Thursday, October 30, 2014

5.30 Contemplate - Words Matter?

Bestest Friend and I are in the middle of a blog project. Each day of the month we will post a picture on a pre-determined theme and write a little something about it. The theme for the thirtieth day of each month is "Contemplate."
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Recently a Facebook friend wrote a post in the voice of her cat, wherein the cat referred to the human as "Mom." This particular Facebook friend has an actual human child and I was caught a little off guard by the comment.

You see, when I was in grad school, I was walking to the bus stop when I passed a professor from my department walking his dog.

"Awww...are you a good boy for your daddy?" I cooed at the dog because I coo at dogs. It is just what I do.

"I am not the dog's father," the professor professed.

Lesson learned.
I'm actually kind of on board with that.  I try hard not to call Zelda our "pet," but our "cat" or "animal companion" (the second with a smirk, of course). I have never claimed to be Zelda's "owner," but instead we are her "humans" or "friends."

Sometimes I think the fuss about political appropriate language is ridiculous, but Zelda is a member of our family (albeit not our daughter) and just like I am not "owned" by my husband, she is not "owned" by us. We adopted her into our family and we care for her, but we did not "buy" her. 

Anyway, I was contemplating this while making hummus last night and the truth is that I don't know if the words DO matter. Legally, Zelda is our property - we are responsible for her humane treatment and could be found legally culpable if she was inappropriately cared for. It's not clear to me whether or not ZELDA herself cares if we refer to her as our "pet" or our "friend" or "roommate." And it's not even clear to me if anyone else ever thinks about these things and makes giant leaps about me and my relationship with Zellybeans based on the language I use to describe her. 

But it's important TO ME. Just like it matters to me that I always say "Washington's NFL team" and "American Indian" and "members of Congress" and other phrases that show I am trying to be inclusive and aware and non-offensive. I don't always succeed, of course, but I'm doing my best.
Zelda don't care. She just wants to go back inside where it's warm, there are no dogs, and she doesn't have to wear a harness.

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To see what Bestest Friend wrote about the theme of the day, check out her blog, Too Legit to Quit.

1 comment:

  1. I'm the animals' mom, and I think that's because you used to call me Cookieparker's mom, and it's stuck ever since. It's not very cool to start something and then change your opinion about it ;)

    ReplyDelete

 
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