Saturday, 25 October 2014

Do you see what I see?

I saw an article this past weekend on the Goliath spider… The link on the page about about the puppy-sized spider that led to a spooky spider gallery is another example that prompted me to feel drawn to exploring the many socially constructed prejudices against species. Oft times these social constructions are mindlessly accepted by society without realising their larger implications. Several stories that we tell children, and especially around this time of year with the traditional Halloween animals, project a concept of fear through the framing of specific species with whom we have less of an ability to empathise. 

Last week, I touched on some the myths and prejudices of black animals in the first part of this exploration (Paint it Black) and I shall finish that journey next week. This week, I was reminded of how we can so easily overlook what it truly means to start this cycle of seeing another through the lens of our own species specific philosophies, the power that we give words, and thus, how they can shape beliefs. Within the larger framework of grouping and labels ascribed to a species I have written about how language shapes our ideas about a species. And so, with the concept of Halloween animals and their creepy, crawly, spooky and scary labels, I would like to introduce you to a few species through a lens of beauty, empathy and endearment….

The very first species is the spider…

I start with spiders as the Cobalt Blue Tarantula is the one whom I saw an image of earlier in the week. The beauty of the vibrant blue colouring of this being further inspired my idea to follow this thread of an opposite lens through which to see a species to that of the tendency of fear based framing. However, the Cobalt Blue Tarantula is not the only colourful arachnid… There are various shades of Tarantulas and other spiders that are a marvel to the imagination with the intricacies of their markings and lively colouring.  

The next concept of is that of empathy…

The mention of rats probably does not connect one's thoughts with the idea of empathy. Yet, more and more studies are revealing pro-social behaviour among rats as seen in the earlier research being done at the University of Chicago. More recently, Mason’s research has explored kindness in relation to rats... The nature/nurture and social bias debate is an interesting one with rats and kindness… It gives a whole new meaning to the idiom “smells like a rat”!

And lastly, but certainly not least is the endearing panda bat from Sudan… This little fellow will melt anyone's heart...

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