Currently trending on Yahoo! is the story of an anti-social gorilla named Patrick. The headlines scream “Sexist Gorilla” and the stories explain how Patrick is to receive behavior therapy for his poor attitude. While it’s clear he has anti-social/behavioral issues, it’s a bit over the top to label him sexist.
Patrick the gorilla
Yes, he bit a female and was “aggressive” toward others, but he was also cold toward virtually every other gorilla he came in contact with, male and female. Apparently, the only gorilla he engaged with was Jabari, a gorilla shot to death for injuring three people after escaping the Dallas Zoo. Talk about behavioral issues.
Further, the Dallas Zoo recently acquired two males for which they have no space – unless they move Patrick elsewhere as they fear his behavior toward them.
Interestingly, Dallas Zoo officials praise Patrick for his relationships to humans stating he gets along with people better than other gorillas. He’s a proven fan favorite among zoo patrons.
The problem isn’t that Patrick is sexist – it’s that he’s specieist.
No, I did not make that up. British psychologist Richard D. Ryder coined the term in the ‘70s, arguing that specieism occurs when humans make negative moral distinctions between themselves and animals.
In Patrick’s case, he appears to be making negative moral distinctions against his own species. I don’t know if that makes him a reverse specieist, but it certainly does not make him sexist.
But the media, being the media, needed to sensationalize the headlines in order to get people to read the stories. “Specieist Gorilla to Receive Therapy” just doesn’t have the same ring as “Sexist Gorilla.”
It’s a trivial rant, I know, but I’m nothing if not a media-ist (yeah, I coined that), and it compels me to point out the ridiculousness of such tactics.
It’s just plain specieist.