Academic Absurdity of the Week: Intersectional Feminist Dog Training

I’ve been giving this formerly regular feature a rest because I thought I was running it into the ground, and after a while every crazypants journal article starts to sound the same. But once and a while a new article comes along that truly breaks new ground. Such as this one, appearing in the current issue of the journal Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience (I never heard of it either):

Feminisms, Fuzzy Sciences, and Interspecies Intersectionalities: The Promises and Perils of Contemporary Dog Training

Harlan Eugene Weaver


Tracing histories of interventions in dog training, this paper examines the contemporary divide between “dominance” and “positive reinforcement” training practices. Drawing from writings by scientists and trainers, this article traces the many ways that the doings of much contemporary dog training embody “fuzzy sciences.” Examples from ethnographic fieldwork conducted in an animal shelter help demonstrate the ways specific fuzzy sciences of training are feminist, while others are not. The article closes with a consideration of the ways that relationships between humans and animals not only reflect but also shape experiences of race, gender, sexuality, nation, species, and breed, or “interspecies intersectionalities.” The article concludes by thinking through the lens of “interspecies intersectionalities” in order to elucidate a promising expansion of the feminist fuzzy sciences of dog training.

The author currently teaches in the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Department at Kansas State University, where you can sign up for his course in “interspecies intersections.”

Just curious, since this comes out of Kansas: I wonder whether old fashioned courses in “animal husbandry” have been abolished, because of, you know, sexism? Asking for a friend. . .

P.S. I can only imagine what Jay Comeau would have done with this story in the comments section.  The mind reels. . .

JOHN adds: The most successful dog trainer I ever knew was my mother. Not that she trained a lot of dogs–only two. But they were well and truly trained. I can assure you there was nothing “fuzzy” about her methods. It was quite a few years later when one of my brothers pointed out that her approach to raising boys was pretty much the same as to training dogs. Nothing fuzzy there, either. Thankfully, no one ever told her about intersectionality.

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