Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 1

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Life Is Beautiful (1997)

I’ve decided to start a new feature (yet another!) on In “Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs,” I’ll highlight blog posts and news items that examine the various ways in which speciesism parallels or intersects with the oppression of marginalized human groups. In a word, intersectionality.

Previously, I was linking to these stories in my weekly weekend activist posts, but since they’re easily overlooked in a sea of links, I’d rather give ’em their own home. Deconstructing the patriarchy is hefty shit, yo!

So let’s get started, posthaste:

Stephanie @ Animal Rights @ Change .org: Pregnancy at Slaughter: What Happens to the Calves?, Part 1 and Part 2

Over the past few months, I’ve spent some time examining how modern animal agriculture subjects female animals to especially brutal and prolonged exploitation, turning their reproductive systems against them. Their children suffer greatly, too; the daughters of “dairy cows” are enslaved in the same conditions as their mothers, while brothers and sons, an otherwise worthless by-product of milk production, become “veal” calves; females born to “laying hens” become egg machines as well, eventually replacing their “spent” mothers, while males are simply disposed of in garbage bags and wood chippers; and so on and so forth.

In “Pregnancy at Slaughter: What Happens to the Calves?,” Stephanie turns her attention to the fate of newborn calves and late-term fetuses at the stockyard, where their mothers are faced with imminent slaughter. As she explains, some fetal calves die with – inside – their mothers, while others are harvested for use in “science.”

If you eat “meat,” drink milk, or wear leather, you’re complicit in this species-, sex- and age-based atrocity.

Stephanie @ Animal Rights @ Change .org: Women, Girls, and the So-Called Achievement of Killing

Following up on an earlier criticism of Feministing for celebrating a woman bullfighter as a feminist hero, Stephanie laments the pseudo-feminist news coverage of Teressa Groenewald-Hagerman, a 39-year-old Kansan whose major “accomplishment” is being the “first woman in the world to shoot an elephant dead with a bow and arrow.”

As Stephanie and others have noted, Groenewald-Hagerman’s slaughter of an elephant – someone’s father, brother, son, partner, friend – is no more a feminist victory than Aileen Wuornos’s unprecedented killing spree.

Elaine at Vegan Soapbox also weighs in:

Teressa was “inspired” to kill an elephant after a male friend said “women could never draw such a heavy bow.” But archery is NOT necessarily a hunting sport. My grandmother was an archer and she did NOT kill. She shot targets, not animals.

In order to prove the male “friend” wrong, Teressa needed only to show strength and skill, not a barbaric blood-lust.

Indeed. Sex-based discrimination in athletics (or any field dominated by men, for that matter) is a pervasive problem; the solution, however, does not lie in the slaughter of even more marginalized beings.

Vegetarian Star: Dan Matthews: Get Obamas Naked, Madonna Is Middle Aged Witch

PETA’s Dan Matthews on Madonna:

I was a fan of Madonna in the 1980s but she became this middle-aged witch who thought her style should be defined by wearing fur coats and eating foie gras. We had a long argument over her glamorising bullfighting in her music videos.

While I agree that many of Madonna’s actions are reprehensible, let’s not pretend that 1a) “witch” isn’t a G-rated euphemism for “bitch”; 1b) “bitch,” when used as an insult, isn’t misogynist; and 2a) “witch” isn’t also a sex-based slur, inasmuch as one never hears a man so insulted (e.g., “You warlock!”); 2b) “witch” isn’t also ageist and lookist, inasmuch as (bad) “witches” are conceptualized as old, wrinkled, ugly, scraggly, disagreeable, hideous creatures.

Alternatives one might employ instead of “witch”: killer, butcher, murderer, social carcinogen, Madge the Bunny Slayer. Lose the -ism in favor of creativity – you get the idea.

And also: fuck you, Dan Matthews.

(More below the fold…)

The "right" to guzzle gas.

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Tom Coburn is fast becoming my pick for Douchebag of the Week.

See, for example, minute 2:30 of this Daily Show clip:

Coburn’s complaints re: CAFE standards: “What if you want to drive a gas hog? You don’t have the right any longer in this country to spend your money to drive a gas hog?”

Yes! And should I be struck with the desire to toss a barrel of arsenic in my pond, who is the government to tell me I can’t? It’s MY arsenic and MY pond, goddammit, and my grandfather fought and died in WWII so that AMERICA THE FREE would remain FREE from this sort of BIG GOVERNMENT FASCISM.

What’s better/worse, Coburn defends the “right” of individuals to pollute and consume to excess while also working to strip women of the right to bodily autonomy and privacy. He opposes abortion even in cases of rape and supports the death penalty for medical doctors who perform abortions. (Nor does he care to reduce the need for abortion by increasing the availability of and access to contraception.)

In Tom Coburn’s mind, a person has a greater “right” to decide what car to drive, than a person woman* has to decide whether or not she will lend her body and organs to another being – a potential being, which in its early stages exists as a tiny clump of cells – for nine months.

Car purchase > Bodily integrity

Seriously, what a douche.

(More below the fold…)

The horrors of modern fetus farms.

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

The (d)evolution of animal agriculture sounds so much more insidious (and comical, natch!) when applied to human vs. non-human animals!

(Cue fetus frenzy at 1:10.)

If only they could grow in vitro embryos. Oh, wait.

(More below the fold…)

Ambushes for Justice (in your UTERUS!)

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

ZOMFG! Bill O’Reilly believes in a Constitutional right to privacy!

No, it’s true. Well, kinda sorta:

Apparently the Constitution only protects the rights of the rich, the white, the heterosexual, the cisgendered, the faithful and the non-pregnant – and only when they’re in complete agreement with all opinions O’Reilly, natch.

Well done, Jon, well done.

Hoping for a change in how our government views the sex class.

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

President Obama rescinded the Global Gag Rule yesterday. Wishes really do come true! Well, kinda sorta. Being the cynical bitch I am, Obama’s timing and statement threw up all kinds of red feminist flags for me.

As I said in Thursday’s Blog for Choice post, I had hoped – fervently – that Obama would repeal the Global Gag Rule that day. Instead, he chose to do so a day later. What’s one day, right? Practically speaking, not much. I don’t imagine that much money was distributed to international NGOs between Thursday the 22nd and Friday the 23rd, so most likely Obama’s slight delay didn’t have a negative impact on any family planning organizations. And yet.

Had he chosen to take action on the anti-abortion rule on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade – like the two administrations before him – he would have sent a strong message to anti- and pro-choicers alike: Women are humans, and I respect their right to privacy and bodily autonomy unequivocally – no matter how popular such a stance may or may not be. Period. The difference is one of symbolism – and symbolically, Obama seems reluctant to align himself too closely with the pro-choice side.

Of course, he also chose to repeal the rule on a Friday – the slowest of all news days. Consequently, I’ve seen little-to-no coverage of the Gag Rule on the cable news shows. Seriously, Sully Sullenberger has received more air time. The more cynical part of me (which is to say, 99%) can’t help but think that this was Obama’s plan all along.

Of his rescinding of the Global Gag Rule, Obama wrote:

It is clear that the provisions of the Mexico City Policy are unnecessarily broad and unwarranted under current law, and for the past eight years, they have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning in developing countries. For these reasons, it is right for us to rescind this policy and restore critical efforts to protect and empower women and promote global economic development.

For too long, international family planning assistance has been used as a political wedge issue, the subject of a back and forth debate that has served only to divide us. I have no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate.

It is time that we end the politicization of this issue. In the coming weeks, my Administration will initiate a fresh conversation on family planning, working to find areas of common ground to best meet the needs of women and families at home and around the world.

I have directed my staff to reach out to those on all sides of this issue to achieve the goal of reducing unintended pregnancies. They will also work to promote safe motherhood, reduce maternal and infant mortality rates and increase educational and economic opportunities for women and girls.

In addition, I look forward to working with Congress to restore U.S. financial support for the U.N. Population Fund. By resuming funding to UNFPA, the U.S. will be joining 180 other donor nations working collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries.

(More below the fold…)

Blogging for Choice: Animal Advocacy & Reproductive Rights

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009


Today marks the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade – and it’s also the fourth annual Blog for Choice Day!

This is the first year I’m participating in the blog swarm over here; in years past, I reasoned that reproductive rights were far enough removed from animal advocacy that a pro-choice post on an animal rights blog just wouldn’t make sense. The more I learn about intersecting oppressions, the more I realize how wrong, wrong, wrong I was.

There are many reasons why animal advocates should support a woman’s right to control her own reproductive system*: the environmental consequences of overpopulation and increased resource consumption; empowering women activists, who are overrepresented in the animal advocacy movement; a respect for bodily autonomy; and, perhaps most importantly, the similarities between speciesism and misogyny as expressed through the control of animals’ and women’s reproductive systems.

Much as a the reproductive systems of non-human animals are controlled, manipulated and exploited, anti-choicers seek to do the same to women.

First, let’s consider the ways in which humans manipulate animal reproduction in order to make a buck and satisfy a want (as opposed to a need):

Dairy cows are kept perpetually pregnant, so that they continue to produce milk. Typically, they produce up to 100 pounds of milk a day, or ten times as much as they might under natural conditions. The continued pregnancies and lactation is stressful on the cows’ bodies; common maladies include mastitis, ketosis, laminitis and “Milk Fever” (caused by a calcium deficiency). Once their calves are born, the sons are slaughtered to make beef or veal, while the daughters face the same fate as their mothers. Dairy cows usually live only 3 to 4 years before they, too, become beef; their natural life span is 25 years.

Egg-laying hens are packed into tiny cages, debeaked and forced to lay 250+ eggs per year. Since this is more than they would produce in the wild, their bodies are severely taxed; they may develop osteoporosis, fatty liver syndrome and cage layer fatigue. In order to eke a few extra eggs out of their hens, farmers initiate forced molts – they starve the entire flock simultaneously. Once the birds can no longer produce eggs – when they’re “spent” – they’re made into low-grade “meat” or “recycled” into animal feed. As with the dairy industry, male chicks are of no use to egg factories; consequently, farmers literally dispose of them: they’re stuffed into garbage bags to suffocate, thrown live into wood chippers, and otherwise treated like garbage.

Pigs, who are destined to become pork, don’t fare much better. Breeding sows are continually pregnant, birthing up to 20 piglets per year. During pregnancy, sows are confined to gestation crates; for birth, they’re transferred to farrowing crates. Piglets are taken from their mothers at 2 to 3 weeks of age. They are fattened up for “meat,” while heir mothers are forcibly impregnated again and again.

These are only three examples, taken from the modern animal agriculture industry. Add to this list dogs, cats, rats, ducks – basically any species of animal that humans “use” for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation, etc. is exploited in a similar manner.

Likewise, just as the megatheocorporatocracy exerts control over non-human animals’ sex organs, so too does it try to control women’s sexuality and reproduction. Exerting control over a woman’s reproductive cycle is just the first step in controlling her as a person.

(More below the fold…)

Pssst! You know who (already) has a pro-choice platform?

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

The Green Party.

Just sayin’.

This is “pro-life.”

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

What will Ofwarren give birth to? A baby, as we all hope? Or something else, an Unbaby, with a pinhead or a snout like a dog’s, or two bodies, or a hole in its heart or no arms, or webbed hands and feet? There’s no telling. They could tell once, with machines, but that is now outlawed. What would be the point of knowing, anyway? You can’t have them taken out; whatever it is it must be carried to term.

From Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Which, unbelievably, this curmudgeonly feminist is only just now getting around to reading.

On Roe’s 35th, looking to the next generation.

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008


Get blogging, bitchez!

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my little sis online while the (seemingly never ending) CNN campaign coverage droned on in the background. At 24, Michelle is only five years younger than this featherhead – but sometimes, the gap seems so much wider.

Though I took some women and gender studies courses while majoring in psychology in college, it was only in the years after graduation that I really discovered and embraced feminism. Not that was an anti-feminist in college, not at all; I just didn’t question, criticize, and examine the patriarchical culture in which I was – am – immersed. Like most women my age, I took hard-earned rights such as reproductive rights and the right to vote for granted, and casually threw around misogynistic terms such as “bitch” and “slut” – and not with the end goal of reclaiming them for the feminist side. Even though I was receptive to my feminist professor’s teachings, it took the internets to introduce me to patriarchy-blaming, I guess. Age and maturity most likely greased the old vagina, too.

Looking at Michelle, I see much of my teenage self in her; just, exaggerated. She’s also studying psych, but she’s veered towards more marketable psych skills – think occupational psychology. She’s never had the benefit of women or gender studies courses – not even a one! – and she’s not exactly politically active, either. In fact, she’s so indifferent to current events – particularly women’s issues – that it’s a little alarming, actually. Even as a little kiddo, I read the local newspaper.

Which brings me back to our conversation. At the time, the election issue de jour was the sexist attacks on Hillary and her subsequent “breakdown”. Half-listening to the coverage in the background, and suddenly a bit curious, I asked Michelle who she planned on voting for in the primaries. She was non-committal; “anyone but Hillary” was her reply. “Why not Hillary?” asked I, knowing full well what her answer would be. “Just don’t like her.” No reason, just a visceral reaction.

Assuming (ok, hoping!) that Michelle’s indecision only extended to the primaries, and that surely (please?) she’d vote Democrat in the national election no matter what, I asked her whether she’d vote for Hillary if she was the Democratic nominee…or if she’d rather vote Republican than support Hillary. “Eh…I’d probably vote for the Republican.”

(More below the fold…)

Blogging for Choice

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

A few weeks ago, NARAL sent out an action alert to their list of subscribers inviting readers to “Share Your Story”:

In honor of the 34th anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade decision, tell us why you are pro-choice.

Maybe you had a poignant experience with friends at your first pro-choice march or rally, a memorable conversation with a close female relative about a woman’s right to privacy, or encountered difficulties firsthand when trying to access abortion care or other reproductive-health service where you live.

Tell us your story by filling out the form below.

My submission was short and sweet: “My body, my choice. End of story.”

It should be the end of the story, anyway. Ideally, the discussion would start and end with “My body, my choice.” No further explanation necessary. And you don’t have to be a hairy-legged, man-hating, fetus-eating feminazi to understand that, if men were the ones carrying The Baybeez! to term, “My body, my choice” would be the end of the logical line.

(Of course, you could also argue that pregnant men would make for matriarchal society, since the time spent incapacitated by pregnancy and saddled with dependents is a large part of what’s held women down, but that a whole nother discussion.)

But they aren’t. And it’s not. And here we are, blogging for choice.

There are dozens of reasons why I’m pro-choice. Some are selfish: I’m not particularly fond of baybeez, and if I were to ever accidentally find myself with child, I’d abort it in a metaphorical heartbeat. Even if I were sterile, though, and the issue of choice didn’t affect me personally, I’d still want that right for other women. It’s a matter of basic human rights: no one, male or female, should be required to surrender their body, in whole or part, to another. So-called “pro-lifers” (who in reality aren’t very “pro-life” at all) would never even consider legislation that forces parents to donate their organs to ailing children; why, then, is it perfectly acceptable to demand that women hand over their bodies to unborn, non-sentient feti?

In one word: misogyny.

It’s all about punishing women who dare to have teh sex. It’s about control; controlling women’s sexuality, regulating their power, usurping their autonomy. About claiming their very bodies. Dehumanizing them and treating them like livestock.

“Pro-life” rhetoric is oftentimes framed in religious terms. Yet, I find such arguments disingenuous at best. “Pro-lifers” are more likely to identify as political conservatives who support the war in Iraq; oppose universal health care; and embrace tax breaks for the rich and disapprove of social programs that help those struggling with poverty, mental illness, unemployment, drug addiction, etc. In other words, in all but the sexual arena, these so-called “pro-life Christians” are quite un-Christlike.

Like religion itself, forced pregnancy is more about controlling women than honoring “God”.

Of course, our Constitution also guarantees the separation of church and state – meaning that religious anti-choice arguments are irrelevant in the “abortion wars”. If your God says that abortion is immoral, that’s fine by me. You have every right to follow your own religious mandates (as long as they don’t harm other living – and by “living”, I mean “born” – beings), just as I have every right to follow my secular humanist mandates. And neither of us has the right to force our own choices on the other.

My body, my choice. End of story.

Blog for Choice Day 2007