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The petgirl will generally dress as an animal, typically a dog. But on the petgirl themed website Petgirls.com, it's creator Simon Benson states that:
'..the petgirl has transcended the 'puppygirl' and 'ponygirl' and has become an entirely new breed of animal, neither human or animal - a chimera created not by fantasy or nature but by specific human desire.'
The petgirl may be a constant submissive, in extreme cases, or in the case of a lifestyle choice such as 24/7 petgirl Tigerr Benson, but generally she will only take on the role of petgirl during sexual play.
It is difficult to assess the exact number of petgirl aficionados; information about this phenomenon outside of pornographic literature is very scarce. Simon Benson writes:
'The petgirl fetish is extremely niche. It makes occasional appearances in more mainstream bdsm play but you really have to go to Japan to find an established interest in this niche. In my last two visits to Japan I met with Asaji Muroi who runs 'Aigando.com', to my knowledge the very first website to deal with petplay themes.
He introduced me to Yasuji Watanabe, the editor of Tokyo based fetish magazine SMSniper, who is currently paying homage to Muroi's drawings using photography. We talked long and hard about the petplay fetish and it's growing popularity in Japan. I personally feel that the domination and submission roles within petplay run parallel with existing Japanese sexual social values, in particular the hierarchy between Japanese men and women.
Petplay mirrors the basic patriarchal nature of Japanese relationships.
For instance, the Japanese wife is nurtured from an early age to see herself as a 'supporter' of her husband, not necessarily a slave. This is in keeping with the relationship we have with our animal pets. Our cats and our dogs are not our slaves but they are submissive and they do serve our needs unconditionally.
In the western society I've noticed that petplay is exclusively seen as part of humiliation and degradation scenes during bdsm play and little else. It's a shame, because petplay has much more to offer than that and in my particular case can form the basis for a stable, balanced and long term D/s relationship.'
A petgirl must not be confused with a Kemonomimi, which is a female character in anime and manga possessing some animal features. Cosplay is also a different activity and does not pertain any sexual involvement.
The realism and intricacy of the outfit may vary from simply crawling on all fours, to a full-body dog suit. A petgirl costume may be composed of any of the following elements :
- A body costume that may extend from the feet to the neck, the limbs may be bent back on themselves inside the costume, thus resembling the shorter limbs of a dog more. There will often be a cut-out around the petgirl's pelvis and buttocks.
- A hat, or head wear that may or may not support make-believe dog ears.
- A "tail plug" (derived from the terms butt plug and tail, which is a make-believe tail attached to a butt plug inserted into the petgirl's anus.
- Gloves and foot wear in the form of dog paws.
- Other items may include typical BDSM equipment, such as a collar or a gag.
The petgirl theme has been popularised by the Amsterdam based website Petgirls.com run by Simon Benson a former illustrator for House of Gord. It has entered mainstream pornography with actresses such as Belladonna or Sasha Grey, playing a part. The theme has been developed more in written pornography, with varying levels of consensuality. Petgirls are often associated with bestiality in pornographic literature, although there is no proof of this in real life practices. The petgirl theme is more developed in Japan because bestiality (jyukan, 獣姦) is more popular in pornography than in Europe or the US (where it is illegal in most states). This is because Japanese censorship laws forbid human genitalia to be reproduced on film or photographies. The portrayal of animal genitalia is however not affected by this law.