Appropriate or Inappropriate?

When I first started my blog I decided that I wanted to make it appropriate for all ages. If I was going to bring up copulation, it was going to be in the most euphemized terms available or not at all. On a scientific level, I would make a mental note about possible sires, and potential birth-dates, but I would shy away from even taking a picture of the event.
As I had more opportunities to observe horses, I started viewing it in more of a scientific perspective. I was shifting my writing style in more of an essay or short narrative style, creating several posts for one trip rather than one post for the entire trip. It left me more freedom to add details I normally would have felt were out of scope for the post. One of the freedoms was talking about more behaviors, including stallions courting their mares.
With those behaviors, the courtship was as far as it would get. I was still a little timid about taking pictures of a mare being bred. I knew the horses didn’t care if they were seen, it still felt intrusive. I can never resist seeing a mare sass her stallion, or the stallion nuzzling her affectionately, but once he mounts her I start to lose interest.

Zorro and Honey

Zorro courts Honey.

As I started visiting the Pine Nut horses, my perspective changed. It wasn’t just band stallions, or colts that were almost ready to be bachelors courting mares, the yearlings in the Pine Nut herd were brazen. Not only were they trying to court mares, they weren’t receiving as much discipline for the behavior as I would expect.

Cree and mare

The yearling Cree flirts with a mare.

Rather than the routine behavior of the band stallion breeding his mares, the Pine Nut Ponies were giving me a story to tell. I had already decided that while I was an outdoor educator I would take advantage of traveling different places to get photos of wildlife. That way, if I got burned out of educating youth outdoors I could be a conservation photographer.
I’m a firm believer that not only do conservation photographers have to tell a story, they also have to provide facts. It’s a fine balance that involves telling the entire story. The full story is: sex is natural. To find the balance between my original goal of keeping it appropriate, and telling the full story I try not to include photos where there is obvious genitalia. Sometimes it involves creative cropping, but I’d still rather do my best to tell the full story.
As I came to the conclusion, I started wondering: why does sex have a stigma? The horses clearly don’t care. I’d be surprised if other animals care. To them it’s a part of seasonal life. My current theory is that the desire to be uncomfortable at the thought of sex is a human construct.
I’m not sure if sex is inappropriate or the way it is talked about is. If a kid is at an age where they still think the opposite gender has cooties, it doesn’t mean the subject should be avoided. If we avoid it the stigma stays there. Avoid a subject enough, the stigma grows.
That doesn’t mean I’m interested in hearing about everyone’s sex life, but when it’s related to wildlife I don’t plan to avoid it. I am interested in showing all aspects of life and behavior. I think there are ways of putting it scientifically to make the language more acceptable, while still being honest.


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