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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Feminism = veganism? (Warning for discussion of rape.)

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Author Topic: Feminism = veganism? (Warning for discussion of rape.)
mizchastain
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http://www.care2.com/causes/to-be-a-feminist-is-to-be-a-vegan.html

I find this article offensive and creepy, but couldn't quite put into words why at first and wondered if it was just the kneejerk reaction of a non-vegan (I have enough issues with food at the moment without messing about with my diet any further, though I am very much in favour of ethical animal treatment within the industry). After thinking about it for a moment, I don't think this is the case. The problem I see is the comparison of the rape of a human to the artificial insemination of a cow. They clearly meant it to anthropomorphise the cow, but it comes across as trivialising the rape. I just thought I should bring it over here for a second opinion.

[ 05-30-2012, 11:14 AM: Message edited by: mizchastain ]

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Heather
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This is one I'm going to stay out of for a whole host of reasons, but for anyone interested in what I'd say is pretty core theory about feminism and animal cruelty/vegetarianism/veganism, I'd suggest Carol Adams' "The Sexual Politics of Meat."

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mizchastain
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I didn't mean to cause offence, I just found the equation of the two uncomfortable and I think it's over-anthropomorphising.
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Heather
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Just because I'm staying out of something doesn't mean I'm offended, no worries.

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mizchastain
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Okay, that's good. I was a bit concerned. Maybe I was just misunderstanding the article - I can sort of get their point, and as I said I know what they meant, but it didn't quite come across that way to me.

[ 05-30-2012, 01:17 PM: Message edited by: mizchastain ]

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moonlight bouncing off water
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I hate that they are equating feminism to being a vegan. If people wish to be vegan that is their prerogative, but they shouldn't force the choice on others. The way I see it is: I have to eat something, and anything I would eat was alive once. Who's to say that plants deserve to be killed since they aren't an animal? If someone can find a type of food I can eat that has never been alive, then by all means, but until such a point I will eat what I want. I'm not trying to offend anyone, and if I have I appologize, this is my personal view and I respect other peoples' right to have their own.

On a side note: I wonder, why do vegans and vegetarians support omnivorous and carnivorous animals? For they are doing the very thing that they are trying to avoid, eating other animals.

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mizchastain
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Carnivorous animals don't have a choice as to what they eat, whereas humans have the mental capacity to make the choice and the ability to choose to stick to plants. I'm not a vegan either, but I can see the logic there. It's not really possible to make meaningful comments on human morality based on what animals do. The "natural" argument annoys me, though - whether it's "natural" for humans to eat or not eat meat, "natural" isn't in my opinion the best way of judging what humans do either, as (in the words of Pratchett, IIRC) "so is sitting in a tree eating your dinner while it is still wriggling".
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Janie Jones
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Ok, so my opinion is probably biased, as I come from an agricultural background, went to school for animal science, and have performed artificial insemination (AI) on cows. My opinion is that AI is not rape in the way the article talks about it because AI is only done when a cow is ovulating. When a cow ovulates she is receptive to a bull sexually, and even other female cows (she will stand to be mounted by either sex). Many animals are only sexually receptive when ovulating, i.e. when there is the greatest chance of becoming pregnant.
I have a close friend who worked for a semen company and her job was to drive to farms and AI cows. Many times she would do it without the cow being tied up or in headlock (a restraint device used to keep cows still for medical treatment, etc.). I have *never* heard a headlock called a "rape rack" as the article suggests. If the cows were really upset with what my friend was doing they could have moved away, or kicked the crap out of her.
Also, that article puts a lot of incorrect facts about cow biology and current farming practices out there.
That being said I believe that if someone wants to be vegan or vegetarian, all the power to them. Choose a diet based on what you believe is right. No one should dictate what you should and shouldn't eat. Personally I try to eat meat, eggs, and dairy products from local farms, or from animals my parents raise.
That was probably waay more than anyone wanted to read about farming/cow biology, but I definitely agree with mizchastain that in trying to anthropomorphize cows, the article put an inaccurate and creepy slant on rape.

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treetops
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These comments are not aimed at anyone in particular, they are just my thoughts in general on this topic.

As a vegan and feminist, personally I find it tricky when people relate it to rape. On the one hand, cows are forcibly impregnated. And the whole meat/dairy industry is based on humans exercising their power over the bodies of other living beings without their consent. Thus I can see why people speak about it as being rape-like or equivalent to rape. On the other hand, I personally wouldn't use that language myself, as I feel like as someone who isn't a rape survivor I don't feel comfy doing so.

I'm not sure I'd agree with the idea that the comparison trivialises rape, as for me that implies that the suffering of non-human animals is more trivial/less important than the suffering of humans. And although this is generally held to be true in the culture I live in, I don't believe it to be the case.

Speaking personally, I do see my feminism as being linked to my veganism, as they are both fundamentally about anti-oppression. As I see it, humans imprisoning animals, causing them suffering and killing them for our own convenience/pleasure is about privilege; it is us taking advantage of a power imbalance to exploit other living beings in a way there is absolutely no need for. I think that's exactly what feminism is against.

Also, on the issue I think a couple of people have mentioned, relating to animals not struggling, and therefore being OK with what is being done to them - they may well be aware that they are captive animals and have no say over what is done to them. Also it's probably not like they're aware that eg. AI is going to make them pregnant, which can take a toll on their bodies. An animal not struggling doesn't automatically mean it's fine with whatever is done to it.

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treetops
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Also, I may not be able to reply to this post as will be away, but if you're interested in veganism I'd recommend this website http://www.vegansociety.com/. On a positive note, being vegan is awesome and don't believe anyone who tells you vegans only eat lentils and dirt [Razz] . Vegan chocolate cake is totally my weakness.
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Jill2000Plus
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mizchastain, I get the difference when it's a matter of choice, but I can't get behind people who condemn humans for killing and eating animals when it's either that or starvation/having to eat something that disgusts you so much you can't even keep it down so you will not get nutrition from it anyway and it would have the same toll on your system as bulimia so in other words starvation again. Just because I know what I'm doing doesn't mean it's ok to hold me to a higher standard that other species when it comes to eating them to survive. Eating them for pleasure, that's different yes, while I eat meat I can see that (I was vegetarian for years when I was younger, and I don't see myself going back to it anytime soon because I have suffered from eating disorder type stuff before and I just can't deal with carefully monitoring what I eat all the time, which is another thing, a lot of the people I've come across who guilt trip you about your diet either have financial, neurotypical or ablebodied priviledge, and some like my mum don't so much but are in denial about how messed up their relationship with food is, that woman gave me an eating disorder).

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Abolitionist
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I'm a bit late, but I wanted to comment on this thread.

I heard of The Sexual Politics of Meat as a young teenager when I first got interested in animal welfare and animal rights theory. It sounded interesting but wasn't high on my priority list, and over the years I forgot about it. Thanks to Heather's post, my partner just bought the book for me [Smile]

From a non-speciesist point of view, the OP seemed to trivialize the rape of any being outside of "her group." Just like people used to say blacks weren't as physically or mentally sensitive as whites, thus cutting them up for experimentation without anesthesia, raping them, enslaving them for forced labor, etc weren't as bad when done to blacks (and some people still think that), these days it's more common to think "it's horrible when done to a victim of MY species, but it's not on the same level when the victim is outside my group."

The way I see it, if the victim didn't freely give consent, if the victim was forced and/or coerced into it, it's rape. It doesn't matter if people in MY group think the victim is inferior, or shouldn't count, or isn't on the same level, or doesn't mind as much/isn't as sensitive, etc. While rape may inflict different amounts of distress, permanent damage, trauma, etc because every individual is different and one instance of rape isn't identical to another, it's still rape.

For example, a human with certain mental handicaps, or a very young child, might not have all the cultural baggage that others attach to sexual assault. They might not realize they're "supposed to be" ashamed, or consider themselves dirty, defiled, etc. They might not realize that the violation of their genitals is "supposed to be" worse than the violation of other body parts, as another example. All this can add greatly to how much a "normal" victim suffers. But the handicapped person still has the right to not be raped. They still suffer from the violation and exploitation of their bodies. It seems pointless to figure out which victim is more deeply affected, and say that one experienced "real rape" while the less traumatized person's experience doesn't "count" as rape. And irrational and prejudiced to say your group's victim's rape is so much more important, to the point that that comparing it to a mentally handicapped human's rape is an insult to the "normal" victim.

(Of course, that whole paragraph is based on the premise, for the sake of argument, that such individuals actually suffer less from sexual assault, rather than us just being more blind to their signs of suffering.)

IMO, it's "creepy" to say one rape is rape, but another rape shouldn't be called rape because that trivializes rape.

But in the end, you know what? What matters more isn't what name you call it--it's how you treat those around you. You can call it rape, or kinda-rape, or whatever you want. Please just don't do it.


Also, the amount of unoriginal rationalization here is a little depressing. For example, I realized how irrelevant the "plants are alive too" argument is when I was about 12 years old, and I'm not exactly the brightest person on the planet. Yes, I have to eat something that was alive once, so I might as well eat your liver and your dog. It's no different from eating a mushroom? =\

The reason it's wrong to rape a human body isn't because the body is alive (or was once alive). The reason it's ok to kick a rock isn't because the rock was never alive. Whether something is composed of cells or not has no moral relevance. What's morally relevant is that these "objects" house a mind. The rock/corn/yeast has no brain that minds being kicked, punched, thrown, etc; the human/mouse/cow bodies (probably) do. I'm not kingdomist; if there ends up being a sentient tree (I love ents) or fungus, I'll admit their status as a moral patient. I'm not life-ist either; if an alien visits Earth, showing evidence of sentience, but are not composed of cells, do not respire, don't digest food, etc (and basically aren't classified as "alive"), I'll admit their status as moral patients as well.

There are people that think plants (or rocks) are sentient and have a desire to live. If you're one of them, I won't mock your religion; I'll just point out that eating animals is simply killing many many more plants than just eating plants. I mean, what do you think cows eat? Think about it for a few seconds.


I also don't believe in intelligent design, have no interest in what is "natural," and consider "you'll be healthier if you do the right thing" to be a poor reason to do the right thing. Anthrax and cyanide (and war and rape) are a whole lot more natural than synthetic life-saving medication. Again, unrelated to feminism and veganism (which is why it annoys me when articles like the one on care2 bring it up).


Janie's logic says if a woman is raped during ovulation, it's not really rape. Also, if hormones/instincts/her body show any sign of sexuality (eg rape victims who secrete vaginal lubrication), it's not rape. If rape results in pregnancy, that's not really rape either. If the rape victim is larger than the rapist, that can't be rape. Also, if the rape victim doesn't kick the rapist, try to run away, etc they weren't raped.

...which sounds exactly like the lies regarding human rape that I was brought up with, and actually believed once upon a time, before I learned to think for myself. Marital/partner rape isn't really rape. Especially if the husband is only trying to make his wife give him babies, which is only natural. You can't rape the willing, and they're obviously willing unless they kick and scream, and they're willing beyond any doubt if their bodies show any sign of sexual response. In fact, if the rape victim gets any physical pleasure from the rape, and/or their bodies show any signs of cooperating with the rape, they're just ****s who want sex, and they deserve sex in any way their rapist wants. As soon as I realized what my culture had told me all my life, what those myths were actually saying, I was horrified. And even here, in this thread, people are saying those aren't lies after all? Please, listen to yourself before you say most types of rape are ok.


treetops, if you see this, I'm curious whether you know about learned helplessness. It's why people are able to lead elephants around with a thin string, why (most) horses will turn and change gait etc with slight leg pressure or pressure on the reins, and how you can set a dog loose in a room and electric shock hir without hir trying to escape. And explains some of why many victims of chronic child abuse, sexual abuse, etc seem cooperative when their abuser is around.


As for "it's either I abuse/murder/rape others, or I starve to death/something really bad happens!"...it's very rarely true. He has to buy slaves to work his fields, or he'll go out of business and starve on the streets. She has to eat kittens or she'll have weak bones. He has to impregnate his wife no matter what, or his family name and bloodline will die out, bringing shame to all his relatives and ancestors. She has to beat her sons with a metal rod, else they'll be out of control and probably commit horrible crimes and end up in prison. There's always some false dilemma to excuse you, if you look hard enough.

As someone who isn't exactly neurotypical, isn't exactly rich, and has several chronic health conditions, I don't want to be put in the same group as people who use these as EXCUSES for deliberately harming others instead of exploring alternatives. These types of things are things to work around, not things that make someone "lesser" or should be pitied...or given special treatment. Reasonable accommodation, yes. Exemption from basic logic and morality, no. "Boohoo, poor me, I have arthritis, so it's ok if I hit my kids with a 2x4 every day...but if you don't have arthritis, you have no right to judge me"? How about "You probably have more money and are more employable than me, so you shouldn't criticize me for mugging people"?

Some people will be racist, sexist, ableist, etc regardless, but confirming their stereotypes doesn't help, so don't go out of your way to convince everyone around you that "poor people don't care about anyone else" or "disabled people are just trying to use their disabilities to get away with murder" please. Don't get me wrong, I'm not holding the poor responsible for stereotypes about them--that responsibility lies with people who perpetuate and act on those stereotypes. Just saying, it doesn't make me happy to see members of those groups seemingly trying to prove them right.

Well, perhaps there are some people who'd use their conditions to try to get away with murder, including the legal definition (but not all of us do!). Like if they had a choice of buying ingredients for a vegetable stirfry, vegan chili, cereal with rice milk, nori rolls, mushroom burger, bird wings, dog ribs, a steak made of human meat..."Can't deal with monitoring what I eat, so I'll just have one human steak with a few puppy ribs and a side of bird wings. I have to choose to eat animals, because I'll get an eating disorder if I choose plant based meals and then I'll starve to death!" How is that any different from an animal pound employee saying "I'm allergic to dog saliva, so when I'm supposed to scan them for microchips, I don't actually do it. Instead, I send them straight to the kill room so I don't have to get near them, otherwise they might bite me and I'll suffocate to death!"?


If you feel guilty about paying people to manufacture, fatten, and slaughter sentient beings, look inward. Is external "guilt tripping" truly what's causing those feelings deep inside of you? Or are they only confirming what you already know? Is the discomfort from awkward social situations, or is it from cognitive dissonance?

Ignore the self righteous people around you, those who look down on you as a person for the choices you make, anyone who goes veg to just to convince themselves they're a better person than everyone else. Try to ignore the bs and cultural myths you've been brought up with, too. Think about things with openness and honesty, and look at the facts. The answer--or at least, the start of it--will come.

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Heather
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(Abolitionist: I'd be curious, when you read that book how it does as a read when read at this period in time. I read it about 20 years after it was written, but in the context of second-wave feminism still pretty much being the order of the day, and would just be curious how someone read it a couple decades after I did.

I suspect there will be some stuff that's really problematic -- and for sure, some gender essentialism abounds -- but think a lot of it could still work now in the current context. But we shall see!)

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Jill2000Plus
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quote:
Originally posted by Abolitionist:
Well, perhaps there are some people who'd use their conditions to try to get away with murder, including the legal definition (but not all of us do!). Like if they had a choice of buying ingredients for a vegetable stirfry, vegan chili, cereal with rice milk, nori rolls, mushroom burger, bird wings, dog ribs, a steak made of human meat..."Can't deal with monitoring what I eat, so I'll just have one human steak with a few puppy ribs and a side of bird wings. I have to choose to eat animals, because I'll get an eating disorder if I choose plant based meals and then I'll starve to death!" How is that any different from an animal pound employee saying "I'm allergic to dog saliva, so when I'm supposed to scan them for microchips, I don't actually do it. Instead, I send them straight to the kill room so I don't have to get near them, otherwise they might bite me and I'll suffocate to death!"?

You don't know what I've been through so don't get up on your high horse with me, thankyou very much. I have been ******* suicidal for years, with constant intrusive thoughts telling me I should mutilate my genitals and be raped repeatedly, calling me a slut every time I had sexual thoughts Pavlov-style, so I don't give a **** if you think I should just put up with it, I CAN'T, because IT. WAS. KILLING. ME. I am not using it as an excuse, I am trying to survive, and I need mental health to do that.

And also, I was not saying I would starve to death from the eating disorder, I was saying that the intrusive thoughts I would get would make me chronically depressed and suicidal and I'd probably kill myself. Just so we're clear on that.

[ 07-13-2012, 05:53 AM: Message edited by: Jill2000Plus ]

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Heather
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Hey, all: obviously, this is a really sensitive and contentious topic, and one where people tend to get very, very defensive, but also super-passionate.

Let's just make sure that if you're going to talk about it here, it's something you feel up to and can handle. If not, of course that's cool, but if not, stepping back is likely the better choice than diving deeper in.

Thanks!

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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I'm uncomfortable with some of the things Abolitionist says here. Firstly, Abolitionist, I understand that you're drawing parallels between animals and certain groups of humans (women, people with cognitive disabilities, very young children) from the position that animals are equal beings to humans - therefore, in itself, I can't possibly have a problem with that. However. Whatever you, or I, or any other individual, thinks about animals' rights or position in the world, the fact is that to many people, and in the dominant discourse, animals are inferior. This presumed inferiority is used in the vast majority of such comparisons not to elevate animals, but to harm certain less-privileged groups of humans. I feel that making the comparisons, even with positive rather than negative intentions, without recognising this, inadvertently continues the harm against these groups of humans. For example, fairly recently, a US politician claimed that it may be acceptable to make human women who are still carrying a foetus that died wait until their bodies "birth" the dead foetus naturally, as animals do this, rather than giving these women surgical and medical care. Sadly, it isn't unusual for people to argue harmful things for women on the grounds that that's how it is for animals.

I appreciate that you wrote "based on the premise, for the sake of argument" after your paragraph on how cognitively disabled and/or very young humans may understand or experience sexual assault - but. I can't help feeling that to use such a premise in the first place, to make an argument, is harmful to these humans. This premise is assumed far, far too often by humans who aren't very young or cognitively disabled, and it's used to harm these groups of humans, by setting up an understanding that they quite likely understand and experience bad things differently to "most" humans... and people shockingly frequently take this to the conclusion that bad treatment of these humans doesn't matter quite so much, isn't quite so serious, because they don't understand/experience it the same. There are self-reports from cognitively disabled disabled people, and people who were abused as very young children, that indicate that although they may not have had an analytical understanding of what was happening to them, they were very aware that something was happening that was distressing, confusing and scaring them. The experience I have of arguments regarding these groups of humans understanding is, again, that the argument doesn't serve to pull up animals to the level of humans, but to put these already vulnerable groups of humans below humans generally.

Where you talk about certain people not helping by confirming stereotypes, I find this somewhat victim-blaming. There are objectionable people of all descriptions, so there's no particular reason why any poor or disabled (for example) person should make people think badly of people in that group generally, any more than there's a reason why an objectionable person should or does make people think that humans generally are objectionable in that particular way. Stereotypes of poor or disabled or any other group of disadvantaged people are not the fault of that group, and blaming the (inevitable) objectionable minority in that group takes responsibility off all of the non-disadvantaged people who hold and perpetuate those stereotypes.

I respect that you have found a way to work around potentially significant challenges to live in an ethical manner. I do feel, though, that any time a person claims something like "well I've found a way round the challenges, so everyone else should be able to too" denies the fact that other people's realities are different. Some people may very well not be able to address certain things, due to personal circumstances, mental health, etc. Those things Aren't excuses. Your dog-pound example doesn't hold up, because such a person shouldn't be in that job, and presumably has some choice in the job they do (although I'm touching on some tricky issues of people sometimes needing to take any job they can get, or themself/family literally being homeless and foodless, which I am aware of) - but someone with an eating disorder or a mental health condition has no way of distancing themself from it, no way (in an immediate sense) out of it, no choice. And eating disorders and mental health conditions can be matters of life and death, so if we're talking ethics of rights to life and a minimum standard of life (including animals), I don't think there's a simple answer here, and I don't think it's right to talk about things as if there is. There are other issues of choice and opportunity, too: I've read enough now about food deserts in some parts of the US, for example, to know that there are people who really absolutely cannot make the same choices about food that I can - so suggesting that these people should do differently or better, either for their own health or for animal rights/welfare, is somewhat crass. These people don't have the ability or power to do so. In my opinion, if you want to change this, if you want more people to be Able to join you in respecting animal rights and welfare, criticise the system, work to change the very real barriers that plenty of people have. Please don't aim at people who are already stood upon by large numbers of other humans to do it. And if you want to elevate animals to humans, please do so by using humans in general or better-off groups of humans, because using disadvantaged groups of humans mostly just serves to further the purpose and position of bigoted or prejudiced better-off humans.

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September
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quote:
Originally posted by Redskies:
I'm uncomfortable with some of the things Abolitionist says here. Firstly, Abolitionist, I understand that you're drawing parallels between animals and certain groups of humans (women, people with cognitive disabilities, very young children) from the position that animals are equal beings to humans - therefore, in itself, I can't possibly have a problem with that. However. Whatever you, or I, or any other individual, thinks about animals' rights or position in the world, the fact is that to many people, and in the dominant discourse, animals are inferior. This presumed inferiority is used in the vast majority of such comparisons not to elevate animals, but to harm certain less-privileged groups of humans. I feel that making the comparisons, even with positive rather than negative intentions, without recognising this, inadvertently continues the harm against these groups of humans.

I agree with this very much, and it has been very difficult for me to work through this.

I am vegetarian, and my primary partner is a vegan. While for me being veggie means simply not eating meat, for my partner this is not just a dietary choice but a political choice that affects his whole life. About a year ago, we went to a vegan event together and I became terribly upset by a poster that compared factory farming to concentration camps, and he in turn became terribly upset that I thought it was somehow okay to hurt some sentient beings, and not others. It took us a while to work that one out, and for him to understand that while I do not think it's okay to harm any sentient being, I do very much live within that framework of animals being inferior, and I have a very visceral reaction to arguments like the one presented on that poster. I feel that using these arguments and these images does not make a case for the equality of animals so much as they instrumentalize these horribly cruel events, and thereby make light of them.

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moonlight bouncing off water
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Yay Redskies! I agree completely with your post!

Abolitionist, I am angered by your post. Even if I agreed one hundred percent with your post (which I do not) I would still be angered by it. Your language and examples aee insensitive and rude. You're talking about some very loaded things, so a trigger warning here or there would be much obliged. Further more you will never have every person on the planet agree with you, so please stop trying to convince everybody.

How do you know that plants don't have minds? Have you ever been a plant? How is eating lettuce different than eating a grass hopper?

It is your right to make your own choices and to bear your own morals, but please, respect that others have this fundamental right too.

Also, I've always wondered: if it is "unjustifiable" for humans to eat meat, then why is it okay for animals to kill and eat each other? When you boil it down we're just smart animals.

Edit: joey, I appreciate your opinion and I thank you for sharing it in such an open minded way. If we're going to discuss this I'd like it to be much more friendly than abolitionist's post was

[ 07-13-2012, 11:13 AM: Message edited by: moonlight bouncing off water ]

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Jill2000Plus
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Redskies and September, thankyou for saying what I wanted to say but couldn't figure out how to say about: parallels between humans and animals most often being used to create a view of those groups of humans as lesser or to instrumentalise horrific things that were done to (groups of oppressed) humans, it not being ok to blame oppressed groups for reinforcing stereotypes about their own group, and a significant amount of mental health issues and eating disorders being life or death (there is also self-harm which while not necessarily fatal can permanently/severely injure a person even when it isn't). I kind of wanted to post more about the specific issues I have, but I don't want to recieve a response that amounts to "I don't care/tough" from someone, and I don't really like feeling like I'm having to beg someone to display some basic compassion towards me, so I don't know if I should, though it's a lot easier to when I don't feel like no-one is on my side.

EDIT: I would also like to add that there are probably people with learning disabilities who would really struggle to prepare and stick to a vegan/vegetarian diet, not all, but some, and there will be some who are still living with their parents in adulthood who don't necessarily get to choose what food they are given.

[ 07-13-2012, 11:41 AM: Message edited by: Jill2000Plus ]

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Redskies
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September, that situation sounds very challenging, for both you and your partner, and respect to both of you for finding a way through.

Moonlight, I have to say, having been a gardener, there are plenty of times when I've gouged a bit out of the side of a carrot with a trowel, then stuck a fork prong right through it, and finally snapped it right through with the bottom half of it and the root still securely in the ground... Now I love my vegetables and am quite protective of them, but to the best of my knowledge, non of this causes any problem to the carrot, as carrots aren't sentient beings. No matter any individual's position on the ethics or otherwise of eating animals or any required standard of animal welfare, I really hope that as few people as possible in the world would consider that reasonable and acceptable treatment of an animal. Again, taking the individual ethics of animal rights/welfare out of the picture, I really think that animals and plants are considerably different, even though they're both alive.

I'm not sure that I want the "why should it be different for humans than it is for animals" argument to go anywhere, because there's a lot of cases where humans hold ourselves to higher, or sometimes just different, standards of behaviour, and usually arguments equating humans and animals just serve to hurt vulnerable humans. Sometimes, "smart animals", or perhaps, animals who can contemplate our own existence, makes one hell of a difference.

Jill: even if we were all to agree that animals - and their rights - are equal to humans, I still find it unacceptable and unhelpful for one unprivileged group, or its defenders, to be uncompassionate (that's a word if I say it is) or dismissive over the needs and/or experiences of another unprivileged group.

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Jill2000Plus
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quote:
Originally posted by Redskies:
I'm not sure that I want the "why should it be different for humans than it is for animals" argument to go anywhere, because there's a lot of cases where humans hold ourselves to higher, or sometimes just different, standards of behaviour, and usually arguments equating humans and animals just serve to hurt vulnerable humans. Sometimes, "smart animals", or perhaps, animals who can contemplate our own existence, makes one hell of a difference.

Jill: even if we were all to agree that animals - and their rights - are equal to humans, I still find it unacceptable and unhelpful for one unprivileged group, or its defenders, to be uncompassionate (that's a word if I say it is) or dismissive over the needs and/or experiences of another unprivileged group.

Response to the first paragraph: I see your point, but I do think it's a somewhat reasonable point to bring up when someone takes the kind of stance that ignores the experiences of oppressed groups of humans, certainly, when I've made this statement it's generally been in response to people who don't acknowledge that some humans are really struggling to survive, and that just like I wouldn't judge a hungry animal for attacking me, I don't really feel that it's right to judge people for eating animals because (when) that's what they have to do to survive, whether that's because they'll starve to death otherwise, or because they happen to have a body chemistry that means that without eating something that is made of animal, they'll be, for instance, severely anemic, or in agony from arthritis (gelatin can cushion the joints, though perhaps fruit pectin can do this as well, I'd need to look into it), or because their mental health and/or neuroatypicality combo means that they struggle with basic domestic tasks such as cooking and shopping/travel, yes I do still think cannibalism is wrong when humans do it, so maybe that makes me a hypocrite, but that's where I do hold humans to a higher standard (though I don't think cannibalism is wrong if you haven't got another food source and the person is already dead, what I'm really saying I think is wrong is murdering someone or letting them die from neglect so you can eat them). Of course I don't want this thread to turn into an attempt to not hold humans to a higher standard at all.

Response to the second paragraph: As far as I can tell, you're agreeing with me on that? But if there was an issue you were raising with what I said, could you please clarify what you meant as I didn't understand?

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Redskies
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Jill, I was intending to offer you support - sorry for being unclear.

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Jill2000Plus
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Oh, thankyou, don't worry about it [Smile] Also, if anything I posted has been triggering for anyone, I'm sorry about that, I've tried not to be sensationalist or insensitive, but I'm not always very good at remembering to put trigger warnings.

Another point I'd raise is that, while of course I don't think that the rights of animals should be ignored in the human pursuit of pleasure, I do not think that anyone should be required to live a life without pleasure, and I get sick of moral crusaders who want to condemn poor people for having nice things because it's consumerist (with "it's tacky/chavvy/not classy" as an extension of that) or because it's not environmentally friendly or because DEATHFAT/it's UNHEALTHFUL, sometimes "because of the animals" becomes just another way to step on people who have very little pleasure or free time in their lives (or haven't got any), especially when it comes from someone who doesn't hold themself to those standards but feels the need to mention that we really all ought to be living radically differently, in harmony with the earth and animals when interacting with single mothers living on council estates.

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naplement
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Jill, I'm sorry for this thread making you upset, I think that we all have limited sets of spoons, and we can make some good in the world, but we can't save everything and everyone, so we have to make choices. And if you choose to try to keep your mental health, so you can continue to be active in other areas, it's ok. And it is perfectly legitimate to want to be happy too, because we want a world where people can be happy, and you are one of these people. (Um, and it is in your Constitution too, if I remember correctly. [Smile] ) Go pursue that happiness, and good luck catching it. You are a good and considerate person, and I don't think those voices you keep talking about are objective (I know they are not objective).

re: "How do you know that plants don't have minds?" You can suppose they live conscious (and, I imagine, extremely boring) lives on a religious ground, but if this is just a non-religious idea of yours, and you want to get scientific about it, then look: evolutionally, you don't see major systems developed in beings which have no use for them (you sometimes see the remains of stuff the ancestors of a changed species used to use, but there are no plants developed from animals).

For a being which can move, it is important to have a nervous system which tells it when and where to move. For a plant, knowing what happens to it, and being able to feel pain, fear etc would be useless. So there is no evolutionary pressure on them to develop these things.

On the other hand, there is an evolutionary pressure on them to NOT develop useless things. So... to have a feeling, suffering plant, you would need some major miracle, because statistically it's just impossible.

Brains are expensive, and they exist only in species where having them is worth their price. Contemplating the universe while being unable to move might be nice metaphysically, but won't give you these kind of darwinian points.

(Again, this was just the sciencific point of view, you can have different religious convinctions. As an example, the theory that souls with very low karma come back as plants seems quite compatible with the things above - it's of no use to be able to feel fear if you are a plant, unless it's a punishment. [Smile] But I am no expert.)

ps: koalas have big craniums and small brains, because their predecessors had a richer diet, but they can no more permit themselves to waste energy to all that brain (and supposedly they don't need it either).

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Jill2000Plus
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quote:
Originally posted by naplement:
(Again, this was just the sciencific point of view, you can have different religious convinctions. As an example, the theory that souls with very low karma come back as plants seems quite compatible with the things above - it's of no use to be able to feel fear if you are a plant, unless it's a punishment. [Smile] But I am no expert.)

Since there's no evidence I consider this to be a sadistic belief, like the belief in hell, because I can't possibly justify someone being tortured for all eternity, and I also can't justify the idea that women are women because they did something bad and they're being punished (which is, as I understand it, commonly believed to be part of the way reincarnation works).

On the "how do you know plants don't have feelings/suffer?" topic, my thinking on this is: you're right that I don't know they don't have feelings/suffer, but there is no evidence to suggest that they do, and I decisively know that animals do have feelings and that they suffer, so for the time being, I am more concerned with the known suffering of animals than the possible, but unproven, suffering of plants, much as I'd prefer to have an early abortion than a late abortion because I have no evidence (and considerable counter evidence, much like the evolutionary reasons you give that it would be highly unlikely for plants to be able to feel pain) that the fetus can feel pain before a certain point in it's development, but it seems considerably likely that it can after a certain point. And none of this is passing judgement on women who have late abortions (I would if I couldn't get one earlier) or people who eat meat (which I do), but as Redskies said, I'd do things to a live carrot that I'd never do to a live animal.

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naplement
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You are right, if this is something people actually believe (and not a superficial misinterpretation), then it is a belief compatible to that of hell (maybe it's still a bit more optimistic, depending on the details). But I am no expert of religion, I was just trying to make a joke.

It's just annoying that I have met this "but what if plants can feel?" argument so many times, by people about whom I know that the topic holds no religious importance.

(I am slowly changing my diet towards a more plant-based one, and I do get the guilt reaction every time I go near a milk or meat section in the store (even leather sofas make me think about dead cows nowadays), but I don't have the energy to read enough about the topic so I could be sure that I got everything my body needs, so I still make some exceptions now and then.)

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Redskies
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(Heather, thanks for that book-mention, I'm interested in it. I don't quite follow something, though: you said you read it 20 years after it was written, and then how someone's different angle 20 years later would be interesting, which my brain understands as 40 years total, but I can only find a 1990 publication date. It's probably my understanding that's wonky, I was just interested in the point you were making.)

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Heather
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(Redskies: I just picked up my copy and lo, it was originally pubbed then, so I only read it right around the same time. For some strange reason -- or maybe not, maybe you'll see why I conceptualized it this way when I read it -- I had it filed in 2nd wave work.)

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Redskies
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(Thank you! Cool. Reviews/descriptors I've read of it do sound quite second-wavey.)

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Heather
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The author is, and that's her feminist coming-of-age, and it's very contextualized there, which is, I think, why I remembered it that way.

I also first read it in my women's studies in college, which was 100% 1st and 2nd wave (and couldn't not, be really, since the 3rd hadn't really begun yet), so I think that might be the deal with my brain-fart on this, too.

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