Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 22: Shegans, unite!

June 2nd, 2010 10:07 pm by Kelly Garbato

Raising her sword to Grayskull, LOL She-Ra demands, “I Can Haz Equal Rights?” & as long as we’re taking requests, the lady would like a NOMy vegan meal, too. (She’s a Shegan, yo!)
CC image via Brett L. on Flickr.
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The Boston Globe: Men leave their own mark on veganism and

vegansaurus!: He-gan woman-haters club!

Men + vegans = hegans. (Get it!?) Specifically, hegans are “men in their 40s and 50s embracing a restrictive lifestyle to look better, rectify a gluttonous past, or cheat death.” (Or, alternately, hegans are the latest faux-trend created by the newspaper industry in order to 1) hawk their wares and/or 2) avoid reporting on actual news. Be your own decider person.)

Though I prefer the term “hegan” to its predecessor, “femivore” (which, as a word, makes zero sense), it’s still kind of bullshit: in describing this ‘new breed’ of manly vegan men, Pierce is setting up a false dichotomy that portrays ‘regular’ vegan dudes (and women, too) as effeminate, weak and sentimental (‘pussies, queers and commies,’ as hegans might say). Also: paint with a broad brush much? Veganism is a diverse movement, and any attempt to pigeonhole such a large segment of the population is misguided at best. (See above, re: creating news where there is none.)

That said, I have a counter-proposal: shegan. More complex an equation than “women + vegans = shegans,” shegans as I envision them are feminist vegans of all sexes and genders (and/or feminist-allied vegan men, if you prefer) who reject sexism and misogyny as vehemently as they do speciesism. Dog knows we could use a little more sheganism, particularly since this is quickly shaping up to be the summer of the hegan douchebag.

Vegan Feminist Agitator: The PETA Effect

A lovely essay from Marla in which she manages to deconstruct the bulk of PETA’s campaigns in one fell swoop. To wit:

The PETA Effect has come into existence because they have cynically decided to not only accept the terms dictated by the worst aspects of the mainstream world, but to be a part of it. Instead of questioning misogyny, they wallow in it. Instead of thoughtful, insightful analysis, they have women citing statistics while stripping on camera. Instead of rejecting the notion that we all need to be young, slim, and, more often than not, surgically enhanced to be attractive, they embrace it fully, and they also tell us that objectification for the “cause” is a worthy endeavor. They tell a nation already deeply battered by this message that if you are not young, slim and conventionally attractive, you are worthless and disgusting. What does this have to do with compassion to animals? How does this improve a battery chicken’s life? How does this make the skeptical public more receptive to questioning their values? It doesn’t.

Seriously, go read the whole piece. I can wait.

Eastern Shore Sanctuary Blog: No Exploitation is Good Exploitation

Miriam (I think!) at Eastern Shore writes of rescuing 40 hens from a CSA. Run by a relatively “progressive” family, these small/family farm hens were kept in neglectful and abusive conditions, which (unfortunately) pale in comparison to those found in large-scale operations. The moral of the story?:

So, when your intentions are good, your actions will be in accordance and you will provide good care; when they are not, you will not; and either way, in the end, it won’t matter to you because in the beginning, you decided these animals were yours to do with as you wish. Perhaps a twinge of guilt here, a passing regret there — this is all you will have to handle if you treat them poorly.

That’s why no exploitation is good exploitation. Just like dictatorships are all oppressive whether or not they are benevolent. Some paradigms cannot ever be trusted.

This holds true for human as well as nonhuman animals; exploiting the members of one marginalized group on behalf of another does not a victory make.

Stephanie @ Animal Rights & AntiOppression: Classism from Vegans Doesn’t Help Animals, Nonhuman or Human

In what turned out to be a shockingly (to me) controversial post (the second of two), Stephanie examines class privilege in the vegan movement vis-à-vis the expectation that new vegans replace all non-vegan items (leather shoes, wool coats and the like…cars with leather or suede interiors weren’t even touched, I don’t think!) with vegan versions immediately upon becoming vegan – or at least before one can start self-identifying as a vegan. Sticky ethical considerations re: rampant consumerism aside, not all vegans have the money to replace these sometimes-expensive, hopefully-durable items right away – heck, many people cannot afford to replace them even as they wear out naturally! – no matter how pure one’s intentions.

I’m with Mary: “Shaming someone who is already in the process of changing what she can is . . . shameful.”

Stephanie @ Animal Rights & AntiOppression: A Vegan But Not an Activist? Sure. An Animal Lover But Not a Vegan? Nope.

Look. Everyone eats. After the initial learning curve, eating vegan doesn’t take any more time, effort or expense than eating non-vegan. So your reproductive rights activism, your focus on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, or your volunteer work with Big Brother/Big Sister? None of these are valid justifications for your choice to consume nonhuman animals.

You can be a vegan but not an animal rights activist; you cannot, however, claim to love animals whilst eating them. (As always, standard disclaimers re: access to food and disabilities that impact one’s dietary needs apply.)

Janani Balasubramanian @ Racialicious: Sustainable Food and Privilege: Why is Green Always White (and Male and Upper-Class) and

Anna Clark @ Broadsheet: The foodie indictment of feminism; Michael Pollan blames the movement for our fast-food culture. What about untold men who’ve never tied on an apron?

In which Michael Pollan blames the women’s movement for the “death of the family meal” – as opposed to, say, men who failed to do their fair share of housework once their wives, mothers and daughters pursued higher education and entered the work force. Luckily, there’s no shortage of feminist writers willing to take this privileged white male to task for his sexist, retro romanticization of “the good old days,” when healthy, homecooked meals magically appeared on the plates of middle- and upper-class white men, as if from the ass of an invisible pink unicorn. “Bitch, make me a sandwich,” indeed.

Katrina Fox @ The Scavenger: Why animal rights are (still) a feminist issue

This piece made the rounds on Twitter and Facebook upon its publication, and with good reason: by laying out the case that animal rights is most certainly a feminist issue (!), Australian feminist Katrina Fox challenges her sisters’ collective silence on issues of animal exploitation. She had me at the intro: “An egalitarian society will never come about while sections of it are oppressed, whether on the basis of their sex/gender, race, ability, sexual orientation – or species, writes Katrina Fox.”

Again, it’s awesome to see these connections made in a more “mainstream,” social justice venue.

Breeze Harper @ The Scavenger: Veganism’s connection to anti-racist social justice work and

Carol Adams @ The Scavenger: The sexual politics of meat

Subsequent to her vegan-feminist primer, Fox featured lengthy articles penned by Breeze Harper and Carol Adams, both of whom summarized their most recent releases (the newly published anthology Sistah Vegan and the 20th anniversary edition of The Sexual Politics of Meat, respectively) “for the masses,” as it were.

From the introductions to each:

People of color’s health and consumption practices are frequently contradictory to our social justice beliefs in the Black community as well as other communities engaged in antiracist and antipoverty social justice work, writes Breeze Harper.

A process of objectification, fragmentation and consumption connects women and animals in a patriarchal culture, where misogyny and speciesism are rife, writes Carol J Adams.

Read, share, comment.

The Vegan Ideal: The Sexual Politics of Carol J. Adams and

Mirha-Soleil Ross: Carol Adams & Feminists for Animal Rights: a hodgepodge of bad theory, exclusion, prejudice and transphobia *practiced through an eco-feminist lens*

Over at The Vegan Ideal, Ida uses Adams’ guest-post at The Scavenger to address some of the more problematic aspects of Adams’ work, such as her attitudes about sex work, sex workers and the transgendered community. Included at the bottom of the post are several links to additional reading materials (all of which I recommend, some of which I may have already linked to); if you click through them all, eventually you’ll arrive at the second piece by Mirha-Soleil Ross, a transgendered sex worker and activist who describes an unpleasant run-in she had with Adams in 2000. It’s lengthy, but well worth a read. Bookmark it and forgo tomorrow’s daily lunch hour lolcats fix in the name of anti-oppressive solidarity, mkay?

The Biotic Woman: In Praise of Sistah Vegan

In her next-to-last post for Bitch (yes, I have been hoarding these links that long!), Brittany offers a short review of Breeze Harper’s Sistah Vegan. Also of note: Brittany interviews the author/editor/activist in the latest issue of make/shift. If anyone has a spare copy, I have none. (Hint, hint, wink, wink.)

The Biotic Woman: Parting Ways, Moving On

The Biotic Woman’s farewell, complete with a blogroll and a recommended reading list informed by moi.

Suicide Food: Manny’s Has Great Legs;

Suicide Food: Healthy Chicken Skin;

Suicide Food: Turkey Hooker and

Suicide Food: Poll-ette Hostess

Ben at Suicide Food serves up four more examples of sexualized “food” animals for your blaming pleasure. Shegan sister snark, activate! (By the power of potato head?)

Sociological Images: “Nibbles”: Sexualizing Easter Candy

To sells its “Nibbles” candy, Cadbury’s conjured up a super-sexy Easter rabbit. Need I even mention the rabbit’s gender?

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One Response to “Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 22: Shegans, unite!”

  1. White Privilege, Vegan Feminists, Respectful Butchering, Etc.: A Roundup « Animal Rights & AntiOppression Says:

    [...] the “Shegans, Unite!” (that’s you, feminist vegans!) edition of her series of intersectionality posts at [...]

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