Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 7: Meat, Love & Objectification

August 19th, 2009 12:14 pm by Kelly Garbato

Update, 9/2/09: Carol Adams is soliciting videos for the upcoming 20th anniversary of The Sexual Politics of Meat; check out her Twitter account for more info and examples.

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The Discerning Brute: EAT LIKE A MAN.

The Discerning Brute weighs in on the conflation of “meat” consumption with masculinity:

How do rabbits eat? They carefully chew Vegetation. Strangely, no man scoffs at being compared to a rabbit when it comes to sex. “Doing it like rabbits” flatters a man’s virility, yet eating a diet that supports that same rabbit’s virility is lampooned. Instead, we consume entire animals with superstitious hopes of appropriating their strengths. The cover of September 2009’s Esquire Magazine proclaims “Eat Like A Man” and leads to a sixteen-page cover-story entitled “How Men Eat”. It is a total meat-fest. A cheesy, eggy, frat party wrapped in bacon and bathed in blood.

The offending article doesn’t seem to be available on Esquire’s website, though you can read about famous chefs’ favorite fast food joints, with much love for In & Out Burger. Gag.

Er, on second thought, no gag; that’s probably the womanly reaction the meat-eating manly men at Esquire are hoping for.

Carol J. Adams: The Sexual Politics of Meat Slide Show

Carol Adams has revamped her website since last I visited. The new setup includes a blog, interviews and – best of all – a Sexual Politics of Meat slideshow.

Apparently a 20th anniversary edition of The Sexual Politics of Meat is due out this fall; since I have the 1999 edition, I’m contemplating whether I should upgrade. It’s been awhile since I’ve read them, but I preferred The Pornography of Meat, Adams’s follow-up to The Sexual Politics of Meat – it’s more visual, less theoretical/academic. Then again, I read each in my college/vegetarian days, so wtf did I know? Perhaps an ’09 edition, with some new material, will provide an excuse to revisit Sexual Politics in my adulthood.

Daniel Brook @ Tikkun Magazine: The Planet-Saving Mitzvah: Why Jews Should Consider Vegetarianism

Daniel Brook begins this lengthy piece on the compatibility of vegetarianism with Judaism thusly:

In Why Be Jewish? Rabbi David J. Wolpe writes that “Judaism emphasizes good deeds because nothing else can replace them. To love justice and decency, to hate cruelty and to thirst for righteousness-that is the essence of the human task.” The human task, therefore, is to be a mensch: a good, kind, and compassionate person.

One of the ways to follow our rich tradition while putting Judaism’s highest ideals into daily practice is to choose vegetarianism. In the words of Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, “I see vegetarianism as a mitzvah“-a sacred duty and good deed.

Maimonides postulated thirteen principles of the Jewish faith, while Rabbi Moses Cordovero wrote about The Thirteen Divine Attributes. Here are thirteen categorical imperatives suggesting why Jews should seriously consider vegetarianism and then move in that direction.

What are the thirteen imperatives? You’ll have to click on over to Tikkun Magazine to find out! (Hint: A few of the principles include vegetarianism for the animals’ sake – and veganism makes an appearance, as well!)

Renee @ Feministe: Costco and The Lil’ Monkey Doll

The short of it: Costco recently yanked a line of children’s dolls from its shelves. The dolls include a Caucasian doll dressed in a hat which reads “Pretty Panda” and comes packaged with a stuffed panda – and a black doll whose hat reads “Lil’ Monkey.” As if that’s not offensive enough, she’s packaged with a stuffed monkey and comes holding a banana. (!)

Due to inconsistent and shoddy local/regional/national reporting, it’s unclear whether all the white dolls are “pandas,” and all the black dolls are “monkeys” – or if there’s a mix of skin tones and stuffed animal species. For example, when I first saw this reported on CNN, the black doll was the only one pictured – so I assumed that all the dolls, regardless of skin tone, were packaged as “monkeys.” The piece on Feministe seems to imply that the dolls’ packaging is based on skin tone, with all the white dolls packaged as “pandas,” and all the black dolls packaged as “monkeys.” If you read through the comments, though, a reader suggests that there’s a mix of three skin tones – white, black and Hispanic – and the animal species are evenly distributed amongst all the dolls.

Irregardless of which scenario is true, it doesn’t take a civil rights scholar to realize that comparing people of color to monkeys, chimpanzees and other non-human primates is racist. As I’ve written previously,

Comparing people of color to nonhuman animals – particularly primates, such as chimps and monkeys – is a familiar, age-old racist meme. Denying the humanity of people of color – again, by likening them to nonhuman animals, which are presumably “sub-human,” “lesser beings,” “wild” incapable of intelligent thought or emotion, etc. – was used to justify slavery and segregation, and is still employed as a rationalization for current social inequities such as the disproportionately high rates of poverty, hunger and incarceration among people of color.

A commenter at Feministe also linked to this news release from Stanford, “Discrimination against blacks linked to dehumanization, study finds.” It’s well worth a read, and is especially relevant to the New York Post / Sean Delonas affair, in which President Obama was compared to Travis the chimpanzee (who was murdered after he mauled his “owner’s” friend), which included violent, white cop-on-primate/POC imagery.

Deb Durant @ Animal Rights @ Change .org: Chuckles and Arabelle: Who They Are, Not How They “Taste”

In this piece at Change.org, Deb of Invisible Voices talks about a rather disconcerting interaction she had with a visitor while volunteering at Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary:

When the sanctuary held a Farm Tour event recently, I volunteered to work in the chicken/turkey/guinea/peacock area. Early on, a man and woman asked me a few questions. Most of the birds were in the shade under the trees or in the barns, so there wasn’t much for them to see until the guineas wandered into sight. “Do they taste good?” asked the man as his companion shook her head in embarrassment.

I explained to the man that this was a sanctuary, and we don’t eat the animals, that we save them. By his “yeah, but…” response, I am not sure he understood, even after I explained.

What I found jarring was the reminder that he sees living animals and wonders how they taste. I see living animals and I see them as individuals, living their own lives, who should have every right to do exactly that. I watch Chuckles and Arabelle together, and I wonder why they’re always on the move. When they have something to say, they’re loud, and they don’t stop for what often feels like hours. They have their own purpose, their own wants and desires, and even if I don’t understand any but the most basic – the desire to live their life, the desire to eat, and the desire to have a mate – I respect them as individuals. I respect their right to live their life and pursue the things that are important to them, regardless of whether I fully understand what that is.

When I see life, I don’t think about ending it. When I see Arabelle and Chuckles, I see two special lives that have been preserved because of people like Terry and Dave, and the sanctuary they started that exists for that purpose.

When humans wish to dominate a marginalized sub-group of humans, we dehumanize or bestialize them – we “reduce” them to animals (as if we aren’t all animals to begin with!). Animals, in turn, are objectified – reduced to inanimate, non-sentient objects, such as “meat.” Sometimes the process of animalization is circumvented entirely, and humans go directly from “human” to “meat” (thus creating an absent referent of “animals”).

We often recognize that bestializing and objectifying humans is wrong, without also decrying the objectification of animals. Aside from the obvious speciesism at play, this moral blind spot puzzles me: after all, aren’t the same processes at work here? Once humans are primed to deny the thoughts, feelings, emotions and interests of one group of sentient beings (non-human animals), does it not become easier to deny the thoughts, feelings, emotions and interests (“humanity”) of other sentient beings (women, people of color, LGBTQ people, etc., etc., etc.)? Wouldn’t it be more effective, then, to dismantle hierarchies altogether, rather than rearrange the rungs?

Stephanie @ Animal Rights @ Change .org: They Loved Her–So They Mutilated and Tormented Her 60+ Times

Stephanie recounts the sad story of Benson, a 25-year-old fish from Cambridgeshire, England, who was stalked, hunted and tortured throughout her life. Ultimately, Benson’s torment and death (ostensibly from natural causes, though no doubt the repeated stress of being “caught” by a hook to the mouth and tossed back into the water to be “caught” another day) is romanticized and couched in terms like “beauty,” “grief,” “mourning,” etc. The fishermen (and at least one woman) almost sound as though they might be stalking and harassing an uppity ex-girlfriend or desired supermodel. Barf.

And also: see previous item.

Kelly Garbato @ Animal Rights @ Change .org: Fighting Discrimination on All Fronts: Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable-“Pet” Day!

I already linked to this piece in a post I published for Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable “Pet” Day over here, but hey – I’m shameless! I touched upon this issue several times already, but in this piece for Change.org, I stress how “less adoptable” more often than not is a euphemism for animals who are the victims of discrimination – of ageism, ableism, sizeism, breedism – possibly even racism.

Anyway, if you haven’t already, go check it out.

Vegans Against PETA: Vegans Against PETA Badges

Get ’em here.

Just an ETA: I have a number of intersectionality posts in the works, some dating back several months, and in particular several focusing on PETA. I’m itching to write about three recent PETA campaigns and/or statements: the Save the Whales debacle; their Breasts, Not Animal Tests humane research campaign; and their partnership with Bob Barker against roadside zoos in North Carolina / on the Cherokee Reservation, as reported by Royce at Vegans of Color. If you’ve no desire to download a Vegans Against PETA badge now, methinks you will by the time I’m done!

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