This article was first published on 21st March 2017
“Fuck like rabbits.” “Playboy bunnies.” “Bunny boilers.”
And, of course, the “rampant rabbit.”

Wherever you look rabbits and hares are often associated with sex. Their mere presence in art is typically a pretty sure-fire implication that something sexual is being implied. Whereas the rabbit that adorns the shaft of many phallic vibrators splits no hares about the rabbit’s sexual connotations.

But how did the cute little bun-bun become a symbol of near-rabid lust and sexual potency?

Well, that’s what this article is going to explore.

The Biology Of Rabbits

Let’s get the obvious out of the way—bunnies like sex. They like it a lot.

Female rabbits can often reach sexual maturity at a very young age (sometimes even 4 months old). The mating process itself often includes multiple sessions of mounting that are about 30 seconds in duration each. This voracity and rapid frequent love-making has no doubt contributed to the notion that rabbits are, to use an official term, ‘sex-crazed’.

The reproductive process of rabbits is also something that lends itself to references to fertility and sexual potency. Once pregnant rabbits only take 28 to 32 days before giving birth to a little of 1-14 kits (the official term for baby bunnies).

And, as if to hammer the point home, rabbits are also capable of superfetation. A phenomenon in which one littler of kits can be gestating before the others are even born. This means that a rabbit can literally have another litter before they’ve even finished weaning the first litter.

 

ohmibod fuse kiiroo

 

Rampant Representations

These facts combined have made it so that rabbits and hares have been associated with fertility and sex for an incredibly long time.

The frequency of sex and the sheer volume of kits produced even paved the way for rabbit-based fertility gods in some cultures. For example, Aztec mythology speaks of the Centzon Totochtin. A collective of 400 divine rabbits that would get together to have drunken parties. Or, should we say, orgies. Led by Ome Tochtli, a fertility god of intoxication.

What can we say? It seems like the Aztecs knew what made an interesting party.

When it comes to Greek culture the association between rabbits and amour made them an obvious link to the Goddess Aphrodite. Because of this rabbits were often sacrificed to Aphrodite as a form of prayer.

The nocturnal activity of rabbits linked them to mystery and the cycles of the moon in medieval culture. This, in turn, tied them to the cycles of women as they menstruated and further reinforced notions that rabbits dictated fertility or were otherwise linked to it in some way.

Medieval hunters also believed that the only reason rabbits were able to be hunted to excess was because of their extremely high reproductive rates. As such the pursuit of rabbits and hares in the hunt also had poetic links to the pursuit of sexual desire. An interesting innuendo.

In earlier western history the Ancients (such as Pliny, Plutarch, and Philostratus) believed that rabbits were hermaphrodites. This was the only way they could justify the rabbit’s superfetation, which was not fully understood back then.

For Christianity this seeming self-conception was instead considered to be a sign that rabbits were capable of virgin births. This firmly associated rabbits with the Virgin Mary and signs of rebirth and (sexual) purity. This is also why rabbits are linked to Easter, eggs (another sign of fertility and rebirth), and the resurrection of Christ. If you look through renaissance paintings you’ll often see a rabbit or hare for this very reason.

And here we have a bit of a contradiction emerging. On the one hand, rabbits were linked with sexual freedom and an insatiable sexual appetite but on the other hand, they were also linked with purity and virginity. This complexity would prevail throughout most of western depictions—painting the rabbit as a pious motherly figure while simultaneously using it frequently to imply sexual desire.

That is, until the 20th century.

Enter the Bunny Girls and Noughties

Come the 20th-century rabbits suddenly started to lose the sexual innocence that Christianity had cultivated and began to run rampant in sex culture yet again. And the turning point came with Hugh Hefner.

Starting in 1960, with the formation of the original Playboy Clubs, Hugh had a selective female workforce train to be Playboy Bunnies and dress the part. The idea was inspired, Hugh says, by a place called the Bunny Tavern, in which the owner, Bernard ‘Bunny’ Fitzsimmons, served affordable meals to students, one of whom was Hugh Hefner.

The bunny costume barely needs an introduction, but typically included a strapless corset teddy, bunny ears, pantyhose, and a collar & cuff, all topped off with a fluffy bunny tail. Now the iconic Playboy Bunny look also comes with its own bunny logo and a line of recognizable products, all of which paint rabbits as clear icons of female sexual playfulness.

Open to sexual connotations once again, it wasn’t until the 1990’s that the rabbit received its next link to lust but when it did it was a big one (big, buzzing, and beaded, as it happens).

Rampant rabbit vibrators gained their popularity through HBO’s Sex and the City and have since become what is known as ‘one of the most visible contemporary signs of active female sexuality’. Oh my.

 

 

Female Empowerment

And, how fitting that in Women’s History Month we can see a clear link between rabbits and the desires of women in particular.

The male may mount the female in rabbit mating, but it’s the doe that has come up tops in terms of bunnies and their lustful nature.

So if you’re a woman why not embrace the iconic nature of rabbits and hares and use it to own your own sexual potency. This doesn’t mean that you have to wear a bunny suit and buy yourself the latest clitoral treat on the market, but it’s certainly an ample option.

PUBLISHED BY

Dr. Emmeline Peaches
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