In the United States (and other places too), women still do the majority of the housework. Therefore, women perform most of the DIY pest control in the home, even though, in the professional field, men are associated with pest control. Feminist Pest Control acknowledges women for performing this free labor as well as the women who work in professional pest control. Feminist Pest Control also recognizes non-normative partnerships and living situations where the traditional white, middle class heterosexual power structures, real or imagined, are non-existent, and therefore more than one woman performs pest control, no women perform pest control, or no one performs pest control.
Even though women and other feminine genders are imagined as those who experience the majority of phobias, fears, and other negative emotions (think back to hysteria) in relation to human-pest interactions, all humans have different reactions to seeing and living with pests. Women and other feminine genders are not weak for expressing these emotions; men and other masculine genders are not emasculated for expressing these emotions.
Pest infestations highlight intersecting identities and oppressions pertaining to state-sanctioned and institutionally-based racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, nationalism, and classism due to historical associations between filth and non-normative humans. For example, a poor single mother of color may not have the means to live somewhere that has pest prevention measures in place nor could she afford to pay for individualized integrated pest management and treatment. Feminist Pest Control aims to dissociate the presence of pest animals with filth and dirt, and in so doing, remove negative emotions, such as shame, from human-pest co-habitation. An aspiration of Feminist Pest Control is to provide grants to people who cannot afford pest control.
Feminist Pest Control also desires to add “species” and “speciesism” to the list of intersections that people generally associate with intersectional feminism. In addition to sex/gender, race, class, sexual orientation, ability, immigration status, and others, an animal’s species is a means by which humans develop prejudice. Stemming from taxonomic systems deriving from the Great Chain of Being and Carl Linneaus, humans have seen themselves at the top of all species hierarchies. Humans, too, have long used animality rhetoric to dehumanize humans, such as Nazis calling Jews “cockroaches” in the World War II era. These practices both keep the human group at the bottom and the cockroaches lower. Instead, Feminist Pest Control recognizes the aliveness, agency, and value of all living things and inanimate objects following in line with scholars of vital materialism such as Jane Bennett, whose recent book Vibrant Matter: a political ecology of things recognizes the power inherent in all things to shift political economies and ideologies, and Mel Y. Chen, who wrote Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect, which considers “how matter that is considered insensate, immobile, deathly, or otherwise ‘wrong’ animates cultural life in important ways.”
Feminist Pest Control also acknowledges that female pests are most often prejudiced against because they produce offspring, thus proliferating infestation. Feminist Pest Control advocates for female pests because, to some, they should be the most feared and killed.
Feminist Pest Control aims to tear down patriarchalcapitalist systems that produce infrastructures that proliferate pest infestations. Processes such as habitat fragmentation and deforestation through real estate development eliminate the delicate balance of ecosystems leading to species imbalances (more deer, for example). Additionally, city systems such as sewers and waste management create new ecosystems that provide ideal conditions for pest reproduction. Human habitations, in general, also allow pest animals to get out of harsh weather conditions that would usually control populations “naturally.”