Are Women Animals?

I am slowly writing a post on animal pain or how we view pain in animals, not really sure yet. During my research I came across this lecture (audio / 40 min / 19 MB). by Joanna Bourke; I found the parallels in our historical attitudes toward animals and the “other”  (i.e. gender, race, economic classes) interesting. This is the 1872 letter that inspired the lecture’s and this post’s title.

Sir, — Whether women are the equals of men has been endlessly debated; whether they have souls has been a moot point; but can it be too much to ask [for a definitive acknowledgement that at least they are animals?… Many hon. members may object to the proposed Bill enacting that, in statutes respecting the suffrage, ‘wherever words occur which import the masculine gender they shall be held to include women;’ but could any object to the insertion of a clause in another Act that ‘whenever the word “animal” occur it shall be held to include women?’ Suffer me, thorough your columns, to appeal to our 650 [parliamentary] representatives, and ask — Is there not one among you then who will introduce such a motion? There would then be at least an equal interdict on wanton barbarity to cat, dog, or woman…

Yours respectfully,


“Are Women Animals?”: Women, Sentience, and Rights (in the UK from the 1790s to the Twentieth Century)

Are Women Animals?


4 thoughts on “Are Women Animals?

  1. Some further good reads: The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery (Marjorie Spiegel); Alice Walker’s short story, “Am I Blue?” Feminism and animal rights have a long history together.

  2. i seem to recall reading that the original British Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals included in its mandate violence against women and children?

  3. Pingback: Are Women Animals? | Animals - fact and fiction...

Comments are closed.