18/02/2016 3:36 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

Jallikattu, Bull Races And What Makes A Man Sexy To Me

STRDEL via Getty Images
Indian youth attempt to catch a bull during a bull-taming festival known as Jallikattu at Palamedu Village near Madurai, some 500 kms south of Chennai, on January 16, 2011. The event was held as part of Tamil New Year 'Ponggal' celebrations. AFP/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

With all the discussion about jallikattu and bull races these days, a lot of people are asking me what my feelings are on the subject because of the animal rights work I do with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India. I do not believe in hurting another being for any reason. It's as simple as that. That's why I am vegetarian and why I rescued Crystal, my dog. I don't want to contribute to suffering - and when it comes to men, I believe there's nothing sexier than a man who also refuses to contribute to suffering.

In the past, some people considered men who were "successful" in jallikattu eligible for marriage to bull owners' daughters. But this is 2016, and today people understand that daughters are not objects to be given away as prizes. Well, it's high time we gave the same consideration to the bulls and recognised that they aren't objects to be mistreated, either. In fact, these days, most women consider a man who supports the abuse of animals repulsive and dangerous.

Most women consider a man who supports the abuse of animals repulsive and dangerous.

In 2014, the Supreme Court helped right a wrong and made India a kinder place for animals by confirming a ban on jallikattu, bull races and other cruel spectacles using bulls (later staying a government notification to lift this ban). Yet there are still some who derive pleasure from watching other beings suffer - and who fall back on the insupportable claim that these activities are part of our cultural heritage, rather than admitting what they really are: outright cruelty.

As prey animals, bulls are naturally nervous, so deliberately placing them in terrifying situations in which they are forced to try to escape, such as in jallikattu and bull races, causes them extreme distress. They become so frightened by the mob of participating men that they slip, fall, run into barriers and traffic, and even jump off cliffs in their desperate attempt to flee, frequently leading to broken bones or death. What kind of a man enjoys harming those who are more vulnerable than he is? Harming bulls doesn't take any strength or courage - standing up for animals and for what's right does.

Reflecting on the fact that during jallikattu and bull races, men stab and jab bulls with weapons, force alcohol down their throats, twist and break their tails and hit them with nail-studded sticks, I feel sick to my stomach. Bullying is not alluring or appealing in the slightest, and it certainly is not masculine.

I thank the Supreme Court for protecting cattle, and I applaud those real men who are kind to animals.

What's more, these acts of cruelty directly violate the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which states that it's an offence to beat, kick, override or torture animals or otherwise cause them pain or suffering - or for owners to permit such treatment. And jallikattu doesn't just harm and even kill bulls; hundreds of humans have also been hurt or killed during such events, including a young boy who was gored to death at a jallikattu event. Where's the culture in that?

Our country is known the world over for its cultural reverence for cows. If we allow jallikattu or bull races again, we will be taking a very big step in the wrong direction.

I thank the Supreme Court for protecting cattle, and I applaud those real men who are kind to animals. Bulls, like all animals, deserve to live free of suffering.

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