Back in the early 1980’s my dad brought home a new dog – and a changed viewpoint on animals.
He had been out on the farm, sorting the cattle my uncle raised when, upon hearing a cacophony, he looked up to see what he thought was a little red fox being chased by a pack of dogs.
Foxes are not popular animals to farmers. They kill chickens and smaller livestock so when farmers see them, they kill them. Dad knew this, but he also had a soft heart. He didn’t want the animal to suffer needlessly, so he decided that he would kill the little fox quickly to avoid the upcoming torture and moved to intervene.
When the little fox spotted him, it changed direction. It barreled straight for my father and jumped into his arms.
That was when my father realized that it wasn’t a fox the dogs were chasing, it was a tiny red female dog. She was in heat and absolutely terrified. He kicked the pack of baying males away, sheltering the trembling animal in his arms as he retreated to his vehicle. He swiped a tear away as he recounted the story.
As the little dog he named “Foxie” gratefully settled in at our home over the next few days, he accepted all of the affection she gave him. He was her hero and she was determined to show him her gratitude.
“I never thought about it before,” Dad shared as she went out of heat and became his constant companion, “but it must be terrifying to be a female animal. Your hormones change and all of a sudden males come out of nowhere determined to breed. All of the years I’ve sat by and watched it but until Foxie jumped into my arms, I never knew. But she had to be terrified to jump into the arms of a complete stranger. I thought she was going to tear me into pieces until I looked into her eyes.”
As Spring approaches our tiny town I remember that little dog. As the weather warms I see the young girls coming out to play in the sunlight. When they hit puberty, the people those young girls hang out with change. Instead of roaming the streets with other females their age, the packs become predominantly male.
It makes me wonder: do human females exude pheromones as well?
I’ve searched for that answer several times over the years. From what I can tell, the science is inconclusive. Human females can become pregnant at almost any point during their menstrual cycle so I guess to science, the point is irrelevant.
I know something happens when human females hit puberty, however. Around the time I had my first period I was stick-thin. I was more interested in play than I was in boys so I spent my summers, stringy-haired and covered in dirt, playing in the creek and wandering the hills but during this time, more and more boys wanted to play with me.
Males young and old began talking to me more, wanting to spend time with me. They would surprise me with treats and random favors. The older males that my dad considered friends would talk to my non-existent chest instead of my face. The “innocent” touches and “accidental” contacts were focused on certain areas of my developing body. The sparks I felt within at the touches were simultaneously thrilling and terrifying.
Just looking back at my own behavior I can see shadows of that little dog. At first I would be flattered and then I would get scared. When I became scared, I retreated to my dad’s side or hid in my room.
And my dad promptly banned me from leaving the yard on my own.
Now I see the young girls on social media and out in public. I hear the whispers from the elders as they watch the pattern. On every post, a pack of males call every photo beautiful. Every move that they make is followed. Even my middle daughter, who is approaching her late 20s and pregnant, is worshiped both in real life and online. The words used to describe them range from crude to poetic.
If human females do exude pheromones when they enter into puberty, would that knowledge change our society? It’s not like it is something that we could consciously control. If it exists, it is a biological process, designed to attract males and incite them to mate.
Could it be that the young girls we call sluts are simply victims of biology? Could it be that the men who pursue them are the same? Could females be exuding some chemical that makes them desirable, makes men far older than them go crazy with the urge to mate?
I don’t know the answers to those questions. They are heavy on my mind this morning because I stumbled upon a social media page that “outs” what our society considers predators. The man in the video I watched had traveled over two hours to pick up what he believed was a 14-year old girl for sex. The chat logs leading up to that encounter made it obvious.
As I watched that nonviolent confrontation it made me think back, not only to that little dog but to my own experience and that of other females. Starting around puberty, the behavior of the males around us changed and part of me wonders if, despite the fact that I want to name the men monsters and do horrible things to them, if perhaps my view of the situation is inaccurate.
What if, just what if the female body at the onset of puberty does begin to exude pheromones to attract a male? What if we are all so close to the situation that we don’t even think about it? What if the males, scenting a female that is on the verge of fertility, begins to instinctively pursue her?
And what if teenage sex and pregnancies are the result of newly fertile females, not knowing how to deal with the pursuit, finally surrendering?
Because Foxie, that little dog who ran to my dad, would have eventually surrendered. She would have exhausted herself as she ran until she was incapable of escaping. I’ve seen that happen in the past in the animal kingdom and now I wonder if that is what happens to us humans as well.
What do you think? Do you believe it is possible that pubescent females exude pheromones that attract males to them? If you set your preconceived notions of child predators and young sluts aside, can you see what I have seen? And if it is true, if human females do exude a pheromone that attracts males to them, how do we as a society deal with that? Do we leave it alone or what? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:
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