Thoughts on Ken Ham's Creation Museum and Ark Encounter

I'll be honest. I've been pining to see the infamous Creation Museum since it first opened back in (or around) 2007. Back then, I'd recently come into my own as an atheist, embracing a freethinking and non-religious lifestyle after a young adulthood filled with oppressive and constricting ties to conservative religious thought. (Members of my family used to joke that I'd left my husband "for" Richard Dawkins.) Dawkins, along with many other prominent atheists, opined about Ken Ham's Creation Museum, located in Petersburg, Kentucky, which boasted a creationist worldview; Ham claimed to offer scientifically comprehensive ideas as to how the creation account from the Bible could be seen as a literal account of the start of the world.

This idea was not taken seriously among most, but many atheists journeyed out to Ham's museum to offer thoughts on it and share their experiences. More recently, the same thing happened when Ham launched a new theme park, 45 hours from the Creation Museum, called the Ark Encounter. While his museum was dedicated to giving legitimacy to the Genesis account of creation, the Ark Encounter was supposed to give guests first-hand experience as to how the biblical Noah's Ark might have looked, felt, and how it was managed.

Ken Ham, I'll point out here, is the founder of Answers in Genesis, which, according to its own website, "is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. [They] focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible -- particularly the book of Genesis -- regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth." Answers in Genesis is definitively "young earth," meaning that they adhere to the idea that the earth is no older than about 10,000 years (which comes directly from their interpretation of lineage as described in the Bible). They do not believe in the evolution of species, and have taken a key interest in using "science" (as they see it) to prove their biblical worldview.

Needless to say, I've heard plenty about the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter because of the atheist circles I tend to run in. I've had aspirations to visit both of them, myself, ever since hearing about their existence (mostly out of interest, but also because I'm fascinated by the junk science that young-earth creationists use to try and justify their beliefs).

Recently, I found myself in the fortuitous position of being able to visit both the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. I was visiting one of my closest boyfriends, prominent atheist writer and debater Richard Carrier. Though we met when he was living in California, he now lives in Columbus, Ohio, and so once school was out this year I made plans to go visit him (and he'll be visiting me here in Vegas toward the end of summer). After I arrived in Columbus, we somehow got onto the topic of the Creation Museum (atheists, you know), and I came to the realization that Richard lived within a few hours' drive of both.

And, to top it all off, he'd never been to visit either of them. I mean, if your first visit to the Answers in Genesis theme parks can be accompanied by Richard Carrier's first visits, too, then why the hell wouldn't you drop everything and go immediately?

I joke, but, really, I was pretty excited. On the second day of my visit, we decided to drive down and visit both parks. This excursion began with a stop at the corner coffee shop where I could get a to-go coffee (Richard doesn't drink it), and the both of us could get a small something to eat for breakfast while we drove. And we then enjoyed a scenic drive from Ohio into Kentucky, listening to selections from such bands as She Wants Revenge and Damn the Witch Siren.

We finally arrived at the Creation Museum (our first stop), and parked, marveling at the life-size dinosaur statues. Now, Richard and I both knew going in that Ken Ham and his young-earth creationist team believe that dinosaurs lived with humans at the dawn of creation, but it was still fascinating to see this as such a hugely prominent part of the museum. Ham points to serpents and monsters mentioned in the Bible, and says that, in reality, they were what we now refer to as dinosaurs. And then he freaking runs with that mentality all over the museum. But I don't want to get ahead of myself -- first, here's a few pictures of Richard and I arriving at the museum and taking in all of the dinosaur-esqueness of it all.

Richard and I arrived at the infamous Creation Museum ready to meet this dinosaur.

The Creation Museum has SO MANY skeletal recreations of dinosaurs and other primeval creatures, all of which he tries to prove existed in this world at the same time as humans (per biblical stories). It's pretty wild.

Richard and I both paid the $60 necessary to secure admission to both the museum and the Ark Encounter (for later in the afternoon). This was honestly more than either of us wanted to give to Answers in Genesis, but this was not an opportunity to be passed up. So we did it, and began our tour through the Creation Museum.

The entire premise of the museum is that creationists and "evolutionists" (as we're called) use the same evidence, but begin with different starting points (as they say). Creationists begin with trust in the Bible, and that, therefore, colors their interpretation of any evidence they're presented with (that's not quite how they put it, but at least they're honest about the way they use scientific data). There are a great many exhibits that show the evidence for evolutionary biology, but then offer an "alternate" viewpoint from a biblical standpoint. These "alternates" are never backed up by legitimate scientific discourse. It's all basic speculation.

For example, let's say that I was trying to prove the story of Peter Pan was true. So I told you that I was going to look at historical evidence through that particular lens. And then I presented evidence that there was this pirate ship that went missing once upon a time, so that was obviously evidence that it went to Neverland and became the infamous pirate ship captained by Mr. Hook. That's sort of how the Creation Museum felt after a while.

Richard took my picture in front of a pair of statues, these ones of school children, who were marveling to each other that they'd never heard this history in school before (unfortunately, I don't have copies of that picture). Then, we made out in the "creation hallway" (a dark hallway lined with stars that was supposed to, I guess, represent the universe before God created anything beyond stars and a universe).

We then walked through the Garden of Eden. There were animatronics for all of the animals, and also for Adam and Eve (they had surprisingly smooth skin, and Adam's hair was cut short like a modern-day Mormon missionary). We were led through an interpretation of "the fall," when Eve is tricked by the evil serpent into eating a piece of fruit (and my goddess, I could write an entire blog post on the story of "the fall" and the deeper meanings and symbolism relating to society and culture, but that's for another time). It is explained how all of humankind, forevermore, is cursed because of that damn fruit and Eve's decision, and you then get to walk through an animatronic version of the early days after Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden.

The entire thing was well done from a theme park perspective. I mean, it was like walking through one of Disneyland's dark rides. It's easy to see the narrative, and some of the visuals were excellently done. Except, of course, Disneyland isn't trying to pass off that Alice in Wonderland came from a page of history. Answers in Genesis is always trying to pass that off. That was the one fact that always kept me grounded throughout our museum tour. It was so surreal.

I was surprised, too, that there was actually a great deal of time dedicated to legitimizing the Noah's Ark story at the Creation Museum. But I won't go into that too much right now -- I'll save most of that for when I describe what the Ark Encounter was like.

Richard and I finished exploring the museum (which featured lots and lots of "monster" stories from the Bible and lots and lots of apologetics equating that to dinosaurs), and had lunch. We got sandwiches from Noah's Cafe (that's what they called the place) and then wandered the ill-designed gardens on the museum grounds until we decided we'd had enough and were ready to head on down to the Ark Encounter.

Now, Ken Ham is obviously no Walt Disney. You'd think that the Ark Encounter would be close, if not absolutely adjacent, to the Creation Museum. Not so. The Ark Encounter was a further 45-minute drive away from the museum. I drove us down there (the one time that day that I did some driving).

Now, there's lots of controversy over the Ark Encounter park, because Ham received state funding for the park in exchange for creating jobs and a thriving vacation economy that theme parks tend to bring to cities. However ... Ham then refused to hire anyone that wasn't a young-earth creationist Christian willing to sign an affadavit confirming as much (pretty unconstitutional, actually). Also, the returns he promised to the city through park attendance has not even come close to being met (which I'll get into in just a bit).

Anyway, we arrived at the Ark Encounter and parked. The parking lot, much like any theme park anyone has ever visited, was designed to accommodate very large crowds. One of the first things we both noticed was that it was rather empty.

We made the short walk up to ticketing so we could get wristbands and pay for parking (yep, we paid to park in that empty parking lot). Then, we waited for a bus that would drive us up to the actual theme park.

Richard and I waited in this establishment for the bus that would get us up close and personal with Noah's Ark. Lol.
In all honesty, I was expecting a theme park. That's what I've heard the place was designed to be -- a real theme park with lots to do, but the focal point being the Ark.

That's not what it was. It wasn't even close to a theme park. It was a giant Ark, smack in the middle of nowhere.

There was what appeared to be a snack shack, which was closed. Across from the Ark was some kind of restaurant and visitor's center. And the very bottom of the Ark itself was a gift shop (all theme park rides have to empty into a gift shop!). We looked around the shop for a bit. Interesting fact -- both the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter sell copious amounts of fudge. Like, enough fudge to send me into a diabetic coma eight hundred times over (and I'm an actual Type 1 diabetic, so I can make that comment without being callous).

Anyway, though, we finally decided to head into the Ark itself. We walked around the huge structure trying to get a decent photo of it (this was hard to do, as it's so damn big).
I got, like, part of it in a photo.

As we walked around, we marveled at the huge queue that had been built. As a Disneyland enthusiast, I'm pretty well-versed in how waiting areas are designed, and how long you can expect to wait for an attraction based on the waiting area. The queues for the Ark had obviously been designed for hours and hours of waiting. You wander through garden areas, and then beneath the Ark itself, where you can also watch videos of Ark construction.

We slowed ourselves down in order to watch some of the video, but, in the end, this attraction was a proverbial "walk on." There was no waiting at all. We wound our way through the switchbacks and finally up to the entrance of the Ark.

The first scene featured animatronics of Noah and his family (his wife, their three sons, and their wives) praying before the start of the mass genocide that their god was about to commit. (Emma Watson was, unfortunately, nowhere in sight).

Richard and I then began our self-guided tour of Noah's Ark. Some of the first things we saw were cages of animals (both dinosaurs and modern-day animals). There were plaques giving descriptive information on animal "kinds," and how animals hadn't "micro-evolutioned" in Noah's day, giving him ample opportunity to get them all on the Ark. According to Answers in Genesis, there were not various types of cats (lions, tigers, pumas, etc.), but only a general, original cat kind that Noah saved, which then "micro-evolutioned" into other kinds of cats later on. For real.

Richard and I made out in the ship's hull. Honestly, making out at both attractions was the highlight of the trip. But I digress.

The rest of this attraction was dedicated to explaining how the Ark worked and how Noah's family survived during the flood. There was a section that discussed Noah's sons and their wives, and how each wife was from a different lineage (essentially, white, brown, and black). This was used to explain racial diversity on the planet. After the flood was over, one son and his white wife parented all white people; another son and his brown wife parented all brown people; and the last son and his black wife parented all black people. No shit. This was a real exhibit.

Racism was a very real theme at both attractions, though, believe it or not. The exhibits discussing it pointed to Darwin's theory of evolution as an excuse to treat people like shit because "survival of the fittest" (and to hell with the ways we've evolved to live in cooperative societies and as empathetic people, I guess). It then, of course, discussed Christianity as the only viable way to treat all humans as equal (despite the very clear history of the Bible being used to justify racism, sexism, and horrific genocides).

One of the most interesting areas, though, was the children's area. There was a small corner dedicated to children's ministry and Ark storytelling for children. But the signs in that area absolutely floored me.

This sign flat out admits to children that their god committed genocide.
The first sign that I decided to capture in a photo declared that all living people in the world were killed by the flood, all except the eight chosen people on the Ark.

Like ... what?! How do you even explain that to children?

"How come babies and children had to die?"

"Well, sweetheart, because all people were tainted with the sin of Adam, so, despite the fact that God made them that way, he had to kill them all."

That's pretty much the legit story behind it, though (until, of course, God was able to sacrifice himself to himself in order to make right the human problem he created in the first place). But I digress. Again.
The other sign I had to get a photo of was a basic fear-based sign made to encourage children to never doubt the faith, lest they be led astray by the evil powers of the devil.

This is, essentially, saying, "It doesn't matter if this doesn't make sense to you. If you don't believe in it, you're falling into the devil's trap, and you'll soon be led straight to hell."

I mean, keep in mind that these signs were in the children's section. What other message could they have possibly been trying to send, other than an attempt to scare kids into always believing?

After the Ark, Richard and I tried to get a few better pictures of the thing. Honestly, it's massive. And even the numerous exhibits inside, there's still a whole lot of wasted space (as well as many small snack shops that were all closed when we were there because, obviously, paying employees to man them was not justified when attendance was so low.

Ken Ham has actually, quite recently, blaming atheists for low attendance at his Ark Encounter. Richard and I, of course, were not the first atheists to attend Ham's museum and Ark Encounter, and have something to say about the both of them. Other atheists have been more vocal about their thoughts (particularly, the state funds Ham received for his sectarian projects). Here's the thing, though -- surely, Ham's believes that his god is more powerful than a handful of atheists speaking their mind about his attractions, doesn't he? Who cares what we atheists do or say? Shouldn't God provide for this cause if, indeed, it is true?



But anyway, Richard and I ended our day, drove back to his place in Columbia, and had some wine. We may have watched Call of Cthulhu (or that may have been the following day -- I don't remember). But we did spend the greater part of a day out at Ham's attractions.

The Creation Museum greets you with the mantra, "Prepare to Believe." I was prepared, my friends. I tried so hard to enter that museum with an open mind. But it is so demonstrably absurd with even just the slightest understanding of the scientific process and evolutionary theory.

Here's another photo of the Ark, from a distance. It was so damn big that I never did get a good photo of the entire thing. But balls to the wall if I didn't at least attempt it.




The "Truth" About Cats and Dogs (Exploring Gender Theory in the Context of Pet Choice in Western Societies)

I began exploring the relationship between dogs, cats, and gender theory quite some time ago, when I was still a graduate student at Utah State University. Under the guidance of Dr. Lynne McNeill, I took an animal folklore class and wrote a paper on the role of the snake (a rather phallic symbol, obviously) in religiously-motivated gender politics in Western cultures. In researching this, I read a really interesting piece that Dr. McNeill had written on the genderization of both cats and dogs, and how, historically speaking, cats have been rather feminized (which I'll get into in a bit). This began, for me, a fascination with both dogs and cats and how preference for one or the other may tell us something about a person's views on sex and gender in Western societies.

I began this particular blog post years ago, back in the summer of 2014. I never did finish it, but I'd like to do so now (as such, the entire post will be a mix of things I wrote back in 2014, and things I'm adding to it now). Before I proceed, however, allow me to disclaim any use of the words "all," "always," or any rendition of the two. I never speak or write in absolute terms, so please keep in mind as you read that I'm not ever trying to refer to all people, all dogs, or all cats. That's useful to know in a post such as this.

During the 2013-2014 school year, I had my fifth grade students write an opinion essay on whether they preferred cats or dogs as pets (or just in general). This was going to be the start of an opinion essay on that topic. Interestingly, out of 28 students, only two chose cats -- and those two students, both females, found themselves, as a result, on the receiving end of jokes and comments designed to berate them for preferring cats.

I, of course, didn't allow any sort of ridiculing to continue occurring, but the situation itself was rather fascinating. What are the underlying factors that cause us to identify as "cat people" or "dog people" here in America? And what is it about being a "cat person" that can cause such revulsion from self-proclaimed "dog people?" (Honestly, I've never in my life seen "cat people" make fun of or berate "dog people" for their preference, but I've seen the reverse happen a number of times, including the time in my classroom.)

Before I continue, I'll throw out there that I appreciate animals of all types, but do consider myself to be a "cat person" when it comes to pets. I have cats (and always have), and, although I don't dislike dogs, I much prefer interactions with cats. That's what makes me a "cat person," I suppose.

Most other "cat people" I know feel the same way. That is, they may enjoy dogs (and other types of animals) but tend to prefer cats in their lives and homes. But here's the interesting thing ... many self-proclaimed "dog people" do not feel the same way about cats. Not all, but many "dog people" (#notalldogpeople) actually have an active dislike for cats. This ranges from mild dislike that stems from misconceptions about cats, to an extreme hate-on for cats that makes one wonder if these people were killed by wild cats in a past life (yes, I jest, but only in the basis of an honest foundation rooted in personal experience). Once again, I'm not attempting to speak in absolutes -- I know that there are people that prefer both cats and dogs, people who don't like either, and people who have preferences for one but don't necessarily hate the other. The tendency I've seen for "dog people" to hate cats comes from a sampling of my experiences.

The most common complaint against cats that I've heard is that they are, supposedly, aloof and do not interact well with people. It's been said that dogs will be active members of the family, while cats will treat you only as a servant to be occasionally tolerated. Honestly, if this happened to be true, why would there be so many people who love having cats in their lives? The truth is that cats can have very distinct personalities that are quite different than what you'd experience from a dog, but they are also very loyal, loving, and intimate pets. Yes, interaction usually has to be their idea, and, yes, there are times when they're going to want to be left alone. They're not as dependent as dogs, and can get along on their own if need be. But when part of a loving home, they will curl up on you, purr, "kiss" (lick) your tears away, snuggle you in bed, and play games with you (games that usually simulate hunting a smaller animal and ripping it to shreds, but still).

Another interesting note about the "cats don't love you" argument is that people who make said argument rarely define what they mean by "love" and "affection." As Greg Stevens points out in his article (and don't judge me for the title, please, as I didn't write it), Dog Lovers are Co-Dependent and Terrible at Relationships, "dog people" seem to take attributes normally seen in dogs (such as the tendency to show overwhelming levels of excitement when a person comes home) and attach them as qualifications for "love" and "affection" in pets. Stevens writes that, in the real world, there are many ways in which people (and other species) show various levels of love and affection for others, and they are not all displayed by such crushing levels of dependence. The point is that, so what if a cat doesn't come to you when you call it, or come rushing home to meet you at the door (some cats do, I know, but that isn't the point)? Who cares? Who gets to decide that if a pet doesn't act in these specific ways (attached to human interpretations, I might add), it means they don't love you (or that, if they do these things, that they do love you)? This line if thinking is a bit narrow (if you'd like to continue reading about that particular analysis, however, go ahead and click on the above link to read Stevens' actual article).

But, you know, I digress. I could defend the loving nature of cats all day long, but that's not what this post is about. What I want to explore is why there seems such an active hate-on for cats in America (while, at the same time, it's almost a crime to criticize dogs in the same way), why dogs are often considered superior pets, and whether it has anything to do with the gender binaries we've created in our culture.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and speak purely from experience for a moment. People who actively hate cats tend to be conservative people who believe in gender roles and expectations, and who see dogs (particularly big dogs, which I'll get into in a moment) as symbols for masculinity. These people (again, in my experience), also view cats as symbols for femininity, and reject cats with the same virulent passion that they reject most other socially feminine representations (think, for example, of the ways in which some men reject floral patterns, the color pink, or long hair on men as though these things had the power to destroy society itself). In much the same way as the aforementioned examples, dogs (again, usually large ones) tend to get a pass for the proverbial "man card," while cats do not.

And much of the time, it's not just that these people don't prefer cats, or just enjoy dogs more. Many of these people downright hate cats -- hate them, with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. I've heard people brag about kicking cats or harming cats because their hatred of them was so profound. And this is what I find interesting (because, again, I have yet to meet a "cat person" who actively despises dogs, and I know our society wouldn't react to that as nonchalantly as we tend to react to cat hatred).

I'll add here that there actually have been studies done on the differences between "cat people" and "dog people," and the results tend to be the same. One study, done at the University of Florida, suggests that cat people tend to be more "solitary, impersonal, serious, and nonconformist," whereas dog people tend to be more "grounded, ... outgoing, sociable ... and group-oriented" (really, though, this is not surprising, given the nature of what dogs and cats, themselves, are like). Another study points to cat people being more intelligent than dog people (sorry, couldn't help but throw that one in there, especially since it caused an argument with an ex-boyfriend once upon a time), but also more neurotic. Interestingly (or not), though, studies have also shown that "dog people" tend to be more conservative, and "cat people" tend to be more liberal (and further, that liberals tend to be more welcoming of dogs than conservatives are of cats).

So why does all of this matter? Well, in my opinion, the biggest issue here is that conservatives (far more often than liberals) believe in gender roles and expectations, and with that comes a disdain for women's social, political, and economic equality with men. We see this on many levels, even in some of our politicians today. Even though many people aren't blatantly open about their loathing of gender equality, some are, and associating ideas definitely exist below the surface of our society. I've known, for example, men who quit jobs because their boss was a female and they couldn't handle that (these men, granted, were already senior citizens, so the idea of a female boss was new to them). I've known men who honestly believe the dissolution of all marriages begins with independent women. I've also known men who believe that the downfall of our society can be traced back to women no longer having to marry and make babies. These people exist, whether we acknowledge that or not, but my point is that these are often the types of people who also tend to absolutely hate cats.

The connection I'm drawing on here is that cat hatred can usually be found in people who also hold conservative views regarding gender equality. I'm going to speculate on what, in my opinion, all of this means. I think, in short, there is a link between a dislike of independent women and a dislike of independent pets.

To expand on this, let's look at some of the most common attributes that both dogs and cats present. Dogs are known for being extremely loyal. As I mentioned before, their enthusiastic excitement when their people are around is usually interpreted as unconditional, unending love. When done correctly, dogs can be trained to do be very obedient and do (or not do) almost whatever is asked of them. Dogs will acquiesce to what their humans want of them rather easily, and for an animal, that is no small thing. They have a long history of being "man's best friend," hunting partners, and overall assets to people's lives. In short, it's easy to dominate a dog and feel in control of and highly secure in one's relationship with a dog.

Cats, as most people know, are quite different. Cats are known for being aloof toward people, even their owners, and generally only showing affection when it's their idea to do so. They are wildly independent, and can survive on their own in ways that family dogs cannot. Cats cannot usually be trained to adhere to every instruction that comes from a human (though, in reality, cats have been trained to do awesome things, including using and flushing a toilet rather than a litter box). It is not easy to control a cat, and those who need constant, consistent affection and adoration from a pet in order to feel secure about that friendship might not get that from a cat.

So far, what I've identified is that "dog people" who hate cats tend to also be conservatives who don't fully believe in gender equality, and also that the qualities said people tend to like in dogs include obedience and "unconditional love," whereas the qualities they tend to hate in cats include indifference and independence.

What I find very interesting is that those qualities mentioned regarding dogs are also the qualities that men who don't believe in gender equality tend to look for in women (obedience, adoration, and unconditional love). The qualities they hate in cats are, you guessed it, also qualities they end to hate in women.

Any supposed connection between a disdain for cats and disdain for women dates pretty far back, in my opinion. European witch hunts, for example, tended to focus on targeting women (yes, there were men who were killed for witchcraft, too, but it was overwhelmingly women who were targeted and eventually executed). Witchcraft, historically and culturally speaking, has always been seen as a deviant alternative to patriarchal cultures and religions (throughout history, it was thought that witches worshiped the Christian devil; modern-day witches, however, identify a female goddess that they revere). During the times of the European witch hunts (and even here in America), along with the many humans that were killed for witchcraft, there were also many cats that were caught, tortured, and/or killed. This happened because people used to believed that witches could transfigure themselves into cats (so a cat wandering around on someone's property might be mistakenly identified as a witch in disguise). For a very long time, cats were thought to be witches' familiars, too (which is why black cats are still often associated with Halloween, superstition, and bad luck). Unlike other domesticated animals, cats were very difficult to control, and were sometimes thought of as dangerous ... just like uncontrollable women.

Socially deviant women, historically, have been outcast from society (or, as mentioned above, tortured or executed for witchcraft). This happened to women who didn't marry, women who didn't (or couldn't) bear children, and even women who were considered ugly. It happened to women who dared to take on roles traditionally reserved for men (think Joan of Arc), and women who in any way stepped out of the gender role prescribed for them. For centuries, these women have been associated with cats, who are also considered "deviant" in terms of the idea that men are supposed to rule over and control all animals. (As an interesting aside, people have looked to the Genesis story in the Bible as evidence that men were supposed to be in charge of the land, of all animals, and, of course, women).

Another interesting aside is that people who tend to identify as dog lovers in gendered ways usually prefer large dogs. I knew someone once who was so biased in his preference for big dogs over small ones, that he would insist that small dogs weren't really dogs at all, but "rats." He'd point out a small dog and say, "Oh, look, it's a rat." I'm not even kidding -- his identity as a dog person was so wrapped up in the size of the animal that he had a hard time even classifying small dogs as real canines, and needed to come up with an insulting way to identify those small dogs.

But I digress. I think there is a reason for large dog preference, too (at least as it relates to gender issues and identities). Large dogs are sometimes called "man dogs" (yes, I've heard them referred to as such). I think, in terms of gendered relationships with animals, some men prefer the requisite obedience and unconditional love of a large dog because it's evidence that he has been able to dominate such a large (sometimes frightening) animal. For these men, it may mean more to them that they can show the world that a big, tough-looking animal (who might bark at or chase others, depending on the dog and how well trained it is) still answers to them, respects them, and, of course, loves them. I think it meets a desire cultivated by ideas pertaining to masculinity in our culture.

So, in short, I think it's possible that we still see remnants of gendered ideas regarding animals in our modern societies and cultures (particularly patriarchal ones). It's no secret that cats are considered to be feminine. And conservative people who believe in maintaining traditional gender roles very often describe themselves as "dog people," often with large "man dogs," and often denounce the idea that cats can be as good a pet choice as dogs. Contrast this with the fact that socially liberal people (and, yes, single women) tend to prefer cats.

Regardless of what all of this may (or may not) mean, I think that to insist there isn't a link between pet preference and gendered ideas would be to overlook a very interesting cultural narrative.