May 05

“Reframing Society’s Attitudes on Animals”

Regarding Animals (Animals, Culture and Society) by Arnold Arluke

Regarding Animals (Animals, Culture and Society) by Arnold Arluke

This essay is written after reading Regarding Animals by Arnold Arluke. The attitude on animals is currently at a disgustingly low level in our country and incidentally the entire world. Has our level of humanity decreased so low that we are completely ignorant of other living creatures that share the same land we walk on?

Contradictions and other unbalanced attitudes continue to grow in this society toward animals. Objectifying animals is well rooted into every Americans institutionalized beliefs and changing them may take years of radical and extreme actions. A revolution needs to take place in order to end this extravagant institutionalized exploitation and abuse on animals. Judging from my experience, conversations, interactions, and education I think it is going to take more than a revolution to help enlighten people from this institutional black hole against animals.

Overwhelmingly enough, there is not an equivalent type of attitude distributed to animals. Some types of animals receive higher precedence over another and are classified as ‘domesticated’ or a ‘pet’. We pet our dog that welcomes us at the door, but then turn around and eat a hamburger. This is enough evidence to conclude that there is more behind this institutional belief that animals are ‘just’ animals.

If animals were just animals, there would be no favor-ability given to one animal over another. Our view on animals is irrefutably crossed up. We believe that one type of animal is alright to eat for a meal, while some are not.

Of course this varies from country to country, but in recent news the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been arguing that fish should not be eaten, “they are intelligent, sensitive animals no more deserving of being eaten than a pet dog or cat.”

Of course this organization believes that no animal should be eaten, but this substantial statement usually ends up as a laugh to the rest of the world. Some common adjectives that people usually use to describe animal activists are wacky, loony, crazy, and so on. People are so deep in the hole of this institutionalized attitude on animals, that anyone against it seems crazy to them.

People can not give any regard to any type of animal that they have been eating for their entire life. Every time a chicken sandwich is eaten, a brick is added to that person’s institutional wall against animals. The more we eat, the taller the wall gets, thus the harder it is to knock down.



Since the entire country has institutional skyscrapers built inside of them against animals, is there a temporary medium in the way we treat animals? Do we need to do something similar to what the Nazis did during the 3rd Reich, as far as animals are concerned? We need to quit objectifying animals to unnecessary suffering and using them instrumentally to help benefit human agendas.

Many believe that it is part of the ‘food-chain’ and it alright to eat an animal. This statement along with many others, are just institutional ideals that has been shoved down our throats for centuries. I still have a hard time conquering these tough ideals because I have been exposed to them for such a long time. I grew up with parents that had no regard for animals, so I ate meat and fast food from a young age. I was not fully equipped with the knowledge and positive regard for animals until I was inadvertently sucked out of the institutional hole for just a couple of minutes. This type of enlightenment is hard to come by and hard to give to others, but must be done in order to end this holocaust on animals.

In regards to finding a solution to this poor regard animals, a good first step would be to eliminate the mass killing of animals for the fast food industry. What ever happened to preparing your own meal? It would be better if we raised our own cattle and prepared our own meat with a ritualistic component behind it.

I’m not using religion as an excuse to cut up an animal, but at least it would give the animal higher regard and a more proper meaning. Of course this alternative doesn’t stop the eating of animals, but it would slow it down to astronomical proportions. We need to learn more about our environment and the animals we share it with.

The book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn stresses this type of revolution by learning new food preparation techniques and becoming conscious to the damage humans are doing to this world, including killing animals, “The problem is that man”s conquest of the world has itself devastated the world. And in spite of all the mastery we”ve attained, we don”t have enough mastery to stop devastating the world–or to repair the devastation we”ve already wrought. We”ve poured our poisons into the world as though it were a bottomless pit–and we go on gobbling them up (Quinn).”

The current view on animals is definitely hypocritical and a contradiction. How can one human describe animals as inhumane and not capable of rational thought and then turn around and attribute human forms, qualities, and other anthropomorphic to the animal?

Meet your meat...

Meet your meat...

Obviously, we relate to animals if we can give them such adjectives. If society can engage in more recurrent exchanges with animals we may find a, as Donald Griffin states in Regarding Animals, “window to animal mind (Arluke, Sanders 81).”

Society needs to revamp its current attitude on animals and replace it with a more empathetic one in order to alleviate a better understanding of animals and what we are doing to them. Certainly this may sound optimistic and shine light on an issue that continues to remain hidden, but nothing is going to change in our fast-paced, capitalistic, and selfish society.

We would rather indulge our appetites with a hamburger or chicken leg than worry about how we are harming animals. We would rather wear fur coats in the winter to keep warm, shoot deer and go fishing for sport, then listen to some one socially conscious about this holocaust on animals.

On contrast to anthropomorphic attitudes, humans can be given animal attributes, as well. The German concentration camps treated Jews as if they were ‘animals’. Statements and phrases are continually being made with reference to animals as being negative. We relate ambiguous treatment and dehumanization as being an animalized. The word animal has grown to have a negative meaning in society because of the ongoing poor treatment towards them.


With such a drastic amount of people participating in neglecting animals, it almost does not seem feasible to believe anything will help tame this institutionalized monster tainting animals. Although animals are continually being discriminated, there are some signs of positive improvements showing up in our society.

Several organizations are fighting for animals rights every day, such as; In Defense of Animals (IDA), Friends of Animals, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are just a handful.

Progress continues in the development of nonanimal alternative tests in the laboratories. People reluctant to participate in any animal rights movement should definitely be heavily persuaded to watch all the animals getting put to death in animals shelters or be handed graphic photos of the overly crowded cattle in the slaughter houses.

They need to be involved in this holocaust, or they will simply continue the out of sight – out of mind mentality. Much like all dysfunctional, institutionalized attitudes, it is going to take time and hope. Until any regard for animals is actually lifted, the mindful people must continue to watch this progressive contradictive attitude on animals as they are exploited carelessly in the realms of human-centered institutionalized ideals.

Work Cited:

  1. Arluke, Arnold, and Clinton Sanders. Regarding Animals. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996.
  2. Quinn, Daniel. Ishmael. New York: Bantam, 1995.