Friday, July 12, 2013

The Sexual Politics of Meat Meets the Sexual Politics of the War on Women

In the "No Comment" Division of Vegan-Feminist archives, lo and behold we now get to add this.

Kirsten Bayes tweeted this image to me last night.

Of all the things that are so achingly wrong with this, I keep thinking about how they decided on the bucolic image of a cow and her calf in a pastoral setting. Haven't these Democrats kept up with milk production? If the calf is getting the mother's milk, human beings aren't. This is not the way "livestock" live today.

Many vegan-feminists have been saying for years, "we are for the reproductive freedom of all female beings." It is not enough to say, "don't treat women like cows." Let's also say, "Don't treat cows like 'cows.'"

Mary Sue Savage summarizes the vegan-feminist position eloquently: "We must also address speciesism and question the way cows are treated and seen in this world (why a group would think that was a good example to make their point) and why it's deemed okay for human animals to violently control non-human animals reproductive rights. It's essential for us to acknowledge the connections between the reproductive freedoms of women and non-human animals and it's connections to patriarchy, capitalism, and other forms of oppression."

The radical right want to turn back the clock. When I look back to a year before Roe v. Wade, this is what I find:

That's me on the left, from a march in New Haven, captured for the Yale Daily News. 

It is obvious that women have always had abortions; that the women's community developed a variety of ways to end an unwanted pregnancy; what has been variable about abortion is not its existence but its legality or criminalization. 

Ethicist Beverly Harrison wrote, "The habit of discussing abortion as if it were a 'discrete deed' is a way of formulating the abortion issue as a moral question abstracted out of, and hence irrelevant to, the way it arises in women's lives."

But, of course, that is the point: when individual lives disappear as though each one does not matter, we are left with absent referents. The fact is, the "livestock" image above keeps actual cows as absent referents, while using their oppression metaphorically to try to awaken (needed) political action on behalf of women of reproductive years. 


  1. Aren't all referents - when represented - absent?

    1. Kênh thông tin mua bán nhà đất tại Việt Nam , nếu bạn muốn mua hay bán nhà đất thì chỉ cần vào đây , chúng tôi sẽ cho mọi người biết về tin của bạn, nhà đất tphcm, nhà đất gò vấp, nhà đất thủ đức, nhà đất tân phú, nhà đất quận 9 . Còn chần chờ gì nữa , hãy đăng tin mua bán nhà đất nhanh nhanh . Bạn đang phân vân không biết phải chúc đám cưới bạn mình như thế nào thì bạn có thể tham khảo lời chúc đám cưới, in thiep cuoi, lời chúc đám cưới hay o day .


  3. Ah I think I understand it better, now. Although the similarity to Saussurean terminology doesn't help. I think the best evidence of "absent referent" in your post was this sentence: "Don't treat cows like 'cows.'"
    How is such a sentence even possible, conceptually? Very interesting issue.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Men do not know themselves. Only women know them. White people do not know themselves. Only first peoples and people of colour know them. Adults are known best by children, and humans by animals. While the powerless know the powerful, the powerful do not know the powerless even when the subservient are alive and present to them. How much can we bear to know about ourselves and our institutions?

  6. An absolutely excellent post as always. Thank you so much.

  7. Apologies in sending my comment on a different topic; although, it is worth mentioning: A Texas auto dealer using an image of a tied up and beaten woman to increase his sales. I need to vomit. If you can please comment. It's an understatement to say your works allowed me a paradigm shift of huge dimensions. Thank you. Here's the link:

  8. Carol, I thought of your slideshow as soon I saw it. Take a look at this:

  9. I would just like to say that I like very much the way you write about how we humans treat animals. I have deep respect to this. Best regards!

  10. It's just not cows, of course, but goats, pigs and chickens. For eggs, all male chicks are ground up alive or put in hefty bags to suffocate, even "organic" eggs. The plight of the female pig is beyond horrific. Feminists who are not vegan are simply missing the groundwork for authentic feeling and thought--what goes into your mouth being more important than what comes out it.

  11. Your article is so true. Thank you

  12. I just want to know where neuter goes in all this, cos if we don't want abandoned or killes domestic animals we must neuter female (and male) pets in order to avoid any of this... Eouldn't it be against the reproductive freedom of all female beings?

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  14. For the "no comment" section:

    From the bestselling book "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert (c2006) pages 97-98:

    - "I go on alone to wealthy, ample Lucca, that little Tuscan town with its celebrated butcher shops, where the finest cuts of meat I’ve seen in all of Italy are displayed with a “you know you want it” sensuality in shops across town. Sausages of every imaginable size, color and derivation are stuffed like ladies’ legs into provocative stockings, swinging from the ceilings of the butcher shops. Lusty buttocks of hams hang in the windows, beckoning like Amsterdam’s high-end hookers. The chickens look so plump and contented even in death that you imagine they offered themselves up for sacrifice proudly, after competing among themselves in life to see who could become the moistest and fattest."

  15. Kênh thông tin mua bán nhà đất tại Việt Nam , nếu bạn muốn mua hay bán nhà đất thì chỉ cần vào đây , chúng tôi sẽ cho mọi người biết về tin của bạn,nhà đất hồ chí minh,nhà đất quận gò vấp,nhà đất quận thủ đức,nhà đất quận tân phú,nha dat quan 9 . Còn chần chờ gì nữa , hãy đăng tin mua bán nhà đất nhanh nhanh .