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.

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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.
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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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"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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

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

Ejaculation Imagery in a Dutch Creamer Ad

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Chocolate & Yogurt: Sarah Haskins on "Lady Food"

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

As much as I love me some Sarah Haskins, sometimes it’s weeks before I remember to check for a new installment of her Target Women series. I’d blame it on my scatterbrain, except I’m usually organized to a fault. There are just too many distractions on the interwebs to keep track of, dammit.

Anyhow, I had ample time to catch up this week, since I haven’t been feeling all that well. (Stomach bug, food poisoning, who knows.) Though she rarely covers “animal issues” per se, a number of her skits do indirectly touch upon animal exploitation, as we saw with her take on the Carl’s Jr. franchise. So it is with her discussions of “lady food” – namely, chocolate and yogurt.

There are a number of feminine corollaries to the tired old “meat = masculinity” meme. For example, women eat “like birds” (and sundry other adorable-but-harmless wildlife), daintily pecking at fruit, vegetables and (one would assume) scattered nuts and seeds, our weak lil’ bodies having little need for muscle-building protein. (Protein is only found in the rotting flesh of animal corpses, dontchaknow!?)

Additionally, whereas men crave meat (and heart disease), women literally lust after sugary highs – especially if they come coated in chocolate. What better foodstuff for already hysterical, irrational and moody beings, no? Plus, consuming the milk of our enslaved sisters is the perfect night cap to a shitty blind date.

 


 
The marketing of yogurt – specifically, probiotic-rich yogurt – is a newer trend. (Or at least “new” in the retro sense of the word; I’ve no idea what the picture was like in the ’70s, but the Mr. swears that he remembers similar gynocentric yogurt advertising in his youth.) Whether you want to attribute it to IBS, yeast infections or diet fads, yogurt most definitely falls into the “lady food” category.

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Her milkshake brings all the boys to Carls.

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Okay, so this commercial advertising a new line* of “real milk / real ice cram” milk shakes technically comes from Hardee’s, but hells bells, they’re identical franchises (right down to the logo) belonging to the same company. *Shrug* So sue me.
 


 
The thirty-second spot shows a nondescript white dude – your normal Hardee’s customer, I would assume – “shaking” a “dairy” cow. The idea being, of course, that he’s whipping up the milk inside the cow in order to make a milkshake.

Or, to put it more succinctly, the cow is but a mere container for the milk inside her. She is a milk container. Nope, no sentience there! (Sound familiar?)

Of course, one can’t exactly pick up a cow and shake her like a milk carton, so nondescript white dude is instead forced to act out the “shake” on her body, i.e., by kind of shimmying her skin to and fro. Which he does while dancing – not with her, exactly, but on her – to a rap/R&B number. The result being that it looks as though dude is “housing” (or dirty dancing or whatever teh kidz r calling it nowadays; holy Jebus am I getting old) with a cow. It’s all strangely obscene.

To make matters worse, the short video features at least one gratuitous close-up of the cow’s udders (read: cleavage), and the dancer slaps her on the ass, to boot. And, um, did I mention that said slap is accompanied by the sound of a whip, BDSM style? *shudder*

But wait! It gets worse! Behold: the techno version!

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

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

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

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Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary: Dairy is a Death Sentence

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Peaceful Prairie - Dairy is a Death Sentence

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Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary: Don’t Kill My Baby!

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

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

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Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary: Milk Comes from a Grieving Mother

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Peaceful Prairie - Milk Comes from a Grieving Mother

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On being someones, not somethings.

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

I’ve heard mention of these campaign/outreach materials from Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary from time to time, but it wasn’t until I received a Mother’s Day action alert from the sanctuary that I clicked on over to check them out. Now that I’ve had a chance to look the materials over, I think I can honestly say that Peaceful Prairie’s fliers and pamphlets – particularly the “Milk comes from a grieving mother” series – are some of the most powerful I’ve seen.

Throughout its materials, PPS stresses the family ties of the (more often than not) nameless, faceless creatures we exploit for “meat,” milk, eggs and the like. When you eat meat, you’re eating someone’s father, brother or son. When you drink milk, you’re drinking milk that was stolen from a grieving mother and was meant to nourish her murdered baby. The exploitation of farmed animals necessarily involves the manipulation and severing of these familial relationships, so fundamental to their (and our) emotional and social well-being and survival. How do YOU say, ‘Don’t kill my baby!’? Should any mother have to?

PPS also gives these animals names and faces, by emphasizing their unique individualities, as well as their relationships to one another: Lillian is more than “just a pig,” more than “pork,” more than the sum of her animal parts. So much more! Lillian is both someone and someone’s daughter. Someone’s sister. Someone’s aunt. Someone’s mother, perhaps. Lillian is important and valuable and unique because she’s Lillian the individual – there is no other quite like her! – and because she’s Lillian to so many others. Like you or I, Lillian is irreplaceable.

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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!)

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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

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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.

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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.

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"A cow is so much like a woman"

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

McDonald's - Austrian Teet

In which I take the metaphor a little too seriously.

A few months ago, I wrote about how the female members of non-human animal species suffer from especially egregious and prolonged abuse at the hands of their exploiters.

With brutal precision, farmers routinely turn the reproductive systems of female animals against them, finding newer and more callous ways in which to exploit them as science and technology allow. This isn’t to suggest that males don’t suffer as well – they do. But their suffering isn’t as prolonged or extensive as that of their female counterparts; veal calves, for example, are tortured for sixteen weeks and then, “mercifully,” (relatively speaking) slaughtered. Their sisters, meanwhile, are exploited as baby and milk machines for three to four years, after which they become ground beef. First, their babies and their babies’ food is stolen from them; and, finally, their lives are snatched away as well.

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.

Using excerpts from Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals for illustration, I explained how this process unfolds in “pork” production. Under the headline “Horizontal Women” (a play on one nickname for pigs, “horizontal humans,” so earned because they are so much like us), I emphasized how female pigs’ reproductive organs are turned against them, and the mother-child bond, severed and exploited, all so that Humans can continue to enjoy cheap “bacon”:

Breed, gestate, deliver, nurse, grieve, repeat: this is a sow’s lot. The whole damn “pork” subdivision of the megatheocorporatocracy rests on the female pig’s sexual organs – in her ability to give birth to the next generation of porcine “property.”

The process is much the same with cows: in a dairy operation, mother cows (“dairy” cows) undergo a continuous cycle of forced pregnancy and birth, followed by the theft of their children and milk. Breed, gestate, deliver, nurse, grieve, repeat.

Photo via Yamanize

A “dairy” cow’s children are taken from her shortly after birth, “ideally” within 24 hours; daughters may become “dairy” cows, like their mothers, or perhaps “beef,” while sons are destined to become either “veal” or “beef.” An estimated one million “veal” calves and 35 million “beef” cattle are killed annually, in the United States alone. About 9 million cows are confined in U.S. “dairy” operations in any given year. A cow’s natural lifespan can be 25 years or more, however, “dairy” cows are milked to excess within 3 to 4 years, after which they’re “retired” into ground beef.

As with pigs, mother cows and their children suffer immensely in factory farms. Their suffering is oftentimes tied to their status as females and youngsters – a quality which transcends species boundaries.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Pig Who Sang to the Moon by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (2003)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

I know I offered a semi-review of The Pig Who Sang to the Moon a few weeks ago, but I wanted to write something more appropriate for Amazon, Library Thing and the like. Posting positive reviews of animal-friendly books, television shows and films is a good way to help such media garner more exposure and business – and support the team, too! As is voting for positive review of animal-friendly materials – hint, hint, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

The Pig Who Sang to the Moon by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (2003)

A beautifully tragic look at “food” animals

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My first introduction to Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s work was in high school, when I read his 1996 book, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals. At the time, I was a newbie vegetarian, just becoming involved in animal advocacy. When Elephants Weep helped validate my decision to go veg, and reinforced my resolve to stay that way.

Fast-forward thirteen years. I picked up Masson’s latest ethology tome, The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals, on a whim. Remembering his earlier work, I expected a beautiful, brilliant, touching look at the inner lives and experiences of farmed animals. I was not disappointed.

In The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, Masson lays out the evidence – from the highly scientific to the folksy anecdotal – which points to a wide range of emotional experiences in farmed animals, including love, grief, sorrow, joy, empathy, altruism, fear, trust, friendship, contentment and the like. Far from being unfeeling brutes, the billions of animals bred, farmed and slaughtered for human consumption (10 billion annually in the U.S. alone) have complex emotional and intellectual lives. Some of their emotions – such as the strong maternal instinct – mirror our own, while other emotions and intellectual abilities far surpass those of humans. For example, when suffering egregious cruelties (such as those found on modern factory farms), non-human animals can’t always identify the source of or reason for their pain and abuse. This serves to heighten their fear, such that some species of non-human animals may actually have a greater capacity for suffering than humans. Clearly, this could – should – have profound implications vis-à-vis our treatment of non-human animals, particularly those of the “farmed” variety.

Masson structures the book so that each chapter covers a different species of farmed animals: pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, cows and ducks, in that order. He juxtaposes information about the animals’ emotional lives – thoughts, feelings, sentience, capacity for joy and sorrow, etc. – with the brutal reality for the vast majority of these “owned” animals. Treated like milk and meat machines, dehumanized and objectified, their individuality obscured and their needs ignored, farmed animals suffer the worst of humanity’s whims and wants.

(More below the fold…)

Pork & Tits

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Update, 10/17/07: OK, I lied. What can I say, I don’t enjoy being misrepresented.

By way of an FYI to Feministing readers, I don’t plan on following the comment thread over there, not because I’m a rude asshole, but because I don’t need the grief.

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Update, 10/16/08: First, greetings and salutations to everyone coming here from Feministing. I hope you’ll have a look around and perhaps visit again.

Secondly, I want to briefly address the way in which Ann linked to this post on her recent piece on Ingrid Newkirk. At first I intended on posting this in the comments at Ann’s post, but they require a MoveableType account, and I just don’t have the energy – to register *or* follow comments on a website I’ve longed stopped reading due (some of) the bloggers’ blatant speciesism.

This is the paragraph in which I was quoted:

Well, duh. The lowest-common-denominator advertising tactic is to put a big ol’ pair of disembodied boobs front and center. We get that. (Of course, this argument has been made in defense of PETA’s tactics before.) But to make it sound like, “well, it’s either boobs or a slaughterhouse video, and which do you think traffics better?” is so simplistic. There are a million ways to draw attention to a cause that are neither in-your-face political nor objectifying women. This is not either/or.

I don’t know if Ann misinterpreted my post, or if I’m reading too much into the way in which I was referenced, but I want to clarify that I *don’t* believe that it’s ok for PETA to objectify women just so long as it helps their traffic. And that’s not at all what I said: in the post below, I argue that the “Breast is Best” campaign is not sexist, not because the ends justify the means – but because the means, in this case, simply are not misogynistic. My main intention in pointing out the Google search results is to scold those feminists (like, ahem, the ladies at Feministing) who only give a flying fuck about animal welfare issues when it’s to rip into PETA for their sexism (or other “ism”), whether real or perceived. (That discrepancy in search results? Feministing & co. is partially to blame.)

If you keep reading, you’ll see that I DO have a problem with PETA’s celebrity print campaigns, in which women’s naked bodies are pornified, while those of men are not. No doubt, all those pseudo-porn shots do wonders for PETA’s publicity, but because I believe that PETA has a responsibility to fight oppression in all its forms (if not actively, then at the very least by refusing to engage in it themselves), I don’t really give a shit how many people PETA manages to convert to veg*nism by displaying Jenna Jameson like a porno prop – it’s wrong, and it’s sexist. And I say as much in the post below.

So for Ann to suggest that I defended the “lowest-common-denominator advertising tactic…to put a big ol’ pair of disembodied boobs front and center,” is really quite unfair. The “Breast is Best” campaign – at least to the best of my knowledge – never actually displayed anyone’s boobs. If PETA has since sent out scantily clad models to greet Wal-Mart customers with a nice fresh glass of breast milk and copious amounts of cleavage, then that’s where I’d stop defending this particular campaign.

I know it’s shocking, but I can repudiate some of PETA’s campaigns while admiring others. I’m nuanced like that, yo.

Update, 10/16/08, later in the PM: I’d also like to point out that you can “use sex” to sell your message in a way that isn’t sexist. Sometimes doing so can even prove both sexy and subversive:

Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill, Le Tigre

Question: Do you think Ms. Hanna is objectifying herself, selling out other women by selling her own body, by appearing in a bikini top with the word “SLUT” scrawled across her stomach?

Would you think the same if she’d written “GO VEG” on her bare belly instead?

If so, you need to check your speciesism at the door.

And, you know, this is why I rarely write about PETA; it’s just too emotionally draining. I self-identify as a vegan feminist atheist. Sure, I’m many other things; but these are the three descriptors that I’ll always turn to first. So it really pains me when either of the two feel at odds with one another, such as when feminists all but ignore animal issues until PETA releases their newest campaign, which may or may not be “ist.” That was really the impetus for the post below – not defending PETA per se, but defending animal rights as a feminist issue.

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Update, 10/16/08: Ann @ Feministing linked to this piece, but over at Smite Me!, where it was originally posted. In response, I clarified my position a bit, particularly the whole “sex sells” angle, which I believed she misinterpreted. Go check it out.

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Update, 9/27/08: Mary Martin @ Animal Person discusses Ben & Jerry’s obtuse response to the campaign, as well as The Today Show’s take on the kerfluffle. Hint: you may want to write them about their weak attempts at “journalism.” Because, like it or not, many Americans’ sole provider of mainstream media news may very well consist of inane newstainment programs such as The Today Show.

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Hey! Feminists! You want to know why PETA continues to engage in (possibly) sexist, racist, classist, sizeist and otherwise “offensive” and “controversial” campaigns?

I’ll give you a hint:

Google Search - PETA + Breast Milk

Google Search - PETA + Hormel + Pigs

In the top screenshot, a Google search for the terms PETA + “breast milk,” which returned 51,900 hits.

In the bottom screenshot, a Google search for the terms PETA + Hormel + pigs, which returned 11,500 hits.

(More below the fold…)

Behind the Mustache: Farm Sanctuary Investigates the Dairy Industry

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Farm Sanctuary – info [at] farmsanctuary.org
Date: Jul 3, 2007 10:24 AM
Subject: Behind the Mustache: Farm Sanctuary Investigates the Dairy Industry

Farm Sanctuary Investigation Shows Sad Truth About California’s Happy Cows

A Farm Sanctuary investigation has unearthed the reality of life on California’s industrialized dairy farms. Far from experiencing the happy existence marketers of California’s dairy products would like the public to believe, dairy cows live in filth on industrialized farms, where their basic needs are routinely ignored and their bodies are exploited for profit.

Farm Sanctuary has produced a video culled from footage taken during the investigation. Behind the Mustache: Farm Sanctuary Investigates the Dairy Industry provides documentation of the treatment of both milk-producing cows and their offspring, many of whom are hauled off to slaughter shortly after being born. The heartbreaking separation of one mother from her baby is shown in detail, as she chases the dairy farm worker who grabs her newborn, still wet from birth, by the back legs and drags him through the manure-caked pen.

More than 21 percent of the nation’s dairy supply comes from California, and, according to the the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture 2005 statistics, California is home to nearly 1.8 million milk-producing cows. The vast majority of these animals reside on intensive dairy farms, where, as our investigation shows, living conditions are abysmal.

Please take the time to view this video [1] and send along to your friends, family and colleagues. If you haven’t already, please consider dairy alternatives. After all, a compassionate world begins with you!

(More below the fold…)