Also posted on The Dodo When promoting veganism, we’re often confronted by claims of care toward humans as though they negate the importance of going vegan. Veganism is trivialized as something for “animal lovers,” not for humanitarians and social justice … Continue reading
“Most people do care about animals.
Most people reject the idea that animals are just things.
Most people think that animals count morally.
So the goal is to convince those people that this all requires that they go vegan, and that ‘happy’ or ‘humane’ exploitation is not a morally acceptable alternative. If you think someone counts morally, you stop exploiting them; you don’t focus on exploiting them more ‘compassionately.'”
– Gary Francione
Excerpt from “5 Reasons For Why Animal Rights Are a Feminist Issue” by Aph Ko
Full Article Here
1. Animal Bodies Are Objectified, Too
To be objectified means that one’s body and life exists for the pleasure or benefit of someone else.
Non-human animal bodies are reduced to fleshly things (literally) that can be consumed, or used in painful or unethical scientific projects.
They are not culturally seen as independent beings that experience pain, pleasure, and a range of emotions, and that exist in social networks.
2. Animal Bodies Are Used to Normalize Rape Culture
Animals are sexed. The tortures inflicted upon animals, then, will be specific to their sex and it is no surprise that for female animals, their capacity to breed overwhelmingly dictates how their bodies will be controlled.
Female animals endure a life of repeated rape and perpetual pregnancies and after they’re “spent”, they’re slaughtered.
As feminists, to consume raped and tortured non-human animal bodies, while fighting against rape culture, seems a topic worthy of investigation.
4. Domestic Violence Harms Animals
There’s a clear correlation between hurting non-human animals early in your life, and then harming humans.
The correlation between violence against children and women, and violence against non-human animals demonstrates how patriarchy harms those of us who are minoritized and oftentimes powerless.
4. Intersectionality Must Include All Oppressed Groups
The language that surrounds non-human animals constantly makes use of a moral hierarchy that suggests certain bodies are more valuable than others.
It is ridiculous to try to “rank” how bad each group has it, or to assume that all of our attention must be devoted to one group’s fight for rights, or to assume that if much of our attention is focused on one group at a certain time, that must mean the other groups are less important or “have it better.”
All of these spheres of oppression are byproducts of the same systemic evil—an evil that is heavily steeped in white supremacist patriarchy.
To declare that one of these groups is “treated better” than the other is to completely miss the ways in which these oppressions are intertwined and even depend on one another.
5. Our Society Spreads Lies About Animals, Too
Most of us as feminists already know that cultural scripts are used to naturalize problematic behaviors.
Similarly, there are scripts in animal-eating spaces that naturalize horrible systems of oppression. This script deflects from the systemic reality that non-human animals are tortured, slaughtered, and raped so that we can eat to satisfy our addictions to taste.
Apathy towards violence should never be fostered in any social justice movement.
Cultural scripts perpetuate myths and traditions. Scripts allow us to feel comfortable with problematic behaviors. They allow us deflect responsibility for the choices we have the power to make.
Not a week goes by that I don’t hear another carnist bring up some version of “plant rights” in an attempt to justify consuming animals – and that’s the key point here, in an attempt to justify consuming animals.
People generally have no problem letting house plants die, stepping on grass and flowers, using chemicals on their lawns, letting fruits and vegetables rot in the fridge, cutting down a tree to make a wider driveway, growing a vegetable garden and apple picking – but mention that you’re vegan or advocate for animal rights and all of a sudden these acts are made equivalent to slitting an animal’s throat.
To be clear, I do believe that we drastically underestimate the complexity and interconnectedness of all life on earth. The world would be a much better place if we afforded plants even a fraction of the sensitivity and concern that we’re capable of affording human beings. But this is a far cry from equating them with animals so that one can feel better about eating pig flesh instead of lentils.
Simply put, while plants respond to stimuli, they lack subjective awareness, a nervous system, and pain receptors. It is imperative that we love and respect all life, but that doesn’t mean that there are not fundamentally different life forms that warrant different treatment. There is a reason why we don’t avoid stepping on grass but do avoid stepping on a dog’s tail. There is a reason why we take children to pick apples and not to slaughterhouses.
It is also worth noting that besides the sentience/subjectivity/pain part of the distinction, anyone who is genuinely concerned with protecting all life forms from death, as though they are equal, ought to be moved by the fact that it takes up to 15 pounds of plants to produce just 1 pound of meat. Consuming animal flesh and animal secretions requires far greater amounts of plants to be killed than if we eat the plants directly. In short, someone eating an omnivorous diet is responsible for far more death of every kind of life form than someone who consumes plants directly.
If anyone in your life is still not convinced that there is a fundamental difference between plants and animals, that the fact that plants are complex life forms does not justify killing animals, then propose the following to them: “I’ll make you a deal – you watch a series of ‘humane’ slaughter videos and I’ll watch a strawberry harvest.” Checkmate.
“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.” – Paul Farmer
“Nothing can be a *personal* choice if that choice has a victim.” – Andrea Klader