This post is for people who have to endure people from the dominant culture taunting them about eating dogs, cats, cuy, frogs; any animal they get squeamish about and try to paint onto you. People from dominant cultures, this is not your space, I will delete your comments. You’re free to listen quietly.
Recently, a friend and fellow Asian American (shout out to D!) shared that she still feels the particular sting when white folks, which is the dominant culture that we grew up around, ask her why Asians eat dogs, if she eats dogs, why she eats dogs… How does dog taste? I used to hear it as well, and I used to feel a sting.
When we ask our immigrant parents if we are dog eaters, the is often “meh” or “some people do” or “yah, so what?” It has taken me well into adulthood to realize that is EXACTLY the correct response.
When we’re growing up and we desperately want the dominant culture to like and accept us, we don’t feel comfortable shrugging it off like our parents do. In fact, shrugging it off will just encourage further taunting. Instead, we try defensive strategies; I have been known to bring up celebrated dog-eaters Lewis and Clark. They can’t really deny that it’s white folks eating Rocky Mountain Oysters; wow, it even says so in National Geographic! (thanks K)
But face it: the dog and cat comments always stung. They paint you with that broad brush; you, your parents, your grand parents, you little cousins, everyone that loves you and is kind to you, they’re coming for all of you. You don’t belong here.
So now I have a new strategy nowadays: terrify them. Terrify the dominant culture. I look at their pets with wistfully and talk recipes. Scare the junk out of precious hearts. It doesn’t matter that I don’t even eat meat anymore; I tell them their dog looks delicious. If they want to stick a stereotype to us, use it to terrify them. Of course it’s not true, that’s irrelevant at this point. Rattle their cage.
Them: “I’m not saying I saw them do it, all I’m saying is that they moved in and suddenly everyone’s pets disappeared!”
Me: “I still have some in the freezer if you wanted to say goodbye.”
Maybe some of them are doing it out of real fears; real, ethnocentric fears that they cultivate inside their hard candy shell. The rest of them are doing it to torment you; they’re doing to hate you. THEY HATE YOU. What is the point of letting them torment you? Traumatize them back, harder. Ask them to pass you the sriracha. They think you stew cats, why assuage their fears? Nah. Shake a bag of pork rinds at them, with the label covered, and ask, “look familiar?”
Yes, I once used to go down the road of trying to make them relate. French people ate rats during the war, Romans ate cats; war and poverty are a not a joke. Europeans eat horses without flinching when they’re not at war, do dominant culture white Americans torment Europeans over horse eating? No, kid. That’s race.
We’re talking about people who eat nothing but fried potatoes and boneless skinless chicken breast. They’ll just be all “how dare you” because they are the center of the universe, and everything they do is right and normal, and everything that we do exists for them to taunt us. Ask them how much their pets weigh, say things like, mmm tender. Or, how old? Gonna have to use the slow cooker for this one…
Someone will lecture us that we should be educating them, that we should be better. Why should we educate them, they are TELLING us we don’t belong in their society. Why should we beg for their approval? No way. I stewed your dog in soy sauce and vinegar.
Jerk their chain. Tell them rescued animals are better for stews. Tell them you “shop” at the animal shelter.
It doesn’t matter if they are not pet owners. Let them believe you skinned a whole litter of puppies in boiling water. Did someone say a liter of puppy? They are not your friend, don’t beg for their approval anymore. Lie to their face and cut them out of your life. You don’t need them.
They want you to feel ashamed. You can tell them that Jeffery Dahmer ate other people, and he was white, therefore some white people are cannibals… But they won’t feel ashamed, they don’t feel painted by that broad brush. It doesn’t sting them, they don’t internalize that.
You know what they will internalize: “I will filet and pan roast your shih tzu,” that’s what they will internalize. Send them to the therapist. You don’t need them.