#3 Animal, All Too Human

"Donald Duck never wears pants, but whenever he gets out of the shower, he wears a towel around his waist. I mean, what is that about?", notes Chandler in an episode of Friends.

An animal in a towel, what is that about? Steve Baker, one of the founding fathers of Animal Studies, described this as ‘Walt Disney consciousness’: to strip the image of animal within popular culture of its most animal-like qualities and shape it to refer almost only to human behavior. "Popular culture sees only itself in the eyes of its animal", Baker concludes.  Indeed, for an animal who flaunts its tail feather quite proudly, it seems a tad prudish to wear a towel after showering.  Why is it that we find it pleasurable to watch videos of sneezing pandas, sleeping otters and build websites of cute cats? Why do we use nonhuman animals mostly to complement our lifestyle choices (think of the Paris Hilton type with the Chihuahua in her purse or the Hell’s Angel with his bulldog)? Is it the lack of a common language that guarantees  animal's distance from and of man? Animals are always articulated through our language; through our cultural lens.  As Bruce Bagemihl points out, non-normative sexual behavior in animals is often written out of biological research in an attempt to reinforce a human political agenda. According to him, there are entire lizard species that consist only of females that copulate and reproduce by virgin birth, and bears that give birth through their "penile" clitorides. The classical juxtaposition of  human and animal has been replaced with a more contemporary view of the “encounters between different biological species”, as Donna Haraway describes, though it remains a problematic encounter. How do we rid the animal of man? Can animals be rearticulated in order to live with and amongst them?

#3 Animal, All Too Human

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