Daily Archives: June 27, 2006

A website that makes me feel ill.

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Stuff on My Cat. It’s apparently a blog in which people put objects on top of their cats or clothes on their cats and take pictures of them.

It’s hard to describe what’s wrong here.

Maybe it’s that I’ve had people put me into various poses when I couldn’t do anything about it, and thought it was hilarious.

Maybe it’s that I know a guy whose staff treat him like a living doll, and give him things like mohawks and dress him in strange clothes for fun, when he doesn’t ask for any of this.

Maybe it’s that I see the look on those cats’ faces, and it reminds me of the way my cat looks when someone picks her up without asking permission. And the fact that people like that always seem oblivious to the fact that she’s a living creature, not a toy.

A doll and a stuffed catI bet it’s the same sensation in my stomach that some people got in their own stomachs, when they thought that I didn’t really write Getting the Truth Out, and thought that I was merely having my picture exploited.

Cats can’t tell you, in English, to stop it, and a lot of people take the inability to say “Stop it” as an invitation to do whatever you want. A cat’s clear “No!” signals can be ignored more easily than a human saying “no,” or even “Stop that or I’ll report you for assault.” A lot of people think that once speech isn’t there, you’re an object, not a person.

That must be why that site makes me queasy. There’s something really not right, not about the website itself, but about the mentality that makes treating living creatures like dolls and stuffed animals, okay. That mentality seems to be pervasive, especially towards people of whatever species who can’t talk back in unambiguous English, or who have so little power that what they say in English can be “safely” ignored (“English” here is because I’m in America, it’d be other languages elsewhere obviously).

(Side note:  The solution to this is much more about shifting power imbalances, than teaching all animals and non-speaking people their “native language”.  There will always be animals and non-speaking people who can’t speak their “native languages”.  Making it totally socially unacceptable to treat people like dolls is feasible, training everyone to say things in the majority language is not.)