Book Review: Difficult Women, Roxane Gay (2017)

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Stories about survival; stories we need now more than ever.

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free ARC for review through Netgalley. Trigger warning for domestic violence, child abuse, and rape.)

There once was a man. There is always some man.

You too have always been popular. I have seen the evidence in your childhood bedroom, meticulously preserved by your mother. Even now, you have packs of men following you, willing to make you their strange god. That is the only thing about you that scares me.

“I want a boy who will bring me a baby arm.”

“Honey, you’re not crazy. You’re a woman.”

Difficult Women brings together twenty-one short stories by Roxane Gay, all of which have previously been published elsewhere (or multiple elsewheres), most in slightly different forms and some under different titles. (I included the TOC at the bottom of this review; alternate titles are listed last, in parentheses.) However, the publications are so varied that it’s unlikely that you’ve seen, read, and/or own them all.

This is actually rather surprising to me, since the stories – published over a span of ~5 years – gel so well together. It really feels like each one was written specifically with this anthology in mind. The collection’s namesake, “Difficult Women,” perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the whole. Like the short story, this is book about loose women and frigid women; difficult women and crazy women; mothers and wives, daughters and dead girls. Women who have faced the unspeakable – rape and sexual assault; miscarriages or the death of a child; abuse and self-harm; alcoholism and alienation – and come out the other side. Not unscathed, but alive. These are stories of survival.

Usually I find anthologies to be somewhat uneven, but not so here. Every story grabs you by the heart and threatens to squeeze until it pops, right there in your chest cavity. Gay’s writing is raw and naked; grim, yet somehow, impossibly, imbued with hope. While some are straight-up contemporary, other tales are a strange, surreal mix of the real and unreal: In “I Am a Knife,” a woman fantasizes about cutting her twin’s fetus out of her body and transferring it to her own, the way she once did with the heart of a drunk driver who collided with their car, nearly killing her sister.

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Book Review: The Wolf Road, Beth Lewis (2016)

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

A thrilling plot + a scrappy antihero + a familiar-yet-not setting = a novel that belongs on the top of your TBR pile!

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for violence, including attempted rape.)

“Change” was one a’ them words I weren’t too friendly with. Nana told me I had to change when she caught me skinning a rabbit. Man in Ridgeway once told me I’d never get a husband the way I was. Only person never to tell me to change was Kreagar, and that’s because, way he saw it, I was already just the same as him.

Memories ain’t no one’s friend. They show you all the good things you had, all the good things you lost, and don’t let you forget all the bad shit in between.

I kept chewing. No matter what was about to happen, I’d eat as much as I could afore shots fired.

When Elka was seven years old, a freak storm destroyed her two-room shack in the forest beyond Ridgeway. She survived, but was hopelessly lost: the thunderhead deposited Elka – and the table she was clinging to – deep into the Thick Woods. After much wandering, she found a shack even smaller than her nana’s – one with strips of jerky curing on the porch. Starving, Elka swiped some meat, causing the owner of the shack to give chase. Eventually she’d come to think of this man as Trapper, then daddy – for he ultimately took Elka in and raised her as his own, teaching her the ways of the forest: hunting, tracking, trapping, skinning, curing. He showed Elka how to survive in the wild, though she learned little of the human world (“BeeCee”) beyond the trees.

During a rare trip into Dalston, a chance encounter with The Law – in the form of cold-as-ice Magistrate Jennifer Lyon – upends seventeen-year-old Elka’s world yet again: Kreagar Hallet, the man she knows as Trapper, is wanted for the murders of eight women and one child. Her home destroyed – metaphorically and literally burned to the ground by the redcoats – Elka decides to travel north to Halveston (seven hundred miles, give or take!) in search of her parents. They left Elka with her maternal grandmother when she was just a baby so they could find their riches in gold.

Yet Kreagar isn’t willing to let Elka go – and neither is Magistrate Lyon: the former is convinced that Elka dropped the dime on him; the latter, that Elka was involved in the murders. As she makes the treacherous journey north, Elka must evade capture, by enemies both known and not. Bloodthirsty, misogynistic Satanists; human traffickers; lakes made poisonous by nuclear bombs; garden-variety trolls and creepers; cannibals; and – perhaps most alarmingly – human attachments: all stand between Elka and her long-lost parents. Yet with her friends Wolf and Penelope by her side, Elka stands a fighting chance.

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Book Review: Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1), Aimee Carter (2013)

Monday, December 15th, 2014

An entertaining political thriller/dystopia featuring an engaging heroine.

four out of five stars

(Trigger warning for attempted rape.)

I closed my eyes as my mind raced. If I refused, I was dead. But if I said yes – then what? I would be Lila Hart. For the rest of my life, I would have someone else’s face, answer to someone else’s name, live someone else’s life.

But at least I would be alive. I breathed in slowly, forcing myself not to panic. I was still me, wasn’t I? I still felt like me. They couldn’t take that away no matter what they did to my body. I might have looked like Lila Hart, but I was still Kitty Doe.

All Kitty Doe wants for her 17th birthday is to earn a respectable score on her test – nothing special, just enough to get her an average rank of IV – so that she can stay with her boyfriend Benjy. Get a relatively safe job, maybe buy a small house in the Heights of DC, even have a kid or two – with enough income to keep their “Extra” instead of sending him or her off to a group home, like Kitty’s own parents were forced to do to her. Just one little test is all that stands between Kitty and her happily ever after.

Unfortunately, Kitty’s dyslexic, and the Ministers of the Union don’t give kids like her additional time to take the test – no matter how intelligent they may be. The ranking system’s a farce, after all. Just ask the VIs and VIIs who inherited their ranks.

Kitty’s poor score lands her a III and a lowly sanitation job – halfway across the country, in Denver. If she hops on that train, she knows that her odds of ever seeing Benjy again are nil. But her options in the District of Columbia are slim: stay hidden at the group home, putting den mother Nina at risk – or get a temporary job at one of the local “clubs,” biding her time until Benjy turns 17 and takes the test himself. As a virgin, she’s sure to pull in an extra-high bid at the initial Auction; and after that, she can choose her own clients, so it won’t be that bad. And when Benjy eventually aces the test – as she knows he will – Kitty will have saved up a nice little nest egg to get them started. It’s a no-brainer, right?

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Book Review: Ash, Malinda Lo (2009)

Friday, April 25th, 2014

A Magical & Subversive Retelling of ‘Cinderella’

four out of five stars

Twelve-year-old Aisling – Ash for short – is having the worst year imaginable. In midsummer, her beloved mother Elinor died suddenly and mysteriously; and, before the last of autumn’s leaves turned brown and blanketed the ground, her merchant father William had remarried. To give Ash a mother, he said.

To the marriage, Lady Isobel Quinn brings two daughters: twelve-year-old Ana and her ten-year-old sister Clara. From the more “cultured” town of West Riding – located just a stone’s throw from the Royal City – Lady Isobel has grand designs for her daughters: they are to marry well and become gentlewomen like their mother. The wild Ash, with her love of books, fascination with fairy tales and magic, and still-fresh grief for Elinor, isn’t much more than a minor annoyance to her new stepmother. She provides neither comfort nor sympathy to the grieving child.

Shortly after the marriage, William falls sick; rather than allow “superstitious” greenwitch Maire Solanya attend to him, Lady Isobel uproots the family and moves them from Ash’s home in Rook Hill to the Quinn House. William dies just two weeks later, and Lady Isobel wastes little time in claiming Ash as a servant – to pay off her father’s (alleged) debts. (I love how Lady Isobel recounts bitterly to Ash how her father spent Lady Isobel’s money to prop up his failing business, while openly admitting that she married William for his money. Hypocrite much?) From orphan to slave in less than six months.

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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.

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"The Hungry and the Hunted"

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

A Facebook acquaintance (is it terribly rude of me not to say friend?) posted this video some time back (try a year plus! I know, I’m the worst.) and I’ve been meaning to share it ever since. The clip’s from a short-lived show called Sports Night, which ran on ABC from 1998-2000. A comedy/drama created by Aaron Sorkin, Sports Night follows the production of a fictional sports news show (also called Sports Night).

The third episode of the first season (“The Hungry and The Hunted“) deals with newbie Jeremy’s reaction when, upon being tasked to produce a hunting segment for the show, he witnesses a deer being shot and killed right in front of him. As someone who’s never desired to kill animals for fun or “sport,” Jeremy is so horrified by the doe’s murder that he becomes physically ill and has to be rushed to the hospital.

Especially notable is the language Jeremy uses to describe the incident; as he transitions from the hunters’ perspective to his own, the deer ceases being just a thing, an “it,” and instead is recognized as a living creature – a she. From something to someone – and then to no one, an empty shell. A corpse. And for no reason, or at least not one discernible to the narrator:

Jeremy: (pauses) Yeah. Bob and Eddie were using the IR 50 Recon by Bushcomber. It’s got a 16 inch microgroove barrel with .30-.30 mags, side scope mount, wire cutter sheath, quick release bolt, mag catches and a 3 pound trigger. So I figured we must be going after a pretty dangerous duck.

Isaac: You can wiseass all you want. You’re gonna tell me what happened.

Jeremy: We shot a deer! In the woods by Lake Matatuck on the second day. There was a special vest they had me wear so they could distinguish me from things they wanted to shoot, so I was pretty grateful for that. Almost the whole day had gone by, and we hadn’t gotten anything. Eddie was getting frustrated and Bob Shoemaker was getting embarrassed. My camera guy needed to reload so I told everyone to take a 10 minute break. There was a stream near by and I walked over with this care package Natalie made me. Sat down. When I looked up I saw three of them: small, bigger, biggest. Recognizable to any species on the planet as a child, a mother and a father.

Now the trick with shooting deer is that you have to get them out in the open, and it’s tough with deer ’cause these are clever cagey animals with an intuitive sense of danger. You know what you have to do to get a deer out into the open? You hold out a Twinkie. That animal clopped up to me like we were at a party. She seemed to be pretty interested in the Twinkie, so I gave it to her. Looking back, she’d have been better off if I’d given her the damn vest. And Bob kind of screamed at me and whispered, ‘Move away!’ The camera had been reloaded and it looked like the day wasn’t going to be a washout after all. So I back away. A couple of steps at a time. And I closed my eyes when I heard the shot.

Look I know these are animals and they don’t play bridge or go to the prom, but you can’t tell me that little one didn’t know who his mother was. That’s got to mean something. And later at the hospital, Bob Shoemaker was telling me about the nobility and tradition of hunting, and how it was related to the Native American Indians and I nodded and said that was interesting, while I was thinking about what a load of crap it was! Hunting was part of Indian culture. It was food and it was clothes and it was shelter. They sang and danced and they offered prayers to the gods for a successful hunt so that they could survive one more unimaginably brutal winter. The things that they killed held the highest place of respect for them and to kill for fun was a sin. And they knew the gods wouldn’t be so generous next time. What we did wasn’t food and it wasn’t shelter and it wasn’t sports! It was just mean!

Also of interest is how Jeremy calls out the hunters for appropriating Native culture in order to justify their needless killing sprees. That said, death is still death, no matter how much you “respect” or “revere” the animal whose life you’re about to end. She has her own interests, and I’m pretty sure they don’t include being digested in your gullet.

Of course, context would most likely make this exchange less impressive; for example, I highly doubt that the Jeremy character has a sudden epiphany and goes vegan (or better still, is already vegan). I can’t say, since I haven’t seen the show – but it seems rather improbable, no? Even so, given the show’s likely demographic – youngish-adult-to-middle-aged dudes who enjoy sports, sports shows, and comedies about fictional sports shows – such a compassionate message is a nice surprise.

After the jump: the full transcript for those who can’t view the video.

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"…the true nature of a pigeon shooter."

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 26th, 2010

A neon red-and-white sign declares: “My Bloody Valentine sells out.”
CC image via Penningtron on Flickr.
——————————

Vegansaurus!: What creepy chefs do to get laid

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

Suicide Food: Happy Valentine’s Day: a digression

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

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

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

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

The Discerning Brute: Who Wears The Pants?

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

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Portrait of Benjamin, a Thylacine. And also, housekeeping.

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Those of you who do your blog reading the old-fashioned way – i.e., by actually visiting said blogs (how November 2008!) – have probably been admiring easyVegan’s new look for a few days now. (If you’re reading this on MySpace or through Bloglines, Google Reader or the like, you’re missing out!) Throughout June and into July, I was hard at work on a series of new banner graphics for the site. I finished them a few weeks ago, but Shane only got around to adding them to the site on Monday. (In his defense, they required some programming magic to properly work their mojo.)

So far, there are 77 images, set to display randomly and rotate every 90 minutes. The majority are work safe, but if you happen to draw a swear word or naughty image, there’s a handy-dandy “Reload Banner” button located in the sidebar, right above the search box. Don’t say I never did anything for ya.

You can find out more about each image, as well as the motivation behind the project, on the Banner Credits page. Not to rehash what I wrote over there, but I was tired of the blog’s old look and name; the old banner image was so plain! I wasn’t keen on the idea of up and moving the site, though, so I figured a face lift was in order. Spiff things up, you know? I didn’t change a whole lot – just the banner, really, and I also simplified the background image so the site wouldn’t look overly cluttered and busy – but I love the result. The new banners, which are primarily comprised of photos and artwork I already enjoyed, are so shiny and pretty! I’ve already cycled through a few clicks of the “Reload” button, just to see what would pop up. Ahem.

2006-12-15 - KC-Artspace - Cryptozoology-0107

Karma, in particular, has an interesting back story. The animal depicted on the banner is a Thylacine – a Tasmanian Tiger. Or rather, it’s a picture of a sculpture of a Thylacine. The sculpture is (was?) part of a traveling exhibit called Cryptozoology: Out of Time Place Scale, which Shane and I saw at the Kansas City Art Institute’s Artspace in December 2006. Cryptozoology is the study of cryptids; a cryptid being an animal thought – but not proven – to exist. You know, like mermaids, Bigfoot, Yeti, etc.

Cryptozoology is more Shane’s kind of thing. (Not that he believes in unicorns; rather, he enjoys myths and legends, and is fascinated by people who do champion the existence of Sasquatch.) But I love animals and museums, so when he suggested that we check out the exhibit, I was totally down with it.

Most of the exhibits were really quite amusing – very X-Files-ish.

For the conspiracy theorists, the door to the Department of Cryptozoology at the Federal Wildlife Commission:

2006-12-15 - KC-Artspace - Cryptozoology-0041

Some sort of ridiculously adorable unicorn-doggy hybrid:

2006-12-15 - KC-Artspace - Cryptozoology-0020

ZOMG, WANT! She’s probably not vegan, though.

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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

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Animal Advocacy: Contact eBay Re Selling of Guided Hunts

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

I’m trying to clear out my inbox before the holiday weekend, so expect a flood of miscellaneous action alerts from now ’til then.

This one comes from the Yahoo Group Animal Advocacy and is reprinted in its entirety. The CounterPunch article linked to in the alert is lengthy but informative; you can find talking points there or here. (The latter being the equally long-but-informative Newsweek article, “It’s Survival of the Weak and Scrawny; Researchers see ‘evolution in reverse’ as hunters kill off prized animals with the biggest antlers and pelts.”)

Why eBay Should Stop Selling Guided Hunts for Wolves, Bears and Cougars
Blood Sport Auction
By CHRIS GENOVALI

There is an amazing array of things one can purchase on EBay, from used lawn furniture to vintage dolls to bongs allegedly used by Olympic athletes. Among the myriad items being sold on EBay are guided hunts of North America’s grizzly bears, black bears, wolves and cougars. It’s hard to believe, but these recreational killing opportunities are now bought and sold on the world’s largest internet auction site; EBay has become an online marketplace peddling the trophy hunting of the continent’s top-level predator species.

ACTION: Please email and/or write the following individuals and demand that eBay stop this atrocious practice.

Matthew J. Bannick, President, eBay International: matthewb [at] ebay.com

Bill Cobb, President eBay North America: billcobb [at] ebay.com

You can also write a letter to them at:

eBay Inc.
2145 Hamilton Avenue
San Jose, CA 95125

PLEASE WRITE AND FORWARD WIDELY!

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Whale Wars, Season 2

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

…started last Friday on Animal Planet. (And yes, I’m way behind on my email, thanks for asking.)

I must admit to never watching Whale Wars; while, one the one hand, I recognize the need to support animal-friendly programming such as WW, I really can’t bring myself to watch the more graphic, gruesome stuff. I already know what a bloody, needless mess whaling is – no need to voluntarily witness footage of such, thus giving myself a week’s worth of nightmares.

That said, many thanks everyone who does tune in to these kind of shows, thus helping to keep them on the air!

Anyhow, Matt from Animal Planet provided links to several news season 2 Whale Wars videos on You Tube.

The Season 2 trailer is relatively blood-free, save for a brief shot of a whale being harpooned and pulled towards a whaling ship:
 


 

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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 easyVegan.info. 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.

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Hunting "Tail" on Dollhouse

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

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Caution: Major spoiler warning below the jump!

I’ve been a Joss Whedon fan since his Firefly days, so when I heard that he was working on a new project, Dollhouse, I immediately got all giddy like a schoolgirl. That is, until I hear that Eliza Dushku would be starring. Ugh.

Even before the hunting flap, I disliked Dushku. Perhaps it’s because she came off like an entitled snot in a very early episode of Punk’d; even before she was faux “arrested” for “shoplifting” in a local retail boutique, she copped a huge ‘tude over all the free swag she was obviously owed for being a celebrity. That, and Tru Calling looked absolutely dreadful. Well, and I’m also weird like that; Dushku isn’t the only celebrity I have an irrational, knee-jerk dislike for. Take Ben Affleck, for example: clearly, he’s a funny, charming, altruistic guy, but there’s just something about him that I want to hate. He’s smarmy, but not. Did I also mention that I have a crazy aversion to feet? So maybe it’s just me, after all.

Anyway, the aforementioned hunting flap gave me a reason to dislike her – a good one, actually. In an August appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Show, Dushku discussed her love of hunting – you know, that sadistic leisure activity which involves murdering innocent animals for “fun”:

Here’s the gist of the interview (via ecorazzi), in case you don’t want to sit through the whole video:

A couple night ago on Jimmy Kimmel Live Dushku revealed that she loves to hunt elk and deer. Not only did she brag about it, but she also showed off her bow and arrow skills and boasted about killing a deer in Oklahoma last Christmas. WTF, Eliza? Why are you such a jerk?

Even the studio audience turned on Dushku forcing her to joke, “My mother called me herself and said, ‘You’re a liberal from New England, what the ‘f’ are you doing in Oklahoma shooting things.” Backpeddling later she said, “When you’re in a relationship with somebody you have to, like, experience things that they do. A lot of people eat meat… and I eat what I kill.”

Dushku’s hunting isn’t so much the point, though, as it is a set-up for the rest of this post. Despite my ambivalence, I started watching Dollhouse on my DVR last week. It’s alright, certainly no Firefly, but also not the complete stinker I was afraid it’d be. The second episode, “The Target,” is of particular interest from an animal rights standpoint.

(More below the fold…)

Fishermen as happy sadists: A new meme?

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Last month, I blogged about a series of ads for Hobie Kayaks, aimed at fishermen (“people,” I should say, except all the ads seem to depict men). The gist of the marketing concept is that the kayaks are so quiet that fishermen can stalk and overtake their prey with serial killer-like coldness and precision. Fittingly, shadowy fishermen in fedoras and trench coats are shown choking, knifing and shooting three very terrified fish. Fishermen as stone-cold killers, indeed.

As shocking as I initially found the ads, now I’m starting to wonder whether this is the beginning of a meme.

Take, for example, this ad series from Bass Pro Shops. The general concept actually isn’t all that objectionable; the three print ads are touting Bass Pro Shop’s camp sale with the slogan “Get the family ready. Bass Pro Shops camp sale.” (C’mon, who doesn’t love camping!?)

In the first ad, someone (Dad, presumably) has put some greenery around the toilet, in order to get the family ready to do their biz in the bushes:

Bass Pro Shops Camp Sale - Toilet

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Violence as a personal indulgence.

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Or, a sab is a cat is a dog is a wife.

“Sabbing” really came into its own in the mid-1970s after enjoying some favorable publicity in the British media. “Sabs” […] disrupted the hunt by laying false scents, wiring up gates to slow down the hunt’s progress, and setting off fireworks in woods to scare the foxes away. Some sabs developed an amazing expertise with a hunting horn and even succeeded in gaining control of the pack from the hunt master.

Hunters, of course, retaliated by attacking sabs. In 1976 the Joint Master of the Essex Union Foxhunt was widely quoted as saying, “Horsewhipping a hunt saboteur is rather like beating a wife – they’re both private matters.”

Excerpted from Kim Stallwood’s “A Personal Overview of Direct Action in the United Kingdom and the United States.”

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Truth in Advertising: Fishermen are stone-cold killers.

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

When I first spotted this series of ads for Hobie Kayaks on Ads of the World, I was taken aback. Flabbergasted, actually.

This is some violent imagery – the kind you’d expect to see on the box of an adult video game.

Hobie Kayaks - Rope

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Boys will be boys, and abusers will abuse.

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Prince Edward reportedly attacked one of his two dogs with a 4′ stick while on a recent hunting trip, hitting it him (her) once and then chasing after the dog in order to strike the cowering animal a second time. The incident was caught by a local photographer; you can see a series of photos here.

Abusing one species of animal while on a weekend jaunt, the sole purpose of which is to murder another species of animal…disgusting, yes. Shocking, not so much.

People who get their rocks off by slaughtering pheasants most likely enjoy hurting other animals, too. I wouldn’t be surprised if Edward physically disciplines his wife or the domestic “help,” as well.

Violence breeds violence, and abusers will continue to abuse.

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Tagged:

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…)

Kinship Circle: Animals Would Like Obama To Know…

Monday, December 1st, 2008

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net
Date: Nov 29, 2008 6:44 PM
Subject: Animals Would Like Obama To Know…

KINSHIP CIRCLE PRIMARY / PERMISSION TO CROSSPOST AS WRITTEN

11/29/08: Animals Would Like President-Elect Obama To Know…

ONLY YOU CAN BE THEIR VOICE:

1. Dogs Respectfully Demand A Rescued Presidential Pooch
2. Farmed Animals Hope For An Administration That Acts In Their Interest
3. Wild Animals Want An End To Lethal “Management”
4. What’s Your Big Idea For Change?

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