Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Foie Gras

Hovering around the computer, we improvise a spontaneous symphony of baritone groans, soprano whines and the distinct rumblings of a booming bass. Our lips curl and twitch behind this cacophony, and the beer in our bellies bubbles and curdles with our dinners, threatening to make a regurgitated reappearance. Showing the video is Amy's idea. A graduate student of Fisheries and Wildlife, she wants the rest of us (Mark, Scott and I) to have trouble sleeping tonight too, she says as the images burn our brains like horseshoes. Through a scientist's focused, unflinching camera lens, we witness a flock of male ducks surround and rape one black female duck. The footage is from the seminar she took this afternoon: The Sex Lives of Ducks and Waterfowl.

Not only are male ducks rapists, we learn, but they are also known to have -proportionally- the longest penises of all creatures. Whales do not compare, neither do horses, Amy tells us when we ask. And to prove this particular fact, she clicks a second video, filling the screen now with footage of a duck having intercourse with a glass female duck on a metal laboratory table. The purpose of this is to document the male duck's full erectile potential, she says as we watch gloved hands hold the male atop the glass female. Like a swirly straw of sperm, the duck's penis shoots out of his body and into the narrow, glass vaginal canal. Male ducks, Amy explains, use their long penises to gang rape the female ducks (as we witnessed from the first video). The males surround one and trap, rape and sometimes even drown her (if they catch her in the water).

The most fascinating duck fact of all, I think, is that their violent sexual history has caused the anatomy of female ducks to adapt their bodies to reject all unwanted duck penises. Only when a female chooses her mate by assisting his penis in can true duck intercourse occur. She can help, Amy explains. Otherwise, a duck vagina is entirely the wrong shape and without her nudging and expanding, a male duck forcing procreation is like pushing a square block into a circle hole. It just doesn't fit.

Laying in bed at night, while the ducks waddle through my mind, I cannot help but think. What if the bodies of women in certain parts of the world, where violence and rape is commonplace, adapted as the female ducks have adapted? What if their bodies could close up shop to sexual thieves and predators?

It is truly frightening to think how these men, bred into barbarians by their violent societies and its forefathers would react to this change. What these men, with their opposable thumbs and evolved intelligences, would do then.