Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Cats and dogs - a cautionary tale

Once upon a time, a bunch of cats and dogs (but mostly cats) were sitting around talking. As it often does, the conversation turned to the inequity of the world and the cruelty of dogs, as so often seen in their habit of chasing cats.

"I believe," said one cat, "that I have an answer. Dogs must simply learn to listen to us and act as cats do. We know precisely why dogs chase cats; they do it in order to terrify us into giving them the comfortable spot in front of the fireplace."

A dog cocked its head quizzically. "I don't think that's entirely true. Dogs don't -"

"SHUT UP!!!" came the screech of a dozen cats. "This is a cat-friendly space, and we simply will not allow you to take over and dominate as you do on the streets and parks all over the world!" And with this, they leapt on the dog, driving it away bleeding with many a scratch to the nose.

"As I was saying," said the cat, "dogs are fundamentally unsound. Why, I have seen a dog purring and purring, and then it bit a human who reached out to pet it! Is this not psychotic behaviour? Purring is a sign of happiness!"

"Well," ventured another dog, "what you call purring we call growling and -"

"QUIET!" hissed the cat. "I am a very smart cat, and extremely wise, as all the other cats around here will tell you. I have thought long and hard, and I know better than *you* what dog behaviour means! You simply have nothing to say which is relevant whatsoever!". And with that, the cat advanced on the dog with back arched and fur bristling, until the dog decided discretion was the better part of valour, and fled.

Seeing this, some of the other dogs around the circle also took the opportunity to quietly leave.

"AS I was saying," continued the cat, "dogs are also harmed by the dogiarchy, and rendered unable to understand their own emotions. How many times have we cats seen dogs waving their tails in anger, only to fawn on a human when it offers some sign of affection? This is so very very sad - if only dogs could express their anger as shown by the waving tail, as we cats do!"

"Hey, that doesn't seem right at all," barked one dog (who was obviously a slow learner). "Wagging a tail -"

At this point, the cats didn't even bother yelling the dog down. They simply swarmed over it, ripped its tongue to shreds, and banished it forever from the circle.

By now most of the dogs had left. Some had gone to sniff trees, some had gone to find a more convivial circle of cats and dogs, and some had even gone off to chase cats in disgust. The few left were desperately trying to appear as feline as possible.

"So we are agreed then - the sorry state of interspecies relations is due entirely to dogs, and the dogs will simply have to change!"

All the cats meowed in agreement. The few remaining dogs pitifully meowed too, although they were criticised by their cat neighbours if they didn't hit the right pitch.

"And one thing which is worst of all," cried the cat, "the dogs simply won't listen to us! Is this not a sure sign that they are wallowing in their unearned privilege?"

Again, a general hiss of agreement. One of the remaining dogs eyed another, wondering - but decided not to say anything.


Anonymous said...

The bits about having your tongue torn out and nose scratched up and whatnot reminded me a bit of Hugo Schwyzer's "words are not fists" essay.

Sheesh. Take your ball and run home, leaving the poor dears bereft of your manful wisdom, much?

Phoenician in a Time of Romans said...

You are, of course, completely correct. I bow to your superior wisdom.

Thank you for taking the time and effort to correct me in my foolishness.

Goddess Cassandra said...

Yeah, I'm going to go with grendelkhan here; dogs and cats are different animals, men and women are not. (Nice comparison though, nothing like bringing out the catty women and men-are-dogs stereotypes). Phoenician, I really like your contribution to discussions on Pandagon and such most of the time, but seriously, this is not what happens on blogs.

Phoenician in a Time of Romans said...

(Nice comparison though, nothing like bringing out the catty women and men-are-dogs stereotypes)

I wanted to invoke the very real problem of male violence against women in society as the original and biggest element poisoning gender relations. Coding cats as female and dogs as male was done for this reason, not in order to denigrate either gender.

but seriously, this is not what happens on blogs.


Now, I'm an argumentative asshole with an ego the size of the Hindenberg, but I'm now reluctant to make any substantial contribution on Shakesville. Coincident with this, I note an influx of real trolls, a rise in the Little Green Echo Chamber style of commentry, and a decline in any constructive debate on the gender-politics threads.

I don't think these things are unconnected, and they're strangling a place that used to be vibrant.

Goddess Cassandra said...

I have to say, that I don't generally read or comment on Shakesville (my handle is Antigone, in case your curious). Where I have seen you is at Pandagon, where I thought you made strong points (and how I came over here.)

About the cats and dogs thing: it's a fairly common stereotype; surely you can't be unaware of it? I'm willing to believe, however, that it was not an intentional parallel. But still, you are suggesting that cats and dogs are different creatures; we are not.

I am aware of the "echo chamber" critism of the blogsphere, but I must say, sometimes I am happy for it. The feminist blogsphere is pretty much the only place I feel comfortable reading the comments: it is refreshingly free of gendered slurs and insults. It is also the only place on the internet where I WILL BE LISTENED TO. I have a female handle (hell, I am in fact, a female) and any where else on the web (including such "progressive" places as DailyKos) I am ignored or maligned.

I'm sorry if you feel that you are being maligned, but even that thread doesn't seem like you are being ignored. It seems like you are ignoring what other women have said. And words are NOT fists; no one banned you , no one harmed you: the worst that happened is that people critisized you.

I suggest that maybe your ego can stand being wrong a time or two.