Just Stop

[Content Note: Choice policing; disablism; infertility.]

This gross piece of clickbait in which the author, Elizabeth Broadbent, asserts that "Saying Your Dog Is Your 'Baby' Is an Insult to Moms Everywhere" is being widely shared, and normally I would be reluctant to even give it any attention, but there's one point I want to make, which I've not seen elsewhere.

There's been lots of pushback along the lines that it's shitty to tell infertile people that they can't call their pets their "babies," as well as lots of pushback from women (especially) who have both children and pets and refer to both of them as their "babies." Both of which are absolutely correct.

And I'll note, once again, that even though I don't refer to my pets as my "babies" (or "furkids," or whatever variation), there are plenty of people who want to impose a parenting frame on my relationship with my pets. There is an enormous amount of pressure, especially on childfree women, to identify their pets as their "babies," and, in my experience, that pressure comes disproportionately from people who are parents, suggesting the idea that "moms everywhere" are insulted by the conflation of kids and pets is hardly accurate. To the contrary, I find that lots of parents who want to force me into a parenting model of pet guardianship do so because they're insulted by my choice not to parent.

But the one thing I haven't seen a lot of pushback on is how this shitty argument completely ignores that dogs (and other pets) increasingly fill roles in humans' lives beyond just being a pet.

Dogs have always filled roles beyond pets for lots of people: They have helped us hunt and protected us from predators. They ensured agricultural success by keeping critters away from cultivated land. They flushed pests from the earth. They helped us herd. They helped us navigate. They kept us warm. They accompanied us to war. They have retrieved on land and in water. They were service dogs to people with disabilities long before we even had a term like "service dog."

Cats have long helped with vermin control, in ways that history has long ignored. On farms and in cities, where contagious outbreaks may have been even worse in some cases, were it not for cats.

They have been our companions, in every conceivable way, for longer than we imagined.

People who use service animals may be dependent on them in order to function on a daily basis, and may literally trust their very lives with their service animals. Not everyone who relies on a service animal thinks of that animal as their "baby," or even their pet, but I would hardly begrudge anyone who does their right to honor that relationship however feels best to them.

And then there are the parents whose young children rely on service animals. Or have family pets who have just, of their own accord, saved a child's life. If that parent considers that pet a member of the family, loved as much (if differently) as the child they saved, who the fuck has the right (or even the desire) to police that?

Pets and/or service animals fill all different kinds of roles in our lives. Of course there will be different ways that different people love them, different ways they view them.

That doesn't demean parenthood. It celebrates the vast capacity humans have for love, in all its beautiful iterations.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus