Human Cows: An Inside Look at a Growing Kink
December 9, 2020 by Justin Lehmiller
A question I often get asked in interviews about my book Tell Me What You Want is whether I learned about any new kinks in the process of studying more than 4,000 Americans’ sexual fantasies. As someone who has been researching and studying human sexuality for more than 12 years at this point, I’ve learned a lot about the incredible diversity that exists in people’s sexual turn-ons. So, at least for me, the vast majority of the fantasies I collected for my book were things that I had heard about before in one form or another. However, there was at least one fantasy that was completely new to me at the time: the human cow (or HuCow for short).
I asked my participants to describe their favorite fantasy of all time in their own words, and one participant—who identified as a heterosexual woman and was in her twenties—described her fantasy like this:
“One of my biggest fantasies is to be turned into a human cow. I want to be completely dehumanized and sexualized. I want to be used for sex and be inseminated to get pregnant so I will produce milk. Forced to take hormones so my breasts would become teats and swell. My nipples would elongate from constant use. I fantasize about being put out in public and used as a milk machine where anyone can use me for my milk or rape me. There is a lot more to it than that but in general that is the overall fantasy.”
This fantasy caught my attention and, although only one of my participants reported it, I couldn’t help but wonder if others had fantasized about something similar before, too. So I did some digging.
When I first looked this up a few years ago, I discovered about 1,500 hits for “human cow” on PornHub. I also found dozens of erotic fiction novels on Amazon exploring this theme, as well as an active subreddit devoted to the genre.
However, the popularity of this interest seems to have grown quite a bit since then. Today, there are more than 150,000 HuCow hits on PornHub, there are now hundreds of related books on Amazon, and the HuCow Reddit community has tripled in size (there are now more than 67,000 users).
We can’t say with certainty what the prevalence of this fantasy is in the overall population and, despite the apparent growth in interest, it’s probably still best characterized as a niche kink. In fact, in discussing this fantasy with various audiences over the years, I’ve found that it’s rare to find someone who has heard of it, even when I’ve talked about it with sex researchers and therapists.
So what is it that people find appealing about the idea? If I’ve learned anything about sexual fantasies, it’s that different people may be drawn to the same fantasy for very different reasons. Thus, it’s probably not just one thing; however, here are a few of the possible appeals:
· This fantasy typically involves themes of dominance and submission. There is also sometimes bondage, forced sex, and masochism (receiving pleasure from pain) present as well. For some, then, the appeal might center around a broader interest in BDSM.
· This fantasy also has a lot of fetishistic elements, especially surrounding breast milk and the act of milking someone or being milked. Pregnancy fetishes are also sometimes part of this fantasy. Thus, for some, this fantasy may simply provide a unique way of expressing a body fluid or impregnation fetish.
· There’s also a transformation element present, in which the fantasizer is temporarily becoming another creature (in HuCow porn, you’ll often see a woman’s head on a cow’s body). Physical transformation fantasies provide a form of psychological escape that reduces self-awareness. This type of escape is appealing to many people because it can allow them to relax and be in the moment.
· Then there are the novel and taboo elements of the fantasy. We know that human beings are inherently turned on by sexual novelty, and the HuCow fantasy presents something new and different to most people. At the same time, there’s a transgressive element to it—it’s not something you’re “supposed” to do during sex. Taboos in general are also a major turn-on.
People may be drawn to HuCow fantasies, porn, or erotic fiction for any or all of the above reasons—and there may be reasons other than the ones listed above. This isn’t a topic that has yet received any scientific study, so we’d really need some research before drawing firm conclusions about the origins or prevalence of this kink.
That said, this is part of the reason I love being a sex researcher. Every time I think I’ve heard it all, I learn about more diversity in human sexuality. We are endlessly inventive and flexible when it comes to gratifying our sexual wants and turn-ons.
Want to learn more about the science of sexual fantasies? Check out Tell Me What You Want.
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Dr. Justin LehmillerFounder & Owner of Sex and Psychology
Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.Read full bio >