Pet Ownership and Gender Norms

This posting will primarily focus on dog ownership because there is more research on the subject. That being said there is a little information available concerning gender norms and cat ownership. For example in an investigation by Michael Ramirez called ““My Dog’s Just Like Me”: Dog Ownership as a Gender Display” it is mentioned by both some of the men and some of the women that cats are feminine and that dogs are masculine and that a man with a cat violates gender norms (Ramirez 378). There is a history of cats being associated with femininity. According to Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence cats have been frequently equated with a feminine image and that gender discrimination and speciesism in the veterinary profession have been correlated (Lawrence 623). Lawrence attributes this to cats’ fecundity, dedication to their kittens, and their playful nature (Lawrence 629).

Michael Ramirez focuses on dog ownership in relation to gender. First how the dog was selected which he breaks down into planners, impartials, or the smitten. Planners know what appearance, sex, and breed they are looking for (Ramirez). Impartials may have some idea but make their decision based on the personality of the pet. The smitten rely on just knowing that the dog is the right dog. Approximately 50% of both men and women selected the same sex of pet (Ramirez).  Men tended to be planners while women fit into all three groups (Ramirez). Men tended to focus on appearance, sex, and breed while women tended to focus on personality (Ramirez). When describing their dogs men tended to focus on their dogs activity and strength while women focused on behavior and personality (Ramirez). “Overall, owners consistently used gender to interpret their dogs’ personalities. At times, they even went as far as to reframe unconventional gender behaviors into traditional ones, thereby maintaining stereotypical characterizations of gender.” (Ramirez) According to Ramirez women focused on companionship and men on play.

Lawrence, Elizabeth Atwood. “Feline Fortunes: Contrasting Views of Cats in Popular Culture.” Journal of Popular Culture. Vol 36 Issue 3 (Winter2003). Pg 623, 13 pages

Ramirez, Michael. ““My Dog’s Just Like Me”: Dog Ownership as a Gender Display” Symbolic Interaction. Blackwel Publishing Ltd, Vol 29 Issue 3 (Summer 2006). Pg 373-391


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