Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 11: Battered, Bruised & Consumed

Monday, November 9th, 2009

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Natalie Portman @ The Huffington Post: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals Turned Me Vegan and

Carol J. Adams: A vegan-feminist lament

Natalie Portman – a newbie vegetarian-to-vegan convert, thanks to Jonathan Safran Foer’s welfarist Eating Animals (zuh?) – recently caused a stir when she compared the consumption of “meat” to the consumption of women, i.e., in the form of rape:

He posits that consideration, as promoted by Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which has more to do with being polite to your tablemates than sticking to your own ideals, would be absurd if applied to any other belief (e.g., I don’t believe in rape, but if it’s what it takes to please my dinner hosts, then so be it).

Naturally, Portman’s remark(s) unleashed a torrent of speciesism – to which Carol Adams responds with a vegan-feminist lament.

(This is the point at which I’d normally swoon over Ms. Portman – but I’m still somewhat heartbroken over her Jane Hancock on the “free Polanski” petition.)

Striking at the Roots: Carol J. Adams on Activism, Veganism and Models for Change

In what’s shaping up to be a series (see also: Mark’s conversation with Andrew Zollman of LGBT Compassion), author/activist Mark Hawthorne interviews vegetarian (vegan?) / feminist Carol Adams. The two touch upon sexism within the animal rights movement, masculine vs. feminist models of change, the gendered nature of animal exploitation, and guerrilla activism. Keep it coming, Mark!

Stephanie @ Animal Rights: Are American Rodeos More Acceptable Than Spanish Bullfighting?

Stephanie details an alarming trend: as Spanish animal advocacy groups work to bring an end to bullfighting, promoters of American rodeos are promoting the “sport” as a “humane” alternative. Clearly, the question she poses – Are American Rodeos More Acceptable Than Spanish Bullfighting? – is a rhetorical one, and the answer is a resounding hell no! Here, colonialism meets speciesism, and everyone loses. Save for the colonizers, of course.

(More below the fold…)

The easyVegan Weekend Activist, No. 17

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Save the Whales, Boycott PETA (175x750)

Here’s your weekend link roundup, folks. I still intend to weigh in on a few of PETA’s recent campaigns, including the whole “Save the Whales” clusterfuck. In the meantime, I’ve probably written a week’s worth of material on other people’s blogs; see, for example, my comments on change.org, as well as on the Animals Rights Facebook wall. I hope to coalesce these into one monster blog piece sometime next week. Until then, feel free to jump into the fray, futility be damned. (Honestly – what’s with the idol worship? Since when did critical thinking, self-reflection and debate become impediments? Blind hero worship, no want!)

Also, I spent Friday afternoon remixing PETA’s billboard to better reflect my feelings, namely, “Save the ‘Whales’: Boycott PETA” (by “whales” I mean the actual whales PETA is insulting with this speciesist ad, as well as the so-called “whales” who are the most obvious target of PETA’s hate). You can download a large copy of the “Boycott PETA” billboard image here. The version included at the top of this post is a little different; I reworked the dimensions to 750×175 so that I could add it to the series of rotating banners on the website. It doesn’t really fit with the “V for Vegan” theme, but I think it looks awesome up there anyway. If you feel as I do, and like the anti-PETA banner, please download, display and share it.

And yes, I recognize the irony in decorating this post with a “Boycott PETA” banner while still linking to a number of PETA action alerts and contests. As much as I abhor how PETA spreads its message, the group still does some good work, such as with its undercover investigations and targeted email campaigns. I’ll continue to link to alerts with which I agree – and share contests as long as the giveaways are not offensive – because the animals should not suffer for PETA’s sizeism, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, speciesism, etc., etc., etc. The Illinois deer about to be maimed and murdered by crossbows, for example, have nothing to do with PETA’s hateful rhetoric; they still need us to speak for them. We can and should lend our voices to them, while also speaking out against PETA’s “isms.”

The most effective way to do this, is to boycott the group with our pocketbooks. If you have time or money to donate, please give to a more deserving – and ethically consistent – organization, such as Peaceful Prairie, Eastern Shore, Igualdad Animal, LGBT Compassion, or PCRM.

Finally, the Humane Society of Missouri is holding its speciesist polo/BBQ fundraiser as I write. If you haven’t yet, please read Stephanie’s piece, “Fundraising for Animals by Endangering and Killing Animals,” and take action. Obviously, it’s too late to stop this year’s event, but if we keep the pressure on, hopefully we can convince them to rethink organizing similar events in the future. Since Stephanie launched the campaign, Animal Place and United Poultry Concerns have both added their voices.

Action Alerts: Animal & Environmental Advocacy

Alaska Wilderness League: President Obama: America’s Arctic Deserves Protection

Animal Rights @ Change .org: Take Action! Save the Deer of Cayuga Heights

Animals Australia: Help End the Dolphin Slaughter!

Born Free USA: 100 Americans Can Stop the “Pet” Primate Trade

Born Free USA: Stop the Trade in Bear Parts

Center for Biological Diversity: Tell Tennessee to Give Wild Turtles a Break

DawnWatch: Vick on 60 Minutes this Sunday, 8/16/09

Ecological Internet / The Rainforest Portal: Action Alert: Liberia’s Plans to Resume Industrial Primary Rainforest Logging Already Plagued by Corruption as Samling Poised to Pounce

Forest Ethics: Time is running out for caribou; Protect caribou habitat from Sears clear-cuts

Greenpeace: Make the Switch to Safer Technologies [H.R. 2868 & H.R. 3258, the chemical security bill]

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 7: Meat, Love & Objectification

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Update, 9/2/09: Carol Adams is soliciting videos for the upcoming 20th anniversary of The Sexual Politics of Meat; check out her Twitter account for more info and examples.

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A1 Steak Sauce - Prestige

The Discerning Brute: EAT LIKE A MAN.

The Discerning Brute weighs in on the conflation of “meat” consumption with masculinity:

How do rabbits eat? They carefully chew Vegetation. Strangely, no man scoffs at being compared to a rabbit when it comes to sex. “Doing it like rabbits” flatters a man’s virility, yet eating a diet that supports that same rabbit’s virility is lampooned. Instead, we consume entire animals with superstitious hopes of appropriating their strengths. The cover of September 2009’s Esquire Magazine proclaims “Eat Like A Man” and leads to a sixteen-page cover-story entitled “How Men Eat”. It is a total meat-fest. A cheesy, eggy, frat party wrapped in bacon and bathed in blood.

The offending article doesn’t seem to be available on Esquire’s website, though you can read about famous chefs’ favorite fast food joints, with much love for In & Out Burger. Gag.

Er, on second thought, no gag; that’s probably the womanly reaction the meat-eating manly men at Esquire are hoping for.

Carol J. Adams: The Sexual Politics of Meat Slide Show

Carol Adams has revamped her website since last I visited. The new setup includes a blog, interviews and – best of all – a Sexual Politics of Meat slideshow.

Apparently a 20th anniversary edition of The Sexual Politics of Meat is due out this fall; since I have the 1999 edition, I’m contemplating whether I should upgrade. It’s been awhile since I’ve read them, but I preferred The Pornography of Meat, Adams’s follow-up to The Sexual Politics of Meat – it’s more visual, less theoretical/academic. Then again, I read each in my college/vegetarian days, so wtf did I know? Perhaps an ’09 edition, with some new material, will provide an excuse to revisit Sexual Politics in my adulthood.

(More below the fold…)

Women deserve better (and so do the animals).

Friday, August 14th, 2009


While I have a few misgivings about this latest Onion spoof – which takes PETA to task for its misogyny – overall, I think it’s spot on.

First the cons. The Onion definitely loses points for suggesting that PETA promotes veganism, when its campaigns usually just toe the vegetarian line. There’s a world of difference; the former implies that PETA is an animal rights organization, rather than the welfare group it really is. PETA being the “mouthpiece” of the animal rights movement is an all too common misconception, and it’s disappointing to see The Onion perpetuating it.

Also, while I think The Onion nails it re: PETA’s forthcoming campaign – “I’d Rather Be Raped By An Animal Than Wear Its Fur” – “It”? For serious? I don’t think I’ve ever seen PETA use the speciesist pronoun “it” in their ad materials. Nor is “it” a very AR thing to say. I live to be corrected, though.

Most importantly, I’m uncomfortable with how The Onion so smugly dismisses PETA’s nude models and protesters – women, them all – as pathetically “clueless” vis-à-vis their exploitation. Just because a woman disagrees with me re: the ethics and efficacy of nude activism, doesn’t make her a stupid waif, at once deserving of scorn and in need of rescue. That’s, um, sexist.

On the other hand, many of PETA’s supporters are frustratingly myopic and dense. Take, for example, the response to PETA’s recent “Save the Whales” campaign, in which the “whales” are actually – wait for it – fat omnivores. The concept involves a hefty dose (pun most certainly not intended) of fat-shaming and sizeism, with little regard for how this might hurt marginalized humans – vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike. (Note to PETA: animal advocates come in all shapes and sizes. Just saying.)

PETA’s / PETA supporters’ defenses of nude campaigns usually – but not always – involve a similar lack of awareness: of feminist theory, of intersectionality, of the interrelatedness of dominance and oppression, and of the value of human diversity and dignity. For a cogent example of this, one need look no further than PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, who claimed that she could not possibly be sexist because she’s a woman (!). Said with a straight face, while waving her feminist card in the air, natch. (Perhaps The Onion isn’t that far off, after all.)

The Onion’s faux feminist is right when she says that women deserve better. So, too, do nonhuman animals. From all corners.

(More below the fold…)

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.

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 4

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

LGBT Compassion - Screenshot

LGBT Compassion

One of the newest additions to the “Intersections” category on my blogroll, LGBT Compassion is a

coalition of San Francisco Bay Area gay animal advocates (and some non-gay friends) working to promote awareness of animal welfare, health, environmental, and civil rights issues within our community – along with any other important social issues that we feel strongly about.

We feel that the LGBT community, having experienced discrimination, oppression and suffering ourselves, having special health issues, and often having unique bonds with companion animals, should be open to learning and helping others who may not be able to speak up for themselves – whether human or non-human.

Their motto: Fighting oppression and discrimination for all. Love it.

I first learned of the group through its investigation into San Francisco’s live animal markets, where chickens are kept and displayed for sale in plastic bags (!). If you haven’t yet, definitely go check ’em out.

PETA Asia-Pacific: Urge Egypt’s Prime Minister to Stop Cruel Pig Cull

When I saw that PETA was campaigning against the pig culls in Egypt, I was excited. Last I checked, the WSPA had reached a standstill with the Egyptian government, which was insisting that the culls had ceased, despite evidence to the contrary. Writing about the issue at change.org, I wanted desperately to offers readers an opportunity to take action. But nada – until now.

When I actually read the sample letter provided by PETA, though, my heart sank. Rather than calling for an end to the culls, PETA asks the government to “Please place a moratorium on the pig cull until guidelines can be put in place to ensure that the killing is as humane as possible.” This despite the fact that the culls are wholly unnecessary – an inefficient way to guard against swine flu. And this comes not from animal advocacy groups, but government experts (such as those at the UN) – who, on the whole, aren’t really known for their animal-friendly views.

Add to the mix the possibility that the culls might have as much to do with religious discrimination as swine flu paranoia, and PETA really dropped the ball here. Not only has the group failed to defend the pigs from slaughter – it also failed to take the majority Muslim government to task for oppressing the minority Christian farmers. PETA even reinforces the government’s bigotry by pleading for a “humane” pig cull at a later date!

Oh, with friends like these…

(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…)

PETA takes a page from the Fred Phelps playbook.

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Update, 6/4/09:

Well, then:

Anti-Abortion Protesters Crash Vigil For Slain Doctor

About 10 members of the Westboro Baptist Church bearing signs with messages like “Baby killer in hell” were an unwelcome presence at a vigil for murdered abortion doctor George Tiller.

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Oh, no, no, no. Just, no:

WICHITA – A national animal rights group plans to erect billboards in Wichita urging people on both sides of the abortion debate to go vegetarian.

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One version of the billboard says, “Pro-Life? Go Vegetarian.” The other says, “Pro-Choice? Choose Vegetarian.” Both feature a photo of three baby chicks.

Lindsay Rajt, campaign manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said the billboards were prompted by the recent shooting death of abortion doctor George Tiller, who was killed Sunday at his church.

“The discussion of the value of life is front and center right now in the public conversation,” Rajt said today.

“We think we would be irresponsible if we don’t talk about how we’re all guilty of extreme cruelty to animals every time we sit down to a meal that includes meat.” […]

Rajt said the timing or content of the Wichita billboards may be controversial.

But, “If our billboards leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth, we just think they might give a thought to what animals feel when they go to the slaughterhouse,” she said.

“We want to remind people that no matter where they come down on the abortion issue, each and every one of us can spare a life every time we sit down to eat.”

Frankly, the actual content of the proposed billboards is rather inoffensive – and downright blasé when compared to 75% of PETA’s other ads. In fact, I think the “pro-life” version is rather cute – and, on a subtle level, calls so-called “pro-lifers” out on their hypocrisy and ethical inconsistencies. The pro-choice one, meh, not so much; it just strikes me as a forced corollary to the “pro-life” billboard. A reach, albeit a harmless one.

But the timing – the timing is beyond crass and tactless. Fuck that shit, it’s downright amoral.

(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…)

Yes, thank you!

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

(On multiple levels, seeing as this is a PETA ad and yet everyone managed to keep their knickers on.)
 


 
And also: *swoon!*

(More below the fold…)

Lettuce be thankful!

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Updated, 5/26/10: Upon further reflection, I think I have to agree with commentators who noted that PETA’s failure to sexualize and objectify Ms. Leachman is, rather than a step in the right direction, simply further evidence of their rigid beauty standards. As in, PETA didn’t refrain from stripping Leachman down to her skivvies as a sign of respect, but because of ageism: Who wants to see an old lady nekkid? Yuck!

Who knows, perhaps I’m being too harsh on PETA. Be your own decider person.

FWIW, I meant to post this update ages ago, forgot (naturally!), and was only reminded when this post saw a huge uptick in views this past month. My skepticism (cynicism?; tomato, tomahtoe) re: everything PETA isn’t a recent phenomenon, is what I’m sayin’.

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Last week, Stephanie at animalrights.change.org gave a tip of her (faux suede) hat to PETA, for their latest ad featuring Cloris Leachman:

I’m a strong believer in acknowledging–and encouraging–the good while criticizing and discouraging the bad, especially if our plan is to effect change, both in people and in organizations. And although it’s rather unusual for me to talk about PETA two days in a row on this blog, and even more unusual for me to write about PETA in praise of one of its ad campaigns, I’m going to do both. Their latest ad has just been revealed today, and my initial reaction was “Oh my god, it’s stunning, and I love it.”

I couldn’t agree more – it’s important not just to criticize those campaigns that we find objectionable (whether from a human or animal rights perspective), but to offer solutions and praise organizations when they get it right.

PETA (Cloris Leachman)

The Cloris Leachman ad is classy, eye-catching and gorgeous – all of which is accomplished without objectifying Ms. Leachman. It’s also nice to see an older woman featured for a change. More often than not, PETA’s print models are young, thin, white, conventionally attractive, heterosexual (or amenable to lesbianism for the male gaze), and sexually available. PETA bucks several of these trends with Ms. Leachman’s advertisement.

I’ve always liked the “vegetables, fruit and assorted plant-based matter as clothing” concept; PETA’s execution of it (read: skimpy lettuce bikinis), not so much. Ms. Leachman’s red cabbage and lettuce ball gown demonstrates how yummy vegetarianism can be, thus promoting animal rights without engaging in misogyny. (Though a pro-veganism message would have been even better.)

Not to mention, when the campaign slogan is “Let Vegetarianism Grow On You,” more clothes are better, no?

After the jump are several more PETA ads that I like – none of which you’re likely to see on certain feminist blogs (*cough*cough*).

(More below the fold…)

PETA, the KKK and the AKC

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Just for the record – and because it’s starting to feel like all-PETA, all the time around here, Dog help us all – this shit is so unbelievably uncool:

NEW YORK – “Is this really the KKK?” somebody asked the woman in the white robe and the pointy hat.

Crowds gawked at a table set up outside Madison Square Garden on Monday afternoon, where People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was protesting the start of the Westminster Kennel Club show. PETA contends that the American Kennel Club promotes pure-breeding of dogs that is harmful to their health.

“Welcome AKC Members,” read a banner hanging from the table — with AKC crossed out and KKK written above it. Two PETA protesters dressed as Ku Klux Klan members, while other volunteers handed out brochures that read: “The KKK and the AKC: BFF?” […]

Most passers-by seemed more puzzled than offended, though those who didn’t stop walked away thinking they really had seen the KKK. The most common reaction was to pull out a cell phone and start snapping photos.

I wasn’t going to mention this latest offense – I’m so, so sick of talking about PETA – but it landed on one of the larger feminist blogs today, so meh. Lest I be branded a shill for PETA (zomg, I defend them on occasion!), perhaps I’d better weigh in.

While I think the comparison that PETA’s making is a valid one – namely, that the AKC is akin to the KKK inasmuch as the two fetishize a “pure,” “master,” genetically superior strain of beings (be it “race” or “breed”), going to unconscionable lengths to achieve this racist/breedist dream – certainly they can do so without parading around NYC in sheets and hoods, no?

Not only is the Klan gear unnecessary for their analogy (the comparison works quite well without it, methinks), it’s also distracting from the message – the controversy lands on NBC, yes, but the discussion becomes more about PETA’s racism than the AKC’s destructive policies.

Most importantly, by donning a potent, contemporary symbol of racism, PETA (yet again) demonstrates their complete lack of sensitivity and concern for marginalized groups other than non-human animals. While I don’t expect them to join in marches for the Jena 6 or crusade for better public housing for the urban poor – after all, they are an animal rights group – I do expect them to refrain from engaging in other “isms,” including racism. Gleefully foisting such an infamous, lasting symbol of hatred upon the public, some of whom may be traumatized by the experience (because of both the collective, ancestral and individual, first-hand experience with this hatred) is inexcusable. It’s racist, plain and simple. And any attempts to justify this behavior with appeals to the “oppression Olympics” (e.g., “but animals have it worse!”) or by claiming that the ends somehow justify the means (“at least they got us talking about it”) are privileged at best.

(More below the fold…)

On "fur hags" and "fucking bitches."

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

PETA - PETA2 (Fur Hag Tear Sheet)

Of all PETA’s campaigns, I think I find the “fur hag” meme most offensive. While feminists can (and do) disagree on whether nudity and porn can ever be empowering for women, “fur hag” is a rather obvious gender-based slur, and draws upon a number of age-old stereotypes about women – which PETA further elucidates with their “fur hag” artwork.

To be fair, I have no idea whether PETA actually invented the term “fur hag” – but they’ve certainly been quite influential in launching “fur hag” into the mainstream. Wherever fur-wearing celebs are trashed – on gossip blogs, in fashion show protests, or even on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, “fur hag” is inevitably bandied about as an insult. Oftentimes by other women, who apparently see nothing sexist about denigrating women they dislike with misogynist slurs.

Let’s start by looking at the word “hag.”

Dictionary.com defines “hag” as:

1. an ugly old woman, esp. a vicious or malicious one.
2. a witch or sorceress.
3. a hagfish.

The first definition is obviously problematic: a hag is “an ugly old woman, esp. a vicious or malicious one.” While I have no qualms about calling people (women and men) who wear fur “vicious” or “malicious,” the term “hag” also attacks the fur wearer’s physical appearance and gender – a “hag” is “an ugly old woman.” In fact, the primary aspect of this definition involves appearance and gender – a “hag” is “an ugly old woman,” especially [but not necessarily] “a vicious or malicious one.” “Vicious” and “malicious” are somewhat extraneous to this definition; a “hag,” then, is chiefly “an ugly old woman.”

(More below the fold…)

And round and round we go.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

PETA - PETA2 (Khloe Kardashian)

Just for the record: I’m not particularly fond of the latest PETA2 ad featuring Khloe Kardashian. However, it’s not Kardashian’s state of (un)dress that bothers, rather, it’s the way in which PETA’s photographers have posed her that irks my feminist sensibilities. Though not as bad as, say, the Suicide Girls series, Ms. Kardashian is somewhat pornified in this ad: here, her body is turned away from the camera, so that it appears that the audience is following, ogling, stalking, sneaking up on her from behind. (From a racial perspective, I also find it interesting that PETA chooses to depict one of their few women of color models with a teased, “wild” hairstyle; while I know little about Khloe Kardashian, it doesn’t appear as though she normally wears her hair this way.)

Now, if this were just one of a handful of PETA ads that resemble a Playboy layout, I’d dismiss it as inevitable; PETA recruits a number of celebs to pose for their print ads, and no doubt some of these women (and men) will prefer more sexualized poses (in our pornified society, after all, women do trade on such images in order to get ahead; and I’d much rather criticize the culture which makes such compromises necessary, as opposed to the women doing the compromising). Yet, the ad fits a larger pattern wherein

women are more likely to pose in the nude than men; and, if you were to objectively compare the PETA print campaigns which feature nude men and women, you’d see that the portrayals are drastically different. Strip away PETA’s logo and slogans, and the women’s photos look like they were pulled straight out of a recent edition of Playboy. Young, white, thin, feminine, (conventionally) attractive women are displayed on all fours, backs arched, gazes vacant, faces and torsos turned away from the camera, submissive in posture, ready for a good fuckin’. In contrast, the men’s shots are fun, funny, inspiring, humorous, and full of personality.

So yes, I do think there’s more than enough room for a feminist critique of PETA’s ads, print and otherwise. That said, I don’t at all trust feminists who objectify non-human animals (by eating, wearing, gawking at, or otherwise exploiting them) to offer an unbiased critique of an animal advocacy group’s objectification of women. Assuming that PETA is indeed sexist*, speciesist feminists are no better: both objectify a group of living, sentient beings based solely on group membership.

Furthermore, these women have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo vis-à-vis their relation to (i.e., domination of) non-human animals: if they were to accept PETA’s premise that non-human animals have rights and interests equal to those of human animals, they’d have to reconsider their meat-eating, leather-wearing, dog-buying ways. In short, they would have to acknowledge (and thus, renounce) their human privilege.

So, how do the women at Feministing (et al.) claim moral superiority, again? While they may sometimes be correct in their interpretation of PETA’s campaigns, this veg*n feminist finds them no more trustworthy than an openly, unabashedly racist white feminist criticizing civil rights leaders for their misogyny. While their conclusions may be correct, their reasoning and motivations are forever suspect.

Just as they insist that PETA needs to lose the sexism before feminists will take them seriously, they need to lose the speciesism before they can expect veg*n women to give a damn about what they have to say.

* Which is a gross generalization, considering PETA’s vast membership numbers; better still to say that president Ingrid Newkirk and/or other higher-ups is/are sexist, and the organization is sexist to the extent that Newkirk/those in charge influences their hiring and PR policies.

(Crossposted from.)

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Tagged:

Dear Ms. Newkirk,

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

A “real” feminist wouldn’t employ such a silly argument in defense of PETA’s campaigns, whether sexist or not:

MJ: One question I did have. I really do appreciate the work PETA has done but it has gotten a lot of criticism for using women in some of its ads. A lot of times in bikinis, or scantily clad, I think there was a striptease campaign that came online recently. What do you say to people who criticize PETA and say that it’s not women-friendly, that it denigrates women?

IN: Well, it’s rubbish because the organization is run by a woman, who is me. I marched in the earliest of rallies, I am an adamant feminist, but I’m not a prude and I think you can go to the beach and see people who are in less than you can in a PETA ad.

Let me guess: you also have a Black Friend ™, such that none of PETA’s campaigns could possibly be racist, either?

Seriously, this is such a ridiculous argument that I need only two words to refute it: Ann Coulter. Women are not immune from misogyny, you see. Sometimes, they’re even more vicious in their hatred of other women than are their male peers; because of the common (mis)perception that “women cannot be sexist,” women are oftentimes granted license to act in an even more misogynistic manner than their male counterparts. It’s not often that you hear a man argue that women’s suffrage was a mistake – yet Ann Coulter has posited as much, and she still manages to get speaking gigs.

You go on to say:

Our people are all volunteers, no one has asked a woman to take off her clothes. I’ve done it myself, we’ve all marched naked if we want to, and I think that it’s very restrictive and in fact wrong. I would expect someone in, say, Iran to tell us that we should cover up, but I don’t expect women or men in this country to criticize women who wish to use their bodies in a form of political statement, to tell them, you need to cover yourself up. There’s this idea of ‘naughty bits’ and I just think it’s funny more than anything else. It’s not sexist, it may be sexual, but no. No woman has ever been paid to strip. She has decided to use her body as a political instrument. That’s her prerogative and I think it is anti-feminist to dare to tell her that she needs to put her clothes back on.

Certainly, I agree that it’s “anti-feminist to dare to tell [a woman] that she needs to put her clothes back on”; however, there’s a difference between allowing your supporters to use their naked bodies as “political instrument[s]” and taking advantage of your [female] supporters’ willingness to get naked for the animals by playing into cultural stereotypes regarding gender roles, beauty, sex, class, race, etc. As I noted in my defense of your “Breast is Best” campaign, PETA does have a despicable habit of pornifying women in their photo/print campaigns while simultaneously portraying men as full human beings, complete with agency and personalities.

In PETA’s world, women are more likely to pose in the nude than men; and, if you were to objectively compare the PETA print campaigns which feature nude men and women, you’d see that the portrayals are drastically different. Strip away PETA’s logo and slogans, and the women’s photos look like they were pulled straight out of a recent edition of Playboy. Young, white, thin, feminine, (conventionally) attractive women are displayed on all fours, backs arched, gazes vacant, faces and torsos turned away from the camera, submissive in posture, ready for a good fuckin’. In contrast, the men’s shots are fun, funny, inspiring, humorous, and full of personality.

Yes, you can be sexual without being sexist; just look at these campaigns featuring naked men as proof:

PETA (Steve O 1)

(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…)

Personas para el Tratamiento Ético de los Animales?

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Via Noemi @ Vegans of Color, PETA’s latest publicity stunt: pro-vegan ads on, of all places, the US-Mexico border fence:

While many view the contentious border fence as a government fiasco, an animal rights group sees a rare opportunity.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans today to announce an unusual marketing pitch to the U.S. government: Rent us space on the fence for billboards warning illegal border crossers there is more to fear than the Border Patrol.

The billboards, in English and Spanish, would offer the caution: “If the Border Patrol Doesn’t Get You, the Chicken and Burgers Will — Go Vegan.”

“We think that Mexicans and other immigrants should be warned if they cross into the U.S. they are putting their health at risk by leaving behind a healthier, staple diet of corn tortillas, beans, rice, fruits and vegetables,” said Lindsay Rajt, assistant manager of PETA’s vegan campaigns.

The Department of Homeland Security is working to meet a deadline to complete 670 miles of fencing and other barriers on the Southwest border by Dec. 31. The fencing operation has run into stiff opposition by landowners fighting government efforts to obtain their land through condemnation.

PETA says its billboards would picture “fit and trim” Mexicans in their own country, where their diet is more in line with the group’s mission. Another image on the sign would portray obese American children and adults “gorging on meaty, fat- and cholesterol-packed American food.”

PETA’S offer to the feds is expected to arrive in a letter to Border Patrol officials today.

But a government spokesman in Washington said the request will be rejected because it would limit visibility through the fence. And Border Patrol does not allow advertising on its property or installations, the officials added.

“The fencing being put in place is, in many cases, mesh fencing to allow our officers to see what’s happening on the other side and to better secure the border,” said Michael Friel, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

One property owner on the Texas-Mexico border laughed at PETA’s proposal.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Noel Benavides, who is contesting the construction of a fence dividing his family’s 145-acre ranch in Roma on the Rio Grande. “I can’t see the point of something like that.”

But Rajt said the rent money they’d pay would help offset the huge costs of the fencing — and the advertising message “might even be frightening enough to deter people from crossing into the U.S.”

PETA has often been criticized for its aggressive animal rights crusades. It’s used billboards to push many of its controversial positions such as “Buck Cruelty: Say NO to horse-drawn carriage rides” or “Feeding Kids Meat Is Child Abuse.”

(More below the fold…)

Celebrating Mothers of all stripes.

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

Saluting Animal Moms on Mother’s Day

According to writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the trials of motherhood make moms the great vacationless class. Although she may have been talking about the human variety—the moms who are near and dear to us—other animals show the same tireless dedication to their children. PETA hopes that this Mother’s Day, while you are praising your family’s matriarch, you’ll also remember that some of the best moms in the world are found in the animal kingdom.

Northern Fur Seals

Human mothers tuned in to Channel Mom may find themselves responding to anybody’s child when they hear someone calling the M word, but fur seals never make this mistake. Fresh from foraging for food, moms have to find their young quickly in a sea of hundreds—or possibly thousands—of seals, so both mother and pup depend on their uncanny powers of vocal recognition to find one another. Both will call out and answer, responding selectively to one another until they are reunited.

(More below the fold…)

DawnWatch: Glenn Beck follow-up — strong piece on meat and global warming 3/15/07

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

Note: the previous alert re: Glenn Beck is available here.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Mar 16, 2007 7:09 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Glenn Beck follow-up — strong piece on meat and global warming 3/15/07

Yesterday, Thursday March 15, Glenn Beck again covered meat eating and global warming on his Real Story, inviting PETA’s Matt Prescott on for a follow-up. I send a huge thank you to all who thanked Beck for the first round. Viewer enthusiasm encourages follow-ups. The second segment on the issue was remarkable, offering information we rarely hear on TV.

Glenn Beck, who I would describe as a libertarian with conservative leanings, is a somewhat controversial figure. And many people find his glib manner off-putting. I received a couple of emails from people sorry to see DawnWatch mention him. That saddens me as the last thing I wish is for DawnWatch to offend anybody. The whole point of DawnWatch is to help spread a message of compassion as widely as possible. But DawnWatch is strictly non partisan. When Pat Buchanan put “Torture on the Farm,” about factory farming, on the cover of his magazine, I urged people to send appreciative letters. We are still waiting for a factory farming cover story from liberal bastions such as Mother Jones or The Nation, but when we see one, I will do what I can to encourage support. The animals desperately need attention from the full political and societal spectrum — they cannot afford to be aligned with only one area. I therefore do my best to make sure that DawnWatch does not appear to have any such alignments.

You can watch Glenn Beck’s Thursday, March 15, segment on meat eating and global warming on line here.

The transcript is on line here and I will paste the relevant portion below.

In it, Beck says how much he loves the taste of chicken and other animals, but he gives Prescott loads of space to discuss in detail the cruelty and the disastrous environmental impact of the modern meat industry. I hope many of you will send thanks in order to encourage similar guests in the future. Feedback makes a huge difference. Glenn Beck take comments at me [at] glennbeck.com and says that he reads all of them, though he cannot reply to each.

(More below the fold…)