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).

Alameda Fri 29-Jun-12 21:26:38

thanks for starting this thread, will be back to follow your links later/tomorrow

Helxi Sat 30-Jun-12 20:47:47

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

SardineQueen Sat 30-Jun-12 22:36:53

That is a very interesting OP.

Of course you have a point.
I guess it comes back to what is important to you.
There is untold suffering in the world, there are loads of causes, all worthy.
However we can't all care about all of them all of the time, we can't all act on all of them all of the time.
You might as well ask, how do feminists square their purchase of cheap clothing, how can they consider driving a car. Equally, why does that person who is active in the RNIB support organised religion? And that person who campaigns for rights for disabled people has just had all their trees cut down and they use a computer manufactured at great cost to the production line workers....

It goes on and on. You are right - logically and morally - for sure. But no-one is perfect. We all cause harm in the things that we do.

i am sure lots of people will disagree with me on all that!

Incidentally, please do feel free to ignore posts that question your experiences and the parallels you draw smile

Helxi Sun 01-Jul-12 01:30:52

"Incidentally, please do feel free to ignore posts that question your experiences and the parallels you draw"

God forbid someone should feel the need to justify their reasoning.

"i am sure lots of people will disagree with me on all that!"

They'll be wasting their time I guess. See above.

SardineQueen Sun 01-Jul-12 01:33:43

Have you worked in the sex industry, Helxi, as a prostitute?

No?

Then I don't think you get to tell a person who has, that their parallel is a load of old shit.

HTH.

Helxi Sun 01-Jul-12 01:49:43

In answer to your question, no. And I know prostitutes carry with them the feminist equivalent of papal infallibility on these boards, being 'survivors' n' all that, but in reality it does not grant them the unquestionable ability to make spurious comparisons.

You see I've never worked in the meat industry either, as a vegan I very much doubt the OP has (which by your logic would invalidate her opinion too), but either way that's irrelevant to the issue that a prostitute and an incarcerated animal bred to die and be eaten by another species are clearly two very different things.

HesterBurnitall Sun 01-Jul-12 10:32:26

Some women who are trafficed and coerced into prostitution most certainly experience things like being caged and surrounded by their own shit while locked in a shipping container. There are even people who consider them dispensable to the extent that they will procure, sell and look away when the woman disappears, so long as the price is right.

Take out the Jeffery Dahmer and deep fied reference and there are indisputably women who are treated like animals in the 'sex industry'.

HesterBurnitall Sun 01-Jul-12 10:34:11

By the way, Jeffery Dahmer killed young men and McDonalds only deep fry potatoes and apple pies, but I can only assume you threw in those details to be deliberately, graphically offensive so accuracy wasn't high on your agenda.

thebackson12 Sun 01-Jul-12 10:40:21

I was just going to say shipping containers. A lot of women die over days/ a week overcrowded in their own shit.

how is that not dying like a battery farmed animal.

thebackson12 Sun 01-Jul-12 10:42:54

But the fact that they are not eaten of course is a point, but many do die and when they do nobody cares soo urgh, there are some similarities.

Whatmeworry Sun 01-Jul-12 12:44:09

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.

Heck, sentient beings treated as commodities is the prime business model of most companies.

IMO this one is a stretch. Feminists need to pick relevant battles.

thebackson12 Sun 01-Jul-12 14:06:45

This is the first time I've heard, sex industry survivor unless you're friend was trafficked I really struggle with that term.

I know people will disagree with that. just imo.

iammovingsoon Sun 01-Jul-12 14:17:59

Whatmeworry I don't think it's a stretch at all. All forms of bigotry are philosophically identical, regardless of their exact real-life application. Of course in practice they are different as they involve different groups, so affect them in different ways (whether that's women being paid less or animals being used in circuses).

I.e. sexism=racism=speciesism=ageism etc.

I am vegan (as I'm not speciesist, although there are other indirect reasons too) and anti-all the other -isms too. I think saying one -ism is wrong but others OK would be hypocritical.

SardineQueen

Why can't we care about all of them? I make effort to cover as many bases as possible. E.g. being vegan, buying organic & fairly-traded or secondhand textiles, organic & local-ish food, secondhand electronics, recycling, green energy, using public transport, volunteering etc etc.

None of these things stop me living, they are all choices the vast majority of people can make, they just don't want to because then they'd have to confront their cognitive dissonance, instead of shoving it to the back of their minds and justifying it uneasily.

Something like being vegan doesn't require any day-to-day effort once you've learnt how to do it anyway, so there's no excuse for not doing that, if you think it's right.

Very interesting analogy OP, I can definitely see the parallels.

I like how feminism focuses on women though. Lots of other bad stuff happens to all sorts of people and other creatures, the environment etc. but I don't see why it's the job of women, or feminists in particular, to sort everything out for everybody.

iammovingsoon Sun 01-Jul-12 15:01:47

Do you like the idea because you're a woman? I think it's the job of everyone to create an equal society, regardless of what type of inequalities exist and whether they personally are affected by any of them.

The point is that if you care about one type of inequality, the others are theoretically automatically equally important. Otherwise you yourself are discriminating, which is what you want others not to do to you!

Sounds like a recipe for women's rights to go to the back of the queue to me. Again. Feminism is the only political movement that doesn't do that.

Good luck with the vegan campaigning. I won't be joining in because I don't believe eating meat or dairy is wrong, but it's great that people stand up for what they believe in.

hermioneweasley Sun 01-Jul-12 15:30:06

IMO animal welfare is not a feminist issue, and people that put a lot of energy into inhumane treatment of animals would be better off putting that energy into eliminating human rights violations. (disclaimer - I am not pro bad treatment of animals, it just doesn't get me a tiny fraction as worked up as people suffering).

Whatmeworry Sun 01-Jul-12 15:44:25

Whatmeworry I don't think it's a stretch at all. All forms of bigotry are philosophically identical, regardless of their exact real-life application. Of course in practice they are different as they involve different groups, so affect them in different ways (whether that's women being paid less or animals being used in circuses).

The risk you have here is the number of women who are vegan/vegetarian is quite small, the many are meat eaters. By essentially equating meat eating with prostitution you play right into the hands of the "jeez, those Feminists are total fuckwits" opponents.

IMO Feminism has a tough enough time without having to be drawn into battles like those

iammovingsoon Sun 01-Jul-12 15:52:33

Again, there is no need to reduce priority of any of these issues. You can do them all. I'm not suggesting you have to go on marches for each one and fill up every weekend. But changing your own personal way of living to avoid discrimination in all forms is really not hard, so it's just untrue to imply you can only do one. They are in no way mutually exclusive. You can have compassion for everyone, just like you can have love for more than one child (i.e. your love for the first doesn't reduce once the second is born).

No, AR isn't directly a feminist issue. Just like racism isn't. But the rationale behind feminism (anti-sexism) is identical to the rationale behind veganism (anti-speciesism). They are all just different sides to the same coin of bigotry.

The basis of anti-sexism is that it's not right to treat women unequally just because they have different characteristics. That applies exactly the same to anyone else with different characteristics, whether the difference is species, age, race etc.

You saying human rights violations are more important than AR (because you're human) is philosophically identical to a man saying men's rights are more important than women's. Holding your own group out as the special one to work on is exactly what you're wanting others not to do, so it's hypocritical.

hermioneweasley Sun 01-Jul-12 16:02:50

But I don't agree with species -ism (never heard of it before). Women and men are equal, people of all races are equal. I believe humans are superior to sheep, and there is masses of evidence to support that view.

HesterBurnitall Sun 01-Jul-12 16:05:31

I'm not sure that much would be achieved if everyone focused on every issue of inequality. There's nothing wrong with choosing to focus your energies on one group or issue while others might choose to straddle several.

iammovingsoon Sun 01-Jul-12 16:22:06

Haha at 'superior'! In what way? Men could argue they are superior to women as they can run faster, pick up heavier items etc (on average). The point is that these characteristics are morally irrelevant to whether or not their needs should have equal consideration.

If you mean intelligence, firstly human-type intelligence is not the only kind, and secondly there are plenty of non-human animals with more human-type intelligence than many humans (e.g. senile, disabled, babies).

You are all missing the point (deliberately?) that no significant effort is required to "focus" on these things. You can choose to only go on marches for feminism, or only post links to feminist stuff on Facebook, if you'd rather put your time into that. But time is not the only factor. You can personally be vegan (or anti-ageist etc) without campaigning about it.

It's like saying 'I'm a feminist so I don't have time to care about old people' - you don't need to go round to their houses and talk to them, but you can choose not to actively discriminate against them yourself (e.g. by running them over because they were too slow to finish crossing the road while the traffic light was red). Likewise, you may not want to leaflet about AR, but you are actively discriminating against animals by eating them - you could simply stop.

MiniTheMinx Sun 01-Jul-12 16:28:51

Yes, OP I think there is a link but I don't believe it is quite as easy as saying that men like meat because they hate women. The link is less tenuous than others are saying IMO but the rationale behind this is not as easy as pointing the finger and declaring men are meat eating women beating consumers.

Men have historically had a huge vested interest in two things live stock and power over other men in a race for resources. The commodification of women and the huge capitalist meat production industry in the states in particular are related. It comes down to money and the very first means of wealth creation came about after the domestication of animals. Historically men had always been involved in the domestication and no doubt slaughter of animals. Once we created a surplus that could be exchanged men further sought the control over that wealth by yet more farming and enslaving women to reproduction within the home.It is little wonder that the advertising industry taps into that ancient male brain by using sexual images and induendo to sell meat.

I'm glad you started the thread, I had always meant to read the first book and this has reminded me, so thank you.

Fourthdimensionallizard Sun 01-Jul-12 16:31:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FallenCaryatid Sun 01-Jul-12 16:37:07

One of the links between feminism and animal rights is that more women tend to be responsible for feeding their families and managing the budget for that.
Factory farming produces cheap food, more ethical methods put up the cost. So if you are on a very restricted income, can you afford to want free range, organic, and generally more ethical methods if that trebles the price of basic foodstuffs.
I have campaigned for animal rights and welfare for decades, but I have had conversations with women who have said they can't afford my delicate sensibilities.

iammovingsoon Sun 01-Jul-12 17:05:44

I don't buy that Fallen. I live on Income Support and eat solely organic food from independent shops. I've always had a low income, but shopped like this for the last 6.5 years. Money is an excuse (or used as a reason in ignorance that it can be done).

iammovingsoon Sun 01-Jul-12 17:07:28

If you mean that organic meat is expensive, yes. But AR dictates not eating animal products at all, not replacing factory farmed stuff with organic. Plant food is easy to buy cheaply.

FallenCaryatid Sun 01-Jul-12 17:31:31

I was thinking of when I lived in a very poor area of the NW, no one I knew bought FR eggs or organic vegetables and there were no local shops as such, just Aldi and Lidl and poundshops within walking distance.

LostinaPaperCup Sun 01-Jul-12 17:37:59

I don't think it pushes women to the back of the queue. I was a feminist long before I became vegan, and it was feminism that convinced me to do so: I didn't want to knowingly contribute to any exploitation, particularly when the mindset of using 'lesser' beings for pleasure and profit is upholding patriarchy and capitalism.

I'm not an animal rights activist. I don't eat them because I don't have to. (And I'm on benefits: it is a cheap way to eat.)

I use 'survivor' because we survived. Many literally do not.

Clearly I am missing the point because I can't understand why we are debating the merits of veganism on a feminism forum. It would be a bit like me going on an animal rights forum and telling everybody they should be campaigning for women's rights.

LostinaPaperCup Sun 01-Jul-12 17:41:57

Obviously women aren't eaten. But their bodies are used and 'consumed' without regard to their personhood.

Most people think their pets have personalities - because they do. We don't care about the individual personalities of those we eat though. Naming them is discouraged for that reason.

LostinaPaperCup Sun 01-Jul-12 17:44:05

Feminism is discussed on vegan boards a lot. How can you be a vegan and not a feminist? It doesn't work.

LostinaPaperCup Sun 01-Jul-12 17:46:53

I'm an eco feminist and a radical feminist, so obviously the animal concerns fall under the former umbrella.

Whatmeworry Sun 01-Jul-12 17:55:53

How can you be a vegan and not a feminist? It doesn't work

I can't believe that all female vegans identify as Feminists, nor that no men are vegans?

IMO Feminsm should not be drawn into the vegan or AR issues - they are very vehement minority interests that will alienate most women and produce massive own goals against Feminism's opponents for absolutely no benefit.

minipie Sun 01-Jul-12 18:01:04

For those of you that believe animals are equally important to humans:

Do you believe there should be a welfare system for animals? So, for example, should we provide food and water and build shelters for wild animals and birds? Should we spend as much on this as we do on the human welfare system?

If not, why not?

<bit of a tangent from the OP>

iammovingsoon Sun 01-Jul-12 18:27:22

"I was thinking of when I lived in a very poor area of the NW, no one I knew bought FR eggs or organic vegetables and there were no local shops as such, just Aldi and Lidl and poundshops within walking distance."

I'm moving to somewhere that meets this description soon, but I won't be increasing my income or changing my buying habits. I can get the bus to another shop, or get a box delivery online (obviously that wasn't possible 10 years ago, but then there were more local greengrocers/farm shops etc 10 years ago instead). Even if it's not logistically possible to buy organic from independent shops, one can get vegan food at any supermarket, so that's not hard.

minipie I read a good article which might partly answer your question. The point about valuing humans more because we are human, compared to not discriminating against non-human animals: www.animalliberationfront.com/Philosophy/Morality/Speciesism/ProudSpeciesist.htm

We have our own family living in our houses (because we value them most), I don't intend to take in random strangers off the street (although maybe I would if I had room and there was some scheme to do this safely). That doesn't mean I have to actively hurt those homeless people myself though - I can avoid doing anything to put/keep them on the streets in the first place, for example (by choosing carefully who I vote for). So I think there's a difference between actively helping others and passively not making their lives bad yourself. The former is nice to do if you can, the latter is morally essential IMO.

So I'd rather not put people in the situation of having to ask for help in the first place - we shouldn't need a welfare system (at least in its present form) in a real community (I'm not a stealth Tory btw!). As wild animals largely have their own (albeit diminished, which we do need to fix, as we broke it in the first place) communities, they can balance themselves. I wouldn't walk past an injured pigeon, just as I wouldn't with a human. But I also wouldn't go looking for animals to feed.

hermioneweasley Sun 01-Jul-12 18:30:08

Yes, I regard myself as superior to a sheep because I am smarter and have more potential, and a vastly greater emotional range and depth. To equate humans with dementia/learning difficulties etc with sheep is a pretty offensive way of trying to prove a point.

Anyhow, I am going to back away now because this always happens when I engage in feminism forums (fora?).

iammovingsoon Sun 01-Jul-12 18:33:08

Oh, and you can set up a buyer's co-op with most wholefood wholesalers, and order with some friends (minimum £150 worth of food for free delivery between you usually). Cheaper to buy a 25kg sack of rice at wholesale prices (even organic) than 25 packs of 1kg from a supermarket.

iammovingsoon Sun 01-Jul-12 18:39:12

Well then surely you must also regard yourself as superior to adults with e.g. severe autism (who may be less "smart" and have less potential [for what?] and a narrower emotional range)? Otherwise, your stated reasons for discriminating against sheep don't make sense (i.e. it's actually on the grounds of species, not intelligence etc).

It's offensive to you because you are coming from the position that humans are superior to sheep. It's not offensive to me to compare similar characteristics in different species because I don't hold sheep in such disdain. I.e. you see it as lowering disabled people to the level of sheep, whereas I am seeing it as raising sheep to the level of humans, at least in considering their inherent "worth".

iammovingsoon Sun 01-Jul-12 18:44:58

These are exactly the sort of arguments people have used throughout the ages against different groups of humans too, remember. Black people were said to be less intelligent and incapable of empathy and less sensitive to pain etc etc. Therefore it was OK to enslave them under the superior white people.

OK, ecofeminism. I'm interested. Do you have any links to introductory resources? I'm particularly interested in the ways in which it helps women. It's great to see different strands of feminism being posted here.

iammoving - Not sure that telling people what's morally essential is a great idea, we're all just muddling through.

I've never understood what vegans have against vegetables.

HerMajestyQueenHillyzabethII Sun 01-Jul-12 19:02:46

Surely the obvious difference is that whilst some women have no control whatsoever over being made to work in the sex industry, the vast majority do have at the very least a small element of choice and awareness, and for many it is completely a matter of choice and free will. With animals there is no choice, no free will whatsoever, they are bred to be used for the purpose of food. Their fate is sealed.

Do we have any evidence or figures to support 'a lot of women die over days/weeks in containers surrounded by their own shit'? what constitutes 'a lot'? Obviously even one is one too many but is it enough to be drawing this comparison? After all this happens to millions of animals every year.

SardineQueen Sun 01-Jul-12 19:08:38

The philosophical point about whether humans are "superior" to animals is interesting but I guess a different topic?

HMQ not all animals that we eat are bred for food - loads of animals do not have a "sealed fate" it is down to luck whether they get caught or not (and not just by people, but by other predators).

For plenty of babies their fate is sealed at birth. Whether they are the child of a prostitute born in a brothel in India, who will be introduced to the job when she is older. To a baby born in a remote part of China who is drowned at birth because she is female.

Certainly in some parts of the world women and girls and considered to be on a par with animals by the males who run the show. Ownership, beatings, being imprisoned, set to work, owner having power of life or death and so on.

HerMajestyQueenHillyzabethII Sun 01-Jul-12 19:16:18

Well yes but if the comparison drawn is one of trafficked women in trucks in their own shit then that only applies to animals farmed for food - not hunted game.

iammovingsoon Sun 01-Jul-12 19:40:33

PlentyOfPubeGardens The article I posted addresses the vegetables issue too. Although of course as the animals you eat themselves eat plants, and the conversion to meat/milk is inefficient, you're responsible for killing more plants if you aren't vegan smile

I didn't know saying "don't harm others" was considered morally controversial...

Whatmeworry Sun 01-Jul-12 19:52:09

So the argument essentially is that you can't be a Feminist if you are not Vegan, as you can't fight aganst exploitation of women without also having to fight against exploitation of animals, and exploitation of animals includes eating them?

and this to do with women because ...? confused

miloben Sun 01-Jul-12 19:56:06

I've been vegan since I was 12 (will be 39 in a few weeks). I knew very early on that I didn't want any animal to suffer or die in my name, not because I thought they were as important as people, but because they were living creatures, with feelings, and I couldn't bear to think of them suffering just to fill my stomach for a few minutes. It was that simple. Nothing could make me eat an animal product again, as I do believe the way they are treated is morally worng. Evil, even, as these animals have no voice. And I can't be part of that.

I sometimes wonder if people would be so ruthless to animals if they could speak. And that is why I am a feminist...I can't bear that girls and women suffer and most of them have no voice either. At least, not one that a lot of men listen to. My feelings about animal welfare and women's welfare/rights all come from the same place for me.

Oooh lovely! I love a good argument about animals rights v human rights (of any flavour). I think I am a feminist. I also care about the way we treat the animals we use. They are not the same argument but they can provide useful extrapolations because they are a way of looking at the way society treats sentient beings as commodities. Beef cattle is food therefore it doesn't matter what it feels. Certain poor women are for sex, therefore it doesn;t matter what they feel. If you can distance yourself from the suffering of a sentient creature because it is only an X, it is easier to seperate yourself from the suffering of any given human because they are foreign/voiceless/powerless/not like us.

SardineQueen Sun 01-Jul-12 20:12:18

I would imagine that people who are very compassionate generally are interested in feminism, try to live an ecologically sound lifestyle, avoid excessive capitalism, practice vegetarianism or veganism, disapprove of fox hunting, feel terribly upset about men getting killed working in Chinese mines, and babies dying unnecessarily because they haven't had access to clean water.... And just everything.

Many people are not quite as fervent as that and pick and choose what to support / do and what not to support / do based on what they feel most strongly about and the impact on their lifestyles.

This is all fine, and human nature, surely?

FWIW the most keen veggie I know votes Conservative and states that she is "definitely not a feminist". And threw a total wobbler when I pointed out that the dairy farming industry is incredibly cruel, and if it's animal welfare she's concerned about (as she says) then logically she shouldn't be consuming any products of mainstream dairies. This was not something she thanked me for pointing out.

So. There you have it grin

miloben Sun 01-Jul-12 20:13:13

Ormiriathomimus that is a really good point. I remember some years ago there was a documentary featuring what happens in a slaughterhouse, and there was a pig that died of a heart attack walking in...he was so frightened he dropped dead. The next day I tried to talk to people at work about it - all of them meat eaters. And all of them, without exception, told me they didn't want to know, or they covered their ears or talked over me. It was safer for them to pretend it was all fine and dandy in these places. It was weird to me how I was the only one who watched what the animals went through when I was the one who didn't eat meat!! People don't seem to want to care. The same goes for abused/exploited women. The ones benefitting from it are the ones who don't want to be educated.

The point about vegetables was not flippant, btw. I think far too much emphasis is placed on sentience. I think it's perfectly possible for a plant to have interests in a similar way to an animal.

I don't think it's wrong to kill any animal or plant for food, whatever branch of the evolutionary tree it inhabits. I do think it's wrong to cause unnecessary suffering. That's why I am against factory farming. It's also why I don't eat beansprouts, forced celery or rhubarb and why I can't stand looking at bonsai trees. Plants have interests - light, soil, water, space to grow - simple things, but still.

I've known a couple of right misogynist bastards who were vegan, btw. The two don't always go together.

DeeDeeDeeandDee Sun 01-Jul-12 20:20:39

OP, I completely and utterly agree with you that animal rights is extremely important, but don't necessarily see it as a feminist issue. Unless feminism is multi-species (which of course it isn't) and could address the plight of dairy cows and battery hens, for example.

As a feminist and long-time animal rights campaigner (vegan, ex-hunt sab etc), I'd like to paraphrase Jeremy Bentham: The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but "Can they suffer?”

LostinaPaperCup Mon 02-Jul-12 01:43:40

"The ones benefitting from it are the ones who don't want to be educated."

Yes Miloben. Before I was vegan I was almost embarrassingly pro meat eating. I hated hearing about vegetarianism at feminist conferences (and all those who've been to feminist conferences - you must be aware there's a strong veggie component to the snacks!).

I will try to find some links re eco-feminism; in the meantime you can always google it. smile

LostinaPaperCup Mon 02-Jul-12 01:47:57

Feminism probably isn't multi-species but patriarchy certainly is. I didn't say that feminists must be vegan, but vegans must be feminist. Vegans recognise the rights of all sentient creatures to have a life apart from what others want from them.

Plants don't have a brain or central nervous system. You really can't compare broccoli with a pig. At least I hope not.

Whatmeworry Mon 02-Jul-12 09:02:05

Feminism probably isn't multi-species but patriarchy certainly is. I didn't say that feminists must be vegan, but vegans must be feminist

I think you are loading far too much on the poor old patriarchy here, its humanity that eats animals, not just male fat cats. And claiming all vegans are feminists is a huge leap.

This is an example IMO of why Feminism has suffered a backlash and is becoming less and less attractive to most women - this issue has clearly got nothing to do with Feminism, is an extreme view (to put it mildly), yet is here being injected into the Feminist canon.

The majority of women will go "you must be fucking bats joking, we don't subscribe to this" and walk away - from Feminism, which didn't create the issue in the first place.

IMO Feminism, for its own credibility, has to look at issues like these and say yes, we see where you are coming from, and people have every right to protest them, but it has absolutely nothing to do with us

Plants don't have a brain or central nervous system. You really can't compare broccoli with a pig. At least I hope not.

I don't see why not, if you can compare a pig and a human. I know plants don't have a CNS. That's not my starting point for deciding what is ok for me to eat.

Most of all, I don't see how it helps women if I stop eating meat.

I don't think it helps women to have yet another set of things to feel bad about when it comes to food, unless there's some strong, definite link that I'm missing?

HesterBurnitall Mon 02-Jul-12 10:03:56

That's a pretty reductive view of most women, whatmeworry. Some may well do that, others will just reject the premise and decide for themselves that patriarchy is not multi-species, or vegans all feminists.

Whatmeworry Mon 02-Jul-12 11:07:02

That's a pretty reductive view of most women, whatmeworry. Some may well do that, others will just reject the premise and decide for themselves that patriarchy is not multi-species, or vegans all feminists.

Actually, I think most people are pretty reductive, they haven't got the time or inclination to go into the whys and wherefores and who in Feminism is a vegan etc etc.

If Feminism quacks like a crackpot duck, people will just assume it is a crackpot duck.

LostinaPaperCup Mon 02-Jul-12 13:28:36

Pigs are more comparable to humans than broccoli because of their capacity to suffer (I don't really need to say that do I?).

I never said all vegans were feminist, but that they MUST be logically. If not, they're either vegan for health reasons or they don't understand the ethics behind veganism.

No, it won't immediately help women if one woman stops eating meat. But the more the attitudes around meat eating are challenged, the more the nature of violence and oppression are challenged.

Violence towards animals and women and children come from the same place: entitlement, dominance and submission. It is objectifying an animal and showing your power over it to reduce it to the leg, the shoulder, the rump etc.

It is why lots of men think vegetarian men are less masculine. To be a MAN you show your dominance. Steak = macho food.

Am I being clearer yet? I get in muddles myself as it's not an easy area.

As for the alienating women thing; feminists are always accused of this!

SardineQueen Mon 02-Jul-12 14:00:52

I think you have some interesting points and I see where you're coming from but there are difficulties.

For instance - ethically I would say that a vegetarian who consumes dairy products produced in the mainstream way is participating in more cruelty than someone who consumes animal products but only buys top notch organic free range or produces the products themselves / trades with other who do.

Where does fish fit into all this? If plants are stressed by unpleasant conditions (which undeniably are) then how does that compare to a mussel or clam?

How does squeamishness about things "like us" fit in - with people being happy to eat eg an octopus or squid (v intelligent) but not a mammal of similar intelligence?

It is a huge debate and while I can see crossovers / parallels with the way humans are treated in some situations, I think fundamentally for most people they are separate debates.

Whatmeworry Mon 02-Jul-12 14:03:19

Violence towards animals and women and children come from the same place: entitlement, dominance and submission

Most violence towards animals comes from the fact the the human species eats them. Its what we do. Its what we have always done.

It is objectifying an animal and showing your power over it to reduce it to the leg, the shoulder, the rump etc

We don't reduce it - at least not before we grill, boil, fry, braise etc etc it first grin

The proto humans who ate meat pretty much reduced those who didn't to exctinction, its what we are.

LostinaPaperCup Mon 02-Jul-12 14:44:23

"For instance - ethically I would say that a vegetarian who consumes dairy products produced in the mainstream way is participating in more cruelty than someone who consumes animal products but only buys top notch organic free range or produces the products themselves / trades with other who do."

Absolutely, but we don't need to eat any of them.

The human species has always eaten animals? Where? Large parts of the world have always been mostly vegetarian.

How we eat animals now and how other animals eat each other aren't comparable. We artificially breed the animals especially for slaughter and to exploit the females' reproductive systems. This isn't just cruel to the animals but is harming the planet and starving people. We could feed people directly using less land than we use to rear cattle.

The more cruelly the animals are treated (overcrowding, growth hormones), the more profits are made. It's highly organised violence and exploitation, which is why it resonates with me with regards to how women are treated.

SardineQueen Mon 02-Jul-12 16:20:59

"The human species has always eaten animals? Where? Large parts of the world have always been mostly vegetarian."

I'm fairly sure that humans, as omnivores, have always consumed flesh if it was available. Fish, shellfish, small mammals, birds, anything they could get their hands on.

Large parts of the world are vegetarian now (and have been for a long time of course) for religious reasons.

Your remark about "mostly" vegetarian is a bit of a cop out!

Surely your argument is about capitalism? And the exploitation that results from a constant desire for more and more profits?

messyisthenewtidy Mon 02-Jul-12 16:41:28

"I believe humans are superior to sheep"

I'm sure sheep would beg to differ!

This is a bit of a tangent but I've always wondered what the moral rationale for eating fish but not meat is. I've heard some people say they are vegetarians but still eat fish. Can anyone enlighten me?

SardineQueen Mon 02-Jul-12 16:53:30

eats fish but not meat = pescatarian

rationale = little fluffy animals are sweet, fish aren't
or something grin

Honestly the illogical positions some people take irritate me.

Whatmeworry Mon 02-Jul-12 17:26:20

The human species has always eaten animals? Where? Large parts of the world have always been mostly vegetarian.

As a species we are omnivorous, its no accident - we either always were, or adapted - either way we got bigger and edged out (ate?) the vegetarian proto human apes if any exiseted.

Large swathes of humans became largely veggie when mass agriculture led to very stratified societies with god-king warlords able to take everything the peasants had. I don't know if the olde veggie only religions were a reaction to this or independent, but its interesting that they exist mainly in the same places (untl the 20th century when they are mainly OECD middle class rather than Asiatic poor)

LostinaPaperCup Mon 02-Jul-12 17:31:26

Yep, you can't cuddle a fish!

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.

I used to get defensive around vegetarians (especially at feminist conferences!) and noticed I exhibited behaviour that resembled that of the men (and some women) who tried to argue in favour of porn. And when I noticed this I realised I had some thinking to do. Didn't want to do it because I loved eating meat and cheese.

LostinaPaperCup Mon 02-Jul-12 17:37:41

I'm not that interested in whether as omnivorous beings we should eat meat. The fact is that we do not need to, and the way we eat it is causing harm.

Also, the 'is it natural' debate really doesn't have much to do with feminism. (Although I could probably shoe-horn an analogy if I tried hard enough.)

I am actually surprised that not many women here associate the two movements: feminism has a long history of animal rights concerns. Did you not notice all those LENTILS on the Vanessa Engel's documentary 'Women', when it showed the London Feminist Network organising a conference? They were practically in every scene. Obviously it was necessary to make feminists look like hippies or something. smile

SardineQueen Mon 02-Jul-12 18:08:41

Thing is if I get told that to be a feminist I need to be a vegan/vegetarian as well, I'm going to run fast.

I can see the point you're making, but...

It's a bit like when we had threads on here saying is it possible to be right wing and a feminist and the response in general was no, not really. But we have some posters on here who are right wing and I personally wouldn't say that they can't be feminists or something. I can see that the lefty-nicey-vegan-communes-wiccan vibe IYSWIM is a certain thing but actually feminists are drawn from all types of backgrounds and so on and I don't think that excluding people because you don't agree with the politics / diet or whatever is the best direction to take.

I mean, I struggle to see how voting for the conservative party is compatible with feminism. But oTOH if a woman believes in right wing philosophy but also believes that women are equal and takes action around that then I'm not going to quibble.

IYSWIM.

SardineQueen Mon 02-Jul-12 18:11:14

And yes I totally agree with the entitlement thing. I eat meat because I enjoy it. I am fortunate enough to be able to buy free range / organic to assuage my conscience. Undeniably it hurts animals. But I want to eat meat so my bottom line answer to that is that fundamentally I don't care.

Which is exactly the same response that you get about porn. People know it hurts women, but they enjoy it, and so they don't care.

hermioneweasley Mon 02-Jul-12 21:52:01

Whatmeworry - you have said what I wanted to, but so much more eloquently.

LostinaPaperCup Mon 02-Jul-12 22:02:27

Funnily enough I just got this in my FB feed.

http://imaginedmag.com/2012/07/twenty-years-of-the-sexual-politics-of-meat-an-interview-with-carol-j-adams/

Yes Sardine, the argument about not caring but assuaging your conscious by only buying 'happy meat', and the comparison with 'happy hookers' is addressed in the Gary Francione essay I linked in my OP.

Of course you don't have to be vegan to be a feminist. I was feminist for 15 years before I was convinced by the vegan argument; I'm not more of a feminist now. Just connecting more dots I suppose.

I don't even think I'm more of a feminist now than when I was in the sex industry (where I convinced myself I was empowered - denial is a wonderful thing). I'm not saying 'I am more feminist than thou.' I just wanted to start this conversation on here because it is part of feminism - even if just a fringe part.

SardineQueen Mon 02-Jul-12 22:08:07

Maybe I should read the link in the OP blush

Sorry.

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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