Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Feminism, Speciesism and my little Doom's "spay"
Bear with me I have to ruminate on my dog's spay. They call it a spay but if she were human we'd call it a 'total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral oophrectomy'. She had a general anaesthetic and I gather some pain relieve post procedure, but since then (Monday), nothing. I asked the staff about pain medication and they said they prefer them to feel some pain so they don't overextend themselves. I guess that makes sense. It didn't make me feel any better though when she screamed while trying to get up on a bench, or climb stairs, position herself on the sofa or really do anything, that first day. I do know that my 4 yo dog didn't have the same pain response, or didn't express it that way.
I guess dogs are like people, with a certain level of sedation they get either dopey and, well, sedate; or they get a little agitated. Poor Doom was the latter.
But getting this done reminded me of how sometimes when you ask people what gender their dog is they'll say something like "well he used to be a boy/girl"--the implication being that the spay/neuter procedure erased the gender. And I think that's fucked up!
I just finished reading a great book called 'Living Dolls' by a UK author Natasha Walter. It's sort of generally about a backlash of sexism as manifested partially in this kind of body fascism that encourages and rewards women for looking like dolls.
She goes into detail about this, plus other stuff about how the trend of de-gendered toys in the 1970s that was a legacy of second wave feminism is kind of done and over. Now it seems that gender roles are even more rigidly circumscribed.
The last part of the book she talks about how research into gender differences is one of the best-funded types of non-pharmaceutical type research (ie; research that a drug company isn't banking on to make them billions of $). And goes on to explore why, who's invested in scientific evidence to demonstrate that women and men are difference physiologically and psychologically. She talks about how studies demonstrating how women/girls prefer pink and men/boys prefer blue; or studies that attempt to show women's superior language skills, men's superior math aptitude etc etc are continually reported on whereas studies that disprove these differences (even if these studies are bigger, more scientifically sound/replicate-able etc) are more ignored. So when you see a headline that says "SCIENCE PROVES WOMEN PREFER PINK'--it's worthwhile to examine what the sample size was, whether the study is published in a peer reviewed journal, and if it's ever been replicated. Basically she's saying that science (and western culture) is very invested in perpetuating ideas of gender differences. It's a little like eugenics I guess.
But getting back to Doom, it made me think about how gender is completely ignored in animals! I mean I can't imagine me getting a hysterectomy etc and then claiming that I'm a neuter, or genderless, because my 'plumbing' is gone. But for animals not only do we think there is CLEARLY no difference between a female and a male dog, but the procedure of removing reproductive organs is coded as erasing that gender completely. It's so stupid. I mean, either it's important, or it's not. I guess part of it is that we live in a culture that devalues animals outright, and part of it is that we live in a patriarchy that has a great deal invested in maintaining the status quo.
Anyhoo, it made me think again about feminism and speciesism, and how both are fucked up and fucking wrong.