Book Review: My Year of Meats, Ruth Ozeki (1998)

Monday, October 27th, 2014

“Meat is the Message”

four out of five stars

(Trigger warning for violence against women and animals, including sexual assault and rape.)

When Jane Takagi-Little finally lands a job–producing a Japanese television show sponsored by BEEF-EX, an organization promoting the export of U.S. meats–she takes her crew on the road in search of all-American wives cooking all-American meat. Over the course of filming, though, Jane makes a few troubling discoveries about both. Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, in Japan, Akiko Ueno watches My American Wife! and diligently prepares Coca-Cola Roast and Panfried Prairie Oysters for her husband, John, (the ad-agency rep for the show’s sponsor). As Akiko fills out his questionnaires, rating each show on Authenticity, Wholesomeness, and Deliciousness of Meat, certain ominous questions about her own life–and the fact that after each meal she has to go to the bathroom and throw up–begin to surface. A tale of love, global media, and the extraordinary events in the lives of two ordinary women, counterpointed by Sei Shonagon’s vibrant commentary, this first novel by filmmaker Ruth L. Ozeki–as insightful and moving as the novels of Amy Tan, as original as Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. or John Irving–is a sparkling and original debut from a major new talent.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats. On impulse, I picked up a copy of the original hardcover edition at the dollar store. That was nearly a decade ago; in the intervening years I hemmed and hawed and wondered whether I really wanted to read a fictionalized account of a documentarian hired to promote meat – feed lots, kill floors, and all – after all. (I’m a vegan, and have devoured my fair share of nonfiction books about the animal agriculture industry already. Enough is enough.)

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 26: Milk Thieves, Body Hair, and the Cannibals Within

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

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Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary: A Powerful Statement

This stunning sculpture by Liu Qiang is an accurate depiction of humanity’s use of, and utter dependence on other animals and, in particular, the savage and bizarre habit of consuming the breast milk from mothers of other species-milk that these mothers have produced for their own babies, babies that we forced them to become pregnant with only to kill shortly after birth so that we can take the bereft mother’s milk, milk that we drink as though we were the children that we murdered.

Live vegan. There is no excuse not to.

Learn about non-violent living
Learn who is spared when you live vegan…
…and who suffers when you choose not to:
Milk Comes from a Grieving Mother
Dairy is a Death Sentence
The “Humane” Animal Farming Myth

29h59’59 by Liu Qiang is on exhibition at the 798 Art District in Beijing, China
Photo by Ng Han Guan

VegNews: June Twitter Chat, Wednesday, June 20 @ 6pm PT/9pm ET

In honor of LGBT Pride Month, we’ll be talking with prominent gay animal-rights activists about the connection between both movements. Never participated in a Twitter Chat before? Don’t worry. We have a handy guide to explain it all. Join us at the hashtag #VegNewsChat. You don’t even need to have a Twitter account to enjoy the discussion.

Kaili Joy Gray @ Daily Kos: Safeway’s general counsel tells hilarious sexist joke at annual shareholder meeting

You can listen to the audio at the link above, but here’s a transcript for the a/v averse:

You know, this is the season when companies and other institutions are interested in enhancing their reputation and their image for the general public, and one of the institutions that’s doing this is the Secret Service, particularly after the calamity in Colombia. And among the instructions given to the Secret Service agents was to try to agree with the president more and support his decisions. And that led to this exchange that took place last week, when the president flew into the White House lawn and an agent greeted him at the helicopter.

The president was carrying two pigs under his arms and the Secret Service agents said, “Nice pigs, sir.”

And the president said, “These are not ordinary pigs, these are genuine Arkansas razorback hogs. I got one for former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and one for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”

And the Secret Service agent said, “Excellent trade, sir.”

Women as livestock. Nonhuman animals as items of trade. Sexism and speciesism, the stuff of high comedy. TAKE MY LAWYER, PLEASE!

Fat Girl Posing: Vegans.. I need to talk to you..

This is a year-old piece about fat shaming in the vegan community that recently recirculated on Facebook. h/t to Emelda (I think).

The whole piece is worth a read, but here’s the excerpt I posted on FB:

So here’s your strategy, right? Animal products are full of fat and calories and, therefore, if you stop eating them you’ll lose weight.. so, market veganism as a diet or “lifestyle change” will bring more people to the movement by preying on their low self esteem and body hatred. While the strategy may work initially what do you intend to do when all the newbie veg’s don’t lose weight? Or when they lose it but then gain it back? As a diet, it fails, just like any other, and you’ve lost your pull. More so, you’ve become part of an industry which is cruel to animals.. specifically the human animal.

Word.

(More below the fold…)

fuck yeah winifred burkle

Monday, June 11th, 2012

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When this photoset came up on my tumblr dash, I immediately googled “Winifred Burkle,” since I didn’t recognize the character’s name. I’m familiar with Amy Acker, of course, but through her work with Joss Whedon in Dollhouse and The Cabin in the Woods; Angel, not so much. I just started watching Buffy last year, you see, and as of this writing am halfway through season seven. Angel is next up in the queue. Ditto: the BVTS comics. (No spoilers please! And yes, I am THE WORST for requesting this of a decade-old show! THE. WORST.)

Anyway, here’s what Wiki had to say about Winifred Burkle. Keep reading and you’ll see why I’m so gorram excited to meet this character!

Character history

Fred was born in San Antonio, Texas to Roger and Patricia “Trish” Burkle. When she finished college, she moved to Los Angeles for graduate school at UCLA. Originally majoring in history, Fred took a physics class with Professor Seidel, which inspired her to take another path. Around this time, she began working at Stewart Brunell Public Library. In 1996, while shelving a demon language book, a curious Fred recited the cryptic text out loud and was accidentally sucked into a dimensional portal to Pylea (her future friend Lorne was sucked into the same portal on his side and ended up in Los Angeles). It was later discovered that the portal was actually opened by Fred’s jealous college professor, Professor Seidel, who had sent every promising student to it, essentially sending them to their death. Fred was the only one of at least six to return (cf. “Supersymmetry”). […]

Angel Investigations

For five years, Fred spent an arduous life as a “cow,” the Pylean word for humans who are kept as slaves. The harsh life of solitude and serfdom took a serious toll on her social skills, as well as her mental health; when Angel meets Fred she is curled up in a cave, scribbling on the already-covered walls, having seemingly convinced herself that her previous life in L.A. had not been real.

It was revealed that Fred had once been forced to wear an explosive shock collar. However, Fred’s salvation comes when Angel and his crew arrive in Pylea to find Cordelia Chase, who had become trapped there. It is notable that when Angel’s demon came fully to the fore, it attacked just about everyone but Fred – including Gunn and Wesley. Despite this shocking display of violence, Angel never seemed to scare Fred, and even at his most demonic, he never attacked her. In fact, her presence seemed to have a calming effect on him.

When Pylea is liberated, Fred accompanies Angel and the rest of the gang back to Los Angeles and stays in the Hyperion Hotel to re-adjust to life on Earth and regain her mental stability. Despite several traumatic instances, such as being held hostage by Gunn’s old vampire-hunting crew, she adjusts quite well to “normal” life.

“I lived in a cave for five years in a world where they killed my kind like cattle.”

I AM GONNA HAVE SO MUCH TO WRITE ABOUT, Y’ALL!

Tweeting Mother’s Day (Again!)

Monday, May 9th, 2011

A vegan vanilla cupcake topped with vanilla buttercream and
shredded coconut. Staked in the middle is a cute, pink and yellow sign
wishing the nom-er a Happy Mother’s Day!
CC image via flickr user mishl982.
——————————

In honor of Mother’s Day, I spent much of yesterday tweeting about veganism, motherhood, and the exploitation of female bodies in animal industries (with an obvious emphasis on agriculture). In fact, those of you who follow me on twitter probably saw your feeds flooded by my steady stream of tweets! (Sorry for that, y’all!) In comparison to last year, I planned ahead this time: the day prior, I queued up a bunch of tweets using Hoot Suite, so that they’d begin posting while I was still snuggled up, all warm and cozy in bed (under a dog pile several layers deep, no doubt). Once I awoke and was reassured that it was working correctly, I scheduled the rest of the day, with a tweet going out every five or ten minutes until nearly 11PM. Way easier and more consistent than doing it by hand throughout the day! (Also, possibly less obnoxious, though only slightly so.)

After the jump you’ll find a digest of all of yesterday’s tweets (minus the ones for which I used twitter’s built-in RT feature. For some silly reason, those don’t make it into the list. Sigh.) If you compare this to last year’s round-up – which I totally don’t expect anyone to do! – you’ll find that I recycled many of 2010’s tweets, but also added quite a few new ones as well. This is partially due to laziness on my end, I admit. But also, when I went over last year’s list, I had a hard time trimming it down: so many of the posts, articles, photos, pamphlets, etc. were that compelling. I hope you agree!

I’m already working on a list of resources for Father’s Day (June 19) so if you have a blog, post, idea or theme you’d like to suggest, I’m all eyes!

Smooch!

“Smooch!: Both Tommy (left) and Freedom (right) were rescued from slaughter. Tommy is an Angus, raised for meat consumption. Freedom is a male Jersey, a dairy breed. Male dairy calves are unwanted and sent to auction and raised for veal or backyard slaughter. Now both live at Animal Place and obviously Freedom loves Tommy!”
CC image via Marji Beach on flickr.
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(More below the fold…)

furkid friday: happy mother’s day

Friday, May 6th, 2011

2011-05-08 - Mothers Day Collage 02

Scenes of compassion, consideration and love from my own life.
Counterclockwise, from top-left: the family of geese who shared “my” pond last year,
and who have returned again this season (no goslings yet though!);
my sister Michelle and brother Mike cuddle and comfort our canine sibling Shadow
shortly after surgery to repair her shattered back leg;
Ralphie and I share a moment during a sentimental visit to
our old neighborhood in Fairport, NY; and
a mother cow licks her baby clean.
Sadly, both were the property of our former landlords, and are most likely ground beef by now. It was a privilege to live next to such lovely creatures – but one constantly clouded by sadness and despair, given their near-certain fate. The knowing can be painful; but the not knowing is far, far worse. Go vegan, for you and for them.
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One does not need to be human to feel the deep-seated instinct to protect her babies, to seek the warmth of one’s mother. When animal advocates point out the obvious – that mothers and their babies suffer profoundly when they are separated, that harming one’s baby causes emotional trauma to the mother – we are accused of anthropomorphizing. We are portrayed as having centers as squishy as marshmallows, as having naive, sentimental, childish minds. In fact, it is a cold biological imperative, not just an emotional one, that drives a mother to want to nurture and protect her young: entire species would be wiped out if not for a mother’s instinct to defend her babies. I think, though, that it’s highly arrogant and self-serving to presume that humans alone have an emotional stake in their babies’ livelihoods. […]

One also doesn’t need to be a mother to be deeply driven to protect another. Long before I ever had a baby, I felt the same kind of adrenaline surge when someone intentionally whipped a hard rubber ball at my dog as I would have if he had done that same thing years later to my son. I chased that guy down the beach, screaming at him, and he ran away as if his life depended on it. Maybe it did. I’m a non-violent person, but you don’t mess with the ones I love.

For Mother’s Day, I propose that we honor this natural drive within all of us to protect the ones we love, the ones who depend on our consideration, by not consuming the products of exploitation and cruelty. This common thread of wanting our babies to thrive is natural and noble, a key part of our essential being. Whether we are men or women, children or adults, human or hen, that universal mother is in all of us. Let’s celebrate without exploiting another innocent mother who had not only the autonomy of her body but also her babies stolen from her for our appetites. Let’s connect to that profound mothering spirit that links us together. She wants her babies to be well and protected from harm. I think we can understand.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone.

….with extra special hugs and kisses (and a few odd few bitter tears) to Miss Kaylee, of course.*

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* Usually I stick with the status-neutral “Ms.,” but Kaylee prefers “Miss.” It makes her feel young, yo!

** The quote is excerpted from The Universal Mother… by Marla Rose, the one and only Vegan Feminist Agitator. Read and share, please and thanks.

"Cows are MEAN."

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

The Cruelty Continues Unabated

“The Cruelty Continues Unabated” – In this four-panel strip, an unassuming human explains just how nefarious his bovine kin are:

1) I went cow-tipping once. But it’s harder than you think.

2) I got a running sprint and tried to knock a cow over, but he didn’t budge.

3) So then I reached for his tail. And he bit me!

4) Cows are MEAN.

Indeed.

CC image via flickr user jon.bell.

"I’ll make them love it."

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

I WANT What You’ve GOT by Shell123ey on YouTube
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Trigger warning: while the picture primarily rests on the narrator’s face, there are a few brief flashes of disturbing images, including a “downed” cow and a “dairy” cow suffering from mastitis. You can listen to the audio alone if this is likely to upset you.

——————————

This video made the rounds on Facebook a few weeks back, and – while I meant to post it right away – I wanted to transcribe the audio first, so that those who can’t view the vid can at least get its gist. So if I seem late out of the gate, that’s why.

This is a short but powerful piece; whereas one vegan described it as

Angry and strident, but well-done and packs a wallop.

and, in the same breath,

Likely counterproductive for viewers over, say, age 20, but perfect for pissed off teens.

(let head-scratching commence), this 32-year-old begs to differ. Angry and strident, yes; but also a heart-wrenching appeal to our shared kinship with nonhuman animals – who, like us, love and care for their families; experience a wellspring of emotions, including pain, fear, joy and empathy; and are traumatized by the unceasing bodily violations to which they are subjected in the name of convenience and privilege. A mother is a mother is a mother. Sisters, us all.

In my estimation, this is a message that only becomes more powerful and potent with age.

###

You’ve got something that I want. And do you know what I’m going to do to get it?

I’m going to confine you in a rape rack and I’m going to forcibly impregnate you. I’ll likely confine you afterwards.

Then, when your baby’s born, I’m gonna kill it. Then I’m gonna take what I wanted from you.

I’m going to hook you up to a machine that’s going to suck your secretions from you until you bleed. You’ll likely get infections. Your body will swell with puss from where the machines have been sucking you. And after a while, you’ll be so sore that you won’t be able to walk.

Then I’m going to market your secretions as a “product.”

I’m going to tell everyone that if they want to be healthy and strong, they must drink your secretions.

I’m going to put posters up in schools.

I’m going to tell parents that if they want their children to grow up big and strong, then they must feed your secretions to them.

I’m going to make your secretions part of the standard food pyramid, so that everyone will accept that drinking your bloody, puss-filled secretions is healthy for them.

I’ll add addictive flavors and sugars to make people drink more and more of your secretions.

I’ll make them love it.

I’m going to make it so ingrained into their culture that anyone who argues that drinking your secretions isn’t healthy is deemed as “crazy.”

You know that this is blatant violation of your rights to your own body – but I’m going to call it “farming.” “Dairy farming.”

And you know why I’ll get away with it?

Because you look different from me.

And you can only moo.

###

Oprah’s Favorite Things: Cracker Box Palace ("You get a rescue goat! And you get a rescue goat! EVERYBODY GETS A RESCUE GOAT!!!")*

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

2010-09-18 - Cracker Box Palace (Meesh's Cam) - 0260

So you’ve vicariously tasted the yummy vegan eats at The Owl House as part of veganmofo iv, and last week I introduced you to Ms. Chicktoria. Though it’s now four months after the fact, there’s still one set of vacation photos I’d like to share from my September visit to Rochester. Because they’re from an ANIMAL SANCTUARY and who doesn’t like pictures of SUPER-CUTE RESCUE ANIMALS, hmmmm? Besides, it’s like zero degrees outside and there’s a three-foot snow drift on my patio and I could use a vacation, even if only in my own head.

Initially, my sis and I had our hearts set on visiting Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen – but unfortunately the fall tour hours (weekends only!), coupled with the lengthy drive time and previous commitments, just didn’t fit into our schedule. My mom suggested that we instead visit Cracker Box Palace Farm Animal Haven, a new-ish farmed animal sanctuary located in Alton, NY. (Alton is a short drive from Sodus – which is where I spent the first five years of my life – and Sodus, in turn, is a 45-minute drive from Rochester. In comparison, Watkins Glen is twice as far.)

2010-09-18 - Cracker Box Palace (Meesh's Cam) - 0199

According to the group’s website, CBP opened in 2001 on a 50-acre former migrant farm. Originally dedicated to horse rescue and rehab, the sanctuary is now home to geese, ducks, chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, and several breeds of pigs as well. Currently, it’s leasing and attempting to purchase Alasa Farms, a 500-acre historic Shaker farm.

2010-09-18 - Cracker Box Palace (Mom's Cam) - 0160

The weekend we visited, the group was holding a fair to help raise funds for the purchase.

2010-09-18 - Cracker Box Palace (Meesh's Cam) - 0416

Before we begin, a bit of a disclaimer: on its website, Cracker Box Palace isn’t particularly forthcoming about its positions on animal rights and veganism/vegetarianism. In some newsletters, for example, the founders allude to the cruelties of factory farming and ask for donations of vegetarian cookbooks for CBP’s gift shop. They also speak approvingly of Farm Sanctuary and credit its courses with teaching them the skills necessary to start and run an animal sanctuary. (While you may disagree with some of Farm Sanctuary’s positions – and I do – the group does include animal rights and veganism in its advocacy.)

(More below the fold…)

Everyday Ironies*: It’s Alive!

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

New photo series, y’all! (And by “series,” I mean that I have two entries in the queue, with nothing necessarily planned beyond that. So don’t get too excited, mkay.)

Earlier this month, while flipping through the DISH menu, I came upon the following listing:

2011-01-10 - Dish DVR Menu - 0006

Some disgusting, bullshit speciesist programming called the “Northern Livestock Video Auction,” running on channel 219. The channel’s alphabetic code? “ALIVE.”

Apparently 219 is a shopping channel, described by DISH thusly: “American Auction Network-Live Shopping, Live Cattle Auctions, Informerical.”

How they chose the code “ALIVE” in relation to this channel – and its content – I know not; but the dissonance is so thick, I could cut it with…a steak knife.

(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.

(More below the fold…)

more randomness: food, needs, food needs, dairy/rape, dennis kucinich & dogs

Sunday, August 15th, 2010
  • After a nearly six month hiatus, I have a new post up at Animal Rights & AntiOppression! In an interview with humane educator Zoe Weil, we look at the connections between our treatment of nonhuman animals, the earth, and one another, and explore humane education as the bridge between seemingly disparate social justice movements – and the solution to our many (many!) human-made ills.

    Check it: “The World Becomes What You Teach”: An Interview With Humane Educator Zoe Weil

  • Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (psych101 students, represent!), Ellyn Satter developed a corresponding hierarchy of food needs, arguing that one cannot “choose” to consume healthy products unless one’s more basic needs – such as having enough food to eat, having acceptable food, and having reliable, ongoing access to food – are already met.

    Satter's Hierarchy of Food Needs

    Satter’s Hierarchy of Food Needs:
    Bottom to top, the six needs are as follows: Enough food; Acceptable food; Reliable, ongoing access to food; Good-tasting food; Novel food; and Instrumental food.

    The choice to consume vegan food (vs. the necessity of consuming vegan food) seems to rest at the apex of Satter’s hierarchy, and as such, can only be made “when all underlying needs are consistently satisfied”: “The person functioning at the apex of Satter’s Hierarchy of Food Needs reliably gets enough to eat of rewarding food and has food acceptance skills that are good enough to allow him or her to eat a variety of food. That person is thus in a position to consider choosing food for instrumental reasons: to achieve a desired physical, cognitive, or spiritual outcome. This description is analogous to Maslow’s concept of self actualization.”
    ——————————

    While this hierarchy is primarily being discussed in relation to our consumption (or lack thereof) of nutritious, healthy food, i.e.:

    The graphic suggests that getting enough food to eat is the most important thing to people. Having food be acceptable (e.g., not rotten, something you are not allergic to) comes second. Once those two things are in place, people hope for reliable access to food and only then do they begin to worry about taste. If people have enough, acceptable, reliable, good-tasting food, then they seek out novel food experiences and begin to make choices as to what to eat for instrumental purposes (e.g., number of calories, nutritional balance).

    As Michelle at The Fat Nutritionist writes, sometimes when a person chooses to eat nutritionally deficient or fattening foods, it is not because they are “stupid, ignorant, lazy, or just a bad, bad person who loves bad, bad food.” Sometimes, it’s “because other needs come first.” (Source: Sociological Images)

    it’s equally applicable to veganism and vegan foods: obstacles such as hunger, poverty, food insecurity, lack of access to food, etc., severely constrict people’s ability to choose a vegan diet, on multiple levels (e.g., individual, community, population). As long as we’re serious about creating a vegan world, we must address these human inequities as well. (That, and it’s the right thing to do.)

    Check out the Food Empowerment Project for more.

  • (More below the fold…)

    Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 23: lolz the douche away

    Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

    lol batman - get that dood-elle

    lol batman – get that dood-elle!” – Running through the streets of Gotham, a cheesy, live-action, retro ’60s Batman and Robin try desperately to apprehend a certain sexist blogger before he can unleash any further douchebaggery upon the women of Blogville. “HOLY FUCKING PATRONIZING SEXISM,” goes the refrain of this lol batman.
    TV still via the internets; quote via Stephanie; and photoshopping via moi.
    ——————————

    Though I haven’t been posting much ’round these parts lately

    [and have all but abandoned ship over at AR&AO, for which I apologize to Stephanie & Co. profusely, and pledge to do better once things calm down here at Casa del Garbato-Brady, otherwise known as the Garden of Vegan, a title which I swear I will one day have posted at our driveway’s front gate, threats of TP and eggs be damned]

    rest assured that I’ve been busy, busy, busy, namely: working on several projects – including developing a website for my fledgling business

    [Remember my – by which I mean Shane’s – pizza press idea of last October? We are totally doing it! Slowly but surely, anyway. Our website isn’t quite ready yet, so if you’d like to follow our progress, like us on Facebook, mkay?];

    revamping another

    [POP! goes The Vegan., whose database of vegan reviews should really be on the front page, with the blog in an ancillary position, seeing as the database is the main f’in attraction. What I was thinking by reversing their positions, I know not.];

    and launching yet another brand-spankin’ new website

    [Schlong4Seals! OMG, just reflecting on all the man-sausages and dick jokes waiting in the wings is enough to bring a smile to my normally frowny face. (I almost always look annoyed, even when I’m not; it’s must be the humorless feminist in me, I guess.) I was a little incensed when the Fraternal Order of Facebook killed my SCHLONGS4SEALS group, but in retrospect, I think they did me a solid. A solid I shall return by plastering FB with links to all my super-awesome crotch shots and “seven ways to save the seals using only your cock” posts! Oh, I cannot wait. *Channeling the spirit of Will Ferrell*]

    – the height of insanity, since clearly I already have more blogs than I can keep track of. Silly, silly rabbit.

    Oh, and the zazzle store! A few designs for which I still need to create. Yeah, let’s save that for later, shall we?

    Anyhow, on to issue #23 of “Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs.” On accounta me being in a mad hurry tonight, I’ve forgone most of my normal commentary in lieu of excerpts. That’s okay, though; I’ve got a great batch of links to share with y’all, so best to let the individual bloggers speak for themselves.

    Browse, share, enjoy – and then blame and smash. Go!

    lol-psycat - narcissus

    lol-psycat – narcissus” – Apropos of the dood-elle mentioned above, “narcissistic cat is his own screensavr.” (For those who can’t view the image, a black cat lounges atop a computer monitor, which currently displays a photo of…a black cat!) Not super-relevant to the rest of the post, but I felt like I needed a break between my semi-coherent ramblings above and the über-awesome link roundup below. Anal, who me?
    ——————————

    INCITE! Blog: Why Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements

    To save our movements, we need to come to terms with the connections between gender violence, male privilege, and the strategies that informants (and people who just act like them) use to destabilize radical movements. Time and again heterosexual men in radical movements have been allowed to assert their privilege and subordinate others. Despite all that we say to the contrary, the fact is that radical social movements and organizations in the United States have refused to seriously address gender violence as a threat to the survival of our struggles. We’ve treated misogyny, homophobia, and heterosexism as lesser evils—secondary issues—that will eventually take care of themselves or fade into the background once the “real” issues—racism, the police, class inequality, U.S. wars of aggression—are resolved.

    (Hat tip, Jenna at L.O.V.E.)

    Vegan Feminist Agitator: Exploitation + Objectification = Conklin Farms. (In other words, business as usual.)

    The process through which we make peace with the inherent injustice of how we treat non-humans occurs because of objectification, the largely unconscious fragmentation system through which sentient beings are turned into objects. It is easier for the mind to integrate the misuse of objects than the abuse of living beings. Through this process, individuation collapses: all cows, all hens become a single entity to be turned into product. Those who are in power have their interests interpreted as a natural right rather a personal desire. When our interests require the subjugation of another, objectification makes the acquiring of what we want that much easier.

    Digging Through the Dirt: Promotion of Veal on Columbus Day Adds to Insult

    Because we think of ourselves as exceptional, we view “the other” as inferior. Descendents of native peoples and of African slaves are still regarded as inferior in this country, in general. And animals are treated as such, too. They exist for our purposes; they have no value except that which we bestow upon them, usually in the form of dollars. It’s all about what we can get from them — their flesh, their milk, their eggs — just as it was for Columbus. What could he get from the native peoples?

    (More below the fold…)

    Meet Jasper, Sasha, Filipe, Teddy, Amigo and Pancho…and the Farm Animal Adoption Network!

    Saturday, June 19th, 2010

    Back in March, Farm Sanctuary came to the rescue of six calves who were left to starve at a farm in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Some were left tethered to a tractor, while others were found locked in a garage; all were abandoned by their “owner.”* Most likely castoffs of the dairy industry, the calves were weak, frail and sickly and required immediate medical care:

    After learning about the suffering calves, Farm Sanctuary immediately launched a rescue effort, and staff drove to pick up the calves halfway between the Pennsylvania farm and our New York Shelter. The calves we greeted were a terrible sight. Their eyes were sunken in from severe dehydration, and they were pale, coughing and extremely weak. They were fighting life-threatening infections, and most were unable to stand on their own. Four of the calves weighed less than they would have at birth, and their prognosis looked grim. Medical care was urgently needed to stabilize the calves, so our rescue team rushed them to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals for critical emergency care.

    The following weeks were filled with constant care and anxious waiting as these sickly calves struggled to become well. But slowly, their fragile, battered bodies began to heal, and, in time, each came home from the hospital.

    Though their lives began in violence and suffering, these babies are now safe, valued and loved. And in need of a forever home!: Farm Sanctuary is currently looking for one or more individuals to adopt dear Jasper, Sasha, Filipe, Teddy, Amigo and Pancho – as well as Vito and Clancy, two young Holstein steers who managed to escape from their captors before finding Farm Sanctuary. Thanks to Farm Sanctuary (as well as the Hillside SPCA and an anonymous tipster), these someones now have names whereas only numbers hinted at their unique, individual identities before. They are so much more than cogs in a capitalist machine, or producers of milk and flesh. They are sons, brothers, friends.

    If you are willing and able to adopt any of these sweethearts (all of whom must be rehomed in pairs), you can find contact information and addition details here.

    (More below the fold…)

    Tweeting Mother’s Day

    Monday, May 10th, 2010

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

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

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

    (More below the fold…)

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

    Thursday, May 6th, 2010

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

    Liberation BC - Cow Ribbon Campaign eCard

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

    Striking at the Roots: Campaign Raises Awareness About Forgotten Mothers

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

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

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

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

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

    (More below the fold…)

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

    Sunday, January 31st, 2010

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

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

    Mylène @ My Face Is On Fire: Fur and

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

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

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

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

    (More below the fold…)

    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!

    (More below the fold…)

    Sexy Meat, No. 4: Portrait of the meat as a sex pot.

    Monday, December 28th, 2009

    Update, 2/8/10: These lovely ladies are now shaking their meaty bits on Suicide Food!

    Update, 1/7/10: In the comments, Cara pointed out that the cow isn’t in leaning on a bar counter as I first thought, but into a car window. She is indeed a prostitute – a “street walker,” if you will – picking up a john (that would be us, the viewer!). In this context, I think it likely that all three “food” animals are dressed as prostitutes from different decades: the ’80s, the ’50s, and the ’20s, maybe?

    Just when I thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse.

    —————–

    To date, all of the advertisements involving “sexy meat” that I’ve dissected have depicted, literally, “meat” – i.e., dead meat. While this conflation of sex with death and violence is incredibly disturbing, the advertisers’ motives for doing so are obvious: clearly, they want us to think not of the living, sentient beings these corpses used to be, but of the delicious, succulent foodstuffs that they have been processed into. Objectified, the animals are things to be bought, sold and consumed. Worse still, they are absent referents – invisible, erased beings whom we aren’t meant to consider at all.

    In this context, I’m not sure whether these advertisements for Martini Bitter are more or less disturbing than those for Rachachuros and McCormick seasonings or the DIY tutorial for making bikini-clad turkeys.

    Each image depicts a living “food” animal dressed to look like an “easy” woman.

    From top to bottom, we have:

    Martini Bitter - Beef

    “Beef”: In a smoky, hazy (read: seedy) bar or night club, a cow leans suggestively on the counter, as if to order a drink or “pick up” the man standing next to her – that is, the man behind the camera (hello, male gaze!). Her hoofs – which, somewhat suggestively, resemble the tips of two penises* – are crossed loosely at the wrists (ankles?). She’s white, with a full head of flowing white hair. However, the lighting in the bar casts a soft pink hue on her fur.

    We know that the cow is a “she” because her body has all the trappings of femininity: she wears a tight blue dress, complete with cleavage and plunging neckline (instead of multiple udders, the cow has been enhanced with two D-cups!); her outfit is accessorized with multiple necklaces and bracelets; and she carries a pink purse slung over one shoulder. (In fact, her garish pink purse doesn’t quite obscure the subtle curve of her ass; you can spot it, hiding in the shadows – if you dare!) The cow wears makeup, too: a hint of pink eyeshadow and lipstick. Sadly, the makeup might be the most tasteful aspect of this “artwork”!

    All in all, the “beef” ad has a very ’80s feel about it. Possibly the cow is just a “loose,” liberated women, looking for a one-night stand; or perhaps she’s a (*ahem*) “working girl.” Either way, the viewer is meant to understand that she (*gasp*) enjoys sex – and quite a bit of it, at that.

    (More below the fold…)

    The easyVegan Weekend Activist, No. 27

    Sunday, November 1st, 2009

    In lieu of my vegan story (it’s World Vegan Day, peoples!), I bring you a week’s worth of vegan links. The day was a gorgeous one, and probably the last of the season, so I spent most of it outside. Please forgive me! I swear, I’ll share my vegetarian/vegan conversion story…I want to say “tomorrow,” but “someday” is a safer bet.

    2007-01-06 - Dogs and Cows - 0043

    But. If a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, this photo more or less sums it up.

    Now about those links…

    Action Alerts: Animal & Environmental Advocacy

    ASPCA: USA: Support the Pet Safety and Protection Act! [Please consider contacting your representative and senators directly, without using the ASPCA’s feedback form. The sample letter provided by the ASPCA is horribly speciesist, and they do not allow users to edit it on their website.]

    Best Friends: Sign up for a free Jinni account, and Jinni will donate 10 cents (up to $10,000) to Best Friends

    Center for Biological Diversity: Help Save Walrus From Massive Stampede Deaths

    Dawnwatch: “Eating Animals” — CNN, Wall Street Journal, NPR with Jonathan Safran Foer — 10/30 — 11/1/09

    DawnWatch: Sunday papers on home slaughtering and meat tax 10/25/09

    Defenders of Wildlife: Stop the Invasion of the Exotic Wildlife!

    Earthjustice: Help Protect Children From Toxic Pesticides

    easyvegan: Scientists, Poets, Changemakers and Heroes (Volunteer Opportunities & Action Alerts)

    Ecological Internet: Madagascar’s Protected Rainforest Hardwoods Continue to be Selectively Logged

    Environment New Mexico: Protect the Grand Canyon!

    (More below the fold…)

    Sometimes I feel like a motherless child. *

    Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

    A few weeks ago, I wrote about Karma, a cow spared a life of suffering on a “small ranch” by the farmed animal sanctuary Gentle Barn. After they ferried her to safety, Karma’s rescuers soon realized that she had recently given birth, and was crying out in misery for her child, who had been left behind. Long story short, Gentle Barn was able to persuade the rancher to relinquish custody of Karma’s baby, who they named Mr. Rojas. Mother and child were reunited, and months later – much to Gentle Barn’s surprise – Karma gave birth to another calf. Happily, Karma and sons will be able to live out the rest of their lives in safety and security, together as a family – the way it should be, for animals everywhere.

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    Unfortunately, precious few stories have such a happy ending. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Karma’s tale when I received this press release from Farm Sanctuary:

    Lamb Born in Transport Truck on Way to Bronx Slaughterhouse Finds Refuge at Farm Sanctuary as Mother Goes to Slaughter

    Watkins Glen, NY – September 22, 2009 – A lamb born on a transport truck on the way to a Bronx slaughterhouse was rescued yesterday by Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, and brought to their shelter in Watkins Glen, NY. The minutes old lamb was discovered by a Good Samaritan who was shopping at an Italian market just a few doors down from the slaughterhouse when the truck arrived. Wanting to get a closer look at the sheep as they were unloaded, the woman walked over to the truck and was shocked to discover a newborn lamb among the herd, as well as a less fortunate lamb who had been trampled to death during transport.

    When she brought the lamb to the truck driver’s attention, he grabbed him and handed him to her, explaining that one of the sheep must have given birth on the truck. When asked by the concerned citizen if it would be possible to reunite the struggling newborn with his mother, the driver told her there was no way to identify the lamb’s mother, as there were more than one hundred sheep on the truck. Refusing to leave the abandoned lamb alone to starve or be trampled to death by the flock, the woman convinced the slaughterhouse manager to relinquish him to her. As the lamb’s mother went to slaughter, she took the newborn home to her Yonkers residence, where he spent the first five days of his life growing very attached to the woman’s elderly mother— who he reportedly followed around the house like a puppy.

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    “We are so thankful we were able to rescue this sweet lamb, who was born under circumstances no animal should ever have to endure,” said Susie Coston, Farm Sanctuary’s national shelter director. “Having witnessed the deep and loving bond between mother sheep and their lambs at our sanctuary, we know first-hand how traumatic this experience must have been for both mother and baby. Unfortunately, such tragedies are an all too common result of a profit-driven industry that rips babies away from their mothers and packs sensitive, intelligent animals onto trucks so densely they cannot move, causing many to die before they even reach the slaughterhouse. This lamb may have been born under horrific circumstances, but he will live at our shelter as an ambassador, educating thousands of visitors from all over the country about the plight of animals whose first and only taste of life is the inside of a sweltering transport truck or a dark, filthy factory farm.”

    (More below the fold…)