Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 12: The Wordy Vegan

December 8th, 2009 3:25 pm by Kelly Garbato

The Handmaid's Tale (BBC Radio 4, 2000)

The Vegan Ideal: Our Bodies and Lives

In a series of posts, Ida dissects and rejects the cissexual “colonization” of transsexual bodies and experiences. While transphobia and cissexism are primarily linked with physical violence and systemic discrimination, discounting and silencing the voices of transsexuals – often in favor of cissexuals’ own mis-/un-informed theories and assumptions – is problematic as well. Unfortunately, transphobia and cissexism are all-too common in a number of “progressive” circles – including animal rights and vegan communities. Here, Ida takes vegetarian-ecofeminists to task for their transphobic attitudes.

This isn’t exactly light reading, but I encourage y’all to read each piece anyhow, and with an open mind. If you find transsexuality a difficult concept to grasp, consider this: given your position of not-knowing (read: ignorance), isn’t it best, then, to trust the thoughts, experiences and feelings of those most intimately affected by transsexuality – i.e., transsexuals themselves – and to place their voices in a position of primacy?

Part 1: Our Bodies and Lives: Transsexual Knowledge and Resistance;
Part 2: Our Bodies and Lives: Transphobic Trauma, Transsexual Healing; and
Part 3: Our Bodies and Lives: Questioning Cissexual Politics.

Steven @ L.O.V.E.: Toward vegan language and

Stephanie @ Animal Rights: Not It and That and What — She and He and Who and Whom

The importance of language – including word choice, pronoun usage, framing, writing in the active vs. the passive voice, etc., etc., etc. – is a subject we haven’t discussed nearly enough on this blog. Fear not; a review of An Introduction to Carnism – in which language assumes a starring role – is forthcoming, and once I’m able to return to Animal Equality: Language and Liberation (a year after beginning it, perhaps? oy!), I expect that you won’t be able to shut me up with the language “policing.”

Until then, Steven outlines four reasons why animal advocates should – must! – concern ourselves with language. Also check out Stephanie’s piece on pronoun choice and objectification.

Katie Drummond @ True/Slant: MEAT the need: just total, absolute fail;

Alicia @ Vegans of Color: Agriculture Proposal Gives Meat To The Poor–To Get Rid Of It; and

Animal Person: A Win-Lose Proposition for Farmers and Consumers

In a situation that’s all kinds of fucked up, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) has proposed a corporate welfare program designed to help prop up the flagging “meat” and dairy industries. Called “MEAT the Need,” this initiative will dump unwanted, unhealthy animal-based foodstuffs on those receiving food stamps and similar food-based aid. Given that people of color, women and children are disproportionately represented in low-income communities, NASDA’s scheme is racist, sexist and ageist in addition to speciesist and classist. (Not to mention anti-capitalist and undemocratic. As Mary notes, why no false job creation for editors or writers?)

Suicide Food: Bathing Beauty: a paradox

In a stroke of genius, Ben contemplates the paradox of the “Sexy Sow”:

We understand the impulse that leads to suicidefoodism. We understand the comfort derived from animals who appear pleased with people’s desire to kill and eat them. We deplore it, but we understand it. We don’t understand, however, this desire to see “food” animals as sexual beings. Is it the horror movie cliché of wishing violence on the sinful? Exactly why are they made scapegoats? For what must they be punished? And how, exactly, does this put anyone’s mind at ease and create psychological distance?

It’s as though seeing in them some aspect of humanity has made it easier for them to be objectified.

By feminizing and sexualizing “meat” animals, we transform innocent creatures into slutty women – women who deserve to be punished for the “crime” of engaging in and/or enjoying sex.

Who says misogyny and speciesism aren’t at related?

Animal Person: The Irony of The Girl Effect

Speaking of misogyny and speciesism (aren’t we always?), Mary points out the conflicting messages presented on a recent episode of Oprah. On World AIDS Day, guests spoke out against the enslavement and exploitation of women – while (some) simultaneously celebrating the enslavement and exploitation of nonhuman animals, ostensibly as a means of liberating women.

As Mary notes,

The conclusion that seems inevitable regarding nonhuman slaves is the same one that explains why women are still living as slaves: they are not seen as valuable the way men are.

The impulse might be to say that we need to work on freeing women first, and then work on animals. But it’s the same concept that underlies both situations: viewing others as commodities that you have a right to exploit. The only problem is that in the case of animals, most people don’t see that yet. Our job, it seems to me, is to help them see it.

Injustice wears many masks, but behind them all is the same face: the belief that you have the right to use and profit from someone else’s life.

No one is free while others are oppressed.

Elaine @ Vegan Soapbox: A Matter Of Taste

In a larger review of Eating Animals, Elaine explains “boar taint” to us – a concept of which we were both previously unaware. (She, before reading Eating Animals; me, before reading her review of Eating Animals. I’ve no plans to read the book myself; it strikes me as 2009’s Dominion. In other words, yawn.)

Boar taint – “the ‘offensive’ odour or taste that is often evident during the cooking or eating of pork or pork products derived from non-castrated male pigs once they reach puberty.” – “necessitates” the castration of piglets, without anesthesia, of course. Elaine likens this to the “feminization” of male pigs’ flesh – an astute observation, I think. Consumers’ aversion to “boar taint,” and the resulting abuses, illustrate how hierarchical systems are harmful to all of those who reside within them. While female animals, by and large, suffer the worst abuses in animal agriculture industries – and these abuses are primarily based on sex membership – males are victims, too.

Food Empowerment Project: Year end wrap up / December 1, 2009 eNewsletter

If you’re not following the work of the Food Empowerment Project, you should be. Focusing on issues of intersectionality (speciesism, poverty, classism, racism, environmental degradation, etc.), the group

seeks to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one’s food choices. We encourage healthy food choices that reflect a more compassionate society by spotlighting the abuse of animals on farms, the depletion of natural resources, unfair working conditions for produce workers, and the unavailability of healthy foods in low-income areas.

By making informed choices, we can prevent injustices against animals, people, and the environment. We also work to discourage negligent corporations from pushing unhealthy foods into low-income areas and empower people to make healthier choices by growing their own fruits and vegetables. In all of our work, the Food Empowerment Project seeks specifically to empower those with the fewest resources.

In its latest newsletter, the Food Empowerment Project details a survey it began in 2009 in order to assess the availability of healthy foods in low-income communities in Santa Clara County, CA. Findings and recommendations will be released next year.

You can sign up to receive the group’s newsletters here. If you can, please consider making a donation to support their work.

Bitch Blogs: The Transcontinental Disability Choir: How to make your blog accessible in five not-very-complicated steps

Last but not least, Bitch blogger Anna Palindrome offers five “not-very-complicated steps” for making your blog more accessible to those with different needs and abilities. This is only the tip of the iceberg; click through her recommended reading list for more.

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3 Responses to “Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 12: The Wordy Vegan”

  1. steve from LOVE Says:

    Kelly, thanks for linking and discussing my post about veganism and language. I really appreciate that.

    Not to diminish my thanks, but I wanted to point out–it was slightly ironic that you used the words “should” and “must” in calling people to action on these issues; to me, “should” and “must” seem to imply a coercive attitude that I would try to avoid. (The “language & hierarchy” section of “Toward vegan language” addresses this.)

    It’s no ‘big deal’ or anything, but i figured I would point it out. Sometimes shifting our language use can be just as tricky as shifting our diet..!

    thanks again for sharing our work!
    steve

  2. Kelly G. Says:

    Point taken, Steve! Old habits :)

  3. Link soup | Liberation BC blog Says:

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