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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.


Horrors in the Target pet aisle

When I was at target the other day, I stopped in the pet aisle. I'd really like to get stinkerbelle a little kitten cave or tunnel where she could hide out - although I can't afford it. But, I keep checking at target to see what they have. I walked to another aisle and saw an entire display of cat "bonnets" like the one above. I can't even remember all the ones they had.

I then sort of took a look at my surroundings, and realized I was in HELL.

One side of the aisle was all for "girls" and one side was for "boys." And by boys and girls, I do mean pets. They even had these little bunting-like gift baskets in either pink or blue (baby blue) that said "it's a boy" or "it's a girl." FOR PETS. The girls' aisle was covered with girly dressed, tiaras, matchy matchy beds and blankets and leashes and collars. There was a lilac terry cloth halter dress - for a dog - that made me want to cry. The "boy" clothes were in blues and greens and camo - suits, raincoats, football jersys ... you name it.

Although I kind of think pet clothes are funny - and my dog growing up had to ensure my having put many outfits on him - I think the genderizing of pets is really terrifying. It really speaks to our need to genderize just about everything - to categorize things that really don't need to be categorized - and to assign characteristics to them.

Sure, stinkerbelle is a girl - but given that her mom was raised in the 70s, she's been raised fairly gender aschematically. Stinkerbelle knows that when she grows up, she can be a ballet dancer, a plumber, a pope, a professor, a doctor, a photographer, a firefighter - anything! Any door is open to her. I've encouraged her to be assertive and to ask for what she wants - directly. She knows that all feelings are okay - and that she doesn't need a man (or a woman) to complete her. She has choices and demonstrates a great deal of gender flexibility, and I'm proud of her for that.

I'd love to see a study of people with their pets and see if people treat male and female pets differently - it they attribute different things to girl vs. boy dogs. There's a famous classroom experiment in which the prof brought in two babies and their moms - and she had the students describe each of the children (they were like 6 months old). The girl was described using stereotypically feminine characteristics like "pretty" and the boy was described with stereotypically masculine characteristics like "strong." The prof then asks what it would be like if they switched the clothes of the kids - how that would be. The students said it would be weird - cross-dressing babies. The clothes were switched, and the prof revealed that the baby they had thought was a girl was actually a boy, and vice versa. The students were astounded - the way the child was dressed completely affected their perceptions of the babies. Of babies! they are barely even exposed to gendered socialization at this age!

So, I'd like to see something like this done with pets. Plus, parents of human children tend to treat boys and girls very differently (like they talk more to girls - especially more emotion talk), and I'd be curious if that extends to furry critters.


At 3:46 PM, Blogger Eddie said...

The best thing about that baby study is that the girl was also described as awkward! Awkward! Ugh.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Seeking Solace said...

I hate how people dress up their pets, thinking it's cute. I saw a story on E! where people could buy bathing suits for their dogs. Um...they're dogs!!!!

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Geeka said...

ONe of the brands of cat litter has a rewards points system. They pile up quickly, and they have good cat dome thingys.

I talk to my animals all the time. I find that I talk to the dog (Ginger's so pretty, but dumb!) differently to the cats (Coop? Where are you? meow Oh, you were sleeping on the couch, do you want a blanket?).

My friends recently deceased dog, she actually liked wearing stuff. LIke when you would take her stuff away she would sulk until she got it back.


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