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

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

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.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 21: Campaign WIN/FAIL edition

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

MTV's Retro Hit Girl Poster

“MTV’s Retro Hit Girl Poster”: In a reimagining of J. Howard Miller’s iconic “We Can Do It!” poster, a purple-wigged Hit Girl flexes her bicep, gun in hand. The purple bubble emanating
from her head reads, “We Can Kick Ass!” Message brought to you by the Women’s Ass-Kicking Committee. (This photo has absolutely zilch to do with today’s post; rather, it just makes me smile. The warm and fuzzies, I sure needed ’em after wading through not one, but two PETA campaigns. Maybe you will too?)
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Okay, so there’s much, much more FAIL than WIN in this edition of Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, but seeing as I’m all about the power of positive thinking, half-full beer steins, and all that fluffy fun stuff (sike!), I had to lead with WIN. In the title, anyhow. Had you fooled, didn’t I?

The Discerning Brute: Rape of Africa in “A Bid to Save the Earth.”

So this is…interesting. In honor of Earth Day, Christie’s hosted an auction to benefit several environmental organizations. One of the art pieces – David LaChapelle’s “Rape of Africa” – is unsettling, to say the least. Click on over to the Discerning Brute to view the image (which is totally NSFW as it depicts, among other things, Naomi Campbell’s bare breast). Joshua Katcher’s interpretation of the photograph is worth a read as well, particularly as he links the exploitation of farmed animals to that of human women, to wit:

[S]itting beside Naomi Campbell are farm animals, which suggest the failure of programs like Oxfam and Heifer International as well as making the statement that, like domesticated farm animals, Naomi is a chattel.

WIN or FAIL? Well, I dig the piece, though it’s not exactly something I’d hang over the fireplace, if you know what I mean.

Catholic Vote - Earth Day 2010

Her Authority: Women’s Bodies Are… Pieces of Land?

In this Earth Day-themed ad, the anti-choice group CatholicVote.org links women (particularly mothers, o givers of life!) with the natural world by superimposing an image of the earth over the womb of a heavily pregnant woman. A cute (read: white, blond-haired, appropriately feminine, etc.) little girl rests her head against her mother’s belly; index finger pressed to her lips, she seems to be saying, “Shhh! My little sister is trying to sleep in there!”

With this imagery, CatholicVote.org is romanticizing two “homes,” if you will: that of the developing fetus (baby!), i.e., a womb which belongs to an adult human female; and planet earth, i.e., home to all of humanity (and a trillion other creatures, as well). Women are not individual beings with their own thoughts and desires, but rather pieces of land. And what do we humans do with land, the earth, and the natural world, class? That’s right – we conquer and dominate them! Nice.

Which makes the romanticization of each – women/mothers and the earth/nature – all that much more distasteful and disingenuous. Throw me on the bottom of the shitpile and tell me that I live on a pedestal, why don’t you?

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Bitches, Zines & Lending Libraries – and Women, Food & Consumption (Oh my!)

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

2007-01-27 - Books! (and stuff) - 0013

Kaylee can’t decide between Jane Goodall’s The Chimpanzees of Gombe and Owen & Chiras’s Natural Resource Conservation, sixth ed. What’s a gal to do!? CC image via ME on Flickr.
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Vegans, feminists and (especially) vegan feminists, listen up! Via Bitch Media and MP: An Online Feminist Journal come two shiny opportunities to contribute to feminist projects – and advocate for your nonhuman sisters at the same time!

First up: Bitch Media, which recently established a Community Lending Library in Portland. Currently boasting over 1,000 books, the project welcomes donations of feminist titles. Seeing as animal advocacy oftentimes dovetails with feminism, the Lending Library is a great way to get animal rights books into the hands of non-veg feminists. So if you’ve got a spare copy of The Sexual Politics of Meat or Sistah Vegan gathering dust on your bookshelf, why not donate it to this totally rad community project? (Those with BookMooch or similar accounts can also swap books to donate directly to the library…by which I mean “ship to,” as Bitch isn’t currently listed as a member/charity on BookMooch.)

But wait! There’s more! In its latest newsletter, Bitch announced that it would also like to build up its zine collection. Woman, feminist and/or vegan zinesters, read on for details on how to get a copy of your own zines (or your favorite zines) onto the shelves of Bitch. (Peace to All Creatures, anyone?)

Biblio-Bitches Rejoice! Zinesters Unite!

The Bitch Community Lending Library is open and ready for new and returning card holders to drop by. Open from 5-8pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Monday-Friday by appointment, you will have a chance to browse more than 1,000 titles of feminist literature, research and writing (and maybe even take a few home?). You can also take the time to meet Bitch’s library coordinator, Ashley McAllister, who has been hard at work adding new titles, filling the shelves and familiarizing herself with the subtleties of issuing cards.

One of the first things that Ashley wants to do in the library is start a collection of reader-donated zines. Bitch started its life as a zine and will always have a soft spot for the format, so we’re excited to honor self-publishing by creating a dedicated space for zines in our lending library. We’re adding a zine library to the 1,000-plus books already in our collection, and excited to share the breadth of self-published materials with our members.

If you’re either a zinemaker yourself or have a zine collection that you’re looking to either pare down or donate entirely, let us know! We’re looking for zines made by and for feminist thinkers, activists, and fans, though they don’t have to be “grrrl zines” per se. Whether your zines were Xeroxed back in 1992 or just last month, we’d love to have them. If you’ve got a large collection that you want to ship to us, please contact Ashley McAllister at ashley [at] b-word.org. Otherwise, just write “zine donation” on your envelope. And look for upcoming blog posts featuring zines that show up in our mailbox!

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"…the true nature of a pigeon shooter."

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

At a February 20, 2010 pigeon shoot at the infamous Philadelphia Gun Club, […] a member of the Club viciously yelled at two female activists saying, “Go fuck yourself you rotten cunt!”

SHARK discovered that the assailant was Richard Shackleton and that he was town attorney for Long Beach Township, NJ. At the April 9th Long Beach Township committee meeting, we confronted him about what he had done.

What he said was shocking: “I’m happy to say that, what I said, I meant every word of it.”

When offered a chance to apologize he said, “Absolutely not.”

At this point, Shackleton had compounded upon his original insult by taking pride in hurting his victims. And again, during a television newscast, he refused to apologize for his vile comments.

Referring to his despicable use of the “c” word, Shackleton said: “I think that’s what she is and I think she deserved it.”

Quite possibly you’ve already heard about Richard Shackleton, a pigeon shooter and solicitor for Long Beach Township, New Jersey, who hurled gendered slurs at two female activists – and then, when confronted by SHARK members at a Long Beach Township committee meeting, refused to apologize for the comments? No? Then keep reading for SHARK’s ongoing reports on the situation, complete with links to recent media coverage and opportunities to take action.

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Tweeting Mother’s Day

Monday, May 10th, 2010

“Western Union — Happy Mother’s Day – 1942”; CC image via Beyond the Trail [Gary] on Flickr. Please click through to read the photo description!
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In between hour-long calls home to Mom, vegan pizzas topped with Daiya AND Follow Your Heart cheese, gratuitous dog piles, and Boston Cream Pie-induced sugar comas, I spent a good part of yesterday tweeting Mother’s Day. Inspired by last August’s for-the-pigs #oink tweetfest, I compiled a list of facts, photos, blog posts and links that address animal exploitation (with an emphasis on femaleness, family and motherhood), which I shared on Twitter at intervals throughout the day yesterday. While I didn’t manage to use up all my pre-made tweets (I overslept and got a rather late start), I did log 84 tweets, almost all of them Mother’s Day-related. Better yet, because I wrote most of the tweets earlier in the week, I didn’t have to spent too much of the holiday online.

This was a somewhat impromptu action on my part; initially, I considered trying to recruit a few fellow animal advocates to help me out, but I quickly nixed the idea, thinking that most people would be otherwise occupied. Happily, I was not alone in my armchair activism yesterday; on both Twitter and Facebook (and not a few blogs), I saw a steady stream of tweets and status updates emphasizing the plight of nonhuman mothers. Here in the U.S., Father’s Day isn’t nearly as popular as its feminine counterpart, to be sure (a topic for a whole ‘nother feminist-minded post), but I think I’ll try something similar on June 20th. Should you, you know, care to join me. (*smiles*)

After the jump you’ll find all my Mother’s Day tweets. Together, they make an awfully compelling (but by no means exhaustive) argument in favor of a more inclusive vision of motherhood – and, by extension, sisterhood.

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Bittersweet Mother’s Day Kisses & Vegan Birthday Wishes

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

2007-08-30 - Peedee's 5th Birthday - 0033

This Mother’s Day, I think of Kaylee. Kaylee, the dear, sweet, mild-mannered, infinitely lovable old(er) lady we adopted three and a half years ago. Kaylee, my baby girl. One of three. Seven, if you consider those loved and lost.

This morning, as I cuddled Kaylee in bed, silently wishing her a happy Mother’s Day, I thought of her – and her own babies. In her Life Before Us, Kaylee was not spayed. Nor was she fed, housed, vetted, or otherwise cared for. Her body – large, mushy, misshapen – tells the tale of babies birthed, nursed, and…what? Oftentimes – and especially on days like these – I reflect upon this question. Where are Kaylee’s babies now?

2010-03-25 - Kaylee - 0006

What do they look like? Short, stocky, white and mushy like her, or…more like their father, wherever he may be? Do their butts wiggle like hers, in anticipation of a meal, a treat, or even just a bowl to lick? Do they experience the same insatiable hunger as their mother, whether for physical or emotional nourishment? Are their barks, so infrequently voiced, characterized by the same pained (at times bordering on hysterical), wookie-like roar of their mother? Perhaps, dog willing, their life circumstances have not fostered within them the same fears that drive their mother.

Have the humans they encountered on their life’s path shown them the kindness and compassion that Kaylee has known from us – or have Kaylee’s babies only seen the cruelty and neglect that marked her own Life Before Us?

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 20: Forgotten Mothers, Disappeared Daughters

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

It has been many a week since last I posted a link roundup, ’tis true; and, while I’ve managed to hoard a literal ton of ’em (okay, not really), rather than dump them all on you at once, all haphazard-like, today I present a short-and-sweet, family-themed mini-link roundup in honor of Mother’s Day.

Liberation BC - Cow Ribbon Campaign eCard

One of several Mother’s Day eCards from Liberation BC. Grab your own here.
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Liberation BC: The Cow Ribbon Campaign and

Striking at the Roots: Campaign Raises Awareness About Forgotten Mothers

As with many mainstream holidays (Thanksgiving, Easter, Earth Day – I’m looking at you!), Mother’s Day can be rather bittersweet for animal advocates. While it’s nice to set a day aside for loving and pampering and honoring your mom (which is something that most of us should be doing 365 days of the year, I might add), the holiday celebrations and rhetoric are predictably anthropocentric, ignoring and erasing the experiences of the billions of nonhuman mothers across the globe – many of whom are enslaved, exploited, raped and killed for the very fact of their “miraculous” ability to give life to the next generation. Some miracle, right?

Enter Glenn Gaetz and Joanne Chang of the Vancouver-based animal advocacy organization Liberation BC. This April, the group launched The Cow Ribbon Campaign. Modeled after similar awareness ribbon campaigns, the Cow Ribbon Campaign uses black and white spotted ribbons to draw awareness to the estimated nine million “dairy” cows imprisoned in North American dairy operations in 2010 alone – and, by extension, the billions of additional female farmed animals whose reproductive systems are hijacked for human wants and convenience.

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of awareness ribbons – who on earth can possibly remember what all those colors mean!? “awareness,” meh – what a meaningless term.; etc. – but the Cow Ribbons are rather distinct and unique, and make for a great conversation starter. Plus, their meaning is immediately obvious: what Westerner doesn’t associate black and white spots with cows – and cows with animal agriculture?

The ribbons are available for a minimum donation of $5 – and, while it’s a little late in the game to order them for Mother’s Day delivery, another great thing about the Cow Ribbons is that you can wear them any day, or every day; the ribbon retains its significance throughout the year. In the meantime, though, Lib BC has plenty of geeky goodness that you can use to spread the word: avatars for Twitter and FB, eCards for Mom, fliers for your friendly neighborhood billboards.

This Sunday, encourage others to remember mothers of all species.

(More below the fold…)

PETA Doubles Down On the Misogyny

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

PETA (Canadian Bacon)

Woman and pig: PETA says that neither of us is meat.
So kindly stop treating us ladies that way, mkay PETA?
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Okay, in all truth, the following ranks fairly low on the Misogo-meter, particularly where PETA’s concerned. But – catchy title, etc. Surely you understand.

Anyhow, in reporting on the reaction to KFC’s newest “culinary” creation – the Double Down, i.e., a couple of slabs each of bacon and cheese, crammed between two pieces of fried chicken(s), and slathered in “The Colonel’s Sauce” – in the Twitterverse, PETA singled out two celebritweets.

First up, Asher Roth, who writes: “Well, at least were making strides towards food quality and portion control – bravo colonel”

All fine and good, yes? Nothing jaw-droppingly witty, but Asher Roth (um, who?) seems to capture the popular consensus re: a “sandwich” made entirely of animal products and containing a reported 32 grams of fat and 1380 mg of sodium. Namely: yuck! and wtf!.

Next, PETA offers up a screenshot of Bow Wow’s KFC themed tweet: “I don’t know what’s more hideous, a girl with a hard fake booty with dimples in it or KFC’s new doubled down chicken sandwich.”

Hyperbole aside (e.g., clearly an unattractive ass is not nearly as hideous as are the corpses of several animals, lathered in the secretions of many others, all cobbled together to form a gluttonous, heart attack-inducing foodstuff), I hope I don’t need 140 characters to explain to you what’s wrong with this quip. Mocking a woman’s physical appearance? Not cool. (48, bitches! 68 if you factor in a bit.ly link!)

(More below the fold…)

If you fuckin’ with this bitch then you betta’ be paid.*

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Mars, Inc. wants you to know that a bitch is a bitch is a bitch – and, whether she be digging for gold or for bones, that bitch ain’t shit.

Mars Petfood Frolic - Pool

Mars Petfood Frolic - Hotel

Mars Petfood Frolic - Limo

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The Animal Experience (On the Peaceful Prairie Signature Billboard Campaign)

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Peaceful Prairie - Signature Billboards

Eight of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary’s sixty-two Signature Billboards, all from the “We Know Our Victims Well” series. Clockwise from the top left:
They long to live as much as we do.
(A single white duck gazes into the camera.)
They long to be loved as much as we do.
(Hen and rooster Libbie and Louie find refuge in one another’s touch.)
They face life together like we do.
(A pair of ducks wander through the snow.)
They love their children as much as we do.
(An adult llama and his child smile together.)
They need their mothers as much as we do.
(A cow nuzzles his mother.)
They protect their children as fiercely as we do.
(A cow and her calf stare defiantly ahead.)
They raise families like we do.
(A duck family – complete with five youngsters – strolls along in harmony.)
They fall in love like we do.
(One cow licks another with obvious affection.)
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A few weeks ago, the always-awesome Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary unveiled a new campaign to aid activists in combating speciesism – and all the oppressions it sanctions – specifically that directed towards “food” animals. With its Signature Billboards, Peaceful Prairie gives faces, individualities, life stories, and emotions to the many animals we call “food” – cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, sheep, lambs, goats and fishes:

They speak for themselves…

We don’t always have the opportunity to raise awareness of the animals’ plight during daily email correspondence but now, with Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary’s latest campaign, we’ve made it easy and effective for anyone to learn how their actions can save the lives of other animals, lives that matter to them as much our lives matter to us.

The graphics – each of which pictures one or more nonhuman animals, as well as a brief but powerful statement about her life experiences, relationships with/to other nonhumans, and/or personhood – are organized around four main themes:

  • We Know Our Victims Well;
  • 55 Billion Reasons to Live Vegan;
  • Humane Farming, An Oxymoron; and
  • Subjects of a Life

Designed for use as email signatures, you can also display these graphics on your blog or website, or share them on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

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Lady Pork: The Other Other White Meat?

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Firstly, a big, shiny hello to everyone arriving here from The F-Word! (And can I just say how stoked I am to see yet another vegan feminist guest-blogging on yet another kickass feminist blog? More, please!) In addition to the posts singled out by Amy, you might also enjoy browsing the Intersections post category. And if you’re feeling especially adventurous, check out this list of vegan/vegetarian bloggers who regularly discuss the intersections of human and nonhuman oppressions. It’ll keep you occupied at least through the summer, I tell you what.

So. On to today’s vegan feminist WTF. While searching for a related image last night, I stumbled upon a rather disturbing poster for the movie Saw IV:

Saw IV Poster 01

Shot in tones of black, gray and red, the poster is rather macabre (and quite fitting for a horror flick). Highlighted by a dim ray of light, in the middle of the poster sits a masked figure. She is confined to a torture device of some sort. Seemingly homemade, the instrument – similar in shape to a small chair – looks as though it was cobbled together from pieces of various mechanical devices, including a push mower. There are knobs, tanks, wheels and blades galore. The victim sits facing forward, her arms confined to her sides, ankles chained to the chair.

Masked, robed and photographed from behind, the prisoner’s gender is impossible to determine. However, the figure does sport some obvious trappings of femininity, including knee-high, black stiletto boots (“fuck me boots,” if you will) and tight, black stockings or leggings. The robe is red, possibly velvet. Clearly, the audience is to assume that the victim is a woman (or one very “emasculated” man).

Oh, and the mask? It’s of a pig. Holy woman-as-meat / meat-as-woman meme, Catwoman!

Having only watched the first installment of the Saw franchise, this poster initially sent my head reeling re: its possibly significance, if any. Luckily, Wiki has the answers (some of them, anyhow):

That evening, Rigg is attacked in his home; upon awakening, a videotape informs him that Matthews is still alive, with ninety minutes to save himself, with Hoffman’s life at stake as well. He finds Brenda (Sarain Boylan), a female pimp, chained to a chair with a pig mask covering her face. The first test, “see what I see,” is for him to leave her there; he ignores the message and ends up triggering a device to begin peeling her scalp off. He manages to free her, but she attacks him; she had been told that she would be arrested if Rigg saved her unless she killed him first. He throws her into a mirror and leaves; her corpse is later found by police.

And, from the character description:

Brenda was a prostitute who appeared in Saw IV as a victim in Daniel Rigg’s game. Brenda was placed in a machine designed to tear her scalp from her head and Rigg was instructed to simply walk away from her as she was not worth saving. After her scalp was partially torn away, Rigg managed to save her but Brenda then attempted to kill him, instructed by Jigsaw that if she didn’t Rigg would send her to jail. Rigg overpowered Brenda and threw her into a mirror. She was later found dead.

I suppose the overriding purpose of the pig mask is to conceal the “scalping” contraption, but one has to ask…why a consumable (i.e., “food”) animal? Why not Ronald Regan or Freddy Krueger instead? Is Jigsaw (or his torture porn confederate) making a statement about women who “pimp out” other women? (e.g., Such people are “not worth saving,” much like “worthless,” “dirty,” “gluttonous” nonhuman animals such as pigs.) Or is the pig mask merely a handy prop for upping the film’s shock value? (Meat and corpses and slaughterhouses, oh my!)

There’s a vegan feminist analysis lurking here somewhere, but I’ll be damned if I can find it. Perhaps someone who’s actually seen the film(s) can clue me in?

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 19: Brain Food (Vegan, Natch!)

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Vegan Brain Food

“Vegan Brain Food”: A mashup of book covers related to this latest edition of “Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs.” Clockwise from the upper-left: Sistah Vegan: Food, Identity, Health, and Society: Black Female Vegans Speak by A. Breeze Harper, ed. (2010); Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals by Anthony J. Nocella II and Steven Best, eds. (2004); Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women’s Anthology for a New Millennium by Robin Morgan, ed. (2003); The Pornography of Meat by Carol Adams (2004); The Year of the Flood: A Novel by Margaret Atwood (2009); Penelope by Marilyn Kaye (2007); Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism by Melanie Joy (2009); and VegNews, March+April 2010.
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Sistah Vegan Book: Win a Free Copy!

Editor Breeze Harper is giving away a free, signed copy of her upcoming anthology, Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health & Society. The catch? You have to answer a short essay question, which will (hopefully) get you thinking about issues of food, race, gender, and/or nonhuman animals in new (and fruitful!) way. The deadline is April 1st, so don’t delay!

Let Live Foundation: Food Justice w/ lauren Ornelas (3/21)

I’m so terribly jealous of all you vegan folks living on the east and west coasts; y’all always throw the coolest conferences and lectures! (There’s a reason I titled this link roundup “Brain Food,” yo!) This Sunday, March 21st, Let Live Foundation will be hosting speaker lauren Ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project. On the menu?: Food justice, veganism, and the intersections of human and animal exploitation. If you happen to find yourself in Portland this weekend, attend, take notes, and report back, mkay? (Pretty please? With an organic, raw, fair trade cherry on top?)

The Washington Times: Food For Life Global Is Coming Through Big In Haiti

Who says animal advocates only care about nonhumans, hmmm? Check out this nice writeup Food For Life Global received in The Washington Times, and then hop on over to Disaster Relief in Haiti: Animal Rescue & Vegan/Animal-Friendly Resources to see how else you can help with disaster relief efforts in Haiti (and Chile).

The Voracious Vegan: International Women’s Day: Why Feminism? and “Until We Are All Free”: International Women’s Day (@ Choosing Raw)

In honor of International Women’s Day (which took place on March 8th), the Voracious Vegan penned not one, but two posts. The first includes a short film that, in Tasha’s words explains why “women’s rights and feminism are still relevant and necessary in this day and age.” Additionally, in a guest post at Choosing Raw, Tasha discusses the intersections of feminism and veganism, including the shared ideologies and social systems which allow human, animal and environmental exploitation to thrive. It’s a lengthy piece but well worth it – she touches upon a number of salient points, including the objectification of women’s and animals’s bodies; the state’s (and businesses’) attempts to control the reproductive systems of females, human and nonhuman alike; food and environmental justice; and public safety and human health concerns.

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On Carnism: Why Do We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows ?

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Carnism by Melanie Joy (2009)

Carnism: The Psychology of “Meat”-Eating 101

four out of five stars

Recently, I had the pleasure of reviewing Melanie Joy’s Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism (2010) though the website Basil & Spice. As a former psychology major and vegan of five years (and vegetarian for eight years on top of that), Carnism is right up my alley. Dr. Joy, a social psychologist and animal advocate, deconstructs our “meat culture,” identifying a number of key defense mechanisms that shield Westerners from an uncomfortable reality: how can we claim to “love” and “care for” nonhuman animals, yet enslave, torture, slaughter, dismember, process and consume them to the tune of tens of billions* per year? The answer lies in our carnistic system.

Carnism 101

Carnism, Joy posits, is the invisible belief system (or ideology) that underlies our unthinking consumption of “meat.” We have so internalized this behavior – “meat”-eating – that we do not even recognize it as a choice, but rather blindly accept it as a normal and necessary way of life; “meat” consumption is “just the way it is.” Carnism is the logical counterpart to vegetarianism: just as one can decide not to eat meat, so too is meat-eating a choice. And yet, while the terms “vegetarianism” and “veganism” are part of common parlance, we have no such word for “carnism.” Because the ideology that supports “meat” consumption remains unnamed, it’s seen as something natural, inevitable, existing outside of a belief system. Or it’s not seen at all – it’s invisible. We can avoid thinking about it because we lack the tools (words) with which to talk about it. In naming, there is power. Words matter.

This is, I think, is Carnism‘s greatest strength. With the introduction of one simple, short word, Joy gives us a tool with which to single out our “meat” culture for criticism and critique. “Carnism” unveils the choices behind the curtain – choices which are so incongruous with our innate sense of compassion, Joy argues, that we must go to great lengths to defend these choices from scrutiny. At a macro level, this is called psychic numbing: “we disconnect, mentally and emotionally, from our experience; we ‘numb’ ourselves. […] Psychic numbing is adaptive, or beneficial, when it helps us to cope with violence. But it becomes maladaptive, or destructive, when it is used to enable violence.”

On both an individual and institutional level, we engage in a number of defense mechanisms that help us to achieve psychic numbing:

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 18: My Bloody Valentine

Friday, February 26th, 2010

A neon red-and-white sign declares: “My Bloody Valentine sells out.”
CC image via Penningtron on Flickr.
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Vegansaurus!: What creepy chefs do to get laid

Guest blogger Kristen looks at a Valentine’s Day article which highlights the foods that non-vegan chefs cook for their lovers. Surprise, surprise: many are animal-based, thus transforming the descriptions into an appalling spectacle of sex and death. The original article at Grub Street, for example, is decorated with a disgusting photo of scallops in an orange-and-green sauce/oil slick. Yuck.

Suicide Food: Happy Valentine’s Day: a digression

Just when you thought the butcher’s counter couldn’t get any more grotesque, behold: heart-shaped slabs of “meat”! I shit you not.

The Pursuit of Harpyness: Be A Bitch: To the New York Times Public Editor

In which Roman Polanski’s 13-year-old rape victim is likened to – wait for it – “quarry.” “Quarry” being another word for a hunted “game” animal.

The link above is to a complaint letter (good!) written in response to a piece which ran in The New York Times (bad!); you can read the original piece in its entirety here: Polanski’s Visions of Victimhood by Dennis Lim.

The Discerning Brute: Who Wears The Pants?

Joshua Katcher dissects a trailer for the upcoming documentary “An Emasculating Truth” – brought to you by, ahem, Dockers – which, surprise, is chock full of sexism and speciesism. In particular, the men appearing in the film advocate violence towards animals as an expression of one’s masculinity. Katcher ties this overt encouragement of violence with Levi’s own history of environmental and labor violence towards its employees and their families, many of them poor women of color.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 17: F-O-O-D.*

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

“assortment of vegan chocolates”: A dozen+ gorgeous vegan chocolates sit atop a white porcelain cake stand. Nom! CC image via quintanaroo (the chocolate-maker herself) on Flickr.
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Regretfully, I spent most of the long weekend either tossing and turning in bed, or retching and heaving over the toilet (read: vomiting; either way, what a mental image, yeah?), and thus was unable to get much of anything done. The perfect time for a link roundup! The commentary is rather sparse, but seeing as I feel like I’ve been through the ringer and back, I hope you’ll forgive me.

johanna @ Vegans of Color: Vegan cookbooks: helping folks eat the Other

The Vegan Ideal: A Western Vegetarian ‘Foray’ into Non-Western Culture

johanna and Ida provide several examples of the “exotification” of non-Western foods (“African,” “Asian,” Hawaiian and Cambodian, respectively), with an eye on vegetarian/vegan contexts (cookbooks and a veg gathering at veg-friendly restaurant).

Stephanie @ Animal Rights & AntiOppression: Domination and Rape in Avatar: This Is “Respect” for Animals?

While I’ve seen many a discussion of Avatar‘s problematic racial politics, anti-speciesist reviews appear to be few and far between. This piece from Stephanie is a must-read; the title says it all, really. (Mary also discussed the film back in December.)

Marji @ Animal Rights & AntiOppression: Sarah’s Diary: Remembering

Marji imagines what rescue hen Sarah’s diary might look like. It is predictably heart-breaking. I’ll be honest; I have not yet been able to read the entire piece.

Of course, I feel rather silly when considering Marji’s description of the “mock-diary”:

This is Sarah. She turns seven this February 14th. She is one of 2,000 hens we were legally permitted to pull from a small, 160,000 egg-laying hen operation. I know this diary is horribly anthropomorphic. I pulled Sarah out of that cage. For hours, I breathed what they breathed, saw and smelled their world. It was horrifying. I have tried, for years, to fathom what it must have been like for them from birth to grisly death. I can’t.

If there were a goddess, surely you’d find her volunteering at an animal sanctuary.

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Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says, "Wake up, bacon breath!"

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

(I’m paraphrasing, of course!)

It’s been a few months since last I wrote about Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s series of short videos addressing the issues of veganism and intersectionality. (Dear Mozilla: It’s 2010, and yet you still do not recognize the word “veganism.” For reals!? Get with it, mkay?!) In the interim, she’s released three additional segments.

Thus far, she has covered a number of topics, including:
gender-based exploitation;
the universality of the maternal instinct;
violence in the animal agriculture industry;
raising compassionate children;
the agricultural revolution and animal ownership;
forming connections with nonhumans; and
the impact of slaughterhouse work on the human spirit. (Wheh!)

(As an aside, does the cute green top she sports throughout the series make you terribly nostalgic for summer or what?)

In “Growing Food for People,” Patrick-Goudreau touches upon the intersection of “meat” consumption, hunger and poverty, noting that we have the resources (land, water, technology) to feed the world’s population – if only we stop using so much of our existing food supply to fatten up the “farmed” animals birthed, raised and destined for slaughter. “Meat,” dairy and egg production are terribly inefficient – and increasingly inadequate, given our burgeoning population.

In “Becoming Empowered and Making a Difference,” she notes that each of our actions represents a choice made, whether consciously or not. Continuing on one’s present path of “meat” consumption is as much of a decision as is the adoption of a vegetarian or vegan diet. Because our society is centered around animal exploitation, however, only the latter is recognized as a belief system, while the former remains unnamed and invisible – a given. (For more on this, see Carnism: Meat, Deconstructed.)

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 16: Breast is Best (and Vegan!)

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

“IMG_1805”: Snout covered in milk, pink tongue flicking from her mouth, a young cow suckles her mother’s teat. CC image from destinyuk on Flickr.
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Julie Urbanik @ Humanimalia: “Hooters for Neuters”: Sexist or Transgressive Animal Advocacy Campaign?

In the inaugural issue of Humanimalia, Julie Urbanik explores animal advocacy campaigns that trade in gender-based stereotypes in order to promote compassion. These include “Hooters for Neuters” events held by, among others, Best Friends Animal Society (et tu, Best Friends!?); LA-based Friends for Animals’s “Pimp Your Pit”; NYC’s Rescue Ink; and, of course PETA. (PETA, PETA, PETA!) While I don’t necessarily agree with the author’s conclusions, it’s a thought-provoking analysis nonetheless.

Mylène @ My Face Is On Fire: Fur and

Gary Francione @ The Abolitionist Approach: The State of the Movement

In a much lengthier post about single-issue campaigns (namely, anti-fur campaigns), Mylène refers to Professor Francione’s recent critique of PETA’s racist/sexist State of the Union Undress video. Both posts are worth a read, so rather than quoting gratuitously, I’ll just copy the point to which I responded in Mylène’s piece:

But is the fur industry really any more worthy of such ire? As one advocate recently pointed out Twitter, for instance, ‘fur’ is skin and hair while ‘leather’ is skin. To obsess over people’s wearing of fur while turning a blind eye to others’ wearing of leather (which is much more common and involves so much more loss of life) seems odd and illogical. Furthermore, as Prof. Francione often points out when discussing anti-fur campaigns, considering that a large percentage of those who wear fur are women, fur becomes a convenient and sexist target. After all, when’s the last time you saw PeTA demonstrators bombard a leather-clad biker with paint-balls?

Pause and savor that image for a moment, if you will, before we move on to less savory stuff.

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Sweeney Todd, a Caged Bird and the Devil’s Wife

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Sweeney Todd movie poster 07

Caution: spoilers ahead!

Normally, I’m not one for musicals (Little Shop of Horrors and Grease notwithstanding!). That said, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street struck my fancy right away. Now, I could attribute this to the film’s macabre, Gothic Victorian setting, or to the dynamic star/director duo of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton; and, while these are both ginormous positives, I’d be lying if I said that either of these is what compelled me to dabble in a genre I tend to pass up. Nope, as much as I love a Goth Depp/Burton vehicle, Sweeney Todd reeled this vegan misanthrope in with promises of cannibalism. Cannibalism is the shit.

Sweeney Todd opens with the titular character’s arrival in London. “Return to London,” actually: in a former life, Sweeney Todd was one Benjamin Barker (also a barber). But we’ll get to Barker’s story in a moment.

We first meet Sweeney Todd as he and a young sailor dock in a London port. Whereas Todd’s traveling companion, Anthony, marvels at the beauty of London, Sweeney will have none of it. His gloomy, sullen mood sets the tone for the rest of the film: shades of black, gray and blue, colored only by the red crimson of blood spilt.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 15: BEEF!, Bitches & "Bruised Feelings"

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

BEEF! For Men With Taste

vegansaurus!: BEEF!: nicht für Frauen–unless your Mann gives it to you

In which “beef” has its own magazine (and it’s a gentleman’s magazine, natch!): BEEF! for Men with Taste. Luckily, vegansaurus is all over that shit.

Ida @ L.O.V.E.: Political Correctness, Political Expediency, and Veganism and

Royce @ Vegans of Color: notes on “Veganism Overly Defined”

Ida (taking a break from The Vegan Ideal to guest post at L.O.V.E.) and Royce respond to a guest post at Vegan Soapbox (Veganism Overly Defined) in which the author dismisses an intersectional approach to veganism and animal advocacy as “attach[ing] favorite causes” and “baggage” to “Veganism.” Likewise, vegans who object to human-based “isms” “get so involved in the bruised feelings of some humans that the plight of voiceless animals becomes a marginalized issue.” Emphasis on “bruised feelings.”

Carol J. Adams: Remembering Mary Daly and

jenna @ L.O.V.E.: Feminism and Animals: What You Won’t Find in the 101

Mary Daly, a self-proclaimed “radical lesbian feminist,” recently passed away at the age of 81. While much has been written of Daly’s radfem theology, I didn’t realize that she was also an animal rights advocate and vegetarian until I read a memorial written for Daly by Carol Adams. Herself a former student of Daly’s, Adams’s obit is rather charming and provides a glimpse of what it must have been like to be a young adult attending college in the ’70s.

Unfortunately, Daly was also something of a transphobe, perhaps most famously referring to trans people as “Frankensteinian.” On this point, jenna’s post at L.O.V.E is well worth a read; in it, she illustrates why, as advocates for justice, compassion and respect, it is ill-advised and hypocritical for vegans to leave any marginalized group, human or non, behind. (Also click through the many links jenna provides to The Vegan Ideal, where the intersection of ecofeminism and transphobia is discussed in much greater detail. That is, if you haven’t yet; I’ve included many of these posts in past link roundups.)

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Blog for Choice Day: On being a pro-choice vegan.

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

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Blog for Choice Day 2010:
Trusting Women, Honoring Dr. Tiller

I wrote the bulk of this post last June, in the days and weeks following the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Initially – and still – intended as part of a series called “Killing in the Name of,” this piece attempts to reconcile my pro-choice and vegan beliefs, which as it turns out, isn’t a difficult task at all. Harder still is defending some of the “terrorist” tactics employed by the animal rights movement while condemning similar tactics when used in service a “pro-life” agenda. It’s an emotional and confusing endeavor, and one I’m still working on. If ever I do figure it all out, I’ll post Part 2 of this series.

In the meantime, I’d like to share my thoughts “On being a pro-choice vegan” as part of today’s Blog for Choice Day (5th annual, bitches!). It doesn’t exactly fit with this year’s theme, but seeing as “Trusting Women” was chosen in honor of Dr. Tiller, I think it’s appropriate anyhow. If you disagree, hop on over to Animal Rights & Anti-Oppression; my post there follows the assignment to a “t” (“v”?).

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“Killing in the Name of”: Introduction

My apologies for the brief blogular absence. I’ve got a ton of posts lined up in the queue, but my attention has turned elsewhere – from animal rights to reproductive rights (which aren’t completely unrelated) – since the murder of Dr. George Tiller on Sunday.

News of Dr. Tiller’s death came like a kick in the gut. The last time an abortion doctor was murdered was in 1998; I was only 20 at the time, and somewhat apolitical. Even though Dr. Barnett Slepian’s murder occurred not far from my hometown, I really can’t recall what I felt – if anything – at the news. But now – now I know better. Dr. Tiller’s murder, far from an isolated crime committed against a single individual, was intended to terrorize abortion providers and reproductive health clinics all over the United States. Doctors and clinics that provide vital health care, primarily to women. Scared women, marginalized women, women in need, women with nowhere else to go. To this end, it was an atrocity perpetrated against women everywhere, women who want nothing more than control over their own lives – and bodies. Women who simply want to be regarded and treated as fully human.

Dr. Tiller was one of a handful of doctors who perform abortions in the later term of pregnancy (whereas “late term” defies definition, and may mean anything from 3 to 6 months on). He saved countless women’s lives, even in the face of unrelenting threats and danger, including an assassination attempt and the bombing of his clinic. Dr. Tiller was a hero – a hero who became a martyr. It’s difficult to describe, but Dr. Tiller’s murder – and all the anti-choice rhetoric that’s littered the media since – well, it’s hit me. Hard. It feels like women are under siege, our very bodily sovereignty up for grabs.* We’re so, so much worse off without him.

Of course, our collective loss pales in comparison to the loss suffered by his family, which includes his wife, 4 children and 10 grandchildren. My heart bleeds for them.

Naturally, many on the left have labeled this an act of domestic terrorism, and criticized the media and government for not doing so. They also point to the extreme right wing rhetoric that inflamed passions against abortion providers, implicating it in the murder. Scott Roeder may have pulled the trigger, the reasoning goes, but pundits and anti-abortion crusaders put the gun in his hand.

All of which has brought to the fore related issues with which I’ve been grappling for quite some time, particularly those involving parallels between the animal rights and anti-choice movements. For example, while animal rights “terrorists” have never killed a human, they do engage in campaigns of harassment and intimidation against individuals involved in animal exploitation – campaigns that are uncomfortably similar to the forms of “protest” carried out by “pro-lifers” against abortion providers. While animal rights activists are deemed the #1 domestic terrorist threat, anti-abortion groups (not-so-)curiously slip under the radar. And yet, is the answer to label them “terrorists” – or to rethink the very definition of “terrorism”?

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