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Governing Pet Love: 'Crazy Cat Ladies,' Cultural Discourse, and the Spatial Logics of Inter-Species Intimacies

By William L. McKeithen

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Abstract

Pet animals in the United States have been increasingly incorporated into relationships and spaces of intimacy. As a result, an intense set of discourses has emerged to delineate and govern what modes of interspecies intimacy are `normal' or `inappropriate.' The widely known stereotype of the `crazy cat lady' - often described as a reclusive, lonely, and single white woman locked away in a tiny house full of cats - represents a flashpoint in this system of governance. This thesis explores the normative discourses and daily resistances that envelop women who live with cats. I argue that the `crazy cat lady' serves to delimit the available possibilities for `proper' gendered, sexualized, classed, and raced subjectivity. In turn, these norms govern the possibilities for interspecies relationships between humans and pet animals, perpetuating and privileging some forms of intimacy - heterosexual interhuman love, marriage, and motherhood - while disparaging and neglecting queer modes of pet love.

Submitter

Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2014
Pages 153
Publisher University of Washington
Location of Publication Seattle, Washington
Department Geography
URL http://hdl.handle.net/1773/26273
Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals in culture
  3. Cats
  4. Health
  5. Human-animal relationships
  6. Interspecies interactions
  7. Intimacy
  8. Mammals
  9. Pet owners.
  10. Pet ownership
  11. Pets and companion animals