Animals and death

In this post I’m going to highlight a few topics around animals and death which will be explored in more detail in later posts.

 ‘Animals become extinct. They are also killed, gassed, electrocuted, exterminated, hunted, butchered, vivisected, shot, trapped, snared, run over, lethally injected, culled, sacrificed, slaughtered, executed, euthanized, destroyed, put down, put to sleep, and even, perhaps, murdered’
Animal Studies Group

One of our most common interaction with animals, is through death.  We kill them to eat, to wear, for leisure and yet we also distance ourselves from animal death.  We call dead pigs pork, dead cows become beef, we take our pets to vets to have them put down in a clinical setting.  This isn’t all that surprising given how much we distance ourselves from human death – we get the body ushered off as soon as possible to be tended to by professionals and so on.

When talking about animal deaths, it’s important to note that, like in life, animals are not equal in death.  There are some which die without comment and others which we mourn and grieve for like kin.  We accept some animal deaths through wilful ignorance and justify others by putting human needs above animals.  Diana Donald noted that ‘perhaps the absolute basic distinction is between those kinds of killing that are wilfully invisible, removed from the consciousness of the perpetrators and excluded from the sight of anyone else, and those that are in some way commemorated or represented?’

We have selective empathy and that can be turned on or turned off depending on how we categorise animals; Are they useful to us? Are they wild or tamed?  Are they physically similar to us?  One simple example of this animals that are killed on the roads.  The reaction to roadkill versus the reaction to pets being hit by cars.  Another example to think about is the difference between swatting a fly and kicking a dog.

The majority of the animals we kill for meat are invisible.  They live and die out of sight, behind closed doors.  These are animals which only exist so they can die, for us.  And yet in contrast with these invisible, distant animals, we are living incredibly intimately with a different group of animals, namely our pets.  We share our houses and even our beds with our furry friends and this intimacy is reflected in how we feel when our beloved pets die.

The idea of who is grievable is cultural specific.  In the UK today, most people see pets as uniquely grievable within the animal kingdom whereas in Japan, ritual mourning for animals has been going on for thousands of years and was necessary to appease the spirits of the animals they hunted.  This respect for animals and the rituals around the kill is found in other hunting communities and often is part of thanking the animal for giving their life.

As is clear, killing animals doesn’t happen in a bubble, it happens in a society with particular attitudes and perceptions of the animals.  Quite often this is a society or culture in which man has dominion over nature and killing animals reinforces this hierarchy.  Hunting, and then killing, can bring with it status and thus the act of killing is imbued with meaning.

“It is possible to argue that the killing of animals deconstructs, redefines, or reshapes the social order between humans and animals… in the case of human-animal relations, the human need and ability to kill animals and the general acceptance or tolerance of the violence of killing is fundamental to the creation of the social order between these sets of creatures; such killing constructs, defines, and shapes this order.”
Garry Marvin

So, that’s a bit of a taste of what I’m hoping to look at in the next few posts and hopefully it gives you some ideas and concepts to mull over.  I will specifically be looking at who is grievable and how we mourn for (some) animals as well as any other rabbit holes I fall down!

(Also, an apology if this isn’t as coherent as normal, or has mistakes, I’m not on top form so it’s not been as carefully edited as normal.)

Links

A history of seeing animals, part two

Part one

Christianity had a huge impact on how some parts of the world saw animals.  The teaches claimed that God had given man the right to rule over animals, that they were made for us and each animal had a specific purpose.  The bestiaries of the middle ages encompass this way of thinking.  Animals were used to teach religious principles and morality through illustrated lessons.

In medieval times, we have people living alongside their animals, often farmers sharing their home with their stock.  This meant they knew each animal individually and valued them because of their contribution.  This type of relationship had been the case for thousands of years before but would soon be changed.

When the black plague hit Europe, animals were looked at with suspicion.  Scapegoats were needed to quell the panic and try and set the world back in order.  In particular, wild and potentially diseased animals were seen as dangerous and were often killed as a way of cleansing the community.  It was around this time that we saw animals being put on trial for crimes, in a serious way, just as humans were.

Renaissance thinking brought a more scientific way of looking at the world and with it, nature became something to be investigated, to be put under a microscope.  Again this was looking at animals as something that were here for us, as instruments, a world view that kept humans in the centre of the universe.

In the 1600s, Descartes presented animals as equipment, as mechanical objects that don’t feel pain and this was another way of rationalising poor treatment.

Moving forward, we find the Enlightenment playing host to conversations and debates about animals as philosophical and ethical subjects.  This was fuelled by urbanisation and commodification of animals, the increase of print media and the popularity of vivisection in science.  Around the same time, farmers began moving animals out of their home, putting distance between man and beast which would of course have an impact on how animals were viewed.  The urbanisation and industrialisation of England would take the urban rural divide and amp it up.  The gulf between human and animals would grow and animals would increasingly be seen as commodities and would thus be treated badly.

By the 18th century, controlled breeding was happening which would change the very species themselves, more so than domestication had, into the most efficient object for our use.  Animals were being turned into the food machines that Descartes saw them as.  Around this time, it was also being argued that domestication was good for animals – they were protected from predators, given a reliable and regular source of food and butchering them was an act of kindness that prevented suffering.

“Farm animals became statistics rather than individuals, which took into account their marketability, the level of meat production, and the density of customer populations.  By the end of the eighteenth century, farm animals were mathematized.”
– Brian Fagan

Up until this point in time, animals determined how humans lived, now humans were determining how animals lived, and even how they grew.  The depersonalisation of animals was increasing at a pace as rapid as industrialisation.

Darwin’s work on evolution, whilst it took a long time to take hold, also changed how we looked at animals.  For some people, it confirmed that (western) humans are the highest evolutionary point, for others it connected us to (some) animals.

During the 1700s and 1800s, pet keeping was becoming more common.  But class mattered.  At first pet keeping was for the upper classes whilst the animals of lower classes were looked down upon.  By the 19th century, pets were much more widespread and this brought with it another change in how we see animals.  It started to be accepted that animals, at least pets, had personalities and were individuals that should be treated well.  Juxtaposed against this increase in pet keeping was an increase in big game hunting which would symbolise dominating nature, conquering the wild and imperialism.

The reputation of Britain also changed over the last few hundred years.  In the 1700s we were perceived as being cruel to animals, as having an indifference towards the suffering of animals and generally thought to be harsh towards them.  By the end of the 1800s, treating animals well had become part of what it meant to be British.  For a while, during the wars, animal kindness took a bit of a backseat but would be revived in the 1960s and 70s.

Today we seem to care about animals as individuals, as status symbols – such as #animalselfie – and sometimes from a conservation perspective.  However, we also still very much see a divide between humans and other animals, with humans being the superior side of this.  This is having, and will continue to have, devastating impacts on the world we live in.  Unless we change how we see non-human animals and nature, sustainable change will not be made.

Resources

A history of seeing animals, part one

“The kinship between humans and animals has never been static, having been at the mercy of changing social norms and fleeting trends… human economic, cultural, and demographic factors play a major role in how we perceive of, and treat, animals.  So do age, education, ethnicity, occupation, religion, and sex.”
– Brian Fagan

As we saw when we looked at bestiality, how we view animals and think of them is time and culturally specific.  As we are at time when it seems clear we need to rethink our relationship with nature, a quick glance back seemed useful.

Our ancestors developed an awareness and understanding of the animals around them, predators and prey.  At least seventy thousand years ago, human cognitive abilities improved and so did hunting skills and technology.  This would be a move that changed how humans interacted with their world.

Hunters would treat prey as a living being, often seeing them as sacrificing themselves for humans, and thus we treated them with respect.  In order to successfully hunt, and hence survive, they had to know their prey.  They had to watch them and understand them, they had to know when not to approach and how to make their prey less fearful.  This creates an intimate relationship between predator and prey and we can see this in the cave art and in the stories that we told each other about the world.  Importantly, humans and animals were equal and there was no hard line between humans and other animals.  In this culture, individual wealth wasn’t a concept in the way it would become with domestication.

“Domestication changed the world, it’s landscapes, animals – and humanity.  About ten thousand years ago – the precise date will never be known – numerous deliberate acts, such as the corralling of young ungulates, turned animal-human relationships on end… Humans were now the masters, so the role of animals changed.  They became objects of individual ownership, tangible symbols of wealth, and powerful social instruments.”
– Brain Fagan

Domestication marks a shift in attention from dead animals to live ones, from communal resources to personal ones.  Its thought that dogs started to be domestication around 15,000 BCE and by about 10,000 BCE, other species followed.  In particular goats, sheep, pigs, cattle, donkeys, horses and camels.

“There were advantages on both sides in these history-changing partnerships.  What were now farm animals, bred in captivity, acquired better grazing and foraging carefully orchestrated by deliberate herding, and security from predators.  Humans acquired predictable meat supplies, milk, and a whole range of valuable by-products – everything from hides and fur to horn and sinew.”
– Brian Fagan

Dogs helped our ancestors to hunt, they offered guard functions, they may even have pulled loads and would become companions in their own right, as we are familiar with today.

Through domestication of sheep and goats, humans were able to settle in an area.  Livestock would provide meat, milk, skins and wool and would be a predictable and more reliable resource.  It also allowed humans to claim a piece of land as theirs, and this land would pass from generation to generation.  This was the time at which animals became more than just resources, they became a symbol and they linked generations.  The size of your herd was a sign of your wealth and thus your status.  Where previously animals were not owned, they were prey for hunters, now animals were property and with this came changes to human existence.  Rules around inheritance arose and this meant marriage ties became more important.

Around 6000 years ago, humans hitched a plough to an ox and established the first source of animal power for food production.  This meant it was possible to create surplus food which meant less time needed to be spent working and created leisure time and a social division of labour.

Then, around 4000 BCE, cities were established and grew which in turn meant a increased demand for goats and sheep.  This would lead to increased flock sizes which would have its own impact on how we saw and related to livestock.  In more rural areas, farmers and herders knew their animals by name, maintaining a close relationship but in more urban areas, the relationship between human and beast was changing.  The demand for meat and animal products increased and in response, so did the size of herds.  This led to depersonalisation, and seeing livestock as commodities rather than living creatures.

By 2500 BCE, pack animals were on the scene.  This involved the donkey, the horse and later the camel and would allow humans to travel over long distances, carry commodities for trade, supported armies and so on.  Areas became linked, empires grew and the world became more interconnected.

“Donkeys have worked alongside people for more than eight thousand years – but “alongside” actually means in the background, for they have always been inconspicuous players in history.  Plodding asses carried food and water, exotic luxuries, and essential commodities.”
– Brian Fagan

Despite the huge role they have played in our history, we still tend to see donkeys as stubborn beasts of burden.  As pack animals were often used as a caravan, they were treated as a group rather than individuals, and relationships are between individuals, thus it was easier to mistreat or overuse the donkeys.  This highlights a difference in how we have seen donkeys and horses – humans ride horses but tend to use donkeys to carry things, the former is a one to one relationship, the latter isn’t.  Thus there tended to be a bond between man and horse that wasn’t there when it came to donkeys.

Horses were likely domesticated somewhere around 4000 BCE and from there on, we established an, often, intimate relationship with them.  This was a relationship which was beyond function, the horse and rider were bonded, they were a team.  Horses, like cattle before them, became a status symbol.  They were an animal which brought prestige to the owner or rider.  They were noble creatures and as such were named and cherished.

“The Greeks made a clear distinction between the noble horse and the “servile” donkey, which corresponded in broad terms with that between people who were free and slaves.”
– Brian Fagan

Aristotle felt that nature had made animals as food and labour for humans and that they were subservient to us.  This fits with how we used animals and also made it ok for us to use them that way.  Animals were utilised for human benefit and human development.  Whilst some people will have had a personal relationship with some animals, on the whole, they were considered food and labour.  For the Romans, animals were beasts of utility as well as a source of entertainment.  Animals were pit against each other, against humans and were slaughtered as a form of amusement.

For more about how we view non-human animals, come back tomorrow!

Resources

Animals in war

“It would not be an overstatement to say that the outcomes of many of histories wars might have been very different if it were not for the role that animals such as horses and dogs played in them”
– Margo De Mello, Animals and Society

And it’s not just horses and dogs:

“Armies past and present have made use of pigs and other animals such as dogs, horses and even rats to help them win battles and conquer lands.”
– Pia Spry-Marques

Legend has it that Alexander the Great used squealing pigs to panic the war elephants of his enemies.  This was a tactic also used by Romans to repel the Greeks.  On another occasion, a squealing pig was hung from the walls of a besieged town to frighten the elephants of the enemy camped outside.  In the 1st century AD, pigs doused in pitch were set alight and driven towards the enemy’s war elephants.  War elephants were clearly intimidating but they are prone to panicking – hence the use of squealing pigs to scare them.  They would stampede in their attempts to escape and so each rider had a spike and a hammer to kill the elephant in the case that it charged towards their own lines.

Of course, dogs were also used. Ancient Greeks and Romans used them to guard their communities and military outposts.  They have also been used as pack animals, messengers, to attack, as companionship for soldiers and to pull injured soldiers to safety.  When Europeans settled in North American, dogs were even trained to attack, and even kill, the natives.

In 16th century manuscripts, we find ‘rocket cats’ being used to invade castles; cats living in the castle would be captured, bomb attached and then there was the assumption the cat would return to the castle.  I can only assume the people suggesting this plan hadn’t spent much time with a cat… I cannot image them being cooperative…

Other “animal weapons” included foxes with fire tied to their tails, boars with gun powder on their back and ‘fire birds’ – birds who had a bag of embers attached to them.  The idea being that they would then roost on enemy buildings and cause a fire.

We have a lot more information about animals used in World War One and Two, and species utilised included pigeons, horses, dogs and cats.  World War Two was the last conflict to use great numbers of horses and millions of them were killed along with tens of thousands of dogs and other animals including bats…

There was a US plan to attach timed bombs to the bats and release them en masse.  The idea being that they’d settle on buildings and then explode.  Whilst it never actually happened, it was tested and in the tests the bats roosted on a fuel tank… there were no fire extinguishers on the site.  $24 million in today’s money was spent on testing this…

More successfully, pigeons were used to convey messages and were trained to guide missiles.  It was better than existing technology but I’m not sure if pigeon missiles were ever actually implemented.  One messenger pigeon called Gustav conveyed the news of the D Day landing and by the time World War Two ended, 32 pigeons had received medals.

The Dickin medal was created in world war two to recognise animals in war.  It was established by Marie Dickin who also founded PDSA and the medal helped to publicise the charity as well as acknowledge the role of animals. Additionally, it provided a good news story during the war.

Since 1943, the medal was been awarded 71 times; 34 dogs, 32 pigeons, 4 horses and one cat called Simon who “Served on HMS Amethyst during the Yangtse Incident, disposing of many rats though wounded by shell blast. Throughout the incident his behaviour was of the highest order, although the blast was capable of making a hole over a foot in diameter in a steel plate.”

Alongside this good news story, the UK’s MoD lab Porton Down (opened in 1916) was investigating and experimenting on animals:

“A large number involve exploding live pigs to assess whether humans would be able to survive this sort of extreme battlefield injury and, if they did, to figure out what would be the best blood-clotting solutions for this kind of trauma.  As part of the centre’s experimental programme, pigs are also shot repeatedly and later operated on by arm doctors, or are made to inhale mustard gas to assess how this toxic gas affects human concentration levels and orientation.”
– Pia Spry-Marques

Animal experimentation wasn’t confined to the UK.  In 1946, at Bikini Atoll, 147 pigs, 3030 rats, 109 mice, 57 guinea pigs and 176 were placed in ships near to where the first atomic bomb was dropped to see how and to what extent the radiation would affect them.  Eleven years later, in the US’ Operation Plumbbob, experiments assessed the impact of radiation on pigs.

Other animals used in the world wars included the glow worm which was trapped in a jar and then used to help soldiers read maps and letters in the dark trenches.  The humble slug was used by the US army in their trenches as an early warning system to alert soldiers to the presence of mustard gas.  Slugs are more sensitive to it than humans and thus would alert the soldiers and indicate it was necessary to put on a gas mask.

In the Vietnam War, Agent Orange was used to destroy plant life (allegedly aimed at food supplies) but had the result of destroying major habitats.  The homes of tigers, elephants, gibbons, leopards and other animals were destroyed. Additionally, unexploded landmines would kill at least 40,000 animals after the war.

During the cold war, a fence 815 km long was erected between Germany and the Czech republic and although the border is now open, red deer who live in the area still don’t cross the line.  Fences such as this one have known impacts on nature.  They divide populations, split males from females, interrupt migration routes and block access to food and water sources.

Since 1960, the US Navy has used dolphins and sea lions to protect ports and equipment from attack, to retrieve objects, to spy and to locate sea mines.  They are used because they can dive deep without getting the bends, they are fast, reliable, adaptable and most importantly trainable.

Of course it’s not just marine animals that have been used to detect mines, many land animals have been used as well.  For example, the Nazis used pigs, cows and camels to check for minefields as they moved across Egypt and we have bomb sniffing dogs and rats.  In particular, the Giant African Pouched Rat has been trained by US military to detect buried landmines – they can sniff them out and are too light to set them off.

During the Iran-Iraq war, numbers of wild goats, wolves, otters, pelicans, striped hyenas and other animals were dramatically reduced, sometimes even wiped out.  In the Afghan war more than half the total livestock population was lost and in the Gulf war, more than 80% of the livestock in Kuwait died.  A deliberate oil leak by Iraqi troops also killed many aquatic animals and birds.

Looking very briefly at the impact of war on animals, we can see that zoo animals are inevitably affected during war.  Sometimes that has meant food shortages other times it has resulted in individuals being killed as a preventative attempt so that dangerous animals weren’t running around if they got out during bombing.

During Mozambique’s civil war – 1977 to 1992 – elephants were butchered for ivory and meat and populations dropped significantly.  Thankfully they are now bouncing back.  Lions, buffalo, hippos, wildebeest are now more numerous than in 1994.  During the war, Gorongosa National Park was a refuge for rebel forces and when government troops came to challenge them, there was carnage and fighting which inevitably had consequences for the wildlife in the area.

And in a very different vein, dogs are well known for their use in supporting soldiers with PTSD, so I leave you with this video, in order to end on a brighter note…

Links

Devilish creatures

The (Christian) devil has had many faces, some more human than others, and we can look at these depictions to learn about what the people who made them were afraid of.  Depictions of the devil and demons inevitably reflect the prejudices of the day and we can see that in descriptions of demons as peasant like, with red hair, with appearance of a Scotsman and so on.

We have had a virtually blank slate when it comes to the appearance of the devil as the bible doesn’t really give any detail, thus making it easy to project fears onto.

“Many kinds of animals have come to symbolize the evil beast, as a force associated with evil or whatever it is we dislike.”
– Lynda Birke

During the middle ages, the devil was depicted as animal like with horns, a tail and sharp teeth – an image I’m sure we’re all familiar with today.  This became more human from the 16th century, thus more able to seduce and recruit witches to his cause.

Depicting the devil as an animal may have been a way of reinforcing both the chain of being and the animalistic nature of the devil.  Using animals such as male goats and rams could have been to emphasise him as a sexual being – hence wild and uncontrolled and seductive – as horns have long been used to represent fertility and sexuality.  Some people have suggested that the goat has been linked with the devil because of their weird, devilish, eyes but I think it’s hard to know which came first – a chicken and egg situation.  Admittedly goats have unusual eyes and this may have been enough for people to declare them devil touched.  We also have the idea of goats vs sheep – the sheep being the flock of saved souls and the goat being those who are damned.

Pre-Christian thinking and beliefs inevitably have a role to play in how the devil was imagined.  In ancient Babylonia there were wicked demons; winged female creatures that flew at night looking for men to seduce and children to attack.  Christianity routinely took existing gods and turned them into evil spirits and this may be how the devil acquired wings.  We can also see the devil as the ancestor of Pan – a half man, half goat Roman god who was associated with lust and hence could easily be seen as the epitome of temptation.  Pan was also the god of nature and casting him as the devil reinforced the divide between man and nature, and emphasised the importance of not worshipping nature.

The devil also appeared as a cat or dog.  Greeks and Romans associated dogs with Hecate, a goddess of witchcraft (and by association for Christians, of evil).  There has also been a long association of dogs with the underworld and thus it was natural for Christianity to link dogs and the devil.  Dogs also roamed freely and uncontrolled in the middle ages, a time when restless souls, or those who didn’t seem to belong anywhere, were seen with suspicion.

Another devilish form is the serpent, specifically, the serpent in the garden of Eden.  Again, this highlights the sexual, seductive and tempting nature of the devil as snakes have a long association with fertility and sex.

These different forms fed into the concerns around bestiality.  The animal could well be the devil in disguise and thus sex with it would lead to half monster creatures and the devil would have succeeded in creating chaos and disrupting the god given order of the world.

In addition to the devil himself being portrayed as an animal, we see this association between devil and beast in the form of witches familiars.  The species varied significantly and included cats, dogs, rats, toads, mice, snails, birds, ferrets, moles and even small insects such as flies and moths.  Whilst a witch may find their familiar appears out of nowhere, or is gifted by a fellow witch, one way of acquiring them was through the devil.  The devil would give it in exchange for a pledge of allegiance.

We also find witches on the continent riding to sabbats on demons disguised as animals, and were said to be able to shape shift themselves as well as transform others into animals.  All of this added to the threat that witches posed.

Something I’ve been pondering as I’ve been writing this is, what would the devil look like today?  I can’t help but think of certain politicians…

Links

Men, women and nature; a hierarchy

One of the ideas that came up when I was looking at the line between humans and animals was the idea that there is a hierarchy, with men at the top, followed by women, then nature.  So as a woman, I am ‘better’ than an animal, but I can’t begin to think I am as ‘good’ as a man.  Living in a patriarchal society as a well informed feminist, this wasn’t a new idea but it got me thinking.

Women have long been ‘lumped in’ with nature, with animals and this has affected how women have been treated.  It has also affected men.  With women being seen as other, and by default lesser, than man, men then must separate themselves from the devalued femininity.  They must act manly to preserve the distinction between male and female and to preserve their status.

There are a number of ways in which animals and women have lived parallel lives.  Animals have been portrayed as being limited by their biology, being driven by instinct alone, and so have women – we are depicted, for example, as being a slave to our hormones.  Science has historically had little respect for women, just like for animals.

And talking of science, studies of animals and their society have been, and still are, used to reinforce ideas around humans including our beliefs about gender and sexual orientation.  Animal studies incorporate and reinforce our beliefs about masculinity and femininity.

We can see this play out when we look at the theory of evolution.  We often see survival of the fittest portrayed as a competitive display of strength and power, individuals pitted against each other in a show down, a somewhat masculine image.  This is also despite the numerous examples of mutuality within nature.

Another concept around evolution is that of sexual selection.  This is almost exclusively talked about as being one sex (male) competing against others for the limited reproductive resources of the other (female) and thus:

“the language of evolutionary theory, then, has helped to construct images of gendered animals, the prototypes of gendered people.”
– Lynda Birke

Whilst we’re looking at evolution, we should also note that the iconic image of ape turning into man, suggests a “linear progression towards the apex” (Birke) and reinforces the idea of humans are at the top of a scale.  This, and other ways of talking about and illustrating evolution, conflates placement in time with judgement of worth.  Stopping and thinking about it, you realise how paradoxical it is – we are the new kids on the block and for some reason we think we should automatically be neighbourhood king.

Western thinking tends to see nature (and women) as something to be dominated, to be conquered and this has consequences for how we treat nature (and women).

“Western imperialism and global exploitation assumes that it can appropriate nature’s resources without significant consequence; those resources may be other peoples, or they may be directly affected by western destruction of their local environment.”
– Birke

In addition to colonising the world, we see this played out in the male conquest of the wilderness; hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and of course hunting.  Hunting feels like it may be the ultimate act of subduing nature and hence a badge of masculinity with the furs and taxidermy used as status symbols.  And if hunting is a way of showing how well you can dominate, to then eat the animals you’ve killed, is even better.  Eating is loaded with symbolism; ‘real men’ eat meat, vegetarianism is effeminate and so on.  Even our pets can have something to say about our gender; owning a rottweiler is a sign of masculinity whereas a poodle is a sign of femininity.

The language we use to describe or denigrate women – chick, pussy, bitch etc – all reinforce the idea of women as part of the ‘non human animal’ group, separated from men.  They reinforce the difference between men and women and are used to reinforce gender stereotypes which in turn reinforces the hierarchy.  And just as some men react by rejecting any suggestion of femininity, some women reject the suggestion of animality.

There are some reasons why women may want to separate themselves from animals, a major one being that all the time we are seen as animalistic, we can be treated as animals, which at this point in history opens us up to abuse and suffering.  In the late 19th century, women became concerned about the treatment of animals because they feared that the fate of animals could easily become the fate of women.  Being grouped with animals may feel, to some people, like they are being denied their humanity.  Thinking of women as animals is certainly it is a form of objectification which is inherent with all kinds of issues…

In separating women from animals, there is the possibility, the hope, of aligning ourselves next to men and thus claiming a place at the top of the hierarchy.  But is this the end goal we really want to head towards?

“Animals in western culture are ‘other’, objects of scientific enquiry.  We have defined ourselves in opposition to a generality of ‘animals’, irrespective of the qualities of individual species.  It seems paradoxical that at a time when much feminist theory is moving beyond simple dualism of gender (outing great emphasis on differences between women, say) it should do so by implicitly building its analyses on another simple dichotomy – humans verses ‘other animals’.  A more consistent approach, indeed, might be to extend the emphases on plurality and difference, and to begin to deconstruct the (punitive) boundary between us and other species.”
– Birke

Bestiality: Resources

Below are the main resources I’ve used whilst considering bestiality.  There are some additional links within the posts themselves.

Videos:

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