"Faultlines"

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Photo via kendiala

Lately, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about intersections: been speciesism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, colonialism, classism and (especially) sexism, and between animal liberation and other social justice movements.

While it’s become clear to me that all forms of prejudice and oppression are interrelated – and indeed, spring from the same well – what I find most vexing is how all these injustices first came about. Were nature and non-human animals subjugated first, followed by women and marginalized men, or were many of these rungs built into the social hierarchy at once? Which came first – organized religion, what with its oh-so-convenient justifications for mistreating the aforementioned “lesser” beings, or were these dogmas created after the fact, as a way of rationalizing and continuing these inequities? Did women as group resist when their brothers began to betray them en masse? Perhaps nature betrayed us as well, by “blessing” us with bodies that, on the one hand, are capable of bringing new life into this world – yet by the same token are vulnerable and ripe for exploitation? Why do men (and not a few women) seek to bully and oppress others? Why can’t we all just get along?

pattrice jones has touched upon this subject in her writings time and again. At the most basic level, she links the rise of pastoralism to that of the patriarchy. Take, for example, this exchange from an interview published in Vegan Voice:

Q. In Australia we have an appalling track record with regards to indigenous rights. How is racism shaped to some degree by animal exploitation.

A. I’m glad you asked about that, because it was my scholarly investigations into the origins of racism that led me to understand how speciesism is related various forms of oppression among humans. Basically, pastoralism (human dominion over animals) and patriarchy (male dominion over women) — which arrived on the historical scene together and cannot be separated — formed the template according to which all subsequent forms of exploitation would be patterned. It’s not an accident that people who are going to be exploited because of their religion, ethnicity, disability, or race are first “dehumanised” — the very act of subjugation is the act of forcing the target group into the category of “animal,” which means both “being without rights” and “object to be used.” You mentioned the Australian record with regard to indigenous peoples. The European conquests Australia offers a case in point concerning the use of the category “animal” to oppress a group of people. Indigenous people were, essentially, treated as just one more species of indigenous animal, to be exploited when possible and exterminated otherwise. The atrocities that were committed against indigenous peoples would be unimaginable were it not for a long history of treating living beings in exactly the same way. That history made it easy to just add indigenous people to the list of beings who may permissibly be enslaved, killed, or used without regard for their own aim and interests. As long as the category “animal” exists, it will be possible for some human animals to push other human animals over the line into it. If we are serious about ending the exploitation of people, then we have to get rid of the idea of a living being without rights, who can be exploited or killed at will. There’s more — much more — but that’s the gist of it.

In her contributions to Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (2004) and Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth (2006), jones examines animal liberation in general (and direct action specifically) through a (anarcha~)feminist lens. In both pieces (“Mothers with Monkeywrenches: Feminist Imperatives and the Animal Liberation Front” and “Stomping with the Elephants: Feminist Principles for Feminist Solidarity”), she returns to the theme of intersecting oppressions, and in so doing she conjures up many of the same questions that have been dancing around in my head.*

In particular, this passage from “Stomping with the Elephants” scratches the surface of the problem – ever so slightly, as the issue is enormous – which might be the concept of “property” – ownership, of both the land, and the beings residing upon it:

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Says KITS Live 105 & "The Woody Show": Racism & speciesism brings the lolz!

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

pattrice jones, writing at the Eastern Shore Sanctuary Blog, alerts us of an alarming stunt that a team of San Francisco radio hosts have planned for Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day.

MON: The Woody Show is off for MLK Day . . . or as Woody & Ravey call it…the day after the Steelers beat the Ravens to go to the Superbowl.

TUES: Tony (in a chicken suit) will try to catch chickens in the studio! Plus The Woody Show wants to find out if chickens will eat….chicken.

THURS: Comic Doug Benson will stop by during SF Sketchfest!

pattrice notes,

Without doubt, being carted to and then chased around a radio station will be extremely distressing to the birds in question. Moreover, mockery is a means by which people distance themselves from animals, in order to make their abuse less ethically troubling. Thus, this event, if allowed to go forward, will not only harm the two birds but also contribute to the callous disregard for animals that facilitates both everyday and extreme abuses of animals. […]

There is, of course, one more cause for concern about this particular event. Why, on the day that our nation’s first African American president will be inaugurated, will radio hosts be making jokes about eating chicken?

The answer is obvious, but allow me to state it anyway. Clearly, by introducing chickens into their Inauguration Day “joke,” the hosts of “The Woody Show” are invoking an age-old stereotype involving African Americans and chicken:

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"Fruit, like beauty, is fleeting."

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

All I know is that, when I went out into the chicken yards early yesterday morning, I actually staggered, made drunk by the intensity of a floral scent that filled up all of the air in my head, sending my brain into paroxysms of surprised delight. Can you imagine: A chicken yard that smells like a perfume factory? Even though it happens every year, I kept looking around for the source of the scent, almost unable to believe that I could be lucky enough to experience something like this accidentally.

Maybe that was nature’s way of bracing me for what was coming. My favorite bird had died the day before and I had to face the first morning of doing my chores accompanied by her absence. […]

“Broiler” hens are like wild blooms, having a ragged beauty that you sometimes must look closely to perceive and always living less long than you would like. Bred by the poultry industry to have heavy flesh that burdens their organs and stresses their skeletons, they often perish abruptly due to heart attacks, heatstroke, or the enigmatic cause of sudden death known as “flip over syndrome.” The metabolic acceleration that allows the industry to “grow” birds to slaughter weight in only six to eight weeks continues throughout their lives. […]

The New Mosselle was older than two, a great achievement for a “broiler” hen. At first, she had no way of knowing I had a special affection for her, as I tend to dote on all of the “broiler” chickens (by, for example, bringing treats right to them so that they won’t have to compete with with the faster birds). But as she got older, I started whispering, “you’re my favorite” whenever she happened to be close by. On what I had no idea would be her last day, I told her that first thing in the morning and again when I happened to pass her resting by a water bowl at midday. A couple of hours later, when I went out to put straw in the coops, I saw her sleeping in the shade and then looked more closely and realized she was dead. I howled.

That was Monday. Today is Wednesday. My favorite hen is buried with some blueberries and a sprig of honeysuckle underneath the plantain she and her friends so loved to munch. Right up the road, thousands of birds like her are choking in crowded sheds. They will never smell honeysuckle or taste a blueberry.

Go read the whole damn beautiful thing.

And, if you can, consider sending some money pattrice’s way. She cares for hundreds of discarded “food” animals at the Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary, dontchaknow.

(Crossposted to.)

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Tagged:

Baby’s first meme!

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

I’ve been tagged! And by pattrice jones of Superweed/Aftershock fame, to boot. Talk about good company.

OK, The Rules:

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Like Neva, I started to pen a memoir, and then realized it was TMI.

So the short of it goes like this:

1. I give my dogs massages. (Is that totally weird?)

2. I haven’t paid for a haircut since 7th or 8th grade (I forget). I used to have my mom trim my hair; now my husband’s stuck with the chore. He hates doing it because he’s terrified of mucking it up and reducing me to tears (or murrrrdurrrr!).

3. I’ve always wanted a tattoo, but have been scared to get one. Not scared as in “OMG IT WILL HURTZ!” scared, but scared of becoming addicted and ending up with “freakshow”-quality ink within ten years. If I were to go to the tattoo parlor (do the kids still call ’em “parlors” nowadays?) tomorrow, I’d probably get the IPU logo, the SSOV insignia, or a little masked animal liberator. Probably all three. Which is why I’m getting absolutely zero.

4. I’m a book fiend, but I especially love anthologies. The short, discrete chapters must appeal to my noncommittal, ambivalent side. (Currently reading: Bitchest, Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?, She’s Such a Geek, Igniting a Revolution, and the Way of Compassion.

5. Guilty tv pleasures: ER and The Real World/Road Rules challenges. “Guilty” as in, I feel silly if anyone so much as passes by the living room while I’m indulging in either.

6. I’m a picky eater by any standards. As far as veg*ns go, I’m a crazysuperpicky eater. Some might even call me childish as far as food preparation goes. (As a side note, back when I was a yung’un, I made my parents strain the pulp out of my OJ. Even when they bought the no-pulp kind.)

I don’t like tofu. I don’t like celery, peppers, avocados, or water chestnuts. I don’t like brown or wild rice. I don’t like all but the blandest of ethnic foods – if I’ll try it at all (Chinese and Mexican, yes; Thai and Ethiopian, no). I used to blame my fussiness on my mom (i.e., for not introducing me to a wider variety of foods when I was a kiddo), until I found my feminism and realized how sexist this is (so, why couldn’t dad ever cook, hmmmm?).

On the plus side, I am making a good faith effort to try new foods. Last month I had a bite of the Thai lettuce wraps at the Cheesecake Factory. Didn’t like ’em.

7. I kinda sorta miss the marshmallow-ey breakfast cereals. Especially Count Chocula. (Ummm…should I be concerned that I mentioned food twice?)

8. I really, really wanted to tag Moby, but I didn’t think he’d play along.

And the tagee becomes the tagger!

I choose:

1. Meshell (my sis)

2. Shane Brady (the husband)

3. Liberal Serving

4. apie

5. Vegology!

6. Soul Veggie

7. A Liberal Atheistic Vegblog

8. Dee

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Tagged:

Book Review: Aftershock by pattrice jones (2007)

Monday, June 4th, 2007

W00t, here it is! Finally finished my review of pattrice jones’s Aftershock, which I totally loved. I also loved that I was able to squeeze all of my thoughts – or at least a summary thereof – into the Amazon review. (Probably due in no small part to the prelim/mini-review of Thursday last, in which I excised the copious quoting right outta my system.) Amazon, for those not in the know, caps reviews at a crazy 1000 word limit. I clocked in at 980, hence the w00t! I thought I was going to have to chop it up, like with my Bird Flu review. So w00t, w00t.

I’m still mulling over some of jones’s finer points, such as her building bridges / being bridges conclusion, mentioned briefly at the end of my Amazon review. Time permitting, I’d like to elaborate on that.

But for now, let me just add the following thoughts, which ended up on Amazon’s chopping block:

I love, love, love that jones used gender-neutral and alternating masculine/feminine pronouns and terms. And I super-love that she made a point out of explaining as much in the User’s Guide.

I love, love, love that she avoided citing and otherwise drawing upon animal-based research, sticking instead to psychological studies that utilized willing human volunteers. She has my undying admiration for that, since I’m sure it made writing Aftershock infinitely more difficult.

I love, love, super-duper-love that the issue of trauma and activism was approached from a eco-feminist, anarchist, humanist-without-the-speciesism, animal liberationist, socially progressive perspective. And the discussion remained rooted in sound social and biological science all the while! Totally awesome. Methinks we need more therapists – and activists – like jones in the world.

Amazon review after the jump. If you likey, please hop on over to Amazon and give my review(s) a helpful vote(s). Remember, the more votes I get, the further on up in the page my reviews will appear – thus exposing more and more Amazonians to a pro-animal view. So a vote for me is a vote for the fuzzy wuzzies, is what I’m sayin’.

/ groveling /

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from the mouths of existentialist – eco/anarchafeminist – lesbian – dreamer/blamers…

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

So I finished Aftershock almost a week ago now, but haven’t yet gotten around to writing a review. Sure, I’ve given it an inordinate amount of thought, but that’s as much as I’ve mustered. Shocker, eh? It’s a wonder how I ever graduated college, I tell ya, wut with my perpetual procrastinating and all.

I can tell you, though, that the book was unexpectedly awesome. I say “unexpectedly”, not because I thought it would suck (I didn’t!), but because I’m not usually a fan of the whole self-help genre. Particularly when I’m “assigned” the book (for lack of a better term, in this case), and thus am not in need of the type of help offered in said book. Rather than shooting for folksy and falling just short of readable, Aftershock is the rare self-help/advice tome that manages to make the material accessible without completely dumbing it down for the lowest common denominator.

I also love, love, love that author pattrice jones approaches the issue from a vegan / animal rights / feminist / queer / ecological / radical / progressive perspective. More often than not, veg*ns and ARAs are ridiculed by social conservatives and “progressive” “liberals” alike; much like atheists, us animal rights “fanatics” are the lone group that manages to inspire scorn on both sides of the political aisle. Browse enough liberal blogs while agitating for animals, and you start to feel awfully isolated from other so-called lefties. So it’s really freaking awesome to find the topic of post-traumatic stress and depression among activists discussed with a deference to the experiences of animal rights activists.

Anywho, this is starting to sound like a review, so I’ll shut up now. Instead, I thought I’d pull some quotes directly from the mouth of existentialist – eco/anarchafeminist – lesbian – dreamer/blamer pattrice jones herself. Much to my surprise, “Quotables” was the most frequently viewed category in May…so I may as well give y’all whatchawant.

After the jump, words of wisdom via pattrice jones. Who is currently blogging at SuperWeed. So go give her a shout out, is what I’m sayin.

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