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But when people say that “humans are the only species to have sex for pleasure” they are really saying that “humans are the only species that has non-reproductive sex.” In fact, sex may well serve a number of other functions.
Sex may bond animals together or may cement a dominance hierarchy in the case of bonobos, for example, one of humans’ closest relatives.
It is the result of the pioneering work of Masters and Johnson dating from 1966.
They focused sexual pleasure on orgasm by proposing a four-stage biomedical framework of excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution.
All Complete Me events have to ensure that there is a gender balance ratio.
There’s an idea circulating that humans are the only animal to experience sexual pleasure; that we approach sex in a way that is distinct from others.
We cannot know how a nonhuman experiences anything – they can’t be asked.
The yoking of sex to reproduction to the exclusion of pleasure can be traced to the Victorian era, and is the consequence of all sorts of exciting historico-political processes that would take a whole separate article to explain, but it seeped into all aspects of Western culture, including science.
It increases risk of disease, it wastes energy, it can seriously increase the likelihood of something bigger coming along and eating you (seriously, check out leopard-slug reproduction, below).
There’s no reason why an animal should seek sex unless they enjoy it.
It is often proposed that an inherent “drive to reproduce” explains nonhuman sexual activity, but that is not an alternative here: if animals possess an instinct to reproduce, it needs to function somehow – and pleasure is a fairly basic motivator.
The hypothesis that all sexually reproducing species experience sexual pleasure is, in itself, quite reasonable – as would be the hypothesis that animals find eating pleasurable. Since the word “pleasure” is quite vague, scientists have tended to focus on orgasms.
A brief survey of the various things that humans get up to quickly indicates that sex isn’t necessarily focused on orgasm or genitals.