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.

FYGS might piss some people off…

I’m going to do the challenge. Nevertrustajunkie's Touchy-Tumblr-is-going-to-fight Challenge
Remember, my L key is broken so typing is beyond tedious and not-fast right now. There will be circumlocutions and it might seem awkward but it’s much quicker, everything considered, than typing that more than temperamental key. Oh, and i’m doing it in one go. 

Day 1 – Do you believe in God?/What religion are you?
 No. I’m not any religion. My parents are atheists and my grandparents are atheists. I’ve only been to church for weddings and funerals. Having said that, i was never indoctrinated towards atheism… i just realised very early on, without persuasion i might add, that Christianity didn’t/doesn’t make any sense.

Day 2 – Do you believe in an afterlife? What do you believe happens when you die?
No. Nothing. Decomposition. 

Day 3 – Are you proud to be from whatever country you are from?
Not proud, no. I feel privileged to have been born in a country with free healthcare and education and other benefits that so many people are denied, certainly, but i’m not proud. I don’t believe in patriotism—it’s just geography/bureaucracy; it’s still just one planet.

Day 4 – What is your view on gay marriage?
Equal rights for all. I don’t personally believe in marriage—any marriage—but until there’s a better way to guarantee certain rights between couples it’s the only option if you want those, and it should be available to everyone who wants one, gay, straight, whatever.

Day 5 – Do you think sex before marriage is okay?
I think it’s more than okay. It should be encouraged. 

Day 6 – What are your views on love? Do you think it’s real? Do you think we only experience one love per lifetime? Does everyone have a soul mate?
Love is just chemicals. It’s real inasmuch as those feelings do happen, but it’s not real in the sense of being “true” or “pure” or “fated”, you know? Of course we don’t experience only one love per lifetime. Some people might, and you might consider them lucky or unlucky in that respect, but it’s in no way a rule. Soulmates? No.
(Aside: My grandparents just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this week. They’re properly still into one another. I don’t think they’re “soul mates”, though. I think they just work well together. 

Day 7 – Do you want to get married and/or have kids?
No and no.

Day 8 – Do you think any drugs should be legalized? Do you think there should be an age for drinking?
Yes. Marijuana, and perhaps some others. I don’t know enough about the others, though (make of that what you will). Yes, there should be an age for drinking… but not 18 and certainly not 21. There needs to be much, much more focus on responsible drinking, and that can only be done when it’s not so fucking controlled. Look at France—no binge drinking culture there! 
Day 9 – Pro-life or prochoice?
Pro choice. Enough said.

Day 10 – What do you think about straightxedge?
I don’t know what that is. 
Ok, i looked it up. Each to their own, i guess. Bt i think it’s rather an extreme counterpoint to what are oftentimes imaginary fears. I mean, why no prescription drugs? What if you get tonsilitis or, you know, *anything* wrong with you that requires antibiotics? Come on. Moreover, i think promiscuity is a social construct and agent of patriarchy. Fuck that.

Day 11 – What do you think about prostitution? Should it be legal?
I do, yes. Sex work should be legal and regulated. Naturally, i’m against trafficking and exploitation, and legalisation will help prevent that. What people do with their own bodies is no concern of mine, and if someone wants to sell sex, i say let them. I’m not qualified (indeed nobody is) to determine what is and isn’t moral/right/acceptable behaviour for other people to do with their bodies. Who am i to say that sex work is exploitation? How about let’s leave it up to the sex workers to speak for themselves? Yes, i think that’s a grand idea.

Day 12 – What do you think about bisexuality?
I like it. 

Day 13 – Do you think there should be an age to get tattoos/piercings without the consent of a parent?
Piercings, 16. Tattoos shouldn’t be available to under 18s whether they have parental consent or not. I’m pretty sure this is how the law stands already.  Why my view on tattoos? Because tattoos are permanent, and a child who wants a tattoo, who really wants one, won’t mind waiting a couple of years until they’re an adult. If they do mind, you’ve got to question why. Why the urgency? If they really want one, they’re not going to change their minds… and if they do change their minds, as 16 year olds are wont to do, the benefits of waiting till 18 become obvious.

Day 14 – Do you believe in aliens?

Day 15 – Do you believe in regrets? do you have any terrible ones?
I believe in regrets, sure. As i believe in sadness. You can’t control regret or sadness or any fucking emotion. I don’t think it’s helpful to place values on emotions and decide which ones are “good” and which “bad”; they’re just feelings. Accept them.
Yes, I have regrets.

Day 16 – What do you want to happen to your body when you die?
Organ donation, if possible.  Then i guess cremation. Or maybe my dog could eat the bones. That would be nice. I’m picturing her playing with my skull… cute!

Day 17 – Have you experienced your ‘first true love’ yet? Do you believe you ever will?
Fuck that shit. “True” love? Fuck off. 

Day 18 – What is your take on people who self harm (cutting, burning, scratching etc etc.)
They’re not well. I don’t like to make sweeping generalisations, but people who self-injure probably need help. I used to self-injure, and i understand that in that moment it’s the only, or at least the best, coping mechanism available. If it didn’t serve a purpose, we wouldn’t do it.

Day 19 – Do you think high schools should give out free contraceptive?
Yes. Obviously not prescription stuff like The Pill (that would be illegal), but dental dams, condoms and femidoms, yes. Hell yes.

Day 20 – What do you think about plastic surgery?
It’s great. I know people who have had great work done to restore their bodies after being burnt or attacked. 
I presume this question is actually trying to refer to cosmetic surgery, though. In that case, i think it’s up to the individual. I think, however, that prospective patients should undergo some counselling before the procedure, just to make sure they’re fully, fully, fully informed and it’s what they really want.

Day 21 – What do you think about the death penalty?
Not much. It’s not good.

Day 22 – Do you say your country’s national anthem/pledge of allegiance when it is said/listened to?
Not usually. It’s quite catchy though. In the UK we don’t have the same attitude to the national anthem as there is in the US, and we don’t even have a pledge of allegiance. We don’t have to sing the anthem in school—ever, in my case—and it’s not something that’s (metaphorically) beaten into us. I don’t even know past the first verse, and i didn’t consciously learn that.

Day 23 – What do you think about thinspo?
I despise the whole pro-eating-disorder bullshit. As a former anorexic and current ED-NOS sufferer, i don’t understand why anyone would want to feel this way. Even more to the point, i cannot for the life of me fathom why anybody would actively try to foster these feelings in others.
I understand, obviously, that when one is eating disordered one very well may engage in activities and behaviours that are just that—disordered—like looking at so-called “pro-ED” or “thinspo” pictures/sites. But what i don’t understand, what i simply do not grasp, is why ANYBODY suffering the way that i have (and do), and so many others do, would seek to spread that suffering around. 
Which leads me to think that these websites and images are created by some very warped individuals, but not by anyone who actually has an ED—because if they did, there’s no way they’d still desire to get others feeling that way. No way whatsoever.