The Assumption of Estrogen

Evil Feministy Type and Dog

Evil Feministy Type and Dog

“She worshiped my wife and slept beside the bed when I was gone, and would I am certain have died in defense of the household with the same driven ferocity she showed in combat with wild things” (118).  When I read this line in “Blue and Some Other Dogs” I had to stop reading and immediately look at the author’s name.  ‘Holy shit…”, I thought, ‘John Graves…thats not a woman!’  It was then that a whole vista of hitherto unobserved assumptions on my part opened up beneath me.  I realized that my presumption was, and perhaps still is, that sappy animal memoir’s like this, as well as the entire idea of “animal rights” and all the crazed, uncomfortable, over the top hysterics that go into it are pandered by women, and specifically “liberated” women, or what passes for it these days.  That one quote opened up this well of unpursued opinions and connections on my part that I barely knew I had.  I realized that the lens I had been reading this piece through were colored by latent bitterness about my own demasculinized abusively feminist upbringing, as well as my relatively negative experience with the sorts of idiot activists that protest outside of Kentucky Fried Chickens, write ineffectual slander letters that they convince all their cronies to sign, or throw buckets of fake blood on consumers exiting venues that sell fur.

In short, when I read this, I heard and saw the form of a woman, talking about her liberated ranch life, and her beloved dogs who “occasionally…bit people, always men…” (117).  It was a little unnerving to realize this was about a man and his family, living on a ranch together outside Ft. Worth.  Of course, I suppose this course will continue to make me face many of my presumptions.  And I acknowledge, full well, that there is no rational reason for my mental cementing together of some sort of insane feminist archetype and the type of neo-hippie milk sop that writes bleeding heart nonsense the the recently popular “Marley and Me” (turned into a film I have yet to see), or any other wild free association exercises my subconscious has conducted prior to my consent.  I can however, hold those assumptions under close scrutiny when they appear and test them for validity.

Grinning Like Blue!

Grinning Like Blue!

I suppose the presumption that the plight of small cuddly animals, and their ethical treatment, is of more concern to females is not unsupported by the class makeup.  There are a significantly higher number of females than males, and of the few males, a majority of them are gay (a fact that a little facebook stalking revealed), myself included!  However, as a friend of mine pointed out, the majority of famous animal memoirs, like “Where the Red Fern Grows” are typical ‘boy and his dog’ affairs, written by men.  Even the authors Graves references are men.  “In those years I consumed with enthusiasm Jack London’s dog books and other less sinewy stuff like the works of Albert Payson Terhune…” (122).  And also, the author makes it clear that his position is not one of animal rights, or all that goes with the PETA crowd by saying, “I am not of the school that believes hunting per se makes worse brutes of men than they already are, or ever did or ever will” (119).  And later, “With these we did have some rousing fine midnight fights, though I’d better not further sully my humanitarian aura, if any remains, by going into detail” (132).  I was surprised, in fact, by his constant awareness of the type of audience that might be reading his rememberances, and his careful attempts to dissociate himself from those points of view without seeming antagonistic to them.

At it’s heart, this piece seems to be a cathartic work for the author, who is marveling at the absurd and seemingly illogical relationship he has had with these beasts who have become all too human for him.  And this work seems to continue a long trend of humanity looking to animals for wisdom, guidance, and companionship.  A much different picture than propoganda like “Earthlings” would have you believe, where “speciesism” is the natural human condition, and “…it is the human earthling who tends to dominate the earth, often times treating other fellow earthlings and living beings as mere objects” (Earthlings script, 162).  I don’t know that I can say more than that.  Only to highlight for now what seems to be a calculated omission from an otherwise thoroughly detailed piece of work.  No position yet, only a vague feeling that something is amiss with the whole affair.

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~ by dadaniel on January 22, 2009.

One Response to “The Assumption of Estrogen”

  1. I think you were influenced by The Drover’s Wife, sadly. We just came from a semester where, story after story, a bitter woman was left alone on a farm with nothing but her children and dog. It was like reading about Hazel and Alligator all over again. I think you were still in that mindset.

    On the other hand, I don’t know how you can call it a “sappy animal memoir.” There is absolutely nothing sappy about it. He regrets any close relationship he had with Blue (and ONLY Blue), by calling it “foolishness.” He was unable to create any “sappy” or loving relationship with any of his animals, and he was ashamed when he finally did. In my opinion, a very male trait.

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