From ownership and exploitation to connection and compassion – for all.

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Last month, I wrote about a series of videos in which Compassionate Cook Colleen Patrick-Goudreau examines the intersecting threads of human and animal exploitation. Specifically, we looked at four segments in the series: Female Exploitation; Maternal Instincts; Inherent Violence; and A Return to Compassion. Well, several weeks have passed, bringing with them three new videos to discuss!

In Domesticating Animals: From Reverence to Ownership, Patrick-Goudreau points to the agricultural revolution – in which humans transitioned from a foraging to farming lifestyle – as the beginning of the end of our harmonious relationship with nature and other animals. With the domestication of plants, nonhuman animals and land came human ownership of these “things”; living beings became property to be hoarded, protected and defended. This rush to affluence – to gather and own as much as possible – also triggered conflict between humans, including the human exploitation of other humans.

Patrick-Goudreau emphasizes the deleterious effects of reducing animals to property – essentially, commodities to be bought and sold – throughout this short video. Historically, marginalized groups of humans – women, people of color, those belonging to lower socioeconomic classes – have also been treated as the property of more privileged humans. I’m especially interested in how closely these two phenomenon are linked; did they occur almost simultaneously? Did the fall of women come close on the heels of the devaluation of nonhuman animals? Are humans doomed as long as we continue to exploit nonhuman animals?

I think y’all know my answer to these questions: No one is free while others are oppressed.

(More below the fold…)

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau on human/animal exploitation.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

In this video series, author, activist and vegan cooking instructor Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (of Compassionate Cooks) discusses the impact of animal exploitation in the “meat” and “dairy” industries on animals, human and nonhuman alike. In particular, intersectionality is a thread that binds each brief video in the series to the others.

Take, for example, the segment titled “Female Exploitation,” in which Patrick-Goudreau explains the gendered nature of animal exploitation on farms – including smaller, “traditional,” “family” farms as well as large-scale, industrialized factory farms. While all farmed animals suffer under this system, the females of the exploited species – pigs, cows, chickens, etc. – experience especially torturous and prolonged abuse. To their owners, sows, heifers, laying hens and the like are nothing but walking wombs, baby machines, good only for perpetuating the farmers’ product line. Their reproductive systems are hijacked and turned against them; what should be a natural, joyful process for these mothers is instead perverted into a never-ending cycle of rape, forced pregnancy, birth, and kidnapping – until the mothers, spent, suffer the same fate as their offspring: slaughter, dismemberment, consumption. Precious few females find sanctuary, mother their children, grow old and predecease the generations that follow them; the generations they gave life to.

This is the female’s fate.

In “Maternal Instincts,” Patrick-Goudreau identifies the maternal instinct as a primal urge, one shared by all living beings; an instinct that cannot be stifled or bred away. She also touches upon the similar ways in which human and nonhuman animals have been – continue to be – devalued, possessed, mechanized. Treated as property. Units of production.

First comes dehumanization, then objectification. Only by doing away with each – by taking a hammer to every last rung on the hierarchy – can we foster respect and compassion for all beings. No one is free while others are oppressed.

(More below the fold…)