Colleen Patrick-Goudreau on human/animal exploitation.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

In this video series, author, activist and vegan cooking instructor Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (of Compassionate Cooks) discusses the impact of animal exploitation in the “meat” and “dairy” industries on animals, human and nonhuman alike. In particular, intersectionality is a thread that binds each brief video in the series to the others.

Take, for example, the segment titled “Female Exploitation,” in which Patrick-Goudreau explains the gendered nature of animal exploitation on farms – including smaller, “traditional,” “family” farms as well as large-scale, industrialized factory farms. While all farmed animals suffer under this system, the females of the exploited species – pigs, cows, chickens, etc. – experience especially torturous and prolonged abuse. To their owners, sows, heifers, laying hens and the like are nothing but walking wombs, baby machines, good only for perpetuating the farmers’ product line. Their reproductive systems are hijacked and turned against them; what should be a natural, joyful process for these mothers is instead perverted into a never-ending cycle of rape, forced pregnancy, birth, and kidnapping – until the mothers, spent, suffer the same fate as their offspring: slaughter, dismemberment, consumption. Precious few females find sanctuary, mother their children, grow old and predecease the generations that follow them; the generations they gave life to.

This is the female’s fate.

In “Maternal Instincts,” Patrick-Goudreau identifies the maternal instinct as a primal urge, one shared by all living beings; an instinct that cannot be stifled or bred away. She also touches upon the similar ways in which human and nonhuman animals have been – continue to be – devalued, possessed, mechanized. Treated as property. Units of production.

First comes dehumanization, then objectification. Only by doing away with each – by taking a hammer to every last rung on the hierarchy – can we foster respect and compassion for all beings. No one is free while others are oppressed.

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 11: Battered, Bruised & Consumed

Monday, November 9th, 2009

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Natalie Portman @ The Huffington Post: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals Turned Me Vegan and

Carol J. Adams: A vegan-feminist lament

Natalie Portman – a newbie vegetarian-to-vegan convert, thanks to Jonathan Safran Foer’s welfarist Eating Animals (zuh?) – recently caused a stir when she compared the consumption of “meat” to the consumption of women, i.e., in the form of rape:

He posits that consideration, as promoted by Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which has more to do with being polite to your tablemates than sticking to your own ideals, would be absurd if applied to any other belief (e.g., I don’t believe in rape, but if it’s what it takes to please my dinner hosts, then so be it).

Naturally, Portman’s remark(s) unleashed a torrent of speciesism – to which Carol Adams responds with a vegan-feminist lament.

(This is the point at which I’d normally swoon over Ms. Portman – but I’m still somewhat heartbroken over her Jane Hancock on the “free Polanski” petition.)

Striking at the Roots: Carol J. Adams on Activism, Veganism and Models for Change

In what’s shaping up to be a series (see also: Mark’s conversation with Andrew Zollman of LGBT Compassion), author/activist Mark Hawthorne interviews vegetarian (vegan?) / feminist Carol Adams. The two touch upon sexism within the animal rights movement, masculine vs. feminist models of change, the gendered nature of animal exploitation, and guerrilla activism. Keep it coming, Mark!

Stephanie @ Animal Rights: Are American Rodeos More Acceptable Than Spanish Bullfighting?

Stephanie details an alarming trend: as Spanish animal advocacy groups work to bring an end to bullfighting, promoters of American rodeos are promoting the “sport” as a “humane” alternative. Clearly, the question she poses – Are American Rodeos More Acceptable Than Spanish Bullfighting? – is a rhetorical one, and the answer is a resounding hell no! Here, colonialism meets speciesism, and everyone loses. Save for the colonizers, of course.

(More below the fold…)

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

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

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.

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 9: Rape is Torment (& also, The Death of Cake)

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

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Robert Melia & Heather Lewis:
accused child (read: cow/calf and human/girl) rapists.

I, Bonobo: There’s plenty more where this came from

veganprimate points to the case of Robert Melia – a former police officer who, along with his girlfriend, was arrested for sexually assaulting three girls – as a demonstration of the link between the exploitation of women and that of nonhuman animals. Melia’s misogyny only came to light because Melia was under investigation for engaging in “oral sex” (read: rape) with calves. Though the animal cruelty charges were dismissed by a judge – according to whom, a grand jury had no way of knowing whether the animals were “tormented” by the assault – police found

videos on his computer of a girl being “subjected to sexual activity” in addition to taped encounters between Melia and the calves.

While I’m glad the assistant prosecutor seems to be taking animal abuse seriously, the cynic in me can’t help but think he’s simply latching onto this “lesser” offense for leverage. Either way, it’s doubtful that Melia and girlfriend Heather Lewis will serve much time, as rape is too often minimized and excused in our kyriarchal society.

On that note, methinks New Jersey Judge James J. Morley needs to be schooled on animal abuse, interpersonal violence and intersectionality.

Judge James J. Morley
Burlington County Cts. Facility
49 Rancocas Road
Mt. Holly, New Jersey 08060
609-518-2965
Fax: 609-518-2551

Be firm but polite!

Lisa @ Sociological Images: A Summary Visual Of Women’s Objectification

In a could-be-vegan spin on the ever-popular women-as-meat meme, I bring you: women-as-cake! Sure, there’s a dudely version of the photo too, but as Lisa points out, it’s sans copy – and probably wasn’t plastered on the magazine’s cover, as were the woman’s sliced and dismembered buttocks.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 8: White Blood, Wild Things & District 9

Monday, September 28th, 2009

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Yikes! It’s been way too long since my last intersectionality link roundup and, as a result, I’ve managed to stockpile a ridiculous number of links – all without keeping current, naturally. Here’s the first batch; look for the second (or ninth, rather) installment later this week.

Making Hay: Animal Rights Is a Universal Issue

Farm Sanctuary’s Jasmin Singer recently traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa, in order to attend the South African Law Review Consultation Workshop, organized by Animal Rights Africa (ARA) “for the purpose of initiating a transparent public process of South African animal protection legislation review.” Here, she shares her experiences and offers a little background on ARA.

You can find out more about Animal Rights Africa’s work – and what you can do to help – on their website at http://www.animalrightsafrica.org.

VegNews: Backstage Pass: Erykah Badu

Via BlackVegan, a short-but-sweet interview with vegan singer/songwriter Erykah Badu, my favorite exchange of which is this:

VN: Is vegan food the new soul food?

EB: Vegan food is soul food in its truest form. Soul food means to feed the soul. And, to me, your soul is your intent. If your intent is pure, you are pure.

Racialicious: An Interview with Bryant Terry on Race, Class, Food, and Culture – Part 1

Speaking of soul food, Racialicious recently featured a lengthy interview with Bryant Terry, author of Vegan Soul Kitchen.

A snippet:

One of the biggest things I uncovered in my work, especially working with young people in New York City through the organization I founded called B-healthy, is that a lot of people living in low income areas and urban areas are living in what are known as food deserts. They have very little access to fresh food – healthy, local, sustainable, all that – and have an overabundance of the worst foods, the fried things, the packaged fast food that has a negative impact on their overall health. Lack of access to healthy food is a huge issue, and it’s only one indicator of material deprivation these people are living with. In these neighborhoods, I visited, it wasn’t as if they just lacked access to healthy food and everything else was great. Usually it would be failing infrastructure, dilapidated schools, high levels of illiteracy, low income. So I think it is one issue that has to be addressed of many among these people living in these historically excluded communities are dealing with.

“Part 1” seems to imply that there’s a “Part 2” in the works – indeed, the interview ends with a promise of more to come – but a Google search has yet to reveal a follow-up.

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 7: Meat, Love & Objectification

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Update, 9/2/09: Carol Adams is soliciting videos for the upcoming 20th anniversary of The Sexual Politics of Meat; check out her Twitter account for more info and examples.

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A1 Steak Sauce - Prestige

The Discerning Brute: EAT LIKE A MAN.

The Discerning Brute weighs in on the conflation of “meat” consumption with masculinity:

How do rabbits eat? They carefully chew Vegetation. Strangely, no man scoffs at being compared to a rabbit when it comes to sex. “Doing it like rabbits” flatters a man’s virility, yet eating a diet that supports that same rabbit’s virility is lampooned. Instead, we consume entire animals with superstitious hopes of appropriating their strengths. The cover of September 2009’s Esquire Magazine proclaims “Eat Like A Man” and leads to a sixteen-page cover-story entitled “How Men Eat”. It is a total meat-fest. A cheesy, eggy, frat party wrapped in bacon and bathed in blood.

The offending article doesn’t seem to be available on Esquire’s website, though you can read about famous chefs’ favorite fast food joints, with much love for In & Out Burger. Gag.

Er, on second thought, no gag; that’s probably the womanly reaction the meat-eating manly men at Esquire are hoping for.

Carol J. Adams: The Sexual Politics of Meat Slide Show

Carol Adams has revamped her website since last I visited. The new setup includes a blog, interviews and – best of all – a Sexual Politics of Meat slideshow.

Apparently a 20th anniversary edition of The Sexual Politics of Meat is due out this fall; since I have the 1999 edition, I’m contemplating whether I should upgrade. It’s been awhile since I’ve read them, but I preferred The Pornography of Meat, Adams’s follow-up to The Sexual Politics of Meat – it’s more visual, less theoretical/academic. Then again, I read each in my college/vegetarian days, so wtf did I know? Perhaps an ’09 edition, with some new material, will provide an excuse to revisit Sexual Politics in my adulthood.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 6: PETA, PMS & Michael Pollan

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

First and foremost, a few links from Sociological Images. Due to time constraints, I went a month or so without reading the blog, so it’s time to play catchup.

Ejaculation Imagery in a Dutch Creamer Ad

In which the milk of an (s)exploited mother acts as a stand-in for semen; at commercial’s climax (pun most definitely intended), said semen is “accidentally” spurted all over the face of a unsuspecting woman. About as classy as it is original!

Do You Love Animals? Do You Have Lady Bits? Take Off Your Clothes!

Lisa examines a series of UPI photos of a PETA event that took place on Capitol Hill in order to protest/celebrate National Hot Dog Day. The photos feature two bikini-clad Lettuce Ladies – serving soydogs alongside two fully-dressed male PETA members – and the slideshow of ten pictures includes four boob/crotch shots. “Gender parity” my dimpled ass.

PMS = A “Sea Of Suffering” For Everyone In The Land

Oh boys. These commercials from the California Milk Processor Board are so dreadful, I’m actually struck speechless. Luckily, Sarah Haskins is on the case:
 


 
Milk – i.e., the bodily secretions of tortured and grieving mothers – tames unruly hair! It conquers PMS (and PMS-induced tsunamis)! It cures depression, acne, lesbianism and spinster aunt-ism, even!

Ah, milk!: the elixir of the patriarchy / kyriarchy / megatheocorporatocracy.

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 4

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

LGBT Compassion - Screenshot

LGBT Compassion

One of the newest additions to the “Intersections” category on my blogroll, LGBT Compassion is a

coalition of San Francisco Bay Area gay animal advocates (and some non-gay friends) working to promote awareness of animal welfare, health, environmental, and civil rights issues within our community – along with any other important social issues that we feel strongly about.

We feel that the LGBT community, having experienced discrimination, oppression and suffering ourselves, having special health issues, and often having unique bonds with companion animals, should be open to learning and helping others who may not be able to speak up for themselves – whether human or non-human.

Their motto: Fighting oppression and discrimination for all. Love it.

I first learned of the group through its investigation into San Francisco’s live animal markets, where chickens are kept and displayed for sale in plastic bags (!). If you haven’t yet, definitely go check ’em out.

PETA Asia-Pacific: Urge Egypt’s Prime Minister to Stop Cruel Pig Cull

When I saw that PETA was campaigning against the pig culls in Egypt, I was excited. Last I checked, the WSPA had reached a standstill with the Egyptian government, which was insisting that the culls had ceased, despite evidence to the contrary. Writing about the issue at change.org, I wanted desperately to offers readers an opportunity to take action. But nada – until now.

When I actually read the sample letter provided by PETA, though, my heart sank. Rather than calling for an end to the culls, PETA asks the government to “Please place a moratorium on the pig cull until guidelines can be put in place to ensure that the killing is as humane as possible.” This despite the fact that the culls are wholly unnecessary – an inefficient way to guard against swine flu. And this comes not from animal advocacy groups, but government experts (such as those at the UN) – who, on the whole, aren’t really known for their animal-friendly views.

Add to the mix the possibility that the culls might have as much to do with religious discrimination as swine flu paranoia, and PETA really dropped the ball here. Not only has the group failed to defend the pigs from slaughter – it also failed to take the majority Muslim government to task for oppressing the minority Christian farmers. PETA even reinforces the government’s bigotry by pleading for a “humane” pig cull at a later date!

Oh, with friends like these…

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 3

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

I’ve been feeling kind of crappy since Friday, so I all I have to offer is this link roundup. Happy reading…or not.
 


 
Kelly Garbato @ Animal Rights @ Change.org: Egypt’s Pigs: Beaten, Stoned, and Burned Alive (Part 1) and Religious Discrimination and the Killing of Egypt’s Pigs (Part 2)

In my second round of guest posts at change.org, I look at the recent pig culls in Egypt, and explain how the mass killings may have less to do with concerns over the swine flu than with religious discrimination directed at the country’s Coptic Christians – as well as “their” pigs.

I, Bonobo: Guess who’s really at the bottom of the shitpile? and

Vegan Soapbox: Why Women Should Care About Animals

Bonobobabe and Eccentric Vegan both respond to a recent piece that appeared in the community section of Feministing. Not surprisingly, the author asserted that animal rights and feminism are unrelated movements, such that the animal rights movement has nothing to contribute to feminism and vice versa. Thus, it’s perfectly acceptable for good liberal progressive feminists to eat meat, wear fur and shit on animal advocates when they complain. I’m taking liberties, of course, but you get the idea.

Bonobobabe’s reply, in particular, is a must-read. I skimmed it over several times, trying to boil it down to an excerpt or two to illustrate her argument, but it’s all awesome. This about sums it up, though:

So, while I think it’s fine for a woman who calls herself a feminist to put her time and energy towards women-centered things, I also feel that if a feminist is supposed to be sensitive to class and race issues, that she should also be sensitive to speciesist issues. It’s not OK to say that you are better than an animal. Besides, hierarchies are the invention of men. Being a speciesist, even if one is a feminist, is playing by men’s rules. You’re better than that.

Hat tip to Stephanie for this one.

(More below the fold…)

On mares, wet nurses and shared exploitations.

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Photo via ImaginaryGirl

A few weeks ago, Jennie at That Vegan Girl wrote about a little-known practice of the horse racing industry in which genetically “undesirable” mares are made into “nurses” for the offspring of “thoroughbred” mares and stallions. When “prize” mares are prevented from nursing their foals themselves, they’re of more use to breeders, as they can be impregnated sooner. More babies = more product = more money. And it’s always about maximum profit, right?

In addition to severing the mother-child bond between the “prize” mare and her foal, this practice has even graver consequences for the “nurse” mare and her child. Remember – in order to produce milk, females must first produce a baby. So what happens to the “nurse” mare’s foal, the one for whom the “nurse” mare’s milk is actually intended?

Jennie explains:

The Jockey Club, which is the official governing body of Thoroughbred racing (the kind you see in the Kentucky Derby) does not allow embryo transfer or artificial insemination of horses. In order to have a baby every year, a mare must be re-bred directly after foaling, which means that she must be shipped to the stallion for breeding directly after having her own baby. It’s a process that usually takes three to four weeks in whole, and the foal is too delicate (and valuable!) to travel with his mother. Plus, if she nurses her own foal, she’s not going to come back into heat and thus cannot conceive. Since her whole purpose is to give the breeder potentially valuable offspring, she must be rebred, and since she cannot nurse her own foal and fulfill her “purpose”, a “nurse mare” is brought in.

In order to give milk, female animals generally need to be pregnant and have given birth (the oxytocin secreted during birth allows lactation to begin). In the “nurse mare” industry, like the dairy industry, the newborn foals become the byproducts of milk production. The nurse mares are generally horses of “lower quality” who are otherwise healthy and good milk producers. They are bred to inexpensive stallions for the sole purpose of being able to provide milk to the potential racehorse foals. But wait, you ask… what about their own foals? If you’re unfamiliar with horses, you might think she, like a human wetnurse, gets to nurse both her baby and the other mare’s baby. That doesn’t seem so bad, you might think. Not bad enough to provoke yet another horse “sport” related rant at least. However, if you are familiar with horses, you know that mares rarely produce enough milk to support two foals (one reason why twins are such a problem) and that you’d have to give the mare a substantial amount more feed and that the whole process would require extra attention, extra money. Since the point is to make the “valuable” foal grow up strong and healthy, and the extra foal has no “value”, there’s no chance that the mare’s real baby will get a share of her milk anyway, so what then?

Traditionally, these foals are killed.

That’s right. Like dairy calves, these sentient “byproducts” are killed because they’re not worth keeping alive. It’s not that you couldn’t. You could (and rescues do) keep them alive on formula. However, on large farms, there tend to be a large number and these farms are concerned not with life, but with their bottom line. It is time consuming and not cheap, per say, to do. So they kill them. Why? On the off chance that the foal that their mother nurses will fetch money at auction or win on the track or become a superstar stud (25% chance he will, 75% chance he’ll go to slaughter too). Because their mothers’ are more valuable pregnant than being able to properly bond with their children.

(By the by, this is but a small part of Jennie’s post; you should go read the entire piece, because it’s excellent. Don’t worry, I’ll still be here when you get back!)

(More below the fold…)

"Faultlines"

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Photo via kendiala

Lately, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about intersections: been speciesism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, colonialism, classism and (especially) sexism, and between animal liberation and other social justice movements.

While it’s become clear to me that all forms of prejudice and oppression are interrelated – and indeed, spring from the same well – what I find most vexing is how all these injustices first came about. Were nature and non-human animals subjugated first, followed by women and marginalized men, or were many of these rungs built into the social hierarchy at once? Which came first – organized religion, what with its oh-so-convenient justifications for mistreating the aforementioned “lesser” beings, or were these dogmas created after the fact, as a way of rationalizing and continuing these inequities? Did women as group resist when their brothers began to betray them en masse? Perhaps nature betrayed us as well, by “blessing” us with bodies that, on the one hand, are capable of bringing new life into this world – yet by the same token are vulnerable and ripe for exploitation? Why do men (and not a few women) seek to bully and oppress others? Why can’t we all just get along?

pattrice jones has touched upon this subject in her writings time and again. At the most basic level, she links the rise of pastoralism to that of the patriarchy. Take, for example, this exchange from an interview published in Vegan Voice:

Q. In Australia we have an appalling track record with regards to indigenous rights. How is racism shaped to some degree by animal exploitation.

A. I’m glad you asked about that, because it was my scholarly investigations into the origins of racism that led me to understand how speciesism is related various forms of oppression among humans. Basically, pastoralism (human dominion over animals) and patriarchy (male dominion over women) — which arrived on the historical scene together and cannot be separated — formed the template according to which all subsequent forms of exploitation would be patterned. It’s not an accident that people who are going to be exploited because of their religion, ethnicity, disability, or race are first “dehumanised” — the very act of subjugation is the act of forcing the target group into the category of “animal,” which means both “being without rights” and “object to be used.” You mentioned the Australian record with regard to indigenous peoples. The European conquests Australia offers a case in point concerning the use of the category “animal” to oppress a group of people. Indigenous people were, essentially, treated as just one more species of indigenous animal, to be exploited when possible and exterminated otherwise. The atrocities that were committed against indigenous peoples would be unimaginable were it not for a long history of treating living beings in exactly the same way. That history made it easy to just add indigenous people to the list of beings who may permissibly be enslaved, killed, or used without regard for their own aim and interests. As long as the category “animal” exists, it will be possible for some human animals to push other human animals over the line into it. If we are serious about ending the exploitation of people, then we have to get rid of the idea of a living being without rights, who can be exploited or killed at will. There’s more — much more — but that’s the gist of it.

In her contributions to Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (2004) and Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth (2006), jones examines animal liberation in general (and direct action specifically) through a (anarcha~)feminist lens. In both pieces (“Mothers with Monkeywrenches: Feminist Imperatives and the Animal Liberation Front” and “Stomping with the Elephants: Feminist Principles for Feminist Solidarity”), she returns to the theme of intersecting oppressions, and in so doing she conjures up many of the same questions that have been dancing around in my head.*

In particular, this passage from “Stomping with the Elephants” scratches the surface of the problem – ever so slightly, as the issue is enormous – which might be the concept of “property” – ownership, of both the land, and the beings residing upon it:

(More below the fold…)

In which Sean Delonas & The New York Post wallow in racism and speciesism.

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Update, 2/20/09: The New York Post offered a half-assed apology for the Delonas cartoon today; by “half-assed,” I mean of the “we’re sorry if we hurt your delicate feefees” variety.

Naturally, the “apology” only addresses the racial aspects of the cartoon, while completely overlooking the speciesism inherent in comparing marginalized human group x to marginalized animal species y as a means of insult – and in mocking chimpanzee Travis’s needless and tragic death.

If you’d like, you can comment on the “apology” here, or submit a letter to the editor here.

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The above cartoon ran in today’s issue of The New York Post.

In one tidy little panel, cartoonist Sean Delonas – and, in printing and defending such trash, The New York Post – happily wallows in a toxic pool of racism and speciesism.

Here, President Obama is likened to Travis, a captive chimpanzee and former “animal actor,” who escaped from his “house” and attacked his “owner’s” friend on Monday. He was later shot and killed by police.

In bestializing Obama, Delonas engages in both racism and speciesism. Comparing people of color to nonhuman animals – particularly primates, such as chimps and monkeys – is a familiar, age-old racist meme. Denying the humanity of people of color – again, by likening them to nonhuman animals, which are presumably “sub-human,” “lesser beings,” “wild” incapable of intelligent thought or emotion, etc. – was used to justify slavery and segregation, and is still employed as a rationalization for current social inequities such as the disproportionately high rates of poverty, hunger and incarceration among people of color.

These comparisons are also speciesist, inasmuch as they rely upon and reinforce our (collective) stereotypes and prejudices re: nonhuman animals, as well as our utter lack of regard for their sentience and interests. Just as the above cartoon derides Obama by tying him to Travis, it also vilifies Travis (and, by extension, chimpanzees) for being “stupid,” “wild” and “vicious” – “less than.” To add insult to injury, Delonas turns Travis’s tragic death into the butt of a joke. (This didn’t have to happen: Travis should have been living in a sanctuary, with his own kind, not in the residential home of an elderly woman.)

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Whopper Virgins, SNL Style

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

While searching the internets for the latest “meat-as-sex” Burger King commercial (BK’s Burger Shots, natch), I stumbled upon this SNL parody of BK’s “Whopper Virgins” series. I’m fairly certain that SNL is poking fun at BK for devising such an absurd and culturally insensitive campaign, but with varying levels of success.
 


 
Take, for example, the man who tried to run away with the Whoppers: “This food could feed my village for a month!” Here, Western excess as exemplified by Burger King is the butt of the joke, as opposed to the impoverished villager himself.

Other “subjects” seem puzzled; they’ve never seen a burger before, so they’re unsure what to do with it. The “Whopper as a hat” bit is deliberately over the top, but in trying to poke fun at BK’s idiotic PR stunt, SNL also mocks (unintentionally?) “those silly foreigners.” Or perhaps SNL means to imply that the BK “researchers” are the stooges, seemingly for expecting such behavior from the uncivilized heathens to begin with?

I only wish SNL had aimed their axe at the root of the problem, namely, the conflating of “meat” with sex, and “meat”-eating with masculinity.

Your thoughts?

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PETA, the KKK and the AKC

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Just for the record – and because it’s starting to feel like all-PETA, all the time around here, Dog help us all – this shit is so unbelievably uncool:

NEW YORK – “Is this really the KKK?” somebody asked the woman in the white robe and the pointy hat.

Crowds gawked at a table set up outside Madison Square Garden on Monday afternoon, where People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was protesting the start of the Westminster Kennel Club show. PETA contends that the American Kennel Club promotes pure-breeding of dogs that is harmful to their health.

“Welcome AKC Members,” read a banner hanging from the table — with AKC crossed out and KKK written above it. Two PETA protesters dressed as Ku Klux Klan members, while other volunteers handed out brochures that read: “The KKK and the AKC: BFF?” […]

Most passers-by seemed more puzzled than offended, though those who didn’t stop walked away thinking they really had seen the KKK. The most common reaction was to pull out a cell phone and start snapping photos.

I wasn’t going to mention this latest offense – I’m so, so sick of talking about PETA – but it landed on one of the larger feminist blogs today, so meh. Lest I be branded a shill for PETA (zomg, I defend them on occasion!), perhaps I’d better weigh in.

While I think the comparison that PETA’s making is a valid one – namely, that the AKC is akin to the KKK inasmuch as the two fetishize a “pure,” “master,” genetically superior strain of beings (be it “race” or “breed”), going to unconscionable lengths to achieve this racist/breedist dream – certainly they can do so without parading around NYC in sheets and hoods, no?

Not only is the Klan gear unnecessary for their analogy (the comparison works quite well without it, methinks), it’s also distracting from the message – the controversy lands on NBC, yes, but the discussion becomes more about PETA’s racism than the AKC’s destructive policies.

Most importantly, by donning a potent, contemporary symbol of racism, PETA (yet again) demonstrates their complete lack of sensitivity and concern for marginalized groups other than non-human animals. While I don’t expect them to join in marches for the Jena 6 or crusade for better public housing for the urban poor – after all, they are an animal rights group – I do expect them to refrain from engaging in other “isms,” including racism. Gleefully foisting such an infamous, lasting symbol of hatred upon the public, some of whom may be traumatized by the experience (because of both the collective, ancestral and individual, first-hand experience with this hatred) is inexcusable. It’s racist, plain and simple. And any attempts to justify this behavior with appeals to the “oppression Olympics” (e.g., “but animals have it worse!”) or by claiming that the ends somehow justify the means (“at least they got us talking about it”) are privileged at best.

(More below the fold…)

Says KITS Live 105 & "The Woody Show": Racism & speciesism brings the lolz!

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

pattrice jones, writing at the Eastern Shore Sanctuary Blog, alerts us of an alarming stunt that a team of San Francisco radio hosts have planned for Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day.

MON: The Woody Show is off for MLK Day . . . or as Woody & Ravey call it…the day after the Steelers beat the Ravens to go to the Superbowl.

TUES: Tony (in a chicken suit) will try to catch chickens in the studio! Plus The Woody Show wants to find out if chickens will eat….chicken.

THURS: Comic Doug Benson will stop by during SF Sketchfest!

pattrice notes,

Without doubt, being carted to and then chased around a radio station will be extremely distressing to the birds in question. Moreover, mockery is a means by which people distance themselves from animals, in order to make their abuse less ethically troubling. Thus, this event, if allowed to go forward, will not only harm the two birds but also contribute to the callous disregard for animals that facilitates both everyday and extreme abuses of animals. […]

There is, of course, one more cause for concern about this particular event. Why, on the day that our nation’s first African American president will be inaugurated, will radio hosts be making jokes about eating chicken?

The answer is obvious, but allow me to state it anyway. Clearly, by introducing chickens into their Inauguration Day “joke,” the hosts of “The Woody Show” are invoking an age-old stereotype involving African Americans and chicken:

(More below the fold…)

Et tu, Phoebe?

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Can I just say how deeply it pains me to see Phoebe Buffay Lisa Kudrow happily frying up some Kung Pao Chicken in this commercial for Nintendo DS?

Bonus boggles for the parting “Chinese food, and it was easy” comment. Please tell us, oh wise Personal Trainer peoples, why you expect your audience to assume that “Chinese food” is any harder to prepare than “Italian food” or “Mexican food” – or “American food,” for that matter?

Might these expectations be attributed to your perception of “Chinese food” as “foreign,” “exotic” and “ethnic,” hmmm?

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Tagged:

Give me virginity or give me death!

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Burger King’s latest ad campaign – Whopper Virgins – is a convoluted mess of racism, sexism, speciesism and colonialism, all crammed into a a series of 15-to-30-second ads.

To wit:

Let’s dissect, shall we?

(More below the fold…)

And round and round we go.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

PETA - PETA2 (Khloe Kardashian)

Just for the record: I’m not particularly fond of the latest PETA2 ad featuring Khloe Kardashian. However, it’s not Kardashian’s state of (un)dress that bothers, rather, it’s the way in which PETA’s photographers have posed her that irks my feminist sensibilities. Though not as bad as, say, the Suicide Girls series, Ms. Kardashian is somewhat pornified in this ad: here, her body is turned away from the camera, so that it appears that the audience is following, ogling, stalking, sneaking up on her from behind. (From a racial perspective, I also find it interesting that PETA chooses to depict one of their few women of color models with a teased, “wild” hairstyle; while I know little about Khloe Kardashian, it doesn’t appear as though she normally wears her hair this way.)

Now, if this were just one of a handful of PETA ads that resemble a Playboy layout, I’d dismiss it as inevitable; PETA recruits a number of celebs to pose for their print ads, and no doubt some of these women (and men) will prefer more sexualized poses (in our pornified society, after all, women do trade on such images in order to get ahead; and I’d much rather criticize the culture which makes such compromises necessary, as opposed to the women doing the compromising). Yet, the ad fits a larger pattern wherein

women are more likely to pose in the nude than men; and, if you were to objectively compare the PETA print campaigns which feature nude men and women, you’d see that the portrayals are drastically different. Strip away PETA’s logo and slogans, and the women’s photos look like they were pulled straight out of a recent edition of Playboy. Young, white, thin, feminine, (conventionally) attractive women are displayed on all fours, backs arched, gazes vacant, faces and torsos turned away from the camera, submissive in posture, ready for a good fuckin’. In contrast, the men’s shots are fun, funny, inspiring, humorous, and full of personality.

So yes, I do think there’s more than enough room for a feminist critique of PETA’s ads, print and otherwise. That said, I don’t at all trust feminists who objectify non-human animals (by eating, wearing, gawking at, or otherwise exploiting them) to offer an unbiased critique of an animal advocacy group’s objectification of women. Assuming that PETA is indeed sexist*, speciesist feminists are no better: both objectify a group of living, sentient beings based solely on group membership.

Furthermore, these women have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo vis-à-vis their relation to (i.e., domination of) non-human animals: if they were to accept PETA’s premise that non-human animals have rights and interests equal to those of human animals, they’d have to reconsider their meat-eating, leather-wearing, dog-buying ways. In short, they would have to acknowledge (and thus, renounce) their human privilege.

So, how do the women at Feministing (et al.) claim moral superiority, again? While they may sometimes be correct in their interpretation of PETA’s campaigns, this veg*n feminist finds them no more trustworthy than an openly, unabashedly racist white feminist criticizing civil rights leaders for their misogyny. While their conclusions may be correct, their reasoning and motivations are forever suspect.

Just as they insist that PETA needs to lose the sexism before feminists will take them seriously, they need to lose the speciesism before they can expect veg*n women to give a damn about what they have to say.

* Which is a gross generalization, considering PETA’s vast membership numbers; better still to say that president Ingrid Newkirk and/or other higher-ups is/are sexist, and the organization is sexist to the extent that Newkirk/those in charge influences their hiring and PR policies.

(Crossposted from.)

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When "isms" intersect: Wild Versus Wall

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Via the Arizona chapter of the Sierra Club, by way of Deb at Invisible Voices, an eloquent illustration of intersecting “isms.” In this case, racism/xenophobia (“ZOMG! ILLEGAL ALIENZ!!!1!!1!”) and speciesism (“ZUH? THERE ARE ANIMALS ON TEH BORDER?”):

The Border Campaign of the Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter has completed a 20 minute video about the environmental effects of the current border policy, “Wild Versus Wall.” This video covers the ecological effects of enforcement and infrastructure in the four states that share boundaries with Mexico.

Tucson-based filmmaker Steev Hise has been working on the film since January, 2007. He traveled to Texas and California during the spring to interview land managers, scientists, and activists who are working to limit the ecological impacts of border wall construction.

“I have been covering border issues in southern Arizona for a while,” said Hise. “One of the great things about this project was traveling to other places along the border and to see how people concerned about the recent border militarization have the same outlook as people do here. They are also trying to stop the Department of Homeland Security from running roughshod over natural resources and constitutional rights.”

Hise also gathered footage from a diverse array of sources, including some of the Border Patrol’s own employment videos, which show agents blazing along on off-road vehicles. Numerous photographers contributed images of the rich ecosystems and species that are impacted by border infrastructure projects and local biologists lent their eyes and ears to the factual background of the habitats at stake.

Order your DVD today! Send $20 to 738 N. 5th Ave., Suite 214, Tucson, AZ 85705. Be sure to include Wall vs. Wild in the memo line of the check.

Understandably, the Sierra Club focuses on the environmental impact of the border wall, since that’s what they do and all. Even so, this is an area that’s ripe for coalition building between pro-immigration/anti-racist and environmental/animal advocacy groups, since they share a somewhat similar goal: sensible immigration policy, specifically pertaining to border security.

The Center for Biological Diversity has has written extensively about the US-Mexico border wall; Google search here.

(Crossposted from.)

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Tagged:

Personas para el Tratamiento Ético de los Animales?

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Via Noemi @ Vegans of Color, PETA’s latest publicity stunt: pro-vegan ads on, of all places, the US-Mexico border fence:

While many view the contentious border fence as a government fiasco, an animal rights group sees a rare opportunity.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans today to announce an unusual marketing pitch to the U.S. government: Rent us space on the fence for billboards warning illegal border crossers there is more to fear than the Border Patrol.

The billboards, in English and Spanish, would offer the caution: “If the Border Patrol Doesn’t Get You, the Chicken and Burgers Will — Go Vegan.”

“We think that Mexicans and other immigrants should be warned if they cross into the U.S. they are putting their health at risk by leaving behind a healthier, staple diet of corn tortillas, beans, rice, fruits and vegetables,” said Lindsay Rajt, assistant manager of PETA’s vegan campaigns.

The Department of Homeland Security is working to meet a deadline to complete 670 miles of fencing and other barriers on the Southwest border by Dec. 31. The fencing operation has run into stiff opposition by landowners fighting government efforts to obtain their land through condemnation.

PETA says its billboards would picture “fit and trim” Mexicans in their own country, where their diet is more in line with the group’s mission. Another image on the sign would portray obese American children and adults “gorging on meaty, fat- and cholesterol-packed American food.”

PETA’S offer to the feds is expected to arrive in a letter to Border Patrol officials today.

But a government spokesman in Washington said the request will be rejected because it would limit visibility through the fence. And Border Patrol does not allow advertising on its property or installations, the officials added.

“The fencing being put in place is, in many cases, mesh fencing to allow our officers to see what’s happening on the other side and to better secure the border,” said Michael Friel, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

One property owner on the Texas-Mexico border laughed at PETA’s proposal.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Noel Benavides, who is contesting the construction of a fence dividing his family’s 145-acre ranch in Roma on the Rio Grande. “I can’t see the point of something like that.”

But Rajt said the rent money they’d pay would help offset the huge costs of the fencing — and the advertising message “might even be frightening enough to deter people from crossing into the U.S.”

PETA has often been criticized for its aggressive animal rights crusades. It’s used billboards to push many of its controversial positions such as “Buck Cruelty: Say NO to horse-drawn carriage rides” or “Feeding Kids Meat Is Child Abuse.”

(More below the fold…)