"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.

(More below the fold…)

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.
——————————

(More below the fold…)

Bittersweet Mother’s Day Kisses & Vegan Birthday Wishes, Redux

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

2011-02-14 - Kaylee & O-Ren - 0002

This morning, I woke to vomit in the bed. Kaylee vomit, to be exact, which makes the situation slightly less bad than it might otherwise have been. (Also, it helps that it wasn’t on my pillow. Yes, that has happened. To Shane! Muahahaha….)

“What’s the diff?” you’re probably wondering; “Puke is puke, is it not?” Actually, there’s a 50-50 chance that I can match a pile of vomit to a dog – or at least one of my dog-kids – based on its content: Peedee likes to steal and nom on my earplugs, Ralphie is a grass and dirt eater, and during the spring and summer months Kaylee turns into a decidedly non-vegan bug hunter – but that’s beside the point. Kaylee vomit – and mishaps involving bodily fluids – is different ’cause it comes from Kaylee. Sweet, sweet Kaylee, who’s suffered so much in her short life – yet harbors not one resentful cell in her entire being – and with whom it’s impossible to become angry. At least, not for more than a split second at a time.

It’s difficult to celebrate Mother’s Day without also mourning for the billions of nonhuman animals whose reproductive systems and maternal instincts we exploit for our own gain: “laying” hens, “dairy” cows, “breeding” sows, and so on. For many vegans, it’s those females farmed for food who have come to symbolize motherhood hijacked and corrupted on Mother’s Day. But for me – a vegan who’s only visited a handful of farmed animal sanctuaries, and has yet to befriend and know a cow, hen or sow on a personal level – Kaylee is the representation of motherhood subverted.

Today I’d like to republish a piece I wrote for her last Mother’s Day. Every word rings as true now as it did then. More so, even: during the last two years, I’ve been struggling with some minor but chronic health issues. Whereas the other dogs – as much as I love and adore them – oftentimes add to the stress with their constant demands for attention and occasional doggy outbursts (bark! bark! bark!), to the point that I sometimes have to hand them off to Shane … not Kaylee.

While I long to comfort, coddle, pamper her – as a down payment on the debt humanity owes her for the pain she and so many like her have endured at our hands – so often, too often, it’s she who takes care of me. Rarely does she ask; never does she take. Most times, she is content to lay beside me, graciously accepting strokes and kisses; laments whispered. She is unflappable in her devotion and, despite all that she’s been through, manages to exude a sense of calmness. Of peace and pleasure, long delayed.

2011-04-02 - Kaylee Macro - 0004

Always soft but steady in her presence … my rock, made from marshmallows. She keeps me sane.

Happy mother’s day to all the moms in the world: human and non, biological and adoptive, same and cross-species, of all genders, ages and orientations. I hope you have a compassionate and peaceful day! And to those who are separated or estranged from your mother(s), my heart is with you.

P.S. My birthday is tomorrow, but my wish remains the same: live vegan, or at least as vegan as your life circumstances will allow.

(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.
——————————

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.*

2007-02-04 - Harassing the Dogs, PM ed. - 0005

* 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.

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!
——————————

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…)

Bittersweet Mother’s Day Kisses & Vegan Birthday Wishes

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

2007-08-30 - Peedee's 5th Birthday - 0033

This Mother’s Day, I think of Kaylee. Kaylee, the dear, sweet, mild-mannered, infinitely lovable old(er) lady we adopted three and a half years ago. Kaylee, my baby girl. One of three. Seven, if you consider those loved and lost.

This morning, as I cuddled Kaylee in bed, silently wishing her a happy Mother’s Day, I thought of her – and her own babies. In her Life Before Us, Kaylee was not spayed. Nor was she fed, housed, vetted, or otherwise cared for. Her body – large, mushy, misshapen – tells the tale of babies birthed, nursed, and…what? Oftentimes – and especially on days like these – I reflect upon this question. Where are Kaylee’s babies now?

2010-03-25 - Kaylee - 0006

What do they look like? Short, stocky, white and mushy like her, or…more like their father, wherever he may be? Do their butts wiggle like hers, in anticipation of a meal, a treat, or even just a bowl to lick? Do they experience the same insatiable hunger as their mother, whether for physical or emotional nourishment? Are their barks, so infrequently voiced, characterized by the same pained (at times bordering on hysterical), wookie-like roar of their mother? Perhaps, dog willing, their life circumstances have not fostered within them the same fears that drive their mother.

Have the humans they encountered on their life’s path shown them the kindness and compassion that Kaylee has known from us – or have Kaylee’s babies only seen the cruelty and neglect that marked her own Life Before Us?

(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.
——————————

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…)

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.

null

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.

null

“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…)

A tale of Karma.

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Last November, the kind folks at Gentle Barn animal sanctuary rescued a group of cows – along with many “Thanksgiving” turkeys – from abusive living conditions on a “local ranch” (one of those small family farms of lore, perhaps?). Unbeknown to Gentle Barn, one of their newest bovine residents had recently given birth to a calf – a baby – who was not ferried to safety with his mother.

Though the “rancher” neglected to inform Gentle Barn of the situation, the estranged mother did not:

While we were rescuing Thanksgiving turkeys from a local ranch in 2008, we couldn’t help but notice the horrific conditions in which the other animals were living. Unable to stomach what we were witnessing, we came home with two of the ten cows who were in the worst shape and were pregnant.

When they got home to The Gentle Barn, one of the cows seemed inconsolably distraught. She was trying to get out of the pen, pacing, sweating, and mooing as though screaming for someone. Throughout the first night, she kept crying out, barely pausing to take a breath.

At first, we thought her stress was from missing all of the animals she had left behind, or from feeling unsure of her new surroundings. But by morning, when her cries had not stopped, we realized something more serious was going on. We also noticed that her utter was full now and she was expressing milk. When we called back to the place we rescued her from, our fears were confirmed. She had been separated from her calf, and we were informed that her baby was being sold that day to someone else for slaughter. We demanded that they release the baby to us, knowing that this cow would die of heartbreak otherwise, and they agreed, especially because their truck had broken down and they couldn’t deliver the calf to the other people and we had a trailer…small miracles!

When we arrived at The Gentle Barn with the calf, his mom heard his voice, she jumped up and practically broke through the pasture fencing to get to her calf. When we lead her tiny baby to reunite with her, the calf collapsed on the ground in front of her. As she licked him and nuzzled him with the gentlest touch, he got up. As the baby nursed, for the first time in twelve hours, the mom let out a long moo, like the biggest sigh of relief. Now that her baby is with her, she has not made a single sound. She is happy and at peace, and the two will never be separated again.

Once they were reunited, we went back and rescued the rest of the cows. So now, all ten cows are safe and sound at The Gentle Barn.

The reunion of mother Karma and baby Mr. Rojas is documented in Karma’s Reunion. Embedding is disabled, so please head on over to YouTube and watch the video. It clocks in at just under five minutes, and is a real tear-jerker. While the images are moving enough on their own, Gentle Barn further emphasizes the themes of nonhuman intelligence, family and love through the addition of captions.

Karma’s story is beautiful and moving – but it doesn’t end with the birth of Mr. Rojas. In a recent newsletter, Gentle Barn updates us on “Karma’s Surprise”:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: The Gentle Barn – info [at] gentlebarn.org
Date: Fri, Aug 21, 2009 at 1:57 PM
Subject: Karma and Her Big Surprise!

Karma’s Surprise

null

As you might remember, we rescued a cow named Karma last year. The man we rescued her from did not let us know she had a baby, until she cried for 12 hours straight. We then realized that the only thing that could cause her so much distress is being separated from a baby. So, we went back to the cruelty site we rescued her from and sure enough there was her baby about to be sent to slaughter. We rescued her tiny baby boy and brought him home to the safety of The Gentle Barn. Karma and her son, Mr. Rojas, have been together ever since.

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 3

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

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


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

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

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

Vegan Soapbox: Why Women Should Care About Animals

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

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

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

Hat tip to Stephanie for this one.

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 2

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

lol jayne - speciesism 101, pot 1

Kelly Garbato (that’s me!) @ Animal Rights at Change.org: Intersectionality 101: Sexism, Racism, Speciesism, and More and Intersectionality and Animal Advocacy

Stephanie at Change.org kindly invited me to guest post at the Animal Rights blog; Intersectionality 101 and Intersectionality and Animal Advocacy are my first contributions. This is a two-part post in which I introduce the concept of intersectionality, explain how intersectionality can help us better understand (and dismantle) our exploitation of animals, and argue for the inclusion of other anti-“ism” activism in the animal advocacy movement. Please stop by and share your thoughts!

Also worth checking out: the new(ly visible) “oppression connections” post category on Animal Rights.

Briar Levit @ Bitch Blogs: Nicole Georges pays tribute to the Queer Animal Kingdom

Last week, I noted how media such as Green Porno, by celebrating non-human animals in all their sexual diversity, has the potential to liberate and uplift animals of all species.

In this vein, Briar Levit introduces us to Nicole Georges, “a zinester, illustrator, and pet portrait artist” (and also a contributor to Bitch magazine), whose latest project is “an exploration of the Queer Animal Kingdom” – as explained in this documentary:

Nicole Georges 5/1/09 from cat on Vimeo.

As far as feminist media goes, Bitch seems to be the most animal-friendly magazine out there (with a very vocal – albeit minority – vegan/vegetarian readership!), so if you’re so inclined, you can check ’em out here.

Igualdad Animal / Animal Equality: Press release about ‘The Running of the Nudes’ and PETA

Igualdad Animal (Animal Equality) describes itself as “an international non-profit organisation dedicating to gaining equal consideration and respect for animals. Founded in Madrid (Spain) in January 2006 by Sharon Nunez, Javier Moreno and Jose Valle, it is currently active in Spain, Peru, Venezuela and Colombia.”

In this press release, Igualdad Animal offers its thoughts on PETA’s upcoming annual anti-bullfighting demonstration, “The Running of the Nudes.” Not surprisingly, the group is unimpressed, both with PETA’s animal welfare efforts, as well as their poor record vis-à-vis marginalized groups of humans, including women.

(More below the fold…)

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.

(More below the fold…)

"It’s what they do."

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

While poking around the youtubes for some vegan cooking tutorials (I’ve been craving homemade granola lately), I stumbled upon this heartwarming video. Aired on a local CBS affiliate (?) last Mother’s Day, the segment highlights Lilly, a lab mix who, abandoned and pregnant, made her way to the Burlington, Iowa Human Society. Her six pups were adopted; she, sadly, was not. Sadly but luckily, as the Humane Society soon took in a litter of orphaned kittens, all in need of a mother’s love – and milk. Enter Lilly, who nursed the felines and even rescued one lil’ guy from drowning in her water bowl.

The reporters also point out that Lilly’s isn’t an unusual case; in domesticity and the wild, non-human animals of many species step in to care for the young of other species, some who might normally be their rivals: “For most mothers, it’s just what they do. An instinct so deeply wired into them, that often, all they know is to love and care for life.”

A little cheesy and oversimplified, sure – and, in humans, this sort of essentialism can lead to gender stereotyping and misogyny – but, in many animals, human and non, those sentimental cliches about “a mother’s love” ring true. And the fact of the matter is, when you consume eggs or milk or “meat” (as I’m sure the oooh-ing and ahhh-ing reporters do), you’re exploiting a mother’s love, perverting and severing a relationship so vital to individual and species survival, that many mothers would die protecting their children, need be.

It’s what they do.

(More below the fold…)

"…even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings…"

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

 

Prologue
Sound of a Battery Hen

 

 
You can tell me: if you come by the
North door, I am in the twelfth cage
On the left-hand side of the third row
From the floor; and in that cage
I am usually the middle one of eight or six or three.
But even without directions, you’d
Discover me. We have the same pale
Comb, clipped yellow beak and white or auburn
Feathers, but as the door opens and you
Hear above the electric fan a kind of
One-word wail, I am the one
Who sounds loudest in my head.

 
Over the past few months, I’ve written a series of posts on the themes of motherhood, maternal exploitation and deprivation, and the intersection of speciesism and sexism in Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals. Previously, I discussed examples of these vis-à-vis “pork production” and the “dairy industry.”

While Masson also explores the exploitation of sheep, goats, ducks and chickens in The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, the mother-child bond between a mother hen and her chicks receives the most attention of these remaining groups – so I’ll conclude my discussion with a look at “egg production.”

Photo via Jeanette’s Ozpix

In previous posts, I noted how female non-human animals (like their human counterparts) are especially vulnerable to exploitation because of their reproductive systems. Their ability to give birth – oftentimes referred to as a “miracle” in humans – makes them particularly valuable as the producers of future “commodities.” Their value, unfortunately, does not lead to preferential treatment from their captors. Instead, they suffer especially brutal and prolonged abuse.

As such, females become machines, assembly lines, destined to produce milk, eggs, flesh – and a replacement generation of baby-, milk- and/or egg- machines:

By the mere fact of their sex, sows, hens, ewes, does, nannies, cows and heifers – not to mention mares, bitches, jennies, jills, etc. – are ripe for especially brutal and prolonged exploitation. Oftentimes, this involves a constant cycle of pregnancy, birth, nursing and baby-napping, culminating with the female’s own death when she’s no longer able to breed or “produce” to her “owner’s” satisfaction.

Certainly, we recognize that the theft of a mother’s child is an atrocity when the victims are human mothers and children. At the same time, we argue that non-human animals deserve no rights because they are mere brutes, “lesser” beings, ruled by instinct and instinct alone. Yet, what is the drive to reproduce and parent if not an evolutionary instinct? And if we follow the popular line of reasoning – i.e., animals are creatures of instinct – does it not stand to reason that the maternal instinct is especially powerful in non-human animals?

Many – if not most – non-veg*ns find it difficult to relate to non-human animals, who (supposedly) are so different from us. At a fundamental level, our differing modes of communication make cross-species communication more difficult, particularly when one species (that would be us) has little interest in communication (and mutual understanding and respect) to begin with. Even so, many humans live with “pets,” the majority being dogs and cats; and, as we’ve come to recognize certain expressions and non-verbal cues in these mammals, such empathy can be extended to other, similar species – such as cows and pigs.

(More below the fold…)

Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary: Don’t Let Him Kill Me!

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Peaceful Prairie - Don't Let Him Kill Me (front)

(More below the fold…)

Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary: Dairy is a Death Sentence

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Peaceful Prairie - Dairy is a Death Sentence

(More below the fold…)

Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary: Don’t Kill My Baby!

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Peaceful Prairie - Don't Kill My Baby (front)

(More below the fold…)

Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary: Milk Comes from a Grieving Mother

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Peaceful Prairie - Milk Comes from a Grieving Mother

(More below the fold…)

On mares, wet nurses and shared exploitations.

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Photo via ImaginaryGirl

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

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

Jennie explains:

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

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

Traditionally, these foals are killed.

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

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

(More below the fold…)

Raining "Veal" Calves

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Yesterday, Gentle Barn sent out the following plea for donations. Coming on the heels of this post, I couldn’t help but consider the former in the context of the latter.

Read on, and see if you don’t agree.

When It Rains, It Pours

null

We’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that because of the economy a lot of dairies are shutting down, which means a lot less needless suffering for mommy and baby cows. The bad news is that the now unaffordable dairy cows are being sent to slaughter. And, they are being sent to slaughter pregnant. When they get to the auction house to be purchased by the meat companies, some are having their babies in the auction house. The meat buyers take the moms and leave the orphaned newborns on the floor of the auction house to die. In addition, many of the older separated veal calves are also being sent to the stockyard sickly and premature due to lack of funds as well.

The Gentle Barn received a call from the auction house this morning asking us to please come get these babies because they didn’t want them to die on their floor and become a problem for them. We immediately sprang to action and drove the 2 hours to the stockyard where the site was absolutely devastating. Hundreds of cows terrified and screaming, crying for each other, many of them sick, blind, and some downed (an animal that can’t get up on their own due to fatigue and illness). Mommies and babies were being separated, best friends were desperately looking for each other – the pain and the fear was horrific. We loaded up six orphaned babies, one blind from malnutrition and one almost lifeless from having no nourishment since God knows when. The Gentle Barn rescue team had to physically carry these two downed calves into the trailer.

null

As we write, The Gentle Barn staff quickly heads home to meet the veterinarian. With the vet’s help, dedicated volunteers, and prayers, we hope that we can keep these babies alive. We know that if we can get through the next 48 hours, these cows are promised a peaceful, loved life at The Gentle Barn. As with all that we do, we cannot do this without you. For the next 48 hours, these calves will need round-the-clock care. They will need to be bottle fed, loved, and reassured that it will be OK. Even though the next 48 hours are especially critical, these cows will need the constant attention for at least the next two weeks.

(More below the fold…)