Allison Benedikt

Some days, the whole world is out to push your berserk button.

Today it’s Slate columnist Allison Benedikt, who made the curious decision to out herself as a massive asshole with an article about how she hates and neglects her dog.  Read the whole thing if you’ve got your puke bucket handy; here’s a little taste:

A friend of mine once told me that before he had a kid, he would have run into a burning building to save his cats. Now that he has a kid, he would happily drown the cats in the bathtub if it would help his son take a longer nap. Here is how I feel about that statement: Velvel, avoid the bathroom.

It’s not that I don’t love my dog. It’s just that I don’t love my dog. And I am not alone. A very nonscientific survey of almost everyone I know who had a dog and then had kids now wishes they had never got the dog. This is a near universal truth, even for parents with just one child, though I have more.

Through the rest of the article, she admits to never exercising the dog, never bathing him, stuffing him with treats to make him stop barking, and then, when he develops obesity-related health problems, not remembering or caring what they are.

Allison Benedikt (Guillermo del Toro's interpretation)

Allison Benedikt (Guillermo del Toro’s interpretation)

My initial reaction: OH MY GOD GET HER KIDS AWAY FROM HER!  One of the very first things I learned in my humane society orientation was that, where animals are being abused and neglected, people often are too.  Quoth the Humane Society of the United States:

Whether owing to lack of empathy, mental illness, or substance abuse, a person who fails to provide minimal care for the family pet is more likely to neglect the basic needs of other dependents in the household. In many cases, children found living among the squalor of neglected pets are taken into foster care.

I bet she’d love us to believe that she never walks her dog and ignores its health needs because she’s too busy being a gold-star mom to her children.  Doesn’t work that way.  If you feel it’s acceptable to blow off her essential responsibilities towards one dependent, you’re going to feel that way towards another.  If she didn’t have a dog to blame, would she find that she just hadn’t had time to clean the bathroom in the past four years?  Or that her baby was keeping her so busy that she never got around to putting food on the table for the preschooler?

The absolute lack of empathy is the second-most startling thing about the article (the most startling being holy fuck she jokes about drowning her dog).  Not just empathy for the dog, but for her children as well.  Everything is focused on herself and her alone.  Throughout, she demonstrates a consistent choice to do whatever makes her life the absolute easiest at that instant, regardless of the harm it may cause others or what problems it may create in the long run.  The result?  A dog who barks excessively (a common behavior problem among bored, neglected dogs) and a four-year-old who can’t wipe his own butt.  I was wondering how normal the latter is, so I looked it up and found this rather direct answer from a child development specialist:

Four year olds should do their own wiping.

Dare I ask what happens when the kids stop being little and cute and start getting attitudes and the novelty wears off?  She’s already joked about drowning something in the bathtub.

This is the sort of person we’re going to see on the news someday.

There will be a heartwrenchingly-acted French film about her.

Everyone will go “Why didn’t we see the signs?”  Because they were there.  Oh yes, they were there.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Allison Benedikt

  1. ronanwills

    Uh, wow.

    I think what gets me is less the fact that she neglects her dog but that she feels absolutely no guilt about it. I have both a dog and a cat and if I realize I’ve been ignoring them even for a day due to college work or something I feel really bad about it; that doesn’t mean I don’t still do it, but I admit it’s a failing on my part.

    I also absolutely agree that someone who neglects an animal shouldn’t be a parent. It’s in situations like this that I wish there was a way for the government to step in and act before the abuse starts, instead of waiting for it to be discovered.

    “A very nonscientific survey of almost everyone I know who had a dog and then had kids now wishes they had never got the dog.”

    Sadly I often get the feeling that you could switch “kid” and “dog” in this sentence and come up with an equally true statement. A lot of people have kids because they think they’re supposed to, realize too late that they don’t want kids, and then end up treating them with bitterness and resentment.

  2. Now that you’ve introduced me to the world of Allison Benedikt…

    I think that the point of her essays is that they’re written in a narcissistic tone. They’re flame bait, in that the point isn’t to get people arguing about her ideas or sharing stories their own stories but judging whether Benedikt is terrible and if so, exactly how terrible.

    That said, why doesn’t she just shave the dog’s ass?

  3. I’ve always noticed that compassion isn’t just something you show, it’s a mindset you live with. Those who don’t care about the poor or single mothers probably don’t care about you, even if you’re none of those things. People who can’t be arsed to treat animals well probably can’t be arsed to treat people well, either.

    I suppose relevant biblical references would be Luke 6:45 and Proverbs 12:10.

  4. Thank you for writing this. Yes, I fear for her children. I fear for her present pets. I’ve even offered to take her dog and give it a good home. But it seems she would rather neglect/abuse it to death. I hope CPS and animal control check this lady out, before it gets any worse. She deserves to lose her writing job, as well as her dependents. All of them. For shame! I hope she gets treatment…

  5. Somnolent

    I think I’m going to cry. The woman is a veritable sociopath. She reminds me all too well of a man who used to live in my building and neglected his own pet horribly; his basset hound was nearly invisible to him and the poor thing could hardly lift his head up due to the lack of energy. Thank goodness we reported the man before he went too far …
    Speaking of getting one’s puke bucket ready – what did you think of Thicke’s Blurred Lines? Or maybe its feminist counterpart, Defined Lines? I’d honestly love to hear your take on them.

    • katz

      Honestly, I haven’t had the stomach to actually watch Blurred Lines.

      But thank you for being a friend to your neighbor’s basset hound!

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