Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Some Thoughts on Beastiality and Relevance

So. BB's been talking about beastiality, with mixed responses, and I thought that I was going to weigh in with something insightful eventually, but I guess I don't have anything terribly insightful to say.

Of course, that has never stopped me in the past. And yes, I have something really mean to say. In fact, if you want to keep liking me, I suggest you stop reading this post right now.

I'll give you some space to think about it.





I don't care about animal rights.

There, I said it. Yes, I feel better getting that off my chest. Please don't misunderstand -- I think cruelty to animals is bad. But my care for animal rights falls, in the list of the top 100 of things I care about, somewhere around 99.

So it really bugs me when Biting Beaver makes an excellent, insightful post about beastiality being used primarily as a pornographic or sadistic weapon to hurt women and everyone spends time either talking about how such a practice is cruel to the ANIMAL or whether or not such-and-such radical feminist gave a shit about how animals were treated when the bigger issue, of course, is how human women are treated.

It also makes me sad to hear people dismiss my personal favorite of Andrea Dworkin's work, the great Woman Hating. Maybe I'm just biased, as it was the first work of hers that I read and I have a soft spot for "first works" of authors, but I really dug her arguments in favor of androgyny in the idea of the "ideal" androgynous society. I get much amusement at how such arguments and language has been co-opted by people who tend to call radical feminism "essentialist" and gender "performative" as though gender performativity was somehow related to anything other than very essentialist ideas about gender.

I mean, I do not buy whatsoever any reasoning that positions women "closer" to nature as men or any Paganistic-styled concepts about women being of the earth and the water and the sky. That said, I do not see human women as being separate from animals and I do not think we should ignore our responsibility to try not to fuck up the planet for the rest of the species out there as much as we already have. But, seriously, don't try telling me that women somehow have a keener sense of this responsibility, a "maternal instinct" if you will, about helping the Earth. Somehow, I think this is almost as presumptuous as a childfree woman telling a mother how to raise her child, or a man coming into a woman's group with brand-new ideas for the group's focus. I think Mother Earth really wants us to leave her the fuck alone, is what I think. But since we do have to clean up our messes, at least we can do so in a guilty and apologetic, "Sorry, dudette," way, instead of a santimonious, "I sing with Gaia!" kind of way.

But back to beastiality, and cruelty to animals in the larger sense. You know what? Honestly, isn't domestication sort of cruel? A whole ton of animals who aren't able to take care of themselves and have to rely on humans -- a WHOLE OTHER SPECIES -- to take care of them? I'm not talking about our efforts to bring up the panda population or some other species that we whoops, our bad, brought to near extinction. I'm talking about house pets. Nevermind what we're doing to farm animals for half a second -- what have we done to dogs and cats and horses*?

You see this problem of "animal cruelty"? And you see this problem of the response, "but they like it"? Fellow anti-pornsters, have we not heard this argument in other contexts?

I think my biggest beef (pun unintended) with animal cruelty issues is basically this: if this is your number one issue in life, then you are either really isolated or really lucky. It reminds me of yeshiva kids arguing about the specifics of whether or not this thing is truly kosher or not. However relevant that might be, it's probably not as relevant as at least 98 other topics for a Jew with his/her nose out of the Talmud.

Everything pretty much always comes back to the Jews for me. I should probably insert an "oy" here. Remind me to talk about why I think Godwin's so-called law is anti-Semitic.

*Yes, I realize that these animals are also sometimes "farm" animals. I mean to make a differentiation between animals used for labor and animals as pets. Sometimes "farm" animals are pets, and sometimes they're labor. You know what I mean. The point is, we do mention from time to time the idea as animal-as-labor as "cruel" but rarely do we mention this about pets. This makes me think that the idea of "cruelty" can be almost as subjective in respect to animals as it is to humans, in our minds.

12 Comments:

Blogger ms. jared said...

it's interesting that you mention domestication.

i was just feeling a twinge of guilt this morning about keeping maude cooped up in the house all day and her lack of autonomy. i justified it to myself though by thinking, "well, i don't pick her up and i don't let other people pick her up. if she wants to be held she does the initiating. that's some semblance of autonomy isn't it?"

and then i replied to myself, "not really, but fuck it. i love her and i want her and i'm keeping her and i'm getting another one when she croaks!"

i too am inherently evil and mean.
(and i take pictures of her and post them on the internet without her permission!)
xoxo, jared

4:07 PM  
Blogger Phemisaurus Terribilis said...

Wow, Edith, you are my hero. Heroine? Arghh! You know what I mean.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous sean "hollywood" glynn said...

Domestication of animals is such an interesting subject. I wonder what drives people to have emotional attachments to animals in general, and why this attachment takes the form of 'owning' in particular. Although I am inclined to think about desire as production, I find myself looking for explanations for this domination/domestication-desire whithin the realm of lack. This desire-compulsion ties together power/love/control, suggesting an unconcious drive for any or all of these. And although I do not mean to simplify, or univocify, I see paralells here between the way many women and pets are positioned. I have neither the knowlege nor time to adequately analyze these 3 fuzzy concepts' relations to each other, but I can say that although the way that these concepts relate to each other is hauntingly dependent upon the personal experiences of the pet' (pet owner), there is something to be said of the shared experiences that have made women and "cute" animals the object of the subject's misdirected emotions. What those shared experiences might be, I would be interested in 'discussing.'

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that it shows kind of a messed up set of priorities to think about the animals rights in the case of bestiality over other considerations, like what it's doing to the mind of collective culture oh god SHOULD THIS KIND OF THING BE OK?

It's also kind of a distraction from more common issues of animal rights, like factory farms and the conditions in them, kind of like "DEATH PENALTY OR NO" is a distraction from the larger injustices of the prison system.

Is it cruel to keep domesticated animals? I would say no, and I say no because the animals that are (typically) kept in domestic situations have been BRED for it, which is a scary word but it's true. Try housebreaking a dog then try housebreaking a wolf and tell me which is more difficult. Seriously, do it, I am very curious, because it might not be any more difficult to housebreak a wolf. But the point of that analogy is that it would be. Why was I talking about this in the first place? Oh well, fuck it.

-DG

11:15 PM  
Blogger Biting Beaver said...

Lovin the post!

So often (ok, almost completely 100% of the time) the woman is lost in this sort of thing. The focus shifts to the animals and how cruel it must be for them.

When I began researching this topic it was extremely difficult to fine ANY pages that focused on the injuries to women. All of the pages focused on the cruelty to the dogs and horses.

I tire of seeing people go all buggy eyed over some dude who drops off a litter of kittens but who ignores the woman next door who was raped by her husband.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Amy's Brain Today said...

Great post Edith! And I have to say, despite your bluff and posturing, I think you are losing ground on your status as a mean feminist, because this post is ALL ABOUT caring about animals! Fess up! You really are a big soft-hearted marshmallow inside!!! You love the cute fluffy things! C'mon! Admit it.

Ahem. I have been thinking along these lines about pets for some time. I'm with ms jared, I love my cats, but I also squirm when I think about how dependent they are on me, both physically as well as psychologically, how little control they have over their lives. They are SO sensitive to my moods; they bear the brunt of my yelling on days when I'm frustrated over other stuff and they get on my nerves (because they want their kibble, how dare they!). Their lack of autonomy, the fact that they can't go outside and be safe without my intervention and protection, really bothers me. Of course, they can't be safe on the land either; Pandora was lost last summer there, we believe to coyotes. So in short, I don't think that humans having bred domestic animals makes it okay--I think it just makes it WHERE WE ARE, and where we have to start from in figuring out how to do things differently.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Heart said...

Hey, Edith, great post. I do disapprove of owning animals, of using them for work, and of eating them, because I think that just as you say, it's patriarchal same-old, same-old, one-up/one-down, some creatures own/some are owned.

Having said all that, we have a big problem, because humans HAVE domesticated animals, and it's hardly going to do to just, say, turn them all loose and give them their "freedom" now. That would be to kill them, really.

What I do is, I try to live with my animals respectfully and peaceably, which is comparatively easy for me, because I have a farm which is really isolated, no neighbors for a long, long way. My sheep are pastured, I do not chop off their tails when they are born, I don't eat them, I care for them and nurture them. I do have them sheared from time to time, but they like that as their fleece is way too hot in the summertime, especially after a couple of years.

My cats and dogs run free, inside and out. They can be out or in, as they like, there are no neighbors to be troubled by them.

And I wouldn't eat them or any animals.

Hardly anybody has my circumstances, and I don't fault anybody for owning animals. I have at LEAST as much problem with people who objectify their animals as with people who mistreat them in other ways, and by this I mean people who spend thousands and thousands of dollars taking their pets to the vet for every ailment under the sun and on grooming and showing them and especially, breeding them and selling them. What animal ever signed up for that kind of treatment?

There is some really interesting reading to be done about this. I would start with the chapter of Catherine A. MacKinnon's new book, Women's Lives, Men's Laws, the chapter entitled, "A Fragment on Animal Rights." Someone else, hmm, Martha Nussbaum? Not remembering now, has written some really good things, too. There is actually a huge new field of law having to do with the rights of animals. My own thinking is, once you're a feminist, you can't *not* think about the similarities between the way women are domesticated and the way animals and the whole earth have been domesticated. The fact that we cannot communicate with animals very well doesn't mean they deserve to be dominated, controlled or owned. There are people now, mostly women, who are dedicated their careers to learning to communicate with animals. My utopia would be one in which we lived in harmony with animals, neither controlling or dominating or owning them nor having to fear them.

Well a few thoughts, thanks for the thread.

Heart

11:07 AM  
Blogger Pippa said...

Brilliant post. I am going to have to digest it a little longer before I can comment coherently but so far I am loving the way that you write what I would like to but can't because I'm a bit thick. Cheers, Pippa x

12:14 PM  
Blogger witchy-woo said...

I'm just loving this blog...

I just think it strange how human woman is considered as animal/less than human.

I mean, WTF? What's that all about?

Oooops, sorry. Forgot. Human woman = animal. Of course.

That explains a lot of cruelty.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Amananta said...

"Remind me to talk about why I think Godwin's so-called law is anti-Semitic."

Oh, please do! I hate the whole Godwin's law thing for a number of reasons.

Sadly enough, the first time a court in America punished an adult for abusing a child under their care was because they were prosecuted under the laws protecting animals, and it was argued since the little girl was an animal, she should not be beaten.
http://www.edu.gov.nf.ca/child/C1sectb.htm

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Freeman said...

I'm going to be honest, I am pro-bestiality.

I am also anti women rights. Not that I hate women but as a man I find that every time a woman takes a step forward a man is forced to take a step back.

I would rather hear about good things happening to both without terrible things happening to men.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Espinafrina silva said...

This is a very complex issue to you treat has many issues that evolve
in Brazil yet there is no one approach

Disk sexo

6:22 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home