Bunnies are Gender Stereotypes
by Anne Seah
Yes, indeed they are.
Almond is brilliantly white with silver dust dabbed
artfully on long ears, darkening gradually towards the
tips. This smoky look continues with a splash causally
down the back, landing ever so slightly off centre.
Such a fashion sense is hereditary - Almond has the
French blood of both the Dwarf Hotot rabbit and the
French Angora rabbit.
The Dwarf Hotot rabbit is a smaller lagomorph breed
derived from the Blanc de Hotot ("White of Hotot"),
which is in turn a lagomorph breed developed by Madam
E. Bernhard, chatelaine du Calvados. The Dwarf Hotot
rabbit is also known as the "Eyes of the Fancy"
for the remarkably solid black bands encircling its
This, Almond has inherited too, but with moderation.
Instead of thick smudges, Almond's eyes are lined delicately
At the eyes area, Almond's other ancestral gene also
comes into play. The long fur of the French Angora rabbit
manifests as eye lashes which curl gracefully outward
in suspended arcs. And of course, Almond's eyes are
The rest of Almond is much like the standard French
Angora rabbit - fluffy.
Dusty is another picture altogether.
A Netherland Dwarf rabbit belonging to the colour category
of Blue Silver Marten, Dusty is cobalt with fastidious
white markings. The edge of the eyes, the line around
the neck and the precise triangle on the back of it,
the underside, and the streaks on the feet, are all
white - perfectly balanced and neatly contrasted against
the steel which encases the rest of the body.
Dusty's eyes are a simple shade of brown.
If you have guessed that Almond is the doe and Dusty
is the buck, you are spot on.
However, gender stereotypes go beyond mere appearances.
These two rabbits don't just look the parts of the fashion-conscious
female and the reserved male respectively, but even
act like them.
A common sight in my household is Almond nudging her
silky little white head beneath Dusty's. Like the rest
of the humans in the family who are unable to turn down
Almond's request for pats, Dusty would promptly groom
her while she closes her eyes in bliss.
There is no doubt that Almond is the top bunny, the
modern girl with her sensitive new age guy.
While she parties on, racing around the room, gambolling
between our legs and dancing high up into the air, twisting
her white furred body, Dusty either follows quietly
or watches contentedly from the side.
Maybe there's a rational enough genetic explanation
for such gendered behaviours. After all, the Dwarf Hotot
rabbit is notorious for its hyperactivity while the
Netherland Dwarf rabbit is almost always described as
Yet, looking at them, one cannot help but get a sense
that Dusty's bashful way is in fact gentlemanly consideration.
How else does one explain his unfailing attendance
on her night after night when she returns from life
in the fast lane? Patiently stroking her ruffled fur
back to smooth elegance, Dusty is every inch the thoughtful,
His chivalry extends even to sacrificing his own comfort.
Before meeting Almond, Dusty's favourite lounging spot
had been under my bed, against the wall.
This must be a snug, cosy place for a bunny since it
is also Almond's preferred resting area.
On their first date out together underneath my bed,
Almond customarily plopped herself down in that exact
spot against the wall. With her four legs stretched
straight out, Almond was the epitome of utter relaxation
and complete contentment.
Dusty stared at her. For a while. And then hopped off
onto the lowest shelf of my bookcase where he settled
himself in for the first time.
From that moment on, the spot underneath my bed, against
the wall, became officially Almond's. Dusty reclines
in the bookshelf instead, where she joins him every
now and then when she wishes.
As the quintessential heterosexual couple, Dusty also
naturally acquiesces to Almond in the matter of hygiene.
That thin, but unmistakable whiff of pungency which
used to envelope Dusty, vaporised soon after Almond
moved in with him.
Maybe she said something to him, maybe it was just
the persisting sight of her grooming herself unceasingly
at great length. I have seen her go on for a full twenty
minutes, relentlessly cleaning her soles till they dazzle.
Though their gender differences are most clearly highlighted
in the dynamics of their relationship, these differences
are also apparent in individual idiosyncrasies.
While Almond eats her strawberries daintily, Dusty
stamps his feet in annoyance when they are offered to
him. He prefers bananas, which he gobbles up. Of course,
Almond has no taste for this particular fruit.
Such gender stereotypes.
Yet, I say to Almond and Dusty, "You go, girl!"
and really, "What a wonderful guy."