newt in the throat
It is PRETTY DIFFICULT to tell the difference between male and female spotted hyena genitalia (the females of other hyena species do not have pseudo-penises, by the way). Not only is the pseudo-penis, which is an extension of the clitoris, almost as long and often thicker than the male penis, they also have a fused labia that resembles a scrotum. So yeah. There it is. And yes, these pesudo-penises can get erect and often do in social situations. It’s a submissive signal.
. . .
There’s another theory that I like a bit better that suggests that as the social structure of hyenas developed, females needed a way to control which males they were mating with. Another fact about the pseudo-penis is that it makes forced sex impossible. In fact, in order to have sex, a female has to roll back the front of her clitoris like a shirtsleeve (you don’t know how sad I am that I couldn’t find a picture of this) to allow the male’s penis to gain access. And it can still take some maneuvering.
. . .
So basically, you can’t force a female hyena to have sex if she doesn’t want to. This gives her complete control over who she mates with, and it means that the male hyenas have to go for a different strategy to have reproductive success: flowers and chocolates. Nah, I kid. It’s more like the male has to be as submissive and as sweet as he can to the females to establish a relationship in order to secure mating rights with her. Each time. As hyenas don’t form lasting pair-bonds (they are as promiscuous as cats!) it’s anything goes the next time the female comes into heat.
Also, female hyenas prefer to mate with outsiders to their clan (spotted hyenas tend to be patrilocal) rather than males they have grown up with. This is probably to reduce the prevalence of inbreeding.
Also, hyenas have a lot of same-sex sexual behavior.
. . .