Misusing canine culture
By Charli Pitchblende, Contributor
I believe the pet industry may just be the cruelest manifestation of the hypermasculine violence of species-based oppression.
I believe the patriarchy has built itself into our society in crafty and atrocious ways. From the inclusion of “man” in the English word for the feminine person, to the oppressive nature of traditional gender roles, patriarchy expresses itself in its obsessive persecution of everyone in society including men.
Where the patriarchy has managed to do arguably the most damage is in its treatments of the “non-human entities” that people refer to as animals. Though there has been limited studies done by the experts in zoology, vegetarian eco-feminism alongside groups like PETA have begun to expose the cruelty committed against our non-human brethren.
On the other side, the arguments are well practiced and craftily constructed. By arguing that animals do not have language and questioning the veracity of their feelings, speciesists are able to absolve themselves of the horrors they commit against others. The patriarchal need for dominance and control asserts itself not only in the violence done through hunting and factory farming, but also through the savagery of “pet ownership.” In fact, I believe the pet industry may just be the cruelest manifestation of the hypermasculine violence of species-based oppression. But the cruelty of this species oppression must justify itself under the guise of natural order and export its image onto a group at the same time. Enter the hypermasculinity of dog ownership.
Dog ownership serves to justify the artificial species hierarchy through the adoption of the “Alpha-Beta” paradigm: the idea that even the man who coined the term now rejects after more research of wolves. By fabricating a lie about the complex symbiotic relationships that underlie the canine cultures, species discrimination validates itself by using this strawman idea to centre humans as the “alpha” species. Not only does this misrepresentation of canine cultures serve to further species-based oppression, it also strictly relegates canines (and other species) to a subordinate and inferior role. For instance, I think the phrase “man’s best friend” simultaneously excludes the feminine and belittles the non-human species. The “best friend” role includes chasing balls, being tied to posts outside to wait for their oppressor’s whim, and serving the patriarchal police state after experiencing extensive cross-species gaslighting e.g., police dogs, drug sniffing dogs, guard dogs, etc.
Worst of all, this horrific canine oppression is celebrated in wider patriarchal culture. Some of the most offensive displays of this canine misrepresentation include the ways some males attempt to assert dominance over each other by using “beta” as a slur. When canine “pet owners” first centre themselves as the “head of the pack” (i.e., the alpha) the use of beta is meant to show a diminished status or denote that their canine brethren are less than. When this idea is agreed upon in wider society, its same principles can be extended to oppress within the human species. And by continuing the practice of what I consider cross-species enslavement (colloquially known as pet ownership), most people are never forced to reckon with the truths of their actions. These continued acts of canine oppression combine the hypermasculinity that is the callsign of patriarchy with the longstanding horrors of speciesism in order to fortify the immoral crimes humanity commits against other species. The goodwill of canines is literally being used to justify the enslavement of all animals.
I think vegetarian eco-feminism must continue to lead the fight against speciesism and all its forms of oppression. Humans need to recognize that our destructive behaviours not only misrepresent, but often destroy animal cultures. Once we all recognize these problems, we can begin to live in a truly free world.