Once in a blue moon, a casual, vanilla porn viewer might find a piece of Human Cow (or HuCow for short) fetish porn on a mainstream site like Pornhub. But these videos, often showing women dressed as cows being milked by intricate breast-pumping machines while in bondage gear, or animated hybrid cow-women, are about as rare as, say, sea monster porn. Even on fetish-oriented clip sites, they’re a needle in a haystack. One might assume, then, that HuCow is an extremely niche fetish. But go searching for HuCow porn off of the big tube and clip brokers, and you’ll find tons of content on dedicated blogs and sites, including a heavy dose of literary erotica and art, much of it fan-generated.
“There is a big niche market for this type of porn,” says sexual fetish expert Mark Griffiths, a distinguished professor at Nottingham Trent University School of Social Sciences. “Dozens of sites.” These are active sites. One HuCow Tumblr alone has more than 10,000 followers. The frequently updated HuCow Reddit sub has more than 23,000 subscribers. As with any fetish, it's hard to say exactly how many HuCow enthusiasts—people role-playing as cows for sexual purposes—are in the world or grazing in the proverbial pasture. But these sites seem to indicate a vibrant community.
It's not hard to see why. At its core, HuCow combines several rather large fetishes and kinks—lactation fetish, dominance, submission, objectification. There are even some pregnancy fetishists up in the mix. Each finds HuCow appealing for different reasons.
Take Ed, for instance. The man behind hucows.com (NSFW or the faint of heart), a rare HuCow-focused studio, he says his fans seem most excited by women being milked than anything else in his clips. Ditto Sally_Anon, an amateur lactation fetish producer, who first encountered HuCow fetishists on lactophilia Reddit communities, who asked her to cross-post to their groups even though she didn’t dress up or act like a cow in the content she produced. This gels with a sentiment HuCow fetishist HuCow Milker, expressed, quite aggressively, on his Tumblr of the same name: “If you don’t produce milk, you are nothing to me.”
Human lactation may seem like an odd thing to fetishize, especially as cultures often desexualize breasts when they’re being used for feeding infants. But lactation fetishes are common enough that, according to Griffiths, there are even specialist lactophile prostitutes.
Lactation, of course, leads to increased breast size, which explains its appeal to some, says Rebecca Kukla, an ethicist who’s written on cultural perceptions of breastfeeding. Some women enjoy the breast stimulation of milking, so such fetishes, she says, are “likely to be more about reciprocal pleasure than many others.” Consuming breast milk plays into a common kinky urge to be infantilized. Perhaps most importantly, sexualizing something culturally asexual is an appealing form of transgression and reappropriation. “Many kinksters get erotic pleasure from playing at what they fear most, or find most violating of the proper order,” Kukla says.
However lactation fetishes come about, the jump from pure lactation porn, in which (often) men suckle women or women squirt or pump breast milk on camera, to porn involving cow tropes and lactation feels pretty simple and obvious in some ways.
But, as Kukla rightly points out, cows aren't only good for milk production. They are “the ultimate animals produced specifically for consumption… bred into highly artificial-looking consumer products. In HuCow, the cow-woman is simulating an object produced specifically to be consumed by her partner.”
This appeals to the dominant and submissive types who come to the table to dine on HuCow. Animal play in general, Griffiths has written, often toys with transforming a complex human into a wholly service-oriented beast. In HuCow porn, or relationships—for many enthusiasts, this is something they do in their personal lives, not just consume as erotica—the cow exists to submit to (usually) her dominant “farmer,” who milks her, often forcefully. He may even send her out to stud with bulls, other men who mount her at their leisure and pleasure.
As with many hard submissive fetishes, this may sound terrifying to those looking in from the outside. But even on their own fetishist-facing blogs, HuCow practitioners often acknowledge this is a well-negotiated fantasy, ideally built on mutual respect and desire in participants’ wider lives. In a Snapchat story uploaded to YouTube explaining the intricacies of the HuCow fetish, adult sexuality educator and pleasure advocate Sunny Megatron says, "Remember this is just fantasy role play where turning humans into fantasy cattle is fetishized. And just like any other kind of BDSM or fetish play, this is carefully negotiated by all participants and done consensually."
"Treating a woman—or anybody—as just a mere object is very wrong... if it’s done without their consent," she continues. "But if objectification is mutually desired by both partners, they’ve thoroughly and clearly talked about it ahead of time and then they play it out in a healthy fun fantasy sense, then that’s different." She goes on to remind viewers that dominant submissive fetishes aren't just about the former's wishes or abuses against the latter. "When BDSM scenes are negotiated they are done so according to the desires and limits of the submissive," she says. "The submissive calls the shots."
Artist PeterPD creates HuCow 3D erotica, and came to the fetish through his interest in bondage more than anything. Likewise, Ed started his HuCow website because he liked “the relentless nature of the” milking machines he’d seen in other HuCow content “as an instrument of torture,” feeding into his own heavy bondage interests. He was surprised by how much of the interest in his content came from lactation lovers first and foremost, but says a number of individuals, like him, become HuCow fans through its bondage and dominance facets.
There are just a few dedicated HuCow content producers like Ed, though. Most fetish producers like Sally_Anon only touch upon it once or twice when commissioned, or because it is a natural offshoot of their usual specialties—lactation, infantilization, transformation, submission.
For reasons that are rather obvious, making HuCow is hard. It takes a lot of work for a woman who has not recently had a child to start lactating—more than most might want to go through for a few clips. And, as Sally Anon points out, not many new mothers want to make lactation porn. So the number of lactating performers is low to begin with. That’s why Ed says he fakes the lactation in his shoots. (Anon notes that her lactophile fans often feel cheated by fake lactation shoots like this.) Finding lactating women with heavy flows also willing to put on cow outfits and get into bondage pumping rigs, much less willing to invest in machines themselves for future content, is exceptionally difficult.
It's easier, then, to represent the fetish in erotic literature—and many authors do. Writers like Elise Fawn, Shelby Houston, Izzy Slam, and Michelle “L” Taylor pump out a steady flow of HuCow erotica on Amazon and other self-publishing platforms. Fans use their own sketching chops, or their facility manipulating games like The Sims, to illustrate or animate ideal scenes. Or they commission artists eager to make a buck to draw their deepest fetish desires for them, explains Boobdollz, the pseudonym of a big boob fetish art provider who sometimes takes HuCow jobs.
Some individuals in HuCow relationships blog about their antics, with vivid visuals attached, as well. Other HuCow bloggers use their platforms to solicit existing HuCow art or clips, aggregate them, and disseminate them to the community at large. The result, it seems, is a vibrant yet niche community, readily producing and sharing amateur and professional content—just not all that visibly on mainstream clip and tube sites.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.