on July 7, 2002
Joan Dunayer compellingly argues that the cruel treatment of nonhuman animals (in vivisection, entertainment, sport, rearing/slaughter for food consumption, etc.) is often masked by the euphemisms we employ. We are all familiar with our tendency to call the flesh of dead cow "beef," but Dunayer digs deeper and calls for an end to other common practices that undermine the individuality and unique personality of each and every nonhuman animal that exists. "Wildlife management" groups facilitate hunting. "Animal welfare committees" often oversee research in which countless nonhumans are blinded, subjected to burns, and killed. Zoos market themselves as "wildlife conservationists," imprisoning sentient beings in cages and tanks, depriving them of natural stimuli, and driving them to repetitive and self-destructive behaviors.
Dunayer dispels the myth that language separates humans from nonhumans. Two of her many examples include Alex the African gray parrot who can count, identify objects, and convey fear and sorrow (all using human English), and Washoe the chimpanzee who learned American Sign Language then spontaneously taught it to her son.
The author draws analogies between the current treatment of nonhumans and past abuses of human slaves and women. (At one time both human slaves and women were not considered "persons," much like nonhumans today.) Words like emancipation and abolitionist are resurrected and applied to a cause just as worthy of our concern and immediate action.
The book incorporates a handy thesaurus of words that can be used as alternatives to speciesist terms (e.g. use "flesh" or "muscle" instead of "meat," use "captor" or "keeper" instead of "caretaker") as well as style guidelines for countering speciesism (e.g. use the term animals to include all creatures, human and nonhuman, with a nervous system; avoid expressions that elevate humans above other animals, such as human kindness, the rational species, the sanctity of human life).
This book is a very important building block in making the world a better place for everyone.
on February 28, 2002
We use words not only to inform -- but to deceive and retain our biases. This important book shows how we use words to cover-up and desensitize ourselves to our abuse and cruelty toward other species. It shows how our use language to support our attitudes toward non-human animals as being things or "tools." Dunayer also compares our speciesist language with our expressions of gender bias -- we use the term "mankind" for humankind and "lower" animals for all but humans.
Even people who are sensitive to our more obvious speciesist epithets (like the use of "animal" or "subhuman" to refer to bad actions and "pig" to refer to human sloppiness) and our use of impersonal pronouns when referring to non-humans -- even such sensitized people might still find themselves not exactly "off the hook" (also speciesist).
The book includes a useful thesaurus of speciesist terms and substitute, preferred expressions, as well as a list of style guidelines.
Although this is not a book that one can read in one sitting, it is an important work for both people who care about our treatment and "use" of animals as well as those who care about how we use language.
on September 25, 2001
Animal Equality masterfully delves into the deep-seated bias the English language contains concerning nonhuman animals. Dunayer crosses many different areas of animal exploitation to show how our language is manipulated to erase the individuality of individuals, remove the space from which empathy can naturally develop, and to justify immoral and cruel actions. This book is a great resource for open minded people and linguists who wish to delve deeper into how the language we use shapes our own reality. Dedicated to ï¿½all nonhuman animalsï¿½, Animal Equality is one big step towards a kinder and more compassionate future; a future void of Speciesism. Learn how the use of simple words like, animal, reinforces our exploitation of nonhuman animals by reading this book.