Feminism and animal rights

(97 Posts)
LostinaPaperCup Fri 29-Jun-12 11:26:11

I posted a bit about veganism in the diet thread, but it's not the place for it really. I wanted to start a discussion about why, as feminists, when we are in a position to choose not to contribute to the suffering of others, we don't always think of animals or wider environmental concerns.

I have an ongoing (peaceful) disagreement with a fellow sex-industry survivor. I believe that there are parallels to be found with the sex-industry and the meat/dairy industry, in that sentient beings are treated as highly profitable commodities. She says I'm being offensive by comparing women to animals.

I sort of am, but only in the sense that the way men treat women in the sex trade is similar to how people treat farm animals, and there's also a 'I wouldn't want my daughter to be in porn' v 'I wouldn't eat my pet' type logic going on.

What do you all think? Carol J Adams is probably the most famous feminist for this issue - she has written The Sexual Politics of Meat and The Pornography of Meat.

This is an interesting article as well, by Gary Francione: he compares the abolitionist approach v animal welfare with the abolitionist approach v harm reduction in the sex industry. Just to confuse everyone here, he differentiates between radical and postmodern feminism, and doesn't mention liberal feminism at all!

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/postmodern-feminism-and-animal-welfare-perfect-together/

There are also other issues I'd like to discuss concerning the overbreeding of farm animals to the detriment of the poorest people, and the damage the meat/dairy industry does to the planet, but I think that's enough for now.

Hope this was coherent: I'm lying in bed with my laptop sideways (lazy).

LostinaPaperCup Mon 02-Jul-12 22:16:04

I didn't mean it like that! No need for sorrys smile

SardineQueen Mon 02-Jul-12 22:18:03

I seem to be reinventing the wheel though!

I will read it tomorrow, promise wink

Whatmeworry Mon 02-Jul-12 23:41:28

You could make the argument that it's all about capitalism, but some take the view that pornography is all about capitalism. Capitalism is obviously a large part of it, but there's also the issues of power and control, objectification, othering, desensitisation to another's suffering and so on.

Porn, exploitation of women, meat eating and forced veggiedom for the poor were around a long time before capitalism - they predate it by a good 5000 years at least.

LostinaPaperCup Tue 03-Jul-12 00:33:47

^ That's my point Whatmeworry.

I'm not a Marxist/socialist feminist because I believe patriarchy preceded capitalism. Capitalism ....er... capitalises on the patriarchal structures. My point is that domination of animals (rather than eating them for survival) is patriarchal.

MiniTheMinx Tue 03-Jul-12 00:53:14

Patriarchy came about when men started to domesticate animals, so there is a strong link with the creation of surplus and private property, now that is of interest to socialist and Marxist feminists.

Whatmeworry Tue 03-Jul-12 01:04:04

Patriarchy came about when men started to domesticate animals, so there is a strong link with the creation of surplus and private property, now that is of interest to socialist and Marxist feminists.

i'd agree with that, and male/female farming workload became more defined and stratified.

But its also useful to look inside this patriarchy, to the tiny minority who really had any power. Most people (men and women) were treated very badly. Like today...how much of the wealth to the top 1% own again, and how much has it increased in the last 20 years?.

I think there are some lessons there.

Ephiny Tue 03-Jul-12 12:17:02

The two things aren't really related for me. I don't eat meat/fish or drink milk partly for animal welfare/environmental reasons, partly though because I am just a bit revolted by the thought of eating/drinking those things, have been ever since I was a child and hadn't heard of feminism or animal rights.

I'm not sure it's helpful to try to link all these things together, it makes feminism seem like an exclusive club where you 'have' to follow a certain lifestyle, espouse certain political views etc, which is off-putting to many. Asking 'Can you be feminist and eat meat' seems as unhelpful and irrelevant to me as 'can you be a feminist and wear lipstick/heels/shave your legs' etc.

I didn't see the thread about whether you can be right-wing and a feminist - but I'd consider myself a feminist and am certainly not left-wing (not sure exactly how I'd categorise myself these days, but I'm not your stereotypical 'leftie' certainly). You can be vegetarian/vegan and care about animals without being politically left-wing too - though this seems to surprise some people!

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 03-Aug-12 16:10:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LeB0F Fri 03-Aug-12 17:29:10

Plants can "suffer", from what I remember of an experiment (I read it for an English comprehension at school about 25 years ago blush- how's that for a source!), in that a polygraph attached to their leaves registered a response when live shrimp were thrown into boiling water, but not when the shrimp were already dead. In fact, that even implies they have some kind of empathy or compassion, doesn't it? Not really, obviously, because using those words is anthropomorphising massively, but they seemed to be 'sentient' after a fashion.

Of course, all that could be misremembered bunkum- I must have a google- but how would you measure sentience and suffering in a plant anyway when we have such different operating systems? They are still alive, stilling living beings.

I agree with Pubes, I think. I don't believe that killing animals or plants for food is wrong, but we have an environmental responsibility to do this in a sustainable way that avoids unnecessary cruelty. I don't see an overt link between feminism and veganism, and I think that it's unrealistic and distracting to expect people to make them equivalent, however well-meaning that impulse is.

LeB0F Fri 03-Aug-12 17:39:51

Ooh, I think I've found the experiment!. Sounds like the scientist was making free with some herb to me, but I'm sure there are reputable studies and arguments around it anyway.

VegansTasteBetter Fri 03-Aug-12 18:22:52

I think using something for your enjoyment and and not caring about the means in which it got there is the essence of the patriarchy op. And while I don't think you need to be a vegan to be a feminist, because feminism is about caring about women's issues.. I do see it as hypocritical to say one thing is wrong but not the other.

Some feminist will argue against it though because it doesn't suit them and makes their life more difficult though just like some men will argue against feminism.

OatyBeatie Fri 03-Aug-12 18:32:52

Apologies if this has already mentioned, but there was an online symposium recently, associated with the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia, on exactly this issue (the synthesis of feminist and animal rights concerns). A lot of the articles were on open access for a few days, but I'm not sure if any of them still are. The special issue of the journal associated with the symposium is here.

It seems to be quite an active area of research.

LastMangoInParis Fri 03-Aug-12 19:49:16

Haven't read whole thread yet - nor actually read Carol J Adams book, actually , though I've been aware of it for a while and the meat/pornography parallel certainly resonates with me on an emotional/visceral level.
Just checked your link, Oaty and wanted to say thanks, I hadn't seen Hypatia before and it looks great - have had a quick scan and already seen several articles I've wanted to read for while but never knew they existed, IYSWIM. Thank you!

JoTheHot Fri 03-Aug-12 20:14:52

I hope you'll all forgive any gaffs, as while I'm clued up on an animal affairs, I'm just a novice feminist.

I can see the parallels between a liberal feminist and an animal welfarist. Both seek to promote the happiness of the individual, and thereby ultimately the whole.

The parallel between the radical feminist and the vegan/animal rights activist seems more superficial. Both want to end the situation whereby a dominant group profits from a subordinate group. But whereas the radical feminist primarily pursues this end for the ultimate happiness of women, a utilitarian end, the vegan isn't primarily interested in a utilitarian end, just the end of a practice they judge to be immoral: farming animals for profit.

I appreciate a radical feminist may object to the patriarchy on moral as well as utilitarian grounds, and that a vegan may be interested in animal welfare as well as animal rights, but it seems to me that the essence, the primary motivations of the 2 groups are different.

RiaSponsorsTheOlympics Sat 04-Aug-12 01:08:42

This is a really interesting thread, and while I'm both a feminist and a vegetarian I'd never considered those things to be related before. Of course they both stem from 'not ignoring the suffering of others for your own benefit'.

Perhaps the new insight will be the kick up the arse I need to become vegan smile

AliceCartman Wed 08-Aug-12 01:52:20

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VegansTasteBetter Wed 08-Aug-12 02:44:44

In most of the world alice (including the UK) animals have only very basic rights, what exactly goes too far in your mind? Animals dies horrible painful deaths for your food, clothing, and medicines, cosmetics. You'd prefer what? They get kicked in the face a bit more before they die for you?

AliceCartman Wed 08-Aug-12 02:47:41

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VegansTasteBetter Wed 08-Aug-12 02:54:48

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AliceCartman Wed 08-Aug-12 02:57:37

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LostinaPaperCup Wed 15-Aug-12 13:02:26

"Perhaps the new insight will be the kick up the arse I need to become vegan."

smile Go for it! It's easier than you think.

picketywick Wed 05-Dec-12 11:59:47

Testing on Mice. Did anyone hear Victoria Derbyshire on Radio 5-Live on Tuesday 4th December. Did she root out the facts? I mised it.

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