Campus Reform | Gender studies prof blames 'capitalism,' 'white supremacy,' and 'patriarchy' for deaths of shelter animals

Gender studies prof blames 'capitalism,' 'white supremacy,' and 'patriarchy' for deaths of shelter animals

A gender studies professor wrote a book about race and gender applied to shelter pets.

She wrote that shelter animals’ deaths can be attributed to “capitalism, anthroparchy, white supremacy, and patriarchy.”

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A gender studies professor wrote a 312-page book about race and gender applied to shelter pets.

Katja Guenther — who teaches at the University of California-Riverside — argued that inequalities in the treatment of shelter animals are “powerfully linked to human ideas about race, class, gender, ability, and species” in her book The Lives and Deaths of Shelter Animals.

“Monster is an adult pit bull, muscular and grey, who is impounded in a large animal shelter in Los Angeles,” reads the book’s description. “Like many other dogs at the shelter, Monster is associated with marginalized humans and assumed to embody certain behaviors because of his breed. And like approximately one million shelter animals each year, Monster will be killed.”

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In the first chapter of her book, Guenther blames Monster’s death on “anthroparchy” — the notion that humans systemically dominate animals and the natural world. She also claims that Monster died because he “lived in a community of lower-income people of color in which human residents face challenges that threaten their ability to maintain continuous, geographically proximal relationships with anyone, human or animal.”

More broadly, Guenther said that the shelter animals’ deaths were the “outcome of everyday and sustained collisions of capitalism, anthroparchy, white supremacy, and patriarchy.”

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“Analyzing PAW uncovers a swirl of discourses and practices around class, race, and gender. But these discourses and practices play out in myriad and often competing ways,” she wrote. “Sometimes they work to undermine anthroparchal thinking, but they rarely engage with how the work of the shelter and of the volunteers and rescuers who try to get companion animals into homes they consider suitable reinforces capitalist logics of companion animals as commodities, white supremacist beliefs in the inferiority of racial-ethnic minorities as animal guardians and in the animality of Black bodies, patriarchal ideas that caring for companion animals is women’s labor, and anthroparchal commitments to maintaining human domination over animals.”

On her website, Guenther explains that she studied thousands of animals in various animal shelters. By “decoding the language and behaviors of shelter staff and volunteers,” Guenther explored “internal hierarchies, breed discrimination, and importantly, instances of resistance and agency.”

She added that she is working on a “feminist analysis” of how wild animals and companion animals interact.

Campus Reform reached out to Guenther for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft