Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Digging Ditches and Watching Goat Rape

Here’s a true story about goat rape.

Let me clarify. This may just be a story about goat sex. After all, how often is sex between two goats — or any two animals, for that matter — actually consensual? I don’t know the percentages.

This particular instance, though, was undoubtedly 100-percent non-consensual. And I have reflected on it a surprising amount.

After my freshman year of college I returned home to Oregon and worked on a farm for a few months. One hot and sunny day, my boss had me dig some ditches for irrigation pipes. Behind me was a large enclosed goat pen. I didn’t pay it much attention at first, but that soon changed.

At some point in my ditch digging, one of the goats slipped its head through the wire fence — an easy action considering the large, square pattern of the wire, which squares were just about the size of a goat head. Getting her own head out, though, well that proved more difficult. Her horns angled back, getting caught every time she tried to free herself.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Court, you keep referring to this goat as ‘she.’ How did you discern its gender from your vantage point?

Well, it’s an assumption I’m making based on events that followed. I could be wrong, and maybe I shouldn’t assume. Perhaps you see where this is going. Let’s get back to the story.

I looked at the goat as it struggled, and decided to continue working on my ditch.  The goat would probably squirm her way out eventually. And if she didn’t, well, I wouldn’t know how to get her head out either. Plus, this ditch wasn’t going to dig itself.

The sounds of rustling, fidgeting and struggling continued behind me as I sunk my shovel into the hard topsoil. After a while it began to sound more agitated. I turned around. The goat had company: another goat. An excited goat. The new addition repeatedly tried mounting the trapped goat from behind. An opportunist, if ever there was one.

With her head still caught in the fence, the stuck goat frantically swung her body back and forth, doing her best to fend off the other’s advances, all the while with an expression that seemed to say, “OH, WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?!?”

This went on for a little while, the victim valiantly, desperately avoiding the inevitable. Oddly, my gut reaction wasn’t one of shock or disgust. It was amusement. It made me laugh. And, as I watched these two goats in their twisted pas de deux, I contemplated my hilarity. The very thought of rape, among humans, instantly fills me with queasy revulsion and even shame, that we are capable of such barbarism; such selfish disregard for another’s dignity. Such disregard for our own dignity. Yet I watched these goats and none of that dread entered my heart. It was only amusement.

Should I feel bad for feeling this way? I thought. Is it wrong for me to find only humor in this scenario? Maybe it was the eager, foiled attempts of the hind goat that really got me laughing. I don’t think I’d find a successful attempt as funny. Or captivating.

Soon another farm worker came by — a short, round, middle-aged, leather-skinned Mexican man named Celestino. Walking over to the fence, Celestino spit on the palms of his hands, grabbed the goat’s horns and eased her head out of the wire fence. The goat ran off, relieved and unmolested, and Celestino sauntered back my way. He spoke almost no English, but he looked at me, chuckled heartily as he wiped his hands on his jeans, then walked away.

It was funny to him, too. And in that, somehow, I don’t feel so bad.

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