Who’s a good boy then? Anthropocentric masculinities in veterinary practice

Clarke, Caroline and Knights, David (2019). Who’s a good boy then? Anthropocentric masculinities in veterinary practice. Gender, Work and Organization, 26(3) pp. 267–287.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12244


Veterinary surgeons (vets) provide us with a fascinating platform to study anthropocentric and zoocentric beliefs, which we argue are gendered in both their genesis and practice. Gendered in the sense of the double meaning of our title ‘who’s a good boy then?’ which reflects both a default male gender and a patronizing masculine claim to mastery over the animal. In addition, veterinary practices are organized in specifically masculine ways that, despite the demographic feminisation of the profession, are oblivious to distinctively gendered practices and concerns and thus to the reproduction of gendered inequalities. The research also focuses on how there is a tendency for vets to neglect their own bodies for the sake of the animal’s welfare (zoocentrism) but, at the same time, this reflects and reproduces masculine anthropocentric demands for human supremacy involving linear rational and effective control over the animal as a necessary part of their commercial and career success. In the empirical presentation, we show how organizational gendering within the gendered organization of veterinary surgery occurs at all levels, sometimes openly and explicitly, but also covertly and implicitly. In seeking to interrogate the covert and implicit in gender asymmetry, we draw on posthumanist feminist philosophical perspectives that facilitate our challenging of the gendered anthropocentric organization of veterinary work.

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