial". The world would be a much better place if books -- and bollocks -- were removed in one clean, surgical sweep. Wouldn't it?

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kineticfactory
kineticfactory
this is not your sawtooth wave
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 05:57 pm (UTC)

I don't know whether you should chop or not chop, but you should definitely write a song about your rabbit's sexual proclivities.


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beketaten
beketaten
Juliet
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 05:58 pm (UTC)

Your philosophical struggle is an honourable one.
I must say that I'm always on the side of "don't amputate body parts" except in cases of horrible disease.
Let the bollocks stay and jiggle as they may!


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cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 06:01 pm (UTC)

Try and get Baker something that will distract him from trying to sexually harass you both. A stuffed toy animal could work.


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microworlds
microworlds
Sparkachu Maelworth
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 06:17 pm (UTC)

Are you wearing Hisae's hair again?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 06:19 pm (UTC)

I just did it once. It's an old picture.


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jermynsavile
jermynsavile
jermynsavile
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 06:22 pm (UTC)

The world would be a much better place if books -- and bollocks -- were removed in one clean, surgical sweep. Wouldn't it?

But only if wombs went at the same time.


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ex_newironsh15
chris
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 06:25 pm (UTC)

If the rabbit has no libido left to sublimate I fail to see how he will contribute to the project of civilisation


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microworlds
microworlds
Sparkachu Maelworth
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 06:25 pm (UTC)

I also loved watching Fahrenheit 451, what with it's cheesy special effects at the end. I watched it in freshman English, then watched it again 3 years later while I was a teacher's assistant. I never noticed that Julie Christie was both Clarice and Linda. It was pretty odd realizing that.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
2 more questions

But if Baker never meets a female lover to procreate, won't he suffer ?

So maybe the true question is : should we have domestic pets at all, if we are not willing to let them go out, meet others, have sex ?

Francoise


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beketaten
beketaten
Juliet
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 07:10 pm (UTC)

but animals do masturbate!

and where humans are concerned, sexual desire is a great thing, a creative force...extinguish that, and there's not as much energy to go around.

imagine momus with no balls? oh god. ;_;


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand







(Anonymous)
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 07:05 pm (UTC)
Other option.

For me, the debate ends with rabbit sperm on my feet.
More precisely, it ends here : http://www.cuniculture.info/Docs/Recettes/recette1-72.htm
Difficult, of course, when you are attached to the animal.


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darthhellokitty
darthhellokitty
DarthHelloKitty
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 07:06 pm (UTC)

If Baker were living a truly natural life, he'd be outdoors, eating whatever he could find, making thousands of baby rabbits, and probably being eaten by a hawk or something after a year or two. Most domestic rabbits aren't able to survive in the wild (despite the beliefs of the idiots who abandon their pets out in the woods). By domesticating rabbits, we have taken them out of that natural life and modified them to fit our desire for a pet.

Because Baker's role is that of a pet, it's important to do whatever will keep him and yourself happy and content with him as a pet. Unfortunately, some un-neutered adult male mammals don't make very good pets.

Our dog is neutered, and he is anything but sexless; he enjoys a physical relationship with his toy bear, and we appreciate not having to wash it all the time. No Boston terrier in our area dares to turn its back on him, and he has attempted to romance a Great Dane's ankle. However, he doesn't have an overwhelming desire to break out of the house to pursue a dog in heat miles away, which helps him not get hit by cars.

Your best bet in making a decision is corresponding with people who have their own pet rabbits (they probably agonized over this decision too, and those with un-fixed bunnies can tell you how they cope), talking to Baker's vet, and remembering that a pet's testicles don't reflect on your own.


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contentlove
contentlove
Content Love Knowles
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 07:11 pm (UTC)

I would concur with this very sensible answer. Look to the health and well-being of your pet. That's the kindest, most responsible thing to do.


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 07:24 pm (UTC)

I have a passionate and very earnest opinion on this subject. The following link, however, expresses it better than I can:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSsJ19sy3JI


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gigant0r
gigant0r
gigant0r
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 07:47 pm (UTC)
wait wait wait

was that a genuine "Rick Rolling" or a sincere attempt to demonstrate the potential effects of castration? because it's making me want to chop my dog's nuts off, post haste.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 08:03 pm (UTC)

I'm with Philo on this. Animals don't have free will.


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smithsimon
smithsimon
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 08:41 pm (UTC)

i'm with the consensus, which appears to be that Baker really should be out in the free world, shagging like some kind of animal well-known for having sex a lot, but if we're going to accept the morality of having a pet, then do whatever makes him happiest - rabbits have sex because of an urge to procreate, get rid of that urge and he'll not be as frustrated. And you won't get rabbit sperm on your shoes.

BoingOnline - possibly the best website name ever?!


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kinkado
kinkado
kin
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 10:12 pm (UTC)

hey momus,

my boyfriend and i (& our roomates) share our apartment with our pet rabbit emily, and we too have been debating the issue of 'to fix, or not to fix', with much of the same reasoning you've just given for baker.

one thing unmentioned here so far, though, is that proposition that an un-fixed bunny is far more likley to develop cancer within the first few years of life.

for that alone (as especially since it's more common amoung the ladies) we'll probably get emily spayed when we can afford it.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC)

just buy him a lady bunny to fuck, then you can make a fortune selling the offspring


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
akabe
akabe
alin huma
Mon, Sep. 10th, 2007 12:27 am (UTC)

all sentiment aside i would summon a meeting thoroughly considering the merits vs demerits of Topo being there. it should be a long , japanese style meeting where no one is allowed to leave the room until concensus is reached. if the outcome is that Topo should stay then a second meeting should be called immediately to deal with today's question.


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