If humans behaved more like animals…

Maybe we’d have a better society

All too regularly one reads about the shocking, disgusting and horrible treatment that women far too often receive from men. The killing of women has even got its own name: ‘femicide’. I find the cruelty and sadism that is frequently involved impossible to understand; maybe psychologists can, but I can’t. All of us, or at least most of us most of the time, appreciate our girlfriends, our female companions, partners and wives and we all had a mother and two grandmothers. Therefore, men who are responsible for such atrocities meted out to our females should receive the harshest possible punishment that the law allows. But they must not be called “animals”, which unfortunately happens quite frequently.

That male animals kill their females almost never happens, whichever species you look at. Accidental deaths can occur, but a deliberate killing or torture of females is not something any animal practices. Courtship displays, songs, dances, nuptial gifts, etc. are often essential rituals before males and females ‘agree’ to engage in sex; yet rapes do sometimes occur and mentioning that once in a course of mine on animal behaviour got me into trouble. Sure, it’s not nice but I call it rape. A student complained that I had talked about rape in class and I had to explain to the university’s principal that occasionally male animals force themselves onto females without prior courtship or receiving a signal from a female that she’s willing to mate. A kind of gang-rape has even been reported from whales in which males corner a female, with two shoving her into a position to allow a third to penetrate her. A female frog or toad can drown, when too many males cling to it, preventing it to reach the surface to breathe. But a deliberate killing of females is apparently alien to animals and so extremely uncommon (reported only from a hungry male octopus), that to call men who torture and kill their partners “animals” is an insult to all animals.

What does happen in some species of animals is the opposite: namely the killing of males by females. In the aforementioned octopus it can happen that the female is hungrier than the male and devours him! Famous for consuming their mates are many spiders, but because male spiders are nearly always (and sometimes extraordinarily much) smaller than their females, mistakes can happen and a hungry female spider will then not hesitate feasting on her mate. In praying mantises males that copulate with their bigger females may lose their heads quite literally, because while they mate the female will decapitate them; an act that makes sure that the copulating male cannot stop until it has inseminated the female.

A seemingly nasty behaviour is that of some males, reported from lions, some monkeys and even rodents, who kill the offspring of their females. Two main reasons have been advanced to explain this odd behaviour: firstly, the offspring may be the result of previous matings by the female and is therefore genetically not related to the new partner (who can, of course, not identify whether the young are genetically related to him); secondly, an absence of newborns will lead to the cessation of milk production and will make her receptive faster than if she was still suckling her young. That females kill the young of other females has also been reported, but it is rarer still. In giant water bugs females attach their eggs to the backs of males, who then guard the eggs until they hatch. There is, however, not terribly much space on a male water bug’s back and females have been observed to scratch off the eggs that another female has deposited there, so that the new female can attach her eggs on the male’s back. In the tropical wading bird Jacana jacana it is also the male that guards the chicks, which unrelated females may kill. The existence of these and some cannibalistic behaviours in animals, however, are no reason to term men, who commit femicides, animals. Their horrible, evil, cruel and sadistic actions towards females are so abominable that there simply isn’t any parallel among animals. 

© Dr V.B. Meyer-Rochow and http://www.bioforthebiobuff.wordpress.com, 2021.
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