Natalie here. This is my first post.
In light of the Michael Vick case, and Vegetarian Awareness Month (October!), I thought I’d make some points on why feminists should care about animal rights. I’m standing on the shoulders of much brighter women and men here, although I’m sparing the point-by-point details in this here list. If anyone is interested in reading more, or wants to know where I got a particular stat or idea, let me know.
A large chunk of what you’re about to read is based on the theories of Carol J. Adams, who pioneered feminist vegetarianism and Peter Singer, a pioneer in animal rights who saw the bridge between human rights and animal rights. I am also ever so grateful to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, whose always enlightening podcast Vegetarian Food For Thought brought me plenty to ponder.
Hopefully these ideas will get others thinking, too.
So the question is, why should feminists care about animal rights? Here are some answers:
(most of these can be used for human rights in general, be they for children, minorities, or classes)
Because violence – serial killing, domestic violence, child abuse – is often accompanied by or starts with animal abuse.
Because, in starving nations, it’s the women and children who suffer the most. By eliminating animal agriculture, and the accompanying suffering of farm animals, we’ll be able to feed more people and lessen the gap between classes in third world nations.
Because feminists especially should know that might doesn’t always make right.
Because we can pick and choose what ancestral behaviors to model our lives on: we don’t have to eat meat just because humans have been for a long time. Heck, we don’t look back even to our grandparents for a model on how to live; we ladies are not barefoot in the kitchen so much these days. Just because our ancestors lived in huts and used rudimentary stone tools doesn’t mean we should; just because we’ve always eaten animals doesn’t mean we always should.
Because the arguments against animal rights sound eerily similar to those used against women’s rights and civil rights and children’s rights. (Animals aren’t as important as humans. Humans are at the top of the food chain – nature/religion says so. Animals are just objects, not beings. Animals are property.)
Because what’s the difference between “boys will be boys” and “humans will be humans”?
Because anyone who has owned a pet knows that animals do feel pain, they do think, they do have social lives, they do have their own set of interests to be accepted and considered.
Because cows mourn the loss of their children just the same as women do.
Because nonhuman females have reproductive rights, too – no female reproductive system has been as exploited as that of the cow. Forced (to put it lightly) into pregnancy, having her child removed within one month of giving birth, being milked several times a day for years, regardless of their grief for their lost young, infection or illness. And don’t get me started on the reproductive exploitation of chickens.
Because “The cruel forms of domesticating animals at the dawn of agricultural society created the technologies and conceptual model for hierarchy, statism, and the exploitative treatment of other human beings, while animal husbandry implanted violence into the heart of human culture. Slavery and the sexual subjugation of women are but the extension of animal domestication to humans, as patriarchy and racism work by reducing women and people of color to subhuman, animal status.” (Source.)
Because, if we’re not working toward equality for human and nonhuman animals, then are we really working toward equality for anyone?