Man and dolphin?

If your older sister sends you an article on a man who had sex with a dolphin, you stop what you’re doing and read it right then and there.

Malcolm J. Brenner, the author of Wet Goddess, a semi-autobiographical book about a young man’s love affair with a dolphin, not only admits to having had sex with a dolphin, but actually claims to have been seduced by one.

According to Brenner, back in the 1970s he was hired by a children’s book writer to shoot photographs of dolphins at a Florida amusement park. There he met a dolphin Brenner claims courted him for nine months, at first by aggressively attacking Brenner’s girlfriend and pinning him to the bottom of the pool if he refused her advances, and later by running her teeth flirtatiously along his legs and arms.

“The book isn’t about having sex with a dolphin, it’s about a love affair,” Brenner said in a recent interview. “It’s about what happens when you step outside of the conventional roles that we put ourselves in when we deal with an animal we think of as a lesser animal. I didn’t go to the dolphin with any particular agenda. I just wanted to see what would happen. And the dolphin started training me.” Brenner said he and the dolphin only “made love” once at the end of this nine-month period, underwater.

After reading this interview, I felt so very many things: confused, disturbed, shocked. But I was also intrigued by this man’s story. Brenner was molested several times by his family’s physician as a child, which warrants some pretty severe psychological damage. Bestiality is something we are taught is wrong at an early age, and the people who perform this act are stereotyped as creepy farmers who sneak into someone else’s barn. But not only does Brenner sound intelligent and sane in the interview, he has also been convincing readers that what he and the dolphin experienced was indeed love.

Whether you’re a dog or a cat person, undoubtedly relationships with pets can get serious — not to the point of sex necessarily, but psychologically we get attached. Dolphins are thought to be the second-smartest animals next to humans. They are self-aware, have an understanding of abstract concepts and are one of the few animals that have sex for pleasure. Is it so far-fetched that they might be cognizant enough to experience love, whatever that is?

Understandably, animal rights activists are not thrilled about Brenner’s book. Technically, the dolphin could not have given consent. Physically, though, it’s nearly impossible for a human being to force a 400-pound animal to do anything.

After self-publishing this book, unemployed Brenner battles relentless media bashing. Some think he should be castrated according to a blog post by Brenner on his website.

Now, I’m not saying we should all run out and have dolphin sex or start some sort of human-dolphin online dating site. I’m not saying that we should repeal anti-bestiality laws (not that Florida had any at the time of Brenner’s alleged “lovemaking,” anyway). But I think, after the initial shock wears off, that it doesn’t have to be such an irredeemable sin. Aren’t we all animals, anyway?

“We are killing dolphins and destroying their world, and I can’t stand by and let that happen having had the experience I’ve had . . . ” Brenner said when asked why he chose to publish the book. This is the issue that’s being buried under all the media’s stone-throwing. If all the people who have ever killed a dolphin got this much attention, we’d live in a much different world.

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