Interview with Gill of @evidentiallyyou, Coach and Program Manager (and Zoology graduate!), on Sex in the Animal Kingdom

I studied zoology in college and then specialised in parasitic zoonoses – specifically a parasite that lives in the intestines of dogs and foxes. It was all downhill from there. Now I design and deliver adult education courses in creativity and innovation, and can usually be found investigating evidence-based practices to living our best lives.

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What are some examples of homosexuality and bisexuality in the animal kingdom?

There’s hundreds! There’s a variety of motivations behind same-sex pairing in the animal world- it can be used as a bonding tool, to form parenting groups, and to aid fertilisation strategies. One of our closest primate cousins, the bonobos, are truly bisexual, and frequently engage in same and other sex pairing (VERY frequently!). Males are known to “penis fence”
to diffuse tension and it makes sense tbh.

What are some of the coolest mating rituals observed among animals?

It’s hard to beat the Gentoo penguin – the males search the artic ground for the perfect pebble and presents it to his mate like a proposal! The pebble will help to build the nest they rear their baby penguin in!

You often hear that males are dominant while females are submissive (“it’s just nature!”). Is this always the case?

Absolutely not! We’re used to seeing a small handful of powerful males domineering their mates on nature shows on TV (lions, gorillas, elephants seals etc.) but the reality is a lot more complex. It’s not in an animal’s interest to exert so much energy in maintaining dominance all the time, and it’s not in a female’s interest – genetically speaking – to hitch her baby wagon to the same guy all the time. Lionnesses will choose multiple males to mate with in a day, and cubs from the same litter can have different fathers!

I read that kangaroos have three vaginas. Any other cool vagina/vulva/clitoris related facts?

The hyena lives in a truly matriarchal society, with spotted hyena females up to 10% bigger than females. Their clitoris is enlarged forming a pseudopenis and their labia fuse over to look like testicles, and for hundreds of years it was thought that hyenas were hermaphrodites. This enlarged clitoris is used for weeing, mating and birthing!

Any fun penis/testicle-based facts about animals?

Most birds don’t have penises, but ducks do and they’re shaped like corkscrews! The ruddy duck penis is about the length of its body – these ducks are highly promiscuous (an evolutionary advantage) and in groups with high numbers of males, competition is so fierce it can drive penis size to extend beyond body length!

Do animals engage in ‘foreplay’ or sexual activity which is solely for pleasure?

Monkeys, cats, dogs, horses, rhinos, & dolphins are just some of the animals known to masturbate! Sex and sexual activity is used for lots of reasons by animals – very commonly to strengthen bonds between group members but self pleasure also comes high on the list. Male chimps give themselves oral sex, male giraffes nexk eachother to climax, elephants frequently “kiss” with their trunks, and birds will often pleasure themselves by mounting tufts of grass.

What is the story with oral sex and anal sex in the animal kingdom – does it happen?

Yes! Short-nosed fruit bats are well known for engaging in oral sex, it’s thought to prolong copulation and increase the chances of a succesful fertiliation, and many species of monkeys have been observed engaging in anal sex.

Any recommended reading/watching/following in relation to sex in the animal kingdom?

Bruce Baghemil‘s book “Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity” (1999) completely changed the way we look at animal sexual behaviours, and challenges (and debunks) the notion that homosexuality isn’t “natural”!

Grace Alice Sex And Relationships Educator

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This service is fully limited to Sexuality Education. All advice is given in an honest manner and as guidance only. By using this service, you agree that you make your own decisions, relying solely on your discretion; any use you make of such answers, advice or services is at your own risk and ‘Grace Alice Sexuality Educator’ cannot be held responsible or be liable for any damages or losses resulting from your reliance on such answers or advice.

What is a peer-to-peer support session?

Firstly, let us start with what the session is not! I am not a practicing sex therapist, sexologist, medical professional, psychotherapist, psychologist, counsellor, or mental health professional. Therefore, I do not provide medical advice (although I may recommend that you seek guidance from a medical professional if appropriate) or a therapy service.

Sex & Relationships Education is a separate field to these professions, and I employ my own unique approach based on my qualifications, training, and experience. I hold an undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy and a Masters degree in Health Promotion. I have over six years experience working as a Sex & Relationships Educator and have undergone continuous professional development and training. I also studied empathy education as a UNESCO scholar, which informs my approach. Details of my qualifications and training are available on my LinkedIn page – please see the ‘About’ page also!

Within a session, I offer a confidential and safe space for discussion of various issues relating to relationships and sexuality. I strive for a relaxed, informal vibe, where you can chat about something that you have been struggling with. I can offer a friendly and non-judgemental listening ear, suggestions on how you can approach your own personal situation, general information on the related topic(s) and details of relevant professionals, support services and organisations (usually in a follow-up email). I can accommodate sessions relating to many topics relating to relationships and sexuality – including but not limited to body image, sexual communication, consent and boundaries, protection, anatomy, vaginismus, porn, STIs and STI stigma, healthy and unhealthy relationships, gender and sexuality, pleasure, arousal, desire, infidelity, break-ups, dating, and more.  I want my clients to feel relaxed, comfortable, and free to talk without fear or shame, like they would with a very close friend!

How does a Booking work?

In a nutshell, you can contact me via the booking page on this site and request a booking. If I decide that a session with me would be a good fit for you, I will contact you and arrange a time and date!

Here is the pricing for sessions;

ServiceDurationCost
Standard Session1 hour€50
Student* Standard Session1 hour€40
   
*A valid student I.D. must be presented.  

Please note that the session must be paid for in full at least 24 hours prior to the session, using the payment method and details I will provide to you in an email. If you do not have PayPal, we can arrange another form of payment (Revolut or bank transfer – please factor in the extra time it will take you to set up an account if needed or the possible delay in bank transfers, this may slightly affect the scheduling of your session).

Due to the nature of this service, I cannot offer any refunds for any reason during or after a session.

However, if you have paid and can no longer attend the scheduled session, I can offer you a full refund if you notify me of the cancellation at least 48 hours beforehand. If you wish to reschedule, please notify me at least 48 hours before the time of the scheduled session, and we can work something out!

Am I guaranteed to have a session?

Imay choose not to do a session with you if I feel that I am unable to offer support or education relating to your situation. I will contact you to let you know if I have decided that my service is not a good fit for you, and I will offer some suggestions regarding more suitable professionals/organisations/services to contact.

Although we may chat about lots of different things during a session, if someone has clearly not been truthful in the booking form about the topic area that want to discuss and appear to have an ulterior motive in booking the session, I may choose to end the session. The same rule applies to a situation where someone is clearly not who they have stated they are in the booking form. 

I cannot offer sessions to anyone under the age of 18 years. I may choose to ask you to present a copy of a valid form of I.D. if I feel that confirmation of age is needed. Requesting to book a session indicates that you are aged 18 years or over, and that you are being truthful in disclosing your age.

If I feel that someone is being disrespectful, offensive, or inappropriate, and I feel uncomfortable, I may choose to end the session. I may also end the session if I believe that it is being recorded.

Is it all confidential?

Y

es! Confidentiality is essential to a service like this and I will do everything in my power on my end to protect it.

Here is what I will do on my end; I will abide by GDPR guidelines and make every effort to keep all personal information relating to sessions safe. Booking requests and emails with a form attached/included will be retained for no more than 1 year. The form may be printed, and I may take notes before, during and after the session either by hand or typed. Forms, notes, and USB key will all be stored in a locked file safe in my home office. All forms and notes (hard and soft copies) will be deleted and/or destroyed after one year.  I will send you a Zoom Meeting ID and password before the session using the email address you have given me. I will use headphones and will be alone in a private space during all sessions. All  records of calls and video calls will be deleted after one year.

Please be mindful of what you choose to share within the session. I have an obligation to break confidentiality and report to Tusla and/or the Gardaí any disclosures of child abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse and other crimes.

Here is what you must do on your end! You must not screenshot, record and/or distribute any part of your session. It is also your responsibility to protect your privacy as much as you like on your end. This may include keeping your phone password-protected, using a non-identifiable email address that does not include your name, deleting correspondence, making sure you have a private space for your session where you will not be interrupted or overheard, etc.

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