Some people strongly object to the use of the word “rape” to refer to the systematic sexual violation and forced impregnation of farmed animals to artificially breed them by the billions for meat and dairy products. Is there another word that appropriately captures the physical and emotional trauma, and violent sexual invasion, that these animals are subjected to? Is it somehow more accurate to say “forced reproduction,” or to use the innocuous industry euphemism, “artificial insemination?” What’s conveniently missing from these sanitized terms is the violent domination of bodies and reproductive systems that is at the heart of all animal farming.
Modern turkey “breeding” is especially perverse. Domestic turkeys have been bred to grow so large that they cannot mate naturally, so hens are forcibly “inseminated.” Males are masturbated to get their semen. A worker at a turkey breeding facility in Missouri describes his job: “I have never done such hard, dirty, disgusting work in my life: 10 hours of pushing birds, grabbing birds, wrestling birds, jerking them upside down, pushing open their vents, dodging their panic-blown excrement and breathing the dust stirred up by terrified birds.” (1)
On the question of masturbation and insemination, a UK turkey farmer named Paul Kelly told The Independent: “It’s been happening for 80 years.”
The turkey was already upside down in Paul’s hands. He swiftly uncovered a hole amidst the feathers, gave it a couple of tweaks, and there was the turkey semen, looking like a bit of crumbly old toothpaste. ‘We take this,’ said Paul, ‘and suck it into a rubber tube. It’s then blown into the vagina.’ He picked up a nearby turkey hen, and revealed the vagina. When he put the bird down, she fluttered her feathers and walked off. Kelly: ‘What she’s doing with her feathers – that’s called rattling. It proves she likes being handled.’ (2)
If forcibly masturbating males to collect their semen and violently inserting that semen into restrained hens’ vaginas against their will is not sexual violation and bestiality, then what is it? How can sexually assaulting other humans be immoral but not sexually assaulting nonhumans, who also suffer emotionally and physically — a fact that the “milkers” themselves readily admit to?
Need more reasons to leave turkey off your Thanksgiving menu? Check out our popular feature, 12 Reasons You May Never Want to Eat Turkey Again.
See also: Does Eating Meat Support Bestiality? by Bruce Friedrich.
(1) United Poultry Concerns, http://upc-online.org/turkeys/turkeysbro.html
(2) Andrew Martin, from his article, The Turkey Fights Back.