Shocking the dogren & other acts of "manliness."

February 1st, 2009 11:50 pm by Kelly Garbato

In their latest link roundup, Vegan Soapbox includes not one, but two recent examples of intersecting oppressions in the news.

First up, in the AP, “Ohio dad who shock-collared kids gets 16 years“:

An Ohio man has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for disciplining his children with a dog shock collar.

David Liskany of Jamestown had pleaded guilty to charges of felonious assault and attempted felonious assault.

In court Friday, Greene County Common Pleas Judge J. Timothy Campbell compared the punishments to torture.

The judge said Liskany punished the children in 2006 and 2007 by putting them in cold showers, holding them underwater and using the shock collar, which is commonly used to train dogs.

The judge said the case sounded “like something from Guantanamo Bay.”

The children are now 5, 12 and 14.

As Elaine noted, shock collars used on children constitute “felonious assault,” “Yet shock collars are OK for dogs!?!”

Honestly, this case should come as no surprise. When we (either collectively, as a society, or on an individual level) come to accept physical punishment as a legitimate training method for use on the family “pet” – an innocent, sentient being – should we be shocked (pun intended) when this form of training is extended to other, “lesser” members of the family? If it’s socially acceptable to shock a dog for doing what comes naturally – instead of employing gentler, more humane training methods – then how might we expect Dad to react when his young children act in a similarly “wild” or “disobedient” manner? We’ve already told Dad that violence is permissible, even preferable in some situations*; we’ve eliminated the taboo against inflicting unnecessary harm. If the cane is ok for “his dog,” why not “his children,” as well?

In the above paragraph, I use the term “lesser” deliberately, for – as far as the “traditional” nuclear family goes – Dad occupies his position at the apex, followed by Mom, the children and (finally) any non-human members of the household. Everyone is “lesser” from where Dad sits. Start abusing those lowest on the ladder, and it’s only a matter of time before the violence seeps upward.

In this second story, the intersections are much more obvious. From the NY Daily News, “Wall Streeter sues employer over vegetarian taunts“:

A vegetarian Wall Streeter has a real beef with his macho man ex-boss, who he says tormented him for being a “homo” who wouldn’t eat steak with the boys.

Ryan Pacifico is suing Calyon in the Americas, charging that his one-time boss at the French financial firm presided over a testosterone-fueled trading desk, where he was mocked for avoiding meat and wearing snug-fitting shorts during triathlons.

“A trading floor is certainly a manly man’s world,” Pacifico said. “I just never expected someone to think it’s gay to be a vegetarian or to constantly poke fun at me.” […]

“They associated being a vegetarian with being gay,” said Rick Ostrove, a lawyer for Pacifico. “It’s a ridiculous male stereotype that only real men eat meat.”

Yes, it is a ridiculous stereotype, and yet it persists. Look around you – really look – and you’ll notice it everywhere: in sitcoms, fast food commercials, ads for weight loss programs; in social outings, among friends and acquaintances, at the local steak house; as one part of many a “I’m not gay, I’m a REAL MAN!” protestations; from the mouths of presidential candidates, even.

“Real men” enjoy the taste of charred flesh; better still, “real men” enjoy hunting, killing and cooking animals themselves. Men are all about violence, death and the destruction of nature.

Women, in contrast, identify with nature; with our monthly cycles and fruitful wombs, we’re a part of nature. “Real women” like to cuddle, protect and mother small, fluffy animals. We hardly eat at all – gotta maintain those girlish stick figures! (an odd contradiction, since pregnant bodies are curvy and full, but wevs) – but when we do, we nibble on salad, fruit and grains.

Women give birth to new life, and men take life away. (Again I ask you, should the case of David Liskany come as any surprise in this context?)

Men who refuse to embrace their “natural” gender role, who refuse to participate in the violence and slaughter (no matter how indirect) challenge these assumptions about men and women. To adopt a vegetarian diet is to emasculate yourself in the eyes of other men. A veg*n man voluntarily aligns himself with women; he takes a step down on the patriarchal ladder, of his own accord. Standing there among the women, he’s not much better than the women. Surely, he must “take it” like a woman, too. He must be gay!

Interestingly, the NY Daily News article spends some time catering to this stereotype and the resulting homophobia, for example, by insisting that:

Pacifico is married, and served steak at his wedding last year.

Neither is really germane. Whether Pacifico is homo- or heterosexual isn’t the issue; his boss’s (alleged) sexual harassment is.

And what’s with the “oh btw, he totally served up a dead animal at his super-manly heterosexual wedding TO A WOMAN last year!!!1!!!1!” spiel? How is the “meat” wedding dish at all relevant, if only to bolster claims of Pacifico’s masculinity and heterosexuality?

Look, I know the NY Daily News isn’t exactly a paragon of journalistic integrity, but still – have they no sense of irony? Here they are, reporting on the absurdity of gender stereotypes, while reinforcing some of their own. Like, WTF.

* Just listen to users of shock collars justify the abuse; you’d think they’re doing their “pets” a favor.

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One Response to “Shocking the dogren & other acts of "manliness."”

  1. Alex Says:

    The intersection between “masculine values” and “domination” has been expounded upon by feminist animal rights theorists. Their points are illuminated by the above cited example of homophobia and meat consumption.

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