Visitor:

From: weston cook
To: "Episcopal Network for Animal Welfare"
November 30, 2010
 
Dear Aattura,
 
I regret if you found my characterization offensive.
 
Sexism, however, IS one of the cultural dimensions of opposition to animal welfare. Males particularly are often prompted to see the domination of animals as an assertion of machismo. Dog fighting is a good example of that as is the popularity of "mean dog breeds like Pit Bulls. The implication is, "if I got this rough-tough vicious dog, boy, think of how tough I must be."
 
The converse of this attitude is that compassion for animals is a sign of weakness in males. It's "The Bambi Syndrome", as some folks call it, that to be moved to sympathy or tenderness by a baby animal is somehow "wimpy."  Clearly, something a macho macho man wants to avoid because it is effete. If you want to see the caricature further drawn out in garish homophobic fashion, look at the pets normally associated with gay men.
 
There is another dimension of this depiction, too, which is equally sexist - and equally a very live part of our culture. This is the infamous "little old lady in tennis shoes."  Now, I do not know what cultural forces determined that she be "little" [stature-bias] "old" [ageism or chronological obsolescence] or why she wears tennis shoes, but I can guess why she's a lady. First of all, there's the sexist element as we've noted but there's also other dimensions as well. She is eccentric [if not crazy], cartoonish, ridiculous, comical [meaning her cause is equally buffoonish] and she is kinda pathetic. Bluntly put, she is excessively obsessed with animals because [a] she is incapable of relating to people and [b] she doesn't have a "real life".  She is a variant of an ancient stereotype used against women but also, to a lesser degree, used to warn males that this cartoon is how society will see you if you advocate for animals beyond what the community deems appropriate. These kinds of images have been used throughout history to defame advocates for change by mockery and derision.
 
And they still exist. At least, in my sixty plus years in this vale of tears, I still encounter them. I remember being accused of being "girly" for not wanting to go hunting. That was the context intended. Whether those were Jack LaSeiur's actual words or not, I don't know - I was reconstructing the gist of what for me was a very memorable conversation. We were not so enlightened in 1955.
 
So, again, if my words gave offense, I regret your dismay and apologize.
Warmest
Weston
 


To: enaw@yahoogroups.com
From: aattura@yahoo.com
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2010

  "And when you see a baby animal and say 'so cute', that's not being girly or something stupid like that"
No but that statement is being sexist or something like that.........




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