Professor Claims Squirrels Are Subject to Gender and Racial Bias

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By Lukas Mikelionis | 3:05 pm, May 15, 2017

A professor at California State Polytechnic University  has penned an academic article claiming Eastern fox squirrels are the victims of “racialized,” “gendered” and “speciesist” media bias.

The article is loftily titled “When ‘Angelino’ squirrels don’t eat nuts: a feminist posthumanist politics of consumption across southern California” and is published in peer-reviewed Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography journal. In the article, Assistant Professor Teresa Lloro-Bidart suggests reddish-brown squirrels are suffering from anti-immigrant media bias.

Lloro-Bidart wrote in the abstract of the paper:

Given that the shift in tree squirrel demographics is a relatively recent phenomenon, this case presents a unique opportunity to question and retheorize the ontological given of ‘otherness’ that manifests, in part, through a politics whereby animal food choices ‘[come] to stand in for both compliance and resistance to the dominant forces in [human] culture’. I, therefore, juxtapose feminist posthumanist theories and feminist food studies scholarship to demonstrate how eastern fox squirrels are subjected to gendered, racialized, and speciesist thinking in the popular news media as a result of their feeding/eating practices, their unique and unfixed spatial arrangements in the greater Los Angeles region, and the western, modernist human frame through which humans interpret these actions.

The paper argues that Eastern fox squirrels, known as “Easties,” came to California a century ago and are now replacing less adaptable the native western gray squirrel in urban and suburban areas, The Observer noted.

The spread of brown squirrels in California, apparently, incited bigoted anti-immigration portrayal in the media.

Lloro-Bidart quoted journalist John Barragan, who prefers native western gray squirrels to foreign brown squirrels and described the newcomers as “trash-eating,” “trumped-up rats” and “fast procreator[s] with an appetite for everything.”

The professor instantly identified anti-immigrant sentiment in the journalist’s writing, claiming that people are “otherizing” the Easties by calling them “a non-native … or even invasive animal.”