This evening, I drove Pearl down to Selinsgrove to meet up with my mom and spend her Thanksgiving break with her grandma, learning all about consumerism.
I used to listen to Jagged Little Pill over and over and over. I did not remember many of the lyrics to “All I really want,” but the song took me back to being 15 and angry and the way I sympathized with the smart-assed moments of rhyme and allusion. I found out, too, that Lady Alanis is just making a throaty-alt-rock-girl noise when I always thought she was refraining, “A hiiiiiigher ground.” Anyway. I was kind of impressed by the cleverness of the lyrics. They’re tightly written and not boring. And sure, Estella is not an obscure literary figure, but whatever–at least it’s something.
AND THEN, on Fresh Air, one of my favorite programs, Dave Davies interviewed this British veterinarian. Of course, pronouns are fascinating in every case but especially in this one. I’m getting ahead of myself. The program was about end-of-life for pets. When it’s time to put them down, what owners should be reasonably expected to overlook/deal with, etc. But I thought it was really odd that regardless of the sex of the animal, the pronoun both Davies and the British vet used was “it.” So here’s my question: animal rights. Sure, on its own it’s a question, but accepting that animals do or should have rights, and that there are some defined, legally accepted ones. So my question is, why is the academically sanctioned way to refer to animals with the pronoun it?
What’s the deal? Euthanizing animals is totally cool (by which I mean socially and culturally accepted). We do it all the time, and for population reasons/lack-of-human-interest reasons (I think it’s kind of effed up). Also, there are people who have bumper stickers that say “animals are people in fur coats,” and “My boxer is smarter than your honor student.” So clearly, there are folks, even folks I know, who would be incensed by the notion that animals are all its.