A crush fetish is a fetish and a paraphilia in which sexual arousal is associated with observing objects being crushed or being crushed oneself. The crushed objects vary from inanimate items (e.g., food), to injurious and/or fatal crushing of invertebrates (e.g., insects, snails, worms, spiders), or vertebrates (e.g., birds, reptiles, mammals).
In the most severe cases, crushing has involved homicide or extended torture until death of restrained animals including dogs, cats, pigs, and monkeys. Animal welfare organisations, such as the Humane Society of the United States, condemn this practice and consider it extremely disturbing. The motivation for these acts may be the production of a film recording the events, which is sold on the Internet to crush fetishists who find the content sexually gratifying, a tailored genre known as "crush film".
There are currently no laws specifically forbidding the crushing of animals, but the production or trade of crush erotica involving live vertebrates is illegal in many countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. In the United States, interstate commerce in (hard) crush videos has been illegal since 2010, and many other countries also have banned them.
In crush films, the crushing agent is typically a woman, who will concentrate her body weight upon her feet to compress the object against the floor. The feet are typically dressed in sexually suggestive dominatrix-like footwear, such as high-heels and lace stockings, but other footwear or bare feet may be used. This recalls elements of both foot fetishism and BDSM culture.
The legality of crush films and the actual practice of crushing varies by region; however, many have been posted on web sites and are available for download via the Internet, making the control of their distribution difficult.
In 1999, the United States Congress enacted a statute affecting the legality of crush films which criminalized the creation, sale, and possession of depictions of animal cruelty, though with an exception for "any depiction that has serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value." In 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit invalidated the ban on the sale and possession of such films (if not otherwise obscene) as a violation of the Constitution's guarantee for freedom of speech. The United States Supreme Court affirmed the Third Circuit's decision in United States v. Stevens, finding the law unconstitutional because the law was so broad and vague that it included any portrayal of an animal in or being harmed such as by hunting or disease. On November 28, 2010, bill H.R. 5566, which prohibits interstate commerce in animal crush films, was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, and on December 9, the bill was signed by President Obama becoming the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010.
In 2006 an Internet crush video surfaced in which a woman stomps on a kitten with stiletto high-heels. Eventually the woman drives her heel into the kitten's eye and penetrates the eye socket, leading to loss of blood and the death of the kitten. Internet users discovered and revealed the identity of the woman, and revealed that the cameraman was a provincial television employee. The nurse posted an apology on the Luobei city government website, claiming that she was susceptible to persuasion to crush the kitten, being despondent from her recent divorce. Both the nurse and the cameraman lost their jobs as a result of the incident, although their actions were not illegal under the country's animal cruelty laws.
"Probably the worst thing I've seen is animals burned alive," says Mike Butcher, chief inspector of the RSPCA Special Operations Unit. Butcher leads the British animal welfare charity's efforts to stymie the explosion of animal cruelty videos in the last decade. "Or animals microwaved to death. Sometimes they're boiled alive. There was one with a child burning a kitten with a blowtorch, laughing and looking at the camera. I think it was filmed somewhere in East Asia."
While individuals the world over torture defenseless animals to death, and might even film themselves doing so, animal crush videos have an additional, disturbing characteristic: They've all designed to elicit sexual gratification from their viewers.
"There's very little research on crush fetishes in particular," confirms Dr. Mark Griffiths, a psychologist at Nottingham Trent University and one of few experts in the area of extreme animal cruelty. "I've called it zoosadism by proxy, meaning that it's human-on-animal sadism. My understanding is that it's mainly men being sexually aroused by watching women crushing animals. The women aren't sexually attracted to the fetish but do it for financial gain."
Identifying the woman in the mask and her male accomplice became Hollifield's first priority in the days following August 14. PETA provided her with a valuable lead: a telephone number believed to be associated with the two subjects. It was linked to two people who were, according to phone records, heavily connected to each other. Hollifield searched for photographs of the individuals. "The photograph of the female I obtained from the database was clearly the female who was in the crush videos," she explains. The investigation moved fast. Just 27 hours after viewing the footage, two individuals were arrested.
Houston native Ashley Richards, then aged 24, pled guilty to all charges producing and distributing animal crush videos and was sentenced to a decade in prison. Her co-conspirator, Brent Wayne Justice, took the remarkably dumb step of representing himself during his criminal trial. As the Houston Press put it, Justice is "granted the ability to dig his own grave."
Animal crush isn't found on mainstream porn sites, and I'm intrigued to learn how animal rights activists track down this content. In reality, large organizations like PETA rely on smaller initiatives like the Animal Beta Project, which first brought the Houston case to the attention of its inspectors.
In a precedent-setting action, authorities swiftly arrested Shaimaa Haridi Masoud Ali, who later confessed to producing and selling videos of tortured animals. She was taken into custody on charges of cruelty to animals and will be detained for two weeks, pending a full investigation.
The videos were first reported to PETA Asia by a concerned citizen. They were allegedly advertised in a messaging app group with more than 1,100 members, in which buyers could request specific animals to be killed as well as particular forms of torture.
Never share crush videos. Avoid commenting on or reacting to such content as well, as these actions only increase their visibility. As this case shows, for animals in danger, one phone call or e-mail can make all the difference. Please, if you witness or hear about cruelty to animals, never be silent.
On Wednesday, Miami-Dade arrested 29 year-old fetish model Stephanie Hird and charged her with five felony counts of cruelty to animals -- just two weeks after 28 year-old Sara Zamora was brought up on eight similar charges for her role in an animal torture sex fetish video. Local authorities say that fishing boat captain Adam Redford is the creator behind the videos. Redford, who is currently on probation for an animal cruelty case in Lee County, has been named as a co-defendant but has not been taken into custody.
PETA's Stephanie Bell says that the "crush" videos are illegal under state and federal laws, and to even the casual reader of the actions involved in them, they'd certainly seem obvious animal cruelty. But the question of how punishable the acts depicted in "SOS Barn" truly are is not in fact clearcut. Back in 2002, the Guardian noted that "Although the videos have been around for some time in America, there have been only a handful of prosecutions for producing them, chiefly because of the difficulty of identifying the women who do the crushing." But as the new Florida case shows, it's not just about isolating the perpetrators. Hird, for instance, says that the video is too old and that the acts in it are "outside the statute of limitations." And while calling the materials "disgusting," Miami-Dade prosecutor Jason Pizzo has also questioned whether the state can attempt a "viable prosecution."
And there are more obstacles. As the Miami Herald reports, "In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law that outlawed depictions of animals being 'intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed,' saying it was too broad and violated the right to free speech." More recently, last year a federal judge in Texas dropped charges against a Houston couple who sold videos of themselves "beating a dog with a meat cleaver and stepping on a cat's eye with a shoe heel" -- which PETA also helped uncover -- on similar free speech grounds. Writing in the Houston Press at the time, Craig Malisow noted that "It appears that if you want to produce and sell videos showing the torture and death of cats and dogs in Texas, you are immune to federal prosecution." At a detention hearing, Houston animal cruelty investigator described one of the couple's "Puppy" videos in which Ashley Nicole Richards "severed the dog's head from its body and then held the head in the air. Richards continued to saw the dog's body with the knife. Richards pulled the dog's guts and organs out of the dog's body. Richards stomped on the severed dog's head. She urinated on the dead dog in the video." Five days later all the animal cruelty charges were dropped.
It would appear that with its latest push, PETA is attempting to put pressure on law enforcement and the legal system over how to handle the proliferation of this material. It's bringing to light a cruelty few of us would even want to imagine, expose it and crush it for good. 2b1af7f3a8