eat me! a spider’s guide to foreplay

The Futurenauts eat the patriarchy with Bitch author Lucy Cooke

Lucy Cooke (centre) and The Futurenauts, Ed Gillespie and Mark Stevenson

For Episode 02 of the TOPIA podcast, The Futurenauts chat to zoologist-author Lucy Cooke about bondage-loving spiders, kinky creatures and the myth of the passive female

We’re sold on the idea that males are from Mars and females are from Venus. We are more alike than we are different.

Lucy Cooke

If Oscar-winning hit film Finding Nemo was real, after Nemo’s mum had been eaten by a barracuda, his clownfish dad would have flipped gender and had sex with his son, which doesn’t sound like a massive Disney hit. Welcome to the world of Lucy Cooke.

To tie in with Season 02 of TOPIA being themed (loosely) on The Egg, our second podcast sees The Futurenauts – aka planet-loving “recovering sustainability guys” Ed Gillespie and Mark Stevenson – in conversation with Lucy Cooke. The British zoologist and National Geographic explorer is behind the gloriously original book, Bitch: A Revolutionary Guide to Sex, Evolution and the Female Animal. As its title suggests, it’s a fierce, funny and revolutionary look at the queens of the animal kingdom. She introduces a riotous cast of animals and the scientists who are redefining the female of the species – which really is more deadly than the male.

Book giveaway

Win Bitch! Next week, we’re giving away one copy. Follow @worldoftopia to enter.

As a student, Cooke used to feel like a sad misfit. Not because she loved spiders, enjoyed cutting up roadkill and would “gladly root around in animal faeces for clues as to what their owner had eaten”. Her fellows shared the same curious kinks, so there was no shame there. No, the source of her disquiet was her sex. Being female meant she was, by nature, a loser.

Sexists, beware! Since Charles Darwin, evolutionary biologists have been convinced that the males of the animal kingdom are the top dogs – dominating and promiscuous – while females are dull and devoted. In this enlightening book, Lucy reclaims evolutionary biology from the willful cultural blindness of old white Victorian patriarchal science. From bondage-loving spiders to Scrooge-like lobsters who save their sperm for a female who’s “worth it”, Bitch lifts the lid on kinky creatures, same-sex female couples and the titanic battle of the sexes. Ironically, it’s bollocks that fertilisation is simply a sperm race.

Do we need sex at all? Which animals are doing it for themselves? Which species hasn’t had sex for 80 million years? This podcast covers everything you wanted to know about sexual cannibalism, gender fluidity and Darwin’s obsession with the barnacle penis, which is some eight or nine times longer than its body. Imagine a sort of X-rated Mr. Tickle.

And thank your lucky stars you’re not a horny spider, because giving head actually means giving your head and ending up dinner, rather than sinner.


A winged, feather and finned celebration of the weird and wonderful

Bitch: A Revolutionary Guide to Sex, Evolution and the Female Animal by Lucy Cooke is published by Doubleday (2022).

Now listen to Episode 01

Special guest: Jon Richardson

The Futurenauts chat to the top British comedian Jon Richardson about our need for humour in difficult times, as part of the TOPIA special podcast series.

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