A somewhat lighthearted post: projecting gender stereotypes into the animal kingdom
Okay, so i’ve been spending the majority of the last few days trying to get my head around the process of applying to US PhD programmes. (This GRE business is so fucked; how does my capability to remember trigonometry have any bearing on my capability to get a PhD and be a kick-ass teacher of GS & Literature?!)
But, i digress. I’m not really in the frame of mind right now to tackle something really “big”, especially after dealing with all the drama and getting all sorts of slut-shame/blame…. So, here’s something to add a little levity to the blog/my day:
Projecting gender stereotypes into the animal kingdom.
Happens all the fucking time.
I have a puppy, a labrador-spaniel cross, all black. Hecuba. She looks much more spanielly now, but when i first got her she looked more or less like any pure lab. And *everybody* assumed she was a boy. Not just other pet owners in the waiting room, who were going on snap-judgements—my family did, too. A lot. What is (was) it about my dog that made people assume she was male? Apparently labs, at least black ones, are really masculine dogs. So much so that for weeks my little brother called her “he”, despite being corrected (and he’s thirteen!). People on the street, too: “oh, he’s a boisterous thing!” “he’s looks like a lot of fun” “what a handsome boy”, etc. Even the receptionist at the vet did it.
So, i did some research (that is, i asked my little brother). Chihuahuas? Female. Spaniels? Female. Staffies? Male. Jack Russels? Male. What the fuck?! I checked these answers. Others agreed. WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?!
Of course, now that Hecuba has grown up some (she’s not even 5 months yet), she’s become a lot more spanielly. Fluffy ears, long(er than a labrador’s) coat, etc. And SUDDENLY she’s female. Strangers we meet on the street tell me how “pretty” she is. In fact, one woman, after asking her name and getting the answer, said “oh, i’ll just call her Pretty”. (No wonder Hecuba barks at this woman now whenever we see her; i would too if they’d objectified me!)
Works with cats, too. My mum has two cats. Toms. They don’t like Hecuba. And guess what? Everyone assumes they’re female. Little bro says that the cats should be girls and Hecuba should be a boy.
This saddens me greatly. How and why did these gender stereotypes transfer over? Why do we project them? Sigh.