Language and our choice of words is something I’ve blogged about before, and I’ve slowly been trying to eradicate certain phrases from my vocabulary like filthy pig or stupid cow…phrases that I’ve used to complain about someone while also affixing those unflattering attributes to animals (don’t worry: “dumb jag” and “stupid wanker“ are still very much in my daily lexicon).
While a cow or pig doesn’t know I’m insulting them, that’s not the point. By using these phrases, I perpetuate a language – and hence a stereotype – that certain animals are stupid, silly, dirty, etc., and it’s one of those subtleties that has seeped into our culture, shaping our view of animals probably more than we realize. Some may view this as political correctness gone too far but I see it as reclaiming our language to include all. Take gender roles for example: the word firefighter includes all genders whereas the word firemen only includes males. The word stewardess only implies women in the role but now flight attendant is much more inclusive to all who are in that profession. It may seem small and insignificant or eye-rollingly petty to some, but change has to begin somewhere and language seems as good a place to start as any; I see no reason why animals cannot be included in the conversation around damaging and inaccurate assumptions and using different language to represent them properly.