Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 10: Feminist Dilemmas, Light Switches & Veg/an Vampires

November 4th, 2009 7:15 pm by Kelly Garbato

I know y’all hear this entirely too often, but it’s been a long time since I last posted an intersectionality link roundup. Too long! What can I say? VeganMoFo monopolized my October. (But seriously, we have to stop intersecting like this.)

Alas, many of these links are a little older, but still worth a look.

Jennie @ That Vegan Girl: Vegans and vampires and

Breeze Harper @ Vegans of Color: Twilight and Vegetarian Vampires? New Philosophy book…

Though I’ve shied away from the Twilight series due to its not-so-subtle misogyny, I may have to reconsider, given the books’ allusions to vegetarianism. Nor is vegetarianism an uncommon theme in vampire fiction. In the first link, Jennie explores vegetarianism and veganism in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, as well as the HBO TV series True Blood (which is based on another series of books, Charlaine Harris’s The Southern Vampire Mysteries). In the second, Breeze Harper of VOC points to a new anthology on the subject, Twilight and Philosophy: Vampires, Vegetarians, and the Pursuit of Immortality, which has since been added to my wishlist.

Ari Solomon @ The Huffington Post: The Feminist’s Dilemma

Vegan entrepreneur and dudely feminist (or pro-feminist/ally, if you prefer) Ari Soloman argues that the plight of nonhuman animals is indeed a feminist issue. Using the lives and deaths of “dairy” cows as an example, he posits that the human exploitation of nonhuman animals is oftentimes gendered, with the females of the species suffering especially brutal and prolonged abuses – all because they’re capable of perpetuating the species/industry. Naturally, I agree.

Stephanie @ Animal Rights: Columbus Day and Oppression — Against Humans, Against Animals, Against Nature

Like Stephanie, I am not a fan of Columbus Day. Never have been. Even before I knew the meaning of words such as “colonialism,” “genocide,” “imperialism,” “revisionist,” – or even “speciesism” – I knew I disliked the holiday and all it stood for. A murderous, thieving, bumbling explorer lands on an already-occupied land, claims it for the despots who financed the expedition, and commences to slaughter, enslave and infect the native inhabitants. Happy “Invade, Conquer, Enslave, Exploit, Infect, and Kill Day,” indeed.

Here, Stephanie links the oppression of human animals – and our celebration of these wrongdoings – to the oppression of non human animals:

the way we claim ownership and exert control over our fellow animals is related to the way we have, for centuries, done this to our fellow humans and to nature, in that the instincts come from the same place. The arrogant, oppressive, selfish, and imperialistic ways of thinking and living — that many don’t consciously recognize as driving the way we humans have moved, and continue to move, through the world — are the basis as much for the way we think of and treat our fellow animals as they are for the way we think of and treat forests and oceans and the way we have, for so many years, thought of and treated our fellow humans.

Anyone and anything that is “other” is here for us to conquer, control, and find a way to use for our own benefit. Nothing and no one exists for its or his or her own purposes. What we see (“discover”) and want, we take. As a general rule, we humans see ourselves not as a part of this world but as the rulers of it, as the rulers of all that and who supposedly need conquered, controlled, and tamed.

To me, Columbus Day is just the first in a trifecta of perverse autumnal/winter holidays that glorify the worst that humanity has to offer: racism, xenophobia, misogyny, colonialism, genocide, ecocide, rampant consumerism, classism, anthropocentrism, speciesism – you name it. Thanksgiving honors the goodwill of the pioneers’ Native American hosts by obscuring all that came next – and by serving up the carcasses of 45 million members of a single species, in a scant 24 hours. Likewise, Christmas purports to celebrate “peace on earth” with the slaughter of millions of turkeys, pigs, chickens and cows.

Whereas Columbus Day is most certainly a cause worth losing, methinks Thanksliving and the ambiguous winter holiday formerly know as Christmas can might still be saved.

Bust Blog: But Why Bacon?

Bust covers the “bacon craze” (chocolate-covered bacon, bacon clubs, bacon brittle, bacon bookmarks; say what now?) – which seems to have culminated (degraded?) in the cult popularity of the “bacon bra” – in a disturbingly flip manner. While the speciesism is to be expected (someone send them a copy of The Sexual Politics of Meat, stat), the sexism is disconcerting to say the least (even coming from a fluffyfunfeminist rag like Bust). Cupcakes are too “girly”? Men can’t enjoy food that looks good? WTF, Bust?

Also, newsflash: the price of “meat” is artificially deflated. Factor in animal ag’s hidden costs (air and water pollution, deforestation, habitat loss, climate change, obesity, heart disease, cholesterol, antibiotic resistance, etc., etc., etc.) and a plant-based diet is clearly a more economical choice.

ADME.RU: “Goodman” dressed people in the meat

Taking the “bacon bra” to its logical extreme: via The Frisky – who titles the post in a predictable condescending manner (“A Fashion Show Not For The Vegetarians” – Oh, so clever and funny! Not.) – via Copyranter comes word of a Russian “fashion show” (read: a promotional stunt for – what else? – a steakhouse) wherein the clothing is made of “food” (read: “meat”).

The writeup is in Russian; whereas Babblefish gives a comically awful page translation, Google’s is much more understandable, if not wholly accurate.

Here’s a snippet, sans photos. (Major trigger warning for those who find the sight of dead and dismembered animals troubling.)

The owner of the network steakhouse Goodman decided to promote the meat not only in the restaurant, but also on the podium. He arranged a promotional campaign “Eat your steak. Be a man.”

October 15 in a shopping center on Novinsky Boulevard steakhouse Goodman spent a strange campaign – “Eat your steak. Be a man.” They promised to “feast of steak” and “brutal fashion shows, imbued with the spirit of primitive society.” But the steaks for some reason was not.

Goodman repeat customers and partners of the company that owns the steak house “Arpikom” on business. Tusovka periodically interrupted by a voice from the speakers, who summoned the spirit of Big Brother: “Eat your steak. Be a man. Be natural in their desires, be consistent in their desires, be independent in their desires.”

While the campaign’s stated rationale seems to be riddled with primitive, “Man the Hunter” tripe, the actual outfits are only partially reminiscent of the “caveman” archetype. For example, the first photo featured in the article – an advertisement for the “fashion show” (?) – depicts a fierce-looking woman flanked by two equally fierce-looking men, all of whom are decked out in Flinstone-esque frocks. But scroll down, and it becomes apparent that the bulk of the “outfits” are quite contemporary in nature: ’80s “meat” leggings, gold-chained “meat” purses, biker “meat” vests, etc. I’m pretty sure Neaderthals didn’t wear wallet chains, y’all!

So which is it: are we primitive, carnivorous cannibals or snooty, refined socialites? Is “meat” the natural state of things – or are we social creatures, adaptable and open to change and evolution? You can’t wear your “meat” and eat it too, people.

Vegan Feminist Agitator: The switch inside… and

Jennie @ That Vegan Girl: Three years in

On her three-year veganversary, Jennie reflects upon her transition – from an omnivorous diet to a plant-based one and, eventually, to a vegan mindset. In so doing, she points to an illuminating (pun so intended) metaphor drawn by Marla at Vegan Feminist Agitator, wherein Marla likens veganism to a light switch:

Imagine the switch as the mechanism that turns on a light. Either it’s the kind of switch that turns on a blast of light at once (the equivalent of a mental epiphany) or it’s a dimmer switch, slowly illuminating a room over time (the equivalent of a slow dawning). This light switch reveals the arbitrariness, brutality and injustice of our dominion over non-humans. Occasionally people have the light switch engaged but then decide that they no longer want to see all that it exposes, or that they still do see but it doesn’t affect them the same way any longer. (They can see but have turned off the corresponding feeling switch.) For most of the vegans I know, though, I would say that once that light switch turned on – either as an epiphany or a slow dawning or somewhere in between – it is stuck on. From that point on (the point being where recognition leads to an inner- and outer-transformation) our new perspective has fundamentally altered us. The veil has been removed and we can clearly see.

Marla also expresses the universal frustration that (surely) all vegans feel when friends, family and acquaintances – especially otherwise progressive friends, family and acquaintances – refuse to see that which is plainly evident (clear as day!) to the rest of us: namely, that nonhuman animals are sentient, living, breathing, feeling beings, with friends, families, acquaintances, thoughts and desires of their own. They are not property, nor objects, nor tools, but people – not humans, but people, at least in every way that matters.

I can’t help but wonder if this process – this light switch – is at play in other types of isms: sexism, racism, ableism, etc. While nonhuman animals have surely been subjected to the most extensive, brutal and merciless forms of abuse, exploitation, and dehumanization/objectification, members of various marginalized groups have similarly been devalued and oppressed throughout human history. Did forward-thinking activists of (not-always-so) bygone eras feel the sense of hopeless frustration during the early days of their respective movements? Will we ever reach a point in time when the rights of nonhuman animals are as self-evident as those of humans?

“The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men.” (Alice Walker)

I hope so; I fear not.

The Curvature: The Problem with Hoping Rapists Will Be Raped

Cara at The Curvature deconstructs a sentiment often expressed about rapists, namely, a hope that someone (usually a fellow inmate) will similarly rape them in the future, so that they can experience the horror they once inflicted upon another. Creating categories of “rape-able” people, Cara argues, is self-defeating (as well as misogynistic and homophobic); as long as it’s acceptable to inflict violence upon another human being, we have not succeeded in our anti-rape activism. Additionally, denying even the “least” of us the right to his or her bodily integrity is wrong, and cracks the door for our acceptance of further violations in the future.

This idea can also be extended to other violations, such as murder; no one has a right to take the life of another, unless it’s in self-defense (i.e., a matter of immediate survival; a death penalty imposed by the state does not qualify as such). Nor does it end with crimes committed against humans. Just as the wish for like vengeance is common in discussions of rape, so too is it found in cases of animal abuse and exploitation. While I understand the urge – have felt it myself, on not a few occasions – I do not accept it. Neither should you.

The Wall Street Journal: Police to Search for Bodies in Walls of Cleveland Home

Convicted rapist and “alleged” serial rapist/murderer Anthony Sowell killed at least eleven women (though the victims’ sexes have yet to be determined, odds are 100:1 on XX) and stashed their corpses around his property – including in his home, where he lived alongside his victims as their bodies decomposed. Thus far,

Investigators […] found two bodies in the third-floor living room, two in an upstairs crawl space and one in the basement. Another was found in a shallow grave in the backyard.

On Tuesday, police found four more bodies in Mr. Sowell’s backyard, as well as a skull wrapped in paper inside a bucket in his basement.

Reportedly, neighbors have been aware of – and complaining about – the odor emanating from Sowell’s property for at least several years.

Neighbors had long complained of a foul odor coming from the beige and red vinyl-sided home with a small, but well-kept front yard in a run-down neighborhood. One nearby home has a for-sale sign out front, with an asking price of $15,000.

Starlena Hood, 28, moved three doors down from the home four years ago when she was pregnant. She said the smell was so bad the first time she walked past the house that she went home and vomited.

City Councilman Zack Reed said his office received a complaint about the odor in 2007. It was described as smelling like a rotting body, “not meat but a body,” he said. But right next door is Ray’s Sausage, and Mr. Reed said everyone assumed the smell came from there.

Mr. Reed said the owner of the sausage shop told him he had spent $10,000 replacing the plumbing in the shop to address the stink.

“Clearly, the ball was dropped,” Mr. Reed said, of the long delay in discovering the bodies, despite all the complaints of odor. Still, he said, “everybody’s mindset was there was a sausage factory next door—it has to be meat.”

Does anyone else find it disturbing – not that it’s the only disturbing facet of this case, mind you – that authorities could blame the smell of rotting corpses on an adjacent sausage factory, and do so credibly? If sausage can be confused with decomposing human bodies, is it really the sort of “sustenance” one should use to fuel one’s body? And is there really all that much difference between the dead flesh of pigs and the dead flesh of humans, anyhow?

So much suffering and death crammed into one city block.

(This isn’t to suggest, by the way, that the police would have caught and stopped Sowell earlier, if not for that pesky sausage factory! Clearly, this is yet another example – in a long line of them – of public authorities not affording women the consideration and protection due them. E.g., in recent memory, see: Phillip Garrido, who kidnapped, raped and imprisoned Jaycee Dugard, holding her captive in his backyard for 18 years – despite a decade of supervision by state parole officials; the Richmond High School gang rape, in which a young girl was beaten and raped over the course of two hours and by 7 to 20 men, on school grounds and during a school event; or any of the many women murdered after obtaining restraining orders against their attackers.)

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Photo via Flickr user enslavedbyfaeries, who may or may not be a vegetarian vampire, enslavement by faeries aside.

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2 Responses to “Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 10: Feminist Dilemmas, Light Switches & Veg/an Vampires”

  1. Jennie Says:

    Thanks for the link to the Twighlight/Vegetarian book – it’s on my wishlist and my giftlist for my very smart, but very Twilight obsessed, teenaged sister! I’m glad it wasn’t just me who was like, huh, this COULD be a great argument for veganism. If there is an argument, it’s not an intentional one, but I’m trying my hardest to see some kind of value in those books, since apparently a whole generation had read them and been seriously affected. Fair warning if you decide to read them: they will make you puke in anger.

  2. Kelly G. Says:

    There’s a pretty good chance I’ll skip right over Twilight, to the book *about* Twilight. But it has to get in line behind the Philosophy of Lost!

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