Book Review: The Merman, Carl-Johan Vallgren (2015)

Monday, December 7th, 2015

“Fairy tales with tragic endings.”

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for violence, including bullying, sexual violence, and animal abuse, as well as offensive language.)

There is no beginning, and no ending. I know that now. For others, perhaps, there are stories that lead somewhere, but not for me. It’s like they go round in circles, and sometimes not even that: they just stand still in one place. And I wonder: what are you supposed to do with a story that repeats itself?

“There’s not much that’s been written about mermaids, you see. Mainly fairy tales with tragic endings.”

Petronella’s life is a lot like a fairy tale. Not the ending, when the lowly peasant girl has found her prince, the heroine has slayed the dragon, and everyone is free to live happily ever after for the rest of their days. Rather, Nella is the beginning; the nightmare that comes before the daydream. The raw truth that lurks under the Disneyfied facade, fangs and claws bared.

Nella’s is a family of three, occasionally four. She and her younger brother Robert live with their mother Marika in a maisonette (apartment) on Liljevägen in Falkenberg, Sweden; her housing is largely regarded as “a sort of slum where social service cases live.” An unemployed alcoholic, Marika is a neglectful mother at best. Her mom is more likely to spend the family’s public assistance funds on booze than food, forcing Nella into shoplifting to make up the difference. Sometimes the free lunch at school is the only meal Nella and Robert will see in a day; oftentimes it’s the one and only reason they bother to show up at all. That, and to get out of the house: no matter how much Nella tidies up, it’s not long before hurricane Marika sweeps through, leaving mess of dishes and vomit in her wake.

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Book Review: We Animals, Jo-Anne McArthur (2013)

Monday, February 17th, 2014

null

“It will change the world, for the better, for us all.”

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free pdf copy of this book for review.)

“What you see on these pages may surprise or disturb you. My aim is not to turn you away but to draw you in, bring you closer, make you a participant. I want my photographs to be beautiful and evocative as well as truthful and compelling. I hope you’ll take the time not just to look but to see — if only as a mark of respect for the billions of animals whose lives and deaths we don’t notice. To look at this book is to bear witness with me, which means also that we confront cruelty and our complicity in it. As a species, we have to learn new behaviours and attitudes and unlearn the old ones.” (page 9)

Photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur has spent the last decade and a half traveling the world – both on her own and in the company of animal activists – documenting our complicated relationships with nonhuman animals. Relationships that so often boil down to objectification, exploitation, and consumption. If you’ve been involved with animal advocacy for any length of time, no doubt you’re familiar with some of McArthur’s images. She’s photographed open rescues conducted by Animal Equality; documented the affecting actions of Toronto Pig Save; and set sail with the crew of the Sea Shepherd. McArthur bears witness through the lens of her camera, exposing atrocities that many of us would prefer remain invisible.

Recently featured in Liz Marshall’s The Ghosts In Our Machine, We Animals features 100 of McArthur’s photos – some taken for the film, others on behalf of various animal advocacy organizations, and the rest during the artist’s travels. The result is a stunning portfolio that’s as beautiful as it is heartbreaking. From the Calgary Stampede to the Tam Dao Bear Sanctuary in Vietnam, McArthur brings us examples of unimaginable cruelty – and selfless compassion.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering, Mark Hawthorne (2013)

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

They Shoot Narwhals, Don’t They?

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review at the author’s invitation. Also, trigger warning for discussions of violence, including that of a sexual nature.)

“Hierarchies feed oppression because it allows for valuation: those at the top are more valued than those at the bottom. Oppressors like hierarchies that keep animals at the bottom because then you can do to humans what you do to animals if you say that the humans are like the animals. So it feeds oppression to have animal objectification.” – Carol J. Adams (page 492)

“Change is hard, but not changing is just as hard.” – Carol J. Adams (page 487)

“Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you any more.” – Franz Kafka (quoted on page 490)

In Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering, author-activist and longtime vegan Mark Hawthorne examines some of the effects of these human hierarchies, which universally place nonhuman animals – an estimated three to thirty million species, comprised of trillions upon trillions of individuals – at the bottom of the proverbial shit pile. (That such categories even exist – human animals, and all the “others” – is itself a testament to the self-centeredness of the human species.)

While I was expecting an encyclopedic, A-to-Z look at animal suffering, Bleating Hearts is something much different; Hawthorne shines a light on practices that, for whatever reason, don’t garner as much attention in animal activist circles: Balut eggs, an Asian delicacy that involves boiling developing duck embryos alive. The plight of the ever-popular slow lorises (please don’t forward those YouTube videos, people, no matter how cute they seem!). Dolphin-assisted therapy (cruel, and a scam). Horse fighting (which often ends in the serial rape of a mare, positioned in the ring to induce the stallions to compete). Rogue taxidermy. If you think you know all there is to know about animal exploitation, think again. Even the most seasoned activist will discover something new within these pages.

(More below the fold…)

Consuming Women, No. 6: blender? He hardly knew her!*

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Trigger warning for violent imagery, some of which involves female nudity, under the jump.**

A subsidiary of the department store Beymen, blender bills itself as a “concept store.” (Caution: meat-loving hipsters ahead!) The “concept” (scare quotes because the whole concept of a concept store is way too fucking pretentious for this thrift store shopper to stand), as you may have already surmised, involves the pairing of fashion with misogyny, the conflation of sex and violence, and the linkage of women and nonhuman animals: consumable objects, unite!

With several locations in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey, blender doesn’t just sell clothing and assorted shiny baubles; oh no! Nor are body dysmorphia and low self-esteem its only wares. Ever the hipster-catering douchebags, each blender store is also home to a butcher shop! Because nothing accents a $500 white angora scarf quite like ghastly blood smear stain. (No, really!)

Curiously, blender attempts to sell its audience on this concept by treating at least half of them like pieces of meat, too!

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 24: Three months o’ links!

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Considering I haven’t posted a link roundup in more than three months, this one actually isn’t all that long. What can I say; I’ve used what little free blogging time I’ve had to prepare for the upcoming Vegan MoFo madness. Speaking of which, brand spanking new graphics and an up-to-date press release are now available. Go grab some and spread the word! 400 participants and counting – let’s make it 500, kay? Come November 1st, you can follow the fun on Twitter (VeganMoFo, #veganmofo), the (new!) PPK forums, and Vegan MoFo Headquarters International. See y’all then.

Joel Burns tells gay teens “it gets better”;

Stephanie @ Animal Rights & AntiOppression: “You Coming Out or What?”; and

The Bullies Suck T-shirt

In the wake of a spate of suicides, committed by gay teenagers who were each the target of homophobic bullying, the LGBTQ community and its allies celebrated National Coming Out Day on October 11. Together, these events have focused attention on movements to prevent bullying – particularly those aimed at LGBTQ (or perceived LGBTQ) youths – including the It Gets Better Project and The Trevor Project. The former invites members and allies of the LGBTQ community to upload encouraging videos to its website, the message being that “it gets better”; the latter operates a hotline for LGBTQ youths and young adults in crisis, and also provides resources to parents and educators.

As part of this anti- anti-gay backlash, a number of celebrities and public figures have shared their own experiences publicly – including Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, whose heartbreaking speech went viral and was aired in full on various media outlets, including CNN (where I first saw it). I’ve embedded the video above; even though it’s rather long, clocking in at almost 13 minutes, I urge you to watch the whole thing. It will bring you to tears.

And, while you’re already a sobby, snotty mess, head on over to AR&AO, where Stephanie shares her own “coming out” story. These issues – homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and the like – are relevant to animal rights activism simply because so many activists belong to marginalized groups; nonhumans are not the only animals exploited and mistreated en masse, for no reason other than the simple fact of their birth. All oppression is bad oppression, and all forms of oppression harm individual activists, as well as social movements and the beings for whom we advocate. These are not “special interests,” to be addressed only after the “important” work is done; these are our interests, to be tackled in concert with other “isms.”

To this end, Ari Solomon of A Scent of Scandal, Josh Hooten of The Herbivore Clothing Company and Jennifer Martin of Ink Brigade created a line of t-shirts to show solidarity with the victims of anti-LGBTQ bullying. Called “Bullies Suck,” the tees are available for purchase through Herbivore (just $20, with kids’ sizes, to boot!); all proceeds will be donated to The Trevor Project.

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Ask not "Are Animal Lovers Sexist?," but "Can Animal Lovers Be Sexist?" (Answer: duh.)

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

lol kaylee - just needs a hammer

Don’t fear, Ms. Kaylee is here! lol dog sez, “wonder beyatch – be hear 2 smash ur kyriarchy, mkay?” She brought her Wonder Woman undies, but she’ll need to borrow a hammer. You got a problem with that, human?
——————————

Last November, I penned a brief letter to the editors of VegNews, in which I questioned Rory Freedman’s casual use of the term “fur hag” – “hag” being a sexist, ageist and lookist slur. (VegNews subscribers can read the exact quote in context in Freedman’s column, “Prison or Bust,” which appeared in the December 2009 issue.) Fast-forward several months; my letter was published, albeit with several edits, in the March+April 2010 issue.

Not surprisingly – given the popularity of the term, as well as PETA’s “fur hag” campaigns – some readers disagreed with my comments, including Annie Hartnett of change.org’s newly-rebranded Animals blog. (Many thanks to Marji of Animal Place for bringing the post to my attention!) In Are Animal Lovers Sexist?, Hartnett argues that, ahem, attacking women for their femaleness is not sexist because most fur-wearers are women.

While I have previously deconstructed the term “fur hag” – as well as the campaigns’ associated imagery – what follows is a line-by-line response to Hartnett’s piece. Rather than rehash points that I’ve made elsewhere, however, I’ll use this as an opportunity to build upon my previous argument. If you haven’t already, please go read last January’s On “fur hags” and “fucking bitches.” before continuing on; doubly so if you’re surfing on over here from change.org. (Also related, and referenced in passing below: ARA PSAs: Women, Men and Fur and ARA PSAs: Attack of the Killer Cosmetics.) (1)

Before we begin, though, I’d like to reprint my letter, as Hartnett did not/would not do so, even upon request.

Here is the original letter, in its entirety:

As a vegan feminist, I’m increasingly disturbed by the number of animal advocates who are willing to engage in sexism (and other “isms”) in the course of their advocacy – “for the animals,” of course (as if women are not sentient beings as well). Take, for example, Rory Freedman’s use of the term “fur hag” to describe those who wear fur (“Prison or Bust,” December 2009 issue). “Hag” – a gendered slur that is synonymous with “witch” – literally means “an ugly old woman.” While fur-wearers may indeed be ugly on the inside, a person’s gender, age and physical appearance say nothing of her character. If Ms. Freedman – or any other animal advocate – feels the need to resort to insults, please keep them “ism”-free. “Jerk,” “loser,” “asshat”: all convey a point – without further marginalizing already-marginalized groups of animals, human or non.

Kelly Garbato
Kearney, MO 64060

kelly.garbato [at] gmail.com
http://www.easyvegan.info

By the way, I wrote a lengthy piece on the term “fur hag” last year, wherein I expound upon the sexist, ageist and sizeist nature of the phrase in much greater detail than is possible in 250 words or less. Additionally, I employ PETA’s associated “fur hag” campaign imagery to further illustrate my point. You can read the post in its entirety at http://bit.ly/vl8sB

Seriously, tho’, enough with the misogyny!

(More below the fold…)

On Queen Bees and Featherless Chickens

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Update, 1/14/10:

In the comments, Helen points out that all three animals – (pussy)cat, beaver and chicken (errr, rooster; read: cock) are euphemisms for female and male genitalia. I know, so obvious! How on earth did I miss it!? Especially when I caught the significance of the beaver! Clearly, I’ve been off my game lately.

Anyhow, it’s my feeling that these gendered/speciesist slurs actually make the whole ad campaign that much more distasteful. While the targeting of men in addition to women might help to level the playing field, gender-wise (well, as much as it can be in a culture that disproportionately values women’s physical appearance and beauty – however it is defined – as opposed to men), we’re still faced with the exploitation and mockery of three nonhuman animals in order to sell…waxing products. Add to this the fact that the animals were specifically chosen for their correspondence to sexual slang, and…yeah. Ick, all around.

—————

One part “sexy meat,” one part zoo porn, with a little child sexploitation thrown in for good measure, these ads for Queen Bee Waxing are all kinds of creepy, no matter which way you slice ’em. (Not that I’m suggesting that you should slice them! They’re animals, not deli “meat”!)

Queen Bee Waxing operates a Salon & Spa in Culver City, California. Its services include tanning, mani/pedis, facials, eyelash extensions (!), and all manner of body waxing: full leg, half leg, eyebrows, full arm, half arm, back, chest, underarms, lip, genitals, anus – wherever your body generates unsightly hair, the friendly “waxologists” of QB will be there, ripping it violently from its roots.

One caveat: some forms of waxing will cost you extra if you’re a gross, hairy cave-dude. For reals! (Don’t you just love how they assume that all men are hairier than all women? In point o’ facts, my Italian ass just so happens to grow lusher body hair than my husband’s Irish one.)

To illustrate just how childishly smooth QB can strip your bits, they’ve demonstrated their mad skills on unsuspecting animals! (Not for reals – I’m guessing/hoping that the animals below have suffered these indignities in a digital sense only.)

From top to bottom, we have a cat, a beaver [insert obligatory joke re: women’s genitals here] and a chicken. Each of them stand stark naked, seemingly bewildered by their own baldness.

Queen Bee Waxing - Cat

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 14: Human(ity, or lack thereof)

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

King Kong (2005) - Kong & Darrow 02

Bitch Magazine: Trans Spotting—The media’s myopic vision of transsexuals

Not exactly “new,” but this piece from trans activist/artist Julia Serano (http://juliaserano.com) is an excellent complement to the “Our Bodies and Lives” series posted by Ida at The Vegan Ideal several weeks back (see Transsexual Knowledge and Resistance; Transphobic Trauma, Transsexual Healing; and Questioning Cissexual Politics). Serano directly challenges feminist stereotypes which hold that male-to-female transsexuals serve to reinforce the gender binary with their uber-feminine wiles. She also offers a few choice words for defenders of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival’s “womyn-born-womyn only” policy.

The article isn’t available online, though, so you’ll need to order a back issue of Bitch (Issue 26, Fall 2004: The “Fake” issue) to read it. Or, for just a few bucks more, check out Serano’s Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, published in 2007. It’s on my wish list!

The Vegan Ideal: Mirha-Soleil Ross on Justice for Sex Workers and Nonhuman Animals

In honor of the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (December 17), Ida highlights the words of Mirha-Soleil Ross, “a vegan, transsexual and sex worker justice advocate.” In snippets from several interviews, Ross addresses the topics of (radical) feminism within the animal rights movement; similarities between society’s demonization of prostitutes and coyotes; and the objectification of women and nonhuman animals – from all corners.

Johanna @ Vegans of Color: Don’t Use Classism and Anti-Sex Worker Rhetoric to Protest Fur;

The Vegan Ideal: Class Privilege in Anti-Sex Worker, Anti-Homeless Activism;

The Vegan Shoe Lady: Fur is for Beautiful Animals and Scary Hookers; and

Taste Better!: On framing fur

Johanna and Ida critique a recent anti-fur post written by The Vegan Shoe Lady (and later picked up and enthusiastically expounded upon by Taste Better!) in which the author encourages readers to engage in classism and sexism, as well as the shaming of sex workers and homeless people, in the course of their anti-fur activism. Because this just what the animal rights movement needs – to be perceived as a monolith of exclusionary white elitists, yes? Lovely!

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Revenge of the Furred

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

When first I spotted this series of ads from Fur Free Alliance on Ads of the World, my mind immediately perceived the naked, brutalized human form as “female.” (Because, hey, isn’t it always?) “Ah, great, another hot, sexy, naked dead ‘chick’ getting all hot and sexy and naked and dead ‘for the animals.’ Just what we need!” So you can imagine my surprise, upon closer inspection, at finding a naked dude showing some abused skin for a pro-animal cause. A reversal of gender roles – hot damn!

Fur Free - Angry fox, 1

In case you can’t view the images, here we have a series of three ads, each of which shows a naked, white male being hunted and tormented by a gleeful fox – who is obviously another human, most likely also male, decked out in a fox outfit, all mascot-like.

In the first ad, the human victim appears in the background; he’s sprawled unconscious on the ground, most likely dead, his naughty bits obscured by a strategically placed tree trunk. The fox stands off to the human’s left and in the foreground, legs spread shoulder-width apart, arms raised triumphantly. In his (her?) right hand/paw, the fox holds a gun. Most likely Mr./Ms. Fox went hunting, and “bagged” a human. (It’s worth noting that this slang – “bagged” – can be applied to sexual “conquests” as well bloodsports. Sex and violence, sex and death.) The caption reads, “Fox like this doesn’t exist.” (Fur Free Alliance is an international anti-fur organization; its website, which is in English, is “operated on behalf of the Fur Free Alliance by the Humane Society of the United States.” So while the caption appears to be broken English, I can’t tell whether this is intentional or not.)

Fur Free - Angry fox, 2

The next ad in the series shows the fox, still toting a gun in his right hand, dragging the now-conscious man through the underbrush. Again, the man is stark naked, this time with a pile of leaves (or is that a bush?) covering his groin. With his left hand, the man is trying to grab onto a tree; with his left, he reaches toward the fox, as if imploring him for mercy. “How does it feel?” the caption demands.

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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.

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Kinship Circle: Updates, April – June 2009

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – info [at] kinshipcircle.org
Date: Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 10:59 PM
Subject: Part 1/ UPDATES: APR – JUN 2009

KINSHIP CIRCLE PRIMARY / PERMISSION TO CROSSPOST

VICTORIES * SETBACKS * PROGRESS

PART 1: APRIL – JUNE 2009 / KINSHIP CIRCLE UPDATES

1. Pig Abusers At Hormel Supplier Get 1-2 Year Probation
2. Bureaucrats Reach No Decision On Whaling
3. Lax Officials Knew Travis The Chimp Might Attack
4. Kitten Killer’s Accomplice Is Now Charged Too
5. Pet Food Poisoners Plead Guilty And Face Jail Time
6. Foie Gras Producer On Trial For Cruelty
7. Atlanta Falcons Bid Michael Vick A Permanent Farewell
8. “Change” Doesn’t Look Much Different Under Obama
9. California Spay/Neuter Law Passes Senate, Moves To Assembly
10. Groups Sue Salazar In Effort To Save Delisted Wolves
11. Way To Go SAEN! Research Industry Meltdown
12. Cheyenne Frontier Rodeo Bans Video Instead Of Abuse
13. California Bullfight Busts Continue; Humane Officer Assaulted
14. Repression Of Austrian Animal Activists Worsens

PART 2: KC UPDATES / APRIL – JUNE 2009
RESEND PART #2 TO ME: info [at] kinshipcircle.org

15. HSUS And Michael Vick Team Up To Fight Dogfighting?
16. Armed To Kill In National Parks: Guns Allowed
17. Maine Is 6th State To Ban Cruel Confinement Crates
18. NC Pro-Gas Chamber Bill Gets A “No” Vote
19. USDA Cites New Iberia Primate Lab For Violations
20. U.S. Senate Passes Resolution Against Canada Sealing
21. Canadian Sealers Lose Biggest Customer — EUROPE!
22. EU Votes To Let Most Primate Research Continue
23. Karley’s Sociopath Killer Ordered To Stand Trial
24. Horse Slaughterhouses Now Legal In Montana
25. Michigan Pound Gives R&R Research The Boot
26. Big Surprise: Swine Flu, Born On U.S. Factory Farms
27. Los Angeles DA Drops Charges Against Dog Dragger
28. Obama Accepts Breeder Dog As Gift For Daughters

(More below the fold…)

ARA PSAs: Women, Men and Fur

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

After January’s “fur hag” post, I’d like follow up with several examples of anti-fur ads that I like – albeit, with a few caveats.*

While I’m rather ambivalent when it comes to PETA’s nude “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur,” “Turn Your Back on Fur,” (and similar) campaigns, I quite like anti-fur ads which depict fur as the bloody, murderous mess that it is. (In theory, anyway…hence the forthcoming caveats.)

For example, this recent series from IndyAct:

IndyAct - Stop the carnage 01

IndyAct - Stop the carnage 02

IndyAct - Stop the carnage 03

Each ad features a thin, white, conventionally attractive, stylishly dressed woman, decked out in a fur coat which once belonged to various animals. The knife-wielding women are covered in blood spatters – bright red blood, everywhere. The woman in the first ad is, inexplicably, rubbing the knife along her chin, as if in contemplation of fellatio (?). Needless to say, I prefer the other two ads in the series.

(More below the fold…)

Kinship Circle: Friends of Kinship Circle Alerts, March 2009

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – info [at] kinshipcircle.org
Date: Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 1:59 PM
Subject: Greyhounds, Fur, Rodeo Shock, Cats Skinned… [Friends Of Kinship Circle]

Kinship Circle - Friends of KC Banner

FRIENDS OF KINSHIP CIRCLE / PERMISSION TO CROSSPOST
http://friendsofkinshipcircle.wordpress.com/

* KINSHIP CIRCLE DOES NOT WRITE OR RESEARCH THESE ALERTS.
* WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE VALIDITY OF FRIENDS OF KC ALERTS.
* CONTACT ALERT WRITERS. PLEASE DO NOT HIT REPLY. We will not respond.

1. Trouble For Greyhounds in South Africa
2. Jamaica Wants Greyhound Races Too
3. Jason Wu Puts Aside Fur, For Now
4. Tucson Rodeo Shocks Horses
5. Guandong – Cats Skinned And Boiled Alive
6. Fight Horse Slaughter State By State
7. Prosecute Bird Killers In Florida
8. Ask For End To NYC Horse Carriages
9. World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week

(More below the fold…)

On "fur hags" and "fucking bitches."

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

PETA - PETA2 (Fur Hag Tear Sheet)

Of all PETA’s campaigns, I think I find the “fur hag” meme most offensive. While feminists can (and do) disagree on whether nudity and porn can ever be empowering for women, “fur hag” is a rather obvious gender-based slur, and draws upon a number of age-old stereotypes about women – which PETA further elucidates with their “fur hag” artwork.

To be fair, I have no idea whether PETA actually invented the term “fur hag” – but they’ve certainly been quite influential in launching “fur hag” into the mainstream. Wherever fur-wearing celebs are trashed – on gossip blogs, in fashion show protests, or even on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, “fur hag” is inevitably bandied about as an insult. Oftentimes by other women, who apparently see nothing sexist about denigrating women they dislike with misogynist slurs.

Let’s start by looking at the word “hag.”

Dictionary.com defines “hag” as:

1. an ugly old woman, esp. a vicious or malicious one.
2. a witch or sorceress.
3. a hagfish.

The first definition is obviously problematic: a hag is “an ugly old woman, esp. a vicious or malicious one.” While I have no qualms about calling people (women and men) who wear fur “vicious” or “malicious,” the term “hag” also attacks the fur wearer’s physical appearance and gender – a “hag” is “an ugly old woman.” In fact, the primary aspect of this definition involves appearance and gender – a “hag” is “an ugly old woman,” especially [but not necessarily] “a vicious or malicious one.” “Vicious” and “malicious” are somewhat extraneous to this definition; a “hag,” then, is chiefly “an ugly old woman.”

(More below the fold…)

Kinship Circle: ACT/ Broken Promises: Armani Returns To Fur

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net
Date: Jan 6, 2009 9:54 PM
Subject: ACT/ Broken Promises: Armani Returns To Fur

KINSHIP CIRCLE PRIMARY / Permission To Crosspost As Written

1/6/09: Broken Promises – Armani Returns To Fur
FOR A FORMATTED LETTER (WORD DOC), EMAIL: kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net
Easily modify letter. Copy/paste it into an email or print letter to fax or mail.

Kinship Circle - 2009-01-06 - Broken Promises - Armani Returns To Fur 01

LEFT: Rabbit at factory fur farm
http://www.furfreeshopping.com/press.php?p=1203&more=1

Kinship Circle - 2009-01-06 - Broken Promises - Armani Returns To Fur 02

RIGHT: Mink in the wild, Rick Lechevia, flickr.com.jpg

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Kinship Circle: October-December 2008 Updates (Parts 1 & 2)

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net
Date: Dec 24, 2008 12:08 AM
Subject: Part 1/ UPDATES: OCT-DEC 2008

KINSHIP CIRCLE PRIMARY – PERMISSION TO CROSS-POST

PART 1: OCT – DEC 2008 / KINSHIP CIRCLE UPDATES
YEAR END WRAP UP – Victories * Setbacks * Progress For Animals

http://www.kinshipcircle.org/updates/

PART 1: KC UPDATES / OCT – DEC 2008

1. Donna Karan Announces Fur-Free 2009 Lines
2. Dragged Pit Bull Is Healing And Soon Adoptable
3. Cat Killing Boyfriend Walks Free
4. Records Show Big Industry Planned AETA All Along
5. Obama Picks: The Good & The Not So Good
6. L.A. Assistant Fire Chief Charged In Karley’s Killing
7. Netherlands Ban Products Made Of Cape Fur Seals
8. Prempro Maker, Wyeth, Pays For Fake Articles
9. Report On Hallmark/Westland Downer Scandal
10. Eddie Lama’s Oasis Sanctuary Closes
11. Michael Vick: Early Release & Back To NFL?

PART 2: KC UPDATES / OCT – DEC 2008
RESEND PART #2 TO ME: kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net

12. Hero’s Plan To Save Wild Horses Moves Forward
13. Until Export Is Banned, More Horses Killed
14. Rodeo “Horse Tripping” Outlawed In Phoenix
15. Houston: Biggest Dogfight Bust In U.S. History
16. Activists Vow To Overturn Navy’s Use Of Sonar
17. Oxford Univ. Lab To Use Thousands Of Animals
18. Prop 2 Passes For Calif. Farmed Animals
19. EU Proposal To Ban Great Apes In Experiments
20. Ringling Bros. Big Fat Federal Lawsuit
21. Alaska Whales: 1 vs. Gov. Sarah Palin: 0

(More below the fold…)

Veg*nism & Pop Culture: The Green Scare Comes to Life

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Major spoiler warning, people!

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I’ve been meaning to blog about a recent episode of Life for weeks now. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s a kind of cop drama, in which individual cases are presented against the backdrop of a conspiracy-theory story arc which spans the series. Think The X-Files, Alias, Lost or The Mentalist – if you enjoy any of these, you’ll probably *heart* Life, too.

Season 2, Episode 3 of Life, “The Business of Miracles,” involves the murder of a cancer researcher. The main suspects, naturally, are a group of SHAC-like animal rights activists of the anti-vivisection variety. It’s been a few weeks since I watched this ep, so rather than try to offer a plot summary, here’s TV Recap with their recap:

Dr. Auerbach was a scientist who was testing cancer drugs on animals. So his death naturally occurs in the lab and on the window is written, “animal testing is murder.” Something not so natural about his death: He was frozen to death because some one switched his oxygen tank with a liquid nitrogen tank. But who could have done it? Maybe it was the group, BAT [Ban Animal Torture], that has sent Dr. Auerbach death threats?

[The group’s moniker, “BAT,” was also graffitied on the wall of Hurback’s lab. About as subtle as leaving an ELF calling card at the scene of a torched, insured, unsold McMansion, no?]

According to the group’s leader, Betsy, they wouldn’t hurt any soul, even one like Dr. Auerbach’s. She seems sweet enough. She even tells the other member to be quiet when he says it’s good the doctor is dead. So if it wasn’t her, maybe it was the assistant who seems too concerned with the results of the test. Or maybe the janitor? Or the company’s owner? Hmm. I can’t decide, and neither can Crews [Damian Lewis] and Reese [Sarah Shahi] so they do a little more digging and come up with…Betsy, the leader of Ban and the good doctor’s former assistant who left because they were having an affair. Say what?

I know, it’s a crazy little twist but it turns out that Betsy’s real name is Deborah and she and Dr. Auerbach never stopped their affair. And while it seems she has the perfect motive of conflicted emotions, she also has a videotaped alibi. So then Crews and Reese move on to the janitor, who originally said he saw Betsy at the lab that day. Turns out the janitor is stealing pills from the study and selling them. Or so it looks when he gives the box of pills to a woman on a park bench in return for an envelope full of…pictures? When Crews and Reese dig a little deeper they find the janitor’s son has cancer and the pills have been working for him and the woman is his ex-wife. I guess he has a good motive, too. And more importantly, he confesses to the murder. But something isn’t right. Along with the dead doctor, there were lots of dead lab rats. The only dead rats, though, were rats with red tags so why would only those rats be dead and who would want to kill them?

With the help of then now cleared ex-assistant, Crews and Reese learn that the red tagged rats were the control rats and you would want those to be gone if you didn’t want other people to know the experiment was a failure. And who would want that? Yup, the new assistant. Turns out she knew the janitor was stealing pills and blackmailed him. But he wasn’t such a moron that he didn’t have evidence damning her. He had a formula she wrote computing how much liquid nitrogen it would take to kill a man the doctor’s size. So the dedicated assistant killed the doctor after all. She had spent seven years working with him and now her career would be over because the drug was a failure. It was only helping the janitor’s son because he had an extremely rare form of cancer. It wouldn’t work on the mainstream cases. Guess that liar is busted.

Unlike many other cop dramas (the Law & Order franchise, if I recall, has featured its fair share of guilty, stereotyped animal rights extremists), Life doesn’t simply pin the crime on the “obvious suspects” and move on. Rather than get swept up in the Green Scare, Detectives Crews and Reese follow the evidence…which leads them away from the “bad”/”misanthropic” animal rights activists and toward the “good”/”altruistic” cancer researchers.

(More below the fold…)

PETA: Juicy Couture Adopts Fur-Free Policy!

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: PETA
Date: Fri, Oct 17, 2008 at 10:09 AM
Subject: Juicy Couture Adopts Fur-Free Policy!

PETA has had a cooperative relationship with Liz Claiborne Inc. for many years. Through our work together, the company has made—and continues to make—many great strides to reduce the suffering of animals who are used and abused in the clothing industry.

We would like to share an exciting development that has resulted from our discussions with Liz Claiborne Inc.: Juicy Couture—a high-end clothing company owned by Liz Claiborne Inc.—has now adopted a permanent fur-free policy. While Juicy Couture is still selling some fur items that were stocked before this policy was adopted, it has assured us that no new fur items will be procured and that as soon as the current stock of items has gone, the company will be completely fur-free.

We applaud Liz Claiborne and Juicy Couture for making this move, which will spare animals from suffering all the torment and abuse inherent in fur production.

Unfortunately, some companies continue to sell fur despite the fact that new evidence of horrific cruelty is exposed year after year. PETA Asia-Pacific’s recent undercover investigation in the Shandong region of China, for instance, produced video footage of rabbits who kicked and screamed as they were slaughtered. Another investigation into rabbit fur farms in France showed similar cruelty.

We need you to speak out and let the world know that it is never OK for any company to sell fur. Please let your voice be heard by urging these holdouts to go fur-free once and for all!

(More below the fold…)

Whose Skin Are You In?

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

This video has been making the rounds, but I thought I might post it here anyhow, as an example of a PETA ad campaign that I quite like. It’s brutal, truthful, powerful and moving. It addresses the animal, human and environmental casualties of leather and fur “production.” It does so without pornifying women or men, without relying on ageist or sizeist slurs, and does not single out a particular culture for their use of animal skins. It calls out speciesism without engaging in another “ism” while doing so. It’s evidence that PETA, with all its faults, is a varied organization that can (sometimes!) produce engaging campaigns. After all, a little props when they do get it right would be nice, no? Positive reinforcement, yes?

And yet…I have yet to see “Whose Skin Are You In?” featured on a non-veg*n blog as of this writing. Just, you know, making a note. *shrug*

You can sign the fur-free pledge and order “Fake for the Animals’ Sake” stickers here.

(Crossposted from.)

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Tagged:

Kinship Circle: ACT/ The Other Canadian Seal Hunt

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net
Date: Tue, Aug 5, 2008 at 5:59 PM
Subject: ACT/ The Other Canadian Seal Hunt

KINSHIP CIRCLE PRIMARY – PERMISSION TO CROSS-POST AS WRITTEN

8/5/08: The Other Canadian Seal Hunt: Grey Seals Of Nova Scotia

FOR A FORMATTED VERSION OF THIS LETTER (WORD DOC): kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net
Easily modify letter. Copy/paste it into an email or print letter to fax or mail.

Kinship Circle - 2008-08-05 - The Other Canadian Seal Hunt 01

Kinship Circle - 2008-08-05 - The Other Canadian Seal Hunt 02

SLAUGHTER OF GREY SEALS IN NOVA SCOTIA

There is another slaughter of baby seals on the east coast of Canada each year. This slaughter…happens very quietly, but the nature of the slaughter is the same. Fishermen…descend on recently weaned defenseless seal pups and proceed to shoot and bludgeon them to death. The pups’ skin is then ripped from their bodies and oftentimes the carcasses are left to rot…

http://www.antisealingcoalition.ca/GreySeals/index.php

(More below the fold…)