The Fine Art of Turkey Fiddling, Or, HOW did that meat get on my dinner table?

(This post may not be safe for your children. Mostly because you probably don’t want this to be the first thing they ever read about masturbation.)

When the Universe decides to behave like an angry monkey, and incessantly flings pellets of its utterly tragic shit at you, humor becomes necessary.

So it’s a good thing this happened last week:

That horny bugger.

“Randy,” as the staff at the animal sanctuary in Warwickshire, England, named the guinea pig following his crazed sex-spree, “managed to find his way into the female enclosure” when no one was looking. Children visit the sanctuary on a regular basis and are allowed to pet the guinea pigs, and the staff think it likely that one of the kids left Randy in the female enclosure by mistake. Once within the target area, and undetected by the authorities, Randy went to town on the ladies. Over the several weeks he spent in the female pen, a.k.a. The Horny Male Guinea Pig Edition of ‘Heaven is for Real’, Randy managed to impregnate not one, not two, not thirty, but a hundred females. I mean, “Dude, keep it in your pants” doesn’t even begin to describe the intervention this guy needs. If this were a few decades earlier, Randy would be a rock star high on psychedelic substances and losing count of how many women he had kids with. In the world as we know it today, Randy would be a fancy person with a fancy LA address, currently in rehab for sex addiction. (#FirstWorldRodentProblems?)

I suppose it ended well, though. (For Randy, not for the ladies – I mean, talk about unwanted pregnancies.) A few weeks in, the authorities found Randy lying “exhausted” in a pile of straw, looking “thinner” than he had been before. Yes, poor Randy. Must have been real tough for him, satisfying all those nymphomaniacal females. Bitches be crazy, yes?

Unsurprisingly, this is the only funny news item I’ve read all week, so I told Boyfriend about it last night, and we had a good laugh. And since Boyfriend has the tendency to find connections between topics that are otherwise only tenuously related, he said,

“Speaking of animals breeding in captivity, did you know that turkey farms employ people to masturbate male turkeys? Because they breed only through artificial insemination?”

Conclusion? Guinea pigs: Randy. Turkeys: Not.

We humans have done a number on turkeys by domesticating them, I think we can all agree on that. Domesticated turkeys lack the street smarts of their wilder brethren. They’re known to be dimmer than chicken, which, as the scale of intelligence in birds goes, rank pretty low themselves. They can’t fly, they’re fat, they’re scared of thunder but happy in the fog, and as demonstrated by the following video, they really don’t have the good sense to know when they’ve been had.

But this is perhaps the greatest revelation about them by far. All turkeys that are bred in captivity – even on farms that prefer “free range” practices – are bred through artificial insemination. The reasons for this depend on who you’re talking to: anti-animal cruelty folk, on the one hand, will tell you that because farmed turkeys are artificially fattened for their meat, their unnatural bulk makes it impossible for the males to sort through the layers of lard around their midriff and actually mount a female. Turkey farmers, on the other hand, will have you know that this is, in fact, the humane way of breeding turkeys, because if allowed to mate naturally, the process would be very tough on the females. The point, either way, is that turkey farms usually have a human working with the male birds, whose specific job description is to – well, how to put it delicately – buff the banana, as it were. Fiddle the flute, jerk the gherkin. Spank the monkey, you know? Choke the chicken. Or – my favorite, given the circumstances – toss the turkey.

The technical term is “milking,” if you must know. The males, who weigh about 50-70 pounds, are placed on the handler’s lap, who then goes ahead and gets the turkey’s “contribution,” by way of a small amount of manual stimulation. This “contribution” is precious material: it is efficacious for only about six hours. It needs to be rushed off immediately to where the females are waiting with anticipatory ovarian overdrive, blown (through a tube… sheesh!) into their terribly cooperative receptacles, and voila! That, darlings, is how the turkey gets in your sandwich.

Obviously, increased awareness about this procedure has ruffled a few feathers (Ha!) among animal rights activists. There are voices condemning the procedure as brutal, and as equaling bestiality (because, you know, human-handjob-turkey). Some activists have even gone as far as declaring that this is a feminist issue, because the females, when artificially inseminated, are essentially being raped. Turkey farmers, on the other hand, are bemused, and maybe even a little befuddled as to why a practice that has been going on for nearly a century has suddenly turned into such a big deal. Also confusing? Many animals bred in captivity for meat, including pigs and cows, are artificially inseminated, but that is somehow considered more acceptable by activists because the males are “not manually stimulated, and at least they have the capacity to mate naturally.”

I’m going to go ahead and throw in my two cents, okay? Is the breeding of animals in captivity problematic, because of reasons ranging from crammed and unhygienic living conditions to the chemically bulked up yield of meat? Yes. Is cruelty to animals (which includes bestiality) a bad thing? Unequivocally, yes. Is the production and consumption of meat bad for a planet folding up on itself because its smartest inhabitants couldn’t be bothered to make the smallest of sacrifices to ensure its health and longevity? A resounding yes.

Is the artificial insemination of female turkeys “rape?” No.

There are girls trapped in a west African forest, possibly being sold into sexual slavery, because they dared to go to school. There are women trapped on a mountain in the Middle East, facing the threat of rape, because rape is, and has always been, a weapon of war. There are girls on college campuses in what is supposedly the greatest nation on Earth, who are told to shut the fuck up and deal, when they bring sexual assault to the notice of authorities. There are academics in strife-torn parts of the world who make statements about the threat of rape being a deterrent for terrorism, even if they later claim that their words were taken out of context. There are countries that thump their proud, nationalist chests with their nuclear arsenals, but refuse to call marital rape, rape. There are intellectuals with great public following, who give the message that date rape is somehow okay, because at least it isn’t stranger rape. Rape is about self-determination and individual will. About choice, about power, about equality. And that is a feminist issue, not the artificial insemination of female turkeys.

And now I’m the angry monkey flinging pellets of tragic shit at you. I’ll sign off here.

Want to know more? Go here. And here.

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