We were deeply disappointed to see that the veterinary “satire” group The Raptured Spleen chose to post a wholly unsupportive response to the launch of BVA Microaggressions awareness campaign.
Recent research has shown that one in six vets surveyed have experienced discrimination in their workplace. Those who are subject to discrimination, including microaggressions, experience a significant negative effect on their mental health as a result, as well as the practical effects of the discrimination.
Ironically, this post is itself example of a microaggression. Many people who saw it simply saw a post referencing stereotypical chihuahua behaviour, but for those in affected groups, the implication was clear: your experiences are worth mocking.
This is not the first time that such posts have been used to gain attention. Sadly, this page has a history of disappointing posts in response to issues affecting marginalised groups, and we are aware that individuals who voice their objections in the comments frequently find themselves deleted and blocked.
This page is also not a private, closed group and has over thirty-two thousand followers. It is very likely that many of these are outside the veterinary profession, and as such may influence the public perception of the profession as a whole.
Dr Issa Robson, co-founder of the British Veterinary Ethnicity and Diversity Society (BVEDS)
“It is difficult to see how this was an appropriate response to the BVA microaggressions that ‘harm our colleagues’ posters. In mocking/encouraging others to mock the campaign, not only has it dismissed the testimony of all those that contributed, the post has been shared among multiple workplaces and is open to the general public. This undermines the campaigns aims of encouraging others to feel safe raising microaggressions in the workplace as an issue. It is another example of the disregard for the mental health of marginalised communities from this account.”
Tom Doyle, President of British Veterinary LGBT+, said:
“We strongly support the BVA’s campaign against microaggressions, which adversely affect many members of our professions and particularly people who stand out as different. The non-judgmental tone of the campaign and its attempt to improve the working lives of vets and nurses through education are welcome. It’s therefore very disappointing that this public Facebook group has undermined it with a post that is itself a microaggression, using humour as a weapon. It is hard not to see the post as a political act masquerading as a joke. This is dangerous when the identity and agenda of the person posting are not open, and when comments on posts are actively moderated to exclude dissent. We hope that those responsible for the postme time to reflect on the campaign and do better in future.”
Dr Claire Hodgson, Chair of the British Veterinary Chronic Illness Society (BVCIS) said
“ This post was frustrating as recently the page has had a more supportive tone and we had hoped they had learnt and grown from past mistakes. This post within a day of the BVA campaign launch was disheartening for those in affected groups. Perhaps the author could benefit from reflecting and understanding better what microaggressions are. We recognise this is supposed to be a comedic-political page but satire is supposed to ridicule power. If you are laughing at people who are hurting, that's not satire, that’s bullying”
Those who do not experience regular discrimination may not understand the impact that it can
have over time. However, in a period when the profession is actively looking to improve and support all areas of mental health, those behind The Raptured Spleen are clearly demonstrating that they are not serious in supporting all parts of the veterinary community.
As a community it is time to do better, be better, and make our workplaces a safer environment