In modern English and other European law, the statutes have continued to apply only to men (there are specific statutes against female homosexuality only in Austria, Greece, Finland and Switzerland); but in American law, the phrasing of most of the statutes would make them applicable to both female and male homosexual activity: The prohibitions usually refer to "all persons," "any persons," or "any human being," without distinction as to sex. The enforcement of these laws is, however, quite another matter; a study of U.S. court records reveals that almost no women have ever been prosecuted or convicted for homosexuality, while the prosecution and conviction of men for homosexual activity has been extensive.
Only one state (Michigan) specifically prohibits lesbian activity. In five states (Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Wisconsin) the sodomy statutes are so written as to not include female homosexuality. The Georgia statute, titled Sodomy and Bestiality, defines sodomy as "the carnal knowledge and connection against the order of nature, by man with man, or in the same unnatural manner with woman." The law reads, in part: "Crime of sodomy as defined in this section cannot be accomplished between two women; hence person convicted on indictment charging her with sodomy, both participants in act being alleged to be females, will be discharged on habeas corpus on ground that she is being legally restrained of her liberty, in that indictment on which she was convicted was null and void."
This statute thus offers an interesting example of the irrational nature of laws dealing with sodomy: Cunnilingus (oral contact with the female genitalia) is not a crime in Georgia if performed by another female, but it is a crime if it is performed by a male; heterosexual fellatio (oral contact with the male genitalia) is similarly prohibited. The statute states, in a further paragraph concerned with oral-genital activity: "Where man and woman voluntarily have carnal knowledge and connection against the order of nature with each other, they are both guilty of sodomy, whether offense be committed by the mouth of the man or by the mouth of the woman." The law makes no exception for the husband and wife.
The courts have held that heterosexual cunnilingus is not "the crime against nature" in Mississippi and Ohio, and the decisions would presumably apply to homosexual cunnilingus as well; in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa and Nebraska the vagueness of the statutes also leaves some doubt as to the status of female homosexuality. Neither male nor female homosexuality is illegal in Illinois, for it is one state in all the 50 that has no sodomy statute.
U.S. sodomy statutes universally prohibit sexual contact between humans and infrahuman species of animal life; the "abominable and detestable crime against nature" is most often defined in the statutes as being "either with mankind or beast." Kinsey reports that animal contacts represent the smallest source of common sexual outlet, but they are by no means rare and the relatively higher percentages of such experience in rural communities, on farms, and where larger animals are more readily available, suggest that accessibility may have more to do with the incidence of such behavior than moral and legal prohibitions.
Kinsey states, "To many persons it will seem almost axiomatic that two mating animals should be individuals of the same species. This is so often true, from one end of the animal kingdom to the other, that exceptions to the rule seem especially worthy of note. To those who believe, as children do, than conformance should be universal, any departure from the rule becomes an immorality. The immorality seems particularly gross to an individual who is unaware of the frequency with which exceptions to the supposed rule actually occur....
"Even the scientists have been considerably biased in their investigations in the field, for they too have accepted the traditions. Even they have believed that matings between individuals of different species occur only rarely. Within the last few decades, however, students of taxonomy, genetics, and evolution have had the existence of interspecific hybrids increasingly drawn to their attention. These, of course, predicate the existence of interpecific matings. Some biologists are clearly uncomfortable in the face of this data, and are inclined to argue them away as they would argue away blots on their philosophy or theology. Even among the higher animals, interpecific crosses, or crosses between distinct varieties, have increasingly become known. The birdbanding work has shown that birds respect the limits of their own species much less often than the old-time naturalists would have insisted. And, finally, the students of sexual behavior among the higher mammals are beginning to report an increasing number of instances of animals mating, or trying to mate, with individuals of totally distinct and sometimes quite remote species.
"When one examines the observed cases of such crosses, and especially the rather considerable number of instances in which primates, including man, have been involved, one begins to suspect that the rules about interspecific matings are not so universal as tradition would have it. Indeed, one is struck anew with the necessity for better reasons than biologists and psychologists have yet found, for expecting that animal matings should invariably be limited to individuals of the same species.
"In light of the above, it is particularly interesting to note the degree of abhorrence with which intercourse between the human and the animals of other species is viewed by most persons who have not had such experience. The biologist and the psychologist, and the anthropologist and the student of history, will have made a significant contribution when they can expound the development of our taboos on such contacts."
These taboos were already well-established in time of the Old Testament and the Talmud. It is worth noting that in the older Hittite code, which influenced later Hebrew law, the taboos on animal intercourse were not so clearly the moral issues that they subsequently came to be. Specifically, in the Hittite code it is decreed that "If a man lie with a cow the punishment is death.... If a man lies with a hog or dog, he shall die.... If a bull rear upon a man, the bull shall die, but the man shall not die.... If a boar rear upon a man, there is no penalty.... If a man lies with a horse or mule, there is no penalty, but he shall not come near the king, and he shall not become a priest."
Kinsey comments, "These are proscriptions against contacts with certain animals, while contacts with certain animals are more or less accepted. Such distinctions are strikingly paralleled by the taboos which make certain foods clean and other foods unclean. [As we have previously noted, early Christians then adapted and substantially reinforced these traditions; and it became, for a time, an act of bestiality for a Christian to have sexual relations with a Jew.] The student of human folkways is inclined to see a considerable body of superstition in the origins of all such taboos, even though they may ultimately become religious and moral issues for whole nations and whole races of people."
In any case, it is certain that human contacts with animals of other species have been known since the dawn of history: They appear in the folk tales of every ancient culture, and references to such contacts abound in the writings and art of the oldest civilizations; they are also known to every race and culture today, including our own.
Kinsey concludes, "Far from being a matter for surprise, the record simply substantiates our present understanding that the forces which bring individuals of the same species together in sexual relations, may sometimes serve to bring individuals of different species together in the same types of sexual relations."
About 8 percent of the total male population have some sexual contact with animals. Most such experiences occur in early postadolescent years—between adolescence and the age of 20—with the incidence dropping markedly in the older age groups. Frequency of animal contacts is similarly low in the male population, taken as a whole; for most individuals, they do not occur more than once or twice, or a few times in a lifetime.
The significance of such experiences becomes more pronounced, however, when our consideration is limited to the records of males raised in rural or farm communities, with a ready access to animals. For this group, approximately 17 percent experience orgasm as a result of animal contacts which occur sometime after the onset of adolescence; as many more rural males have sexual contacts with animals that do not result in orgasm; and there are an additional number who have preadolescent experiences, which are not included in the above calculations. In total, Kinsey reports, "Something between 40 and 50 percent of all farm boys have some sort of animal contact, either with or without orgasm, in their preadolescent, adolescent, and/or later histories. These must be minimum data, for there has undoubtedly been some cover-up in the reports of these activities."
Kinsey found that certain western areas of the United States, where animals are readily available and social restraints related to such behavior are less severe, incidence figures for some communities rose as high as 65 percent. The marked difference in percentages of experience between rural and urban males, plus the number of experiences for urban boys that occur during visits to farms, suggests that the opportunity for such contacts is a major consideration in determining the accumulative incidence; if city-bred boys had similar opportunity, Kinsey and his associates believe that the percentages of experience for the total male population would approximate those established for rural males.
As with most other aspects of human sexual behavior, there is a high correlation between educational level and the extent of infrahuman sexual experience: 14 to 16 percent of the rural males of grade-school level, 20 percent of the rural males of high-school level, and 26 to 28 percent of the rural males of college level have some contact with animals to the point of orgasm. Well over half of these upper-level males have some sort of sexual contact with animals and nearly one in every three achieves orgasm through such contacts.
Experiences with animals usually represent a form of sexual experimentation for the adolescent male, which disappears in the mid-teens; but in some rural areas, especially in the West, there is a considerable amount of regular activity in the later teens and even through the early twenties. In most cases, such contacts are a substitute for heterosexual relations with human females; this is particularly true in rural areas where the opportunity for both social and sexual relations with girls may be limited. In most parts of the country animal intercourse is extremely rare among married males.
The animals involved in such contacts include practically all of the species that are commonly domesticated in the farm or kept as pets in the household. Because of the relatively low incidence and frequency of such activity in the population as a whole, animal contacts were significant primarily because of the extreme social and legal taboos attached to such behavior.