Forget About “IT”

My challenge to all mindful people of the world is this: Never refer to an animal as an “it.”

The word “it” is generally used in our language to denote an object.  Culturally, however, many of us have learned to use this word as a general reference to an animal, as well.  But to do this is to object-ify them and not acknowledge the individuality and sanctity of this being’s life.

Just like us, every animal is either a he or a she and should be identified as such.  (If you’re not sure which, you can always say “he or she” or use the word “they” in the singular.)  While this might seem like an exercise in semantics, it is not.  It’s actually the first important step we can take to recognize the inherent interconnectedness that exists between “us and them.”  By making this gender distinction, we set the stage for other acknowledgments, like the fact that every animal has parents, personal preferences, the ability to feel pain and express emotion, and the right to live out their days on this planet in peace, under our compassionate guardianship.

As you engage the practice of always acknowledging gender, you will feel differently about all animals and deepen your connection to them.  And you will also begin to notice how few people actually practice this!

About Bobby Rock

Bobby Rock is a world renown drummer, the author of nine books, and a recognized health and fitness specialist with certifications in exercise, nutrition and meditation. He has recorded and toured with a variety of artists, released three CDs as a solo performer and is recognized as a top drumming educator. He is currently touring with rock icon, Lita Ford. Through speaking, writing and activism, Bobby remains committed to a number of animal and environmental causes. Bobby lives in Los Angeles.
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6 Responses to Forget About “IT”

  1. Lisamarie says:

    THANK you for this post, Bobby, and you’re right–this IS a good, first step to recognizing animals as living, feeling objects. I’ve also been experiencing the interconnectnedness we really DO share with the other living beings who share the Earth with us since becoming vegetarian and, as of Memorial Day weekend, merging on into veganism. I haven’t paid much attention to how I’ve been referring to animals pronoun-wise when talking to others about them, and this post reminds me that I need to watch this. Also when I hear somebody else refer to an animal as an “it”, I feel compelled now, after your pointing this out, to correct them in a nice way as well.
    Also may I make a recommendation to all the readers here?
    In case some people here haven’t heard of it, there is an EXCELLENT, powerful animal rights film called “Earthlings” that you should check out, which touches on the very points here, as well as ALOT more and is definitely worth a look when you have some time.
    You can find it on YouTube–just type Earthlings in the search box for videos.
    Or I think there is a direct link–, although I’m not sure of this, so if you try that and it doesn’t work I’d do the YouTube search.

    Thanks again Bobby! 🙂

  2. Bobby Rock says:

    Lisamarie –

    Just to share another perspective…I personally don’t correct anyone when I hear them refer to an animal as an “it” for the following two reasons:

    1. Certain people in the vegan/veggie movement tend to come across very evangelical about their convictions to others. This usually only serves to reinforce the “self-righteous vegan motherfucker” stereotype and keep people on the defensive with regard to being open to new lifestyle philosophies. In my experience, whenever we correct someone in such a way, it can often come across as an unwelcomed interjection of our beliefs, and will usually be disregarded with a roll of the eyes. Which brings us to point #2…

    2. Influencing by example is usually best. So when someone hears me refer to any mammal, fish, bird or insect as a “he” or “she,” through their observation, they have a chance to connect the dots and process it in their own head, their own way. Of course, if they ASK me about it, that’s a different story. That means they’re receptive or at least interested in the concept, so then I’ll usually explain my perspective to some degree.

    But again, all of this is just my own personal approach…

  3. Lisamarie says:

    Yeah I guess you’re right, Bobby–I didn’t think about it like that. Maybe it’s just better to get into the habit of properly referring to animals and living beings myself, i.e. he, she, they, instead of correcting others–thanks for the advice.
    Also if I may ask another bit of advice, since we’re on the subject of animals, and since I’ve learned to see them in a whole new perspective from what I did when I ate them, I’m finding I have to bit my tongue every time I’m in a non-vegetarian restaurant/cafe and hear someone order meat, or hear a co-worker talking about how they cooked this meat casserole or what-not because of course what I hear when someone else says, “hamburger” or “sausage” is “dead ground up, murdered cow” or “dead tortured pig” and want to say “how can you buy and eat that” so bad, you know? So my question is just how have you learned to cope with living in a world of meat-eaters who don’t see eating animals the same as you do, hearing and seeing all the advertisements about steak and what-not, having learned to think of meat as what it really is, as opposed to how people are conditioned to think of it?
    Thanks in advance if you can give me some thoughts on this, as I want to be a happy, positive vegetarian/vegan to the the point where it shines so that people are influenced by it, instead of letting myself be upset and bothered by the popularity of meat-eating, as I know that isn’t something that is going to go away no matter what one might do or say to try to convince others go veg–realistically I know not everyone is going to change their eating habits, unfortunately.

  4. MARIO says:




  5. heather says:

    Thought about this one for a few days…

    Consider the number of people who refer to living things as “it”, yet will call a ship “she” and often attribute not only gender, but personality traits to their vehicles. Ironic?

    It is interesting to note that most people who hunt with the intent of eating what they kill will refer to their prey as “he” or “she”.

  6. Bobby Rock says:

    Heather –

    Yes…ironic, indeed, that we would refer to an object as a gender and a being with a gender as an object…unless we’re gonna fucking kill it!

    It’s an unfortunate sign of our times at the moment, but all the more reason why we have to do our best to live by these higher ideals.


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