Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body - Sara Pascoe (2016)
Afterword & Charitable Organisations
I have changed how I feel about people. Consciously, I made a decision. Now I think about people how I think about dogs. What I mean is, I like all dogs. Love them, automatically. Never met one I didn’t like. Can’t imagine one I hated. Sure, oh yes, a dog might bite me or growl like he hates me, but I would instantly forgive it. Perhaps it is hungry or had a difficult childhood? Maybe I’m standing in its nest? And so this is how I’ve decided to feel about people - every behaviour has a cause, be it chemical or environmental or evolutionary or genetic or whatever. I have decided to be interested in these causes as well as the effects, I have decided to forgive people like the dogs—
I AM NOT AN APOLOGIST.
I am not saying all of the horrid human behaviours are okay because we are animals and can’t help ourselves. But maybe all of us understanding more about why bad things happen can help us stop them? I read somewhere that humans are a ‘self-domesticating’ species. What we did consciously with wolves to provide all those lovely cuddly dogs, we have unknowingly been doing within our own species - we reward teamwork and love and generosity in our relationships and with our sex. We are gradually evolving out of our brutality. Which is nice to think about.
But remember those glow worms shagging away on the street lamps? Just as they could not have evolved the ability to differentiate between electric lights and lady glow worms, so we did not evolve for a world like this. We did not know we were going to be expected to empathise with people in other countries who we will never meet, that we would need to care about people who don’t even exist yet and whose planet we are destroying. So we suffer from empathy failure. We retain selfish attributes - a tribal sense of ownership, a greed for resources and looking after our own. But we also have pleasure centres in our brain that reward us when we share. We get dopamine hits when we help others and when we give and receive knowledge. A human being is a balanced creature: we ensure our own survival at all costs, but survival has always involved each other. Empathy is a muscle that can be improved if you work at it.
So let’s help each other. Sorry to be a capitalist scumbag but money underwrites everything; without it there is no freedom. Here’s a T-shirt slogan for ya: ‘Those without cash are trapped’.
Here are some brilliant charities to support across the world, and why:
This list is not exhaustive but includes a variety of charities who work in the UK or abroad tackling some of the issues that I have touched upon in the book. The websites are full of information if you are interested in reading further, and many have campaigns that you can get involved with or share online. They all have pages where you can donate or, if you can’t, guilt-trip someone else into giving - perhaps while they are eating a cake or enjoying an episode of EastEnders.
www.actionaid.org.uk/ These guys work on behalf of the most vulnerable women and children in the world, those who are affected by extreme poverty or natural disaster.
www.girlsnotbrides.org/about-child-marriage/ Lots of information on the age of consent, child marriage and the various countries where young girls are not currently being protected by the law.
http://rapecrisis.org.uk/ A UK charity offering counselling and advice as well as running campaigns that raise awareness and put pressure on government. They have up-to-date statistics and links to similar organisations.
www.microloanfoundation.org.uk/ These great guys give small loans for women to start their own businesses in sub-Saharan Africa. All research shows that supporting women to become independent and self-sufficient is the quickest way to rebuild damaged societies.
www.fistulafoundation.org/ This charity works to help women in developing countries by repairing fistulas. They also provide education and training and are just amazing.
www.refuge.org.uk/ Refuge works to protect and support women escaping domestic violence. This sector of charitable work is much needed in the UK and is drastically underfunded by our current government. See also www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/ who run campaigns and raise awareness.
The following charities provide sanitary products to women in developing countries or places that have been affected by war or disaster:
http://lovinghumanity.org.uk/ This organisation is working to give women the means to make sanitary products so that they can sell them - so clever.
Charities working to end FGM include:
www.thecruelcut.org/ - there are tons of videos and educational resources on this one.
That’s enough to be getting on with.