and go read this. If you're vegan you probably have struggled with just the same sorts of language difficulties that So I'm Thinking of Going Vegan addresses in her delightful post. (Thank you HGV)
Not only is the phenomenon she struggles with in her writing one that repeatedly causes difficulty for vegans...it also contributes to problematical issues for all manner of folks who are attempting to address socially constructed identities and ways of conceptualizing relationships and interactions that eschew oppression and oppressive hierarchies and binary categorizings and on and on.
When we we try to deconstruct or opt out of oppressive thinking and doing and speaking it just may be that our difficulties in doing such are compounded by the fact that we are using a language...English (not that other languages don't have some of the same issues going on...they do)...which was pretty much constructed and created and enforced by guess who? White penis bearing folks who were interested in maintaining and enforcing a white centered patriarchal worldview wherein white men (and their "civilizations") were situated as the end all and be all of how it should be. One where humans (especially white possessors of penises) were the superior beings and all life was somehow subordinate to this ultimate manifestation of a living being. Jeez.
Audre Lorde exquisitely observed that we cannot dismantle the master's house using the master's tools.
I would urge anyone interested in learning more about these kinds of problems to consult Dr. Julia Penelope's book: Speaking Freely: Unlearning the Lies of the Father's Tongues.
There you can learn more about some of the confusings inherent in trying to move beyond thinking and speaking in oppressive terms or language using a language that was designed and created by oppressors. English was, according to Dr. Penelope, constructed to be sexist and racist (and many other structurings of oppression are built into its use and rules) and...by extension we can infer that it was also constructed to be supportive of speciesism.
So...next time you are...as I do all the time...fumbling around with how to refer to beings, without being demeaning and/or patronizing, who aren't you and also don't wear tennis shoes or drive cars or speak human languages...maybe part of the problem isn't just your deficiencies in conceptualizing and expressing yourself...it may be that the language tools you are using (English) are not well designed for the task because the jerks who created the tools were wanting to support and maintain oppression and weren't interested too much in genuine equality and respect and freedom.
Think of how often "man" or "mankind" is used as reference to all humans...neatly centering penis folks as the norm and relegating all other manifestations and configurations to "other". Gimme a break...does such goofiness suggest a major overevaluation of themselves by men or what?
I remember clearly the furor that erupted when feminist thinking and critiquing had become influential enough to bring heat to bear on the common practice of using the pronoun "he", as used in writing and speaking, as meaning to refer to both females and males. Why not use "she" to refer to everyone? Well...that wasn't what the good old boys wanted who set up the language and rules for usage. They were out to dominate...not share equally.
Rules of usage, available vocabulary and common usage practices can all serve to support and exemplify and maintain hierarchies and oppressive thinking. And...make no mistake...when these everyday demeanings are pointed out there are many people (mostly white men) who get upset about them and object to anyone protesting them. The upset is part of how the demeanings retain their power and stay in place.
So, give yourself a break...it may not all be that you're drenched in oppressive thinking...it also may be that you're trying to use the masters tools do dismantle his edifices of oppression. Disclaimer...I'm a white male so who knows what kind of inadvertent and overlooked oppressions I stuck into the blog post. For every one that slipped in...piss on me...I am working hard on this.