In reaction to news that Washington state may extend domestic violence restraining order protection to pets, some Jezebel commenters expressed outrage that people allegedly care more about animals than women and children.
Ignore, for a moment, the fact that this potential law is not even an effort to help animals; it’s an effort to help people. Abuse victims often stay in abusive situations in order to protect and remain close to their animals. Including pets in restraining orders removes one roadblock women face when attempting to flee their abusers.
The notion that working on behalf of group A is tantamount to privileging group A over all other groups and evidence that one’s priorities are out of whack is not only illogical, it’s insulting. Has anyone ever demanded that you stop caring about some “little issue” in order to focus on the so-called big issues?
For example, “Who cares about sexist commercials?! There are more important things to work on, like genocide in Darfur!”
This is a silencing tactic, and it’s typically used by people who care about neither sexist advertising nor Darfur. They are simply uncomfortable with people who agitate for social change. It’s also used by people who mistakenly believe that compassion is a limited resource that would be best spent on their issue of choice.
I care about animals. I care about humans. As you can see, I’m a dedicated feminist. My concern for animals does not deplete my compassion reserves. I do not believe that humanity must solve the world’s endless problems that *do* meet the arbitrary criteria for Worthy Cause™ before I devote my time, energy and money to the issues near and dear to my heart. In many cases, I can do both.
Many of us who fight on behalf of animals are also fighting on behalf of women, and children, and any number of other oppressed and marginalized groups. The only people who deserve comdemnation are those who live apathetically and fight only on behalf of themselves.
*Related: Liss’ Feminism 101