The Patriarchal Orientation of Sex, Race, Economic and Human/Nonhuman Classes

By marv wheale 

 

Neither capital nor labor tend to consider women as a sex class beneath men.  Both economic classes are prone to treat sexual relations as private, naturalist, voluntaristic, thereby not collectively antagonistic.  Sexual equality is generally perceived as almost a given by men and women of the lower and middle economic classes.  They acknowledge some irrational differences that manifest because of poverty and cultural discrimination.  Racism is frequently explained along the same lines.   Celebrating diversity and commonality  are deemed as the answers to sex and race prejudice.  Full gender and race equality will be achieved in an economic classless society, they think.  So sex and race relations are subsumed into the class struggle and defined in primarily economic terms.  At the same time men and women in the capitalist class are mostly white at least in developed nations.  They often admit that women, especially women of color and of aboriginal descent (minority men as well) do not have equal economic power to white men but this will be resolved over time with more awareness, education and acceptance of differences.   These elite, not unlike their subordinate classes, are resistant to the idea that there is a systemic sex and race division of power inside and outside the marketplace and the state.

In fact the sexes and races are classes too.  Anyone who understands social classes knows that they refer to power inequalities not bigotry.  Male dominance is a sex class.  It signifies the political forms men’s power has taken over time:  the sexual allocation of childcare and labour, pornography, sexual harassment, stripping, burlesque, beauty practices, rape,  prostitution, battering, obligatory heterosexuality, homophobia,  transphobia, the state, capitalism, colonization, the military, etc.  Women assimilate into these constructs.  They did not determine them.  Hence male supremacy is institutional sexism not a natural or solely individual phenomenon.   In terms of race class, it was white men in Europe, Australia and North America who organized  the government, economy, servitude of  men and women of colour, segregation and the occupation of indigenous lands – all illustrations of institutional racism.

As a correlation think about capitalism.  Capitalists and workers do not have the same power to dictate each other’s lives.  It would be ludicrous to believe that capital is not dominant over labour and that mistrust and intolerance are the causes of the ill feelings towards each other.  To see the enmity in economic class divisions as a result of reciprocal misunderstandings would be an obscene misrepresentation of reality.   Capitalist rule is institutional economic classism.   Mutual respect, dialogue and compromise are not the solutions here to power and powerlessness;  abolition is, at the system design level.

Big fish eating smaller fish eating smaller fish; meant to represent capitalism

Many millennia ago males constructed masculinity thereby creating femininity out  of females, causing the rise of the sex class hierarchy.   When women  were privatized and isolated into pair bonding/marriage it obscured their sex class status and the systemic violence towards them.  Conjugality kept them divided against themselves by publicly declaring their primary identification as spouse/wife.  Women’s lower economic status is shrouded as well when they marry men because men generally have more wealth.  What’s more, women mediate economic class relations between men  when they marry across (and within) class lines.  Women serve to ease monetary and race class hostility by having men of different classes bond across women’s bodies providing political stability and legitimacy to the whole class system.

Woman and man holding signs that read "marriage equals" with a figure of a man and a woman

As noted by Cheryl Abbate the ascendancy of the male gender is obvious on the basis of aggression alone:  The idea that masculinity is responsible for violence, including sexual assault, is rarely disputed.   As Kilmartin points out, the vast majority of violent acts are committed by males, leading us to conclude that there is a high correlation between masculinity and aggression (Kilmartin 1994, 211).   According to the FBI (2011), approximately 90% of violent crimes in the United States are committed by men.”

Male dominance exists cross culturally in common and particular local forms too.  Women are inferior everywhere in terms of the gendered/sex lines of power.  Trouble is, the partitioning is usually defined as the biological sex differences by men (and many women) concealing its sexual politics.  When the Left admits that austerity measures and poverty affect women, First Nations and people of colour more than white men, it seems to be aware of the centrality of white male privilege;  but the Left doesn’t honestly face the universal historicity of patriarchy, preceding and following primitive accumulation.

Since all the world is a structural stage and the central element is patriarchy, gender conditions our choices in sexual relations in conjunction with capitalism in economic relations.   No one purely chooses heterosexuality no matter how much consent there is because the assent is shaped by inequality.  Heteronormativity under male imperialism is (man)datory whether it be monogamy, sexual harassment, pornography, prostitution or polyandrous relations.    As mentioned earlier, in western countries male monopoly is integrated with white supremacy as the public setting for people of color.  The difference is that many progressives suppose race classes should be undone while the majority uphold masculinity and femininity as innate.  They only want femininity to be as socially valued  and empowering as masculinity.  Liberal feminists take this viewpoint that sex work, cosmetics, BDSM, marriage and housework can be liberating.

Woman at SlutWalk protest holding sign that reads "Is it legal to eat me if I wear bacon?"

The following rhetorical questions should resonate with socialists and feminists alike :  Do workers meaningfully choose their type of work or place of work?  Have women played an equal part with men in conceiving and building the major institutions of society?  If working conditions improve would oppression disappear? If women are granted greater legal protection from male violence does their exploitation vanish?   If you have satisfying and high paying work, does that imply your work is not exploited? If a woman has high status in society by male standards does that mean she isn’t discriminated against or sexually objectified?   As feminist scholar Catharine Mackinnon once said, is “a good fuck…any compensation for getting fucked?”   I hope we all have honest answers to these questions.  Apply race to these queries, which we must, and you will have another layer of subordination alongside and below white women.  Add colonization, sexual orientation, age, disability, body shape and biosphere debasement to the equation, and more intertwining injustices come to light.

 

Women and Nonhuman Animals

Capitalists, socialists and anarchists have other conceptual barriers linked to male hegemony:  an aversion to regarding nonhuman animals as a subjected class.   Moreover these speciesist androcentrists dismiss women’s rank in interrelationship to animals’ position.   The comparative mirror reveals the oppressions are not the same: women aren’t eaten and animals aren’t usually men’s sexual fetishes, for examples.   Nonetheless there are numerous similarities.  Dog and pony shows are analogous to beauty pageants and runway modelling.Hypermuscular man is binding the corpse of a chicken   Animals are imprisoned and assaulted in our homes, corrals, barns, laboratories, rodeos, horse races, circuses, zoos, aquariums and fight rings.  Women are detained and abused in prostitution, brothels, rape camps, strip clubs, peep shows and in their homes.  It is men who typically control these forms of enslavement of women and animals.  Domesticated animals are cooked and photographed in sexual postures as the pornography of meat.  Women are sexually depersonalized in and by pornography.   Harassment is common to either group.   Animals and women are most frequently killed by men, and some women have been slaughtered, eviscerated and dismembered like animals by men.  In addition, societal assumptions in general that animals “exist” for human welfare should not sound totally different from women’s experiences under male expectations.  Even the therapeutic role animals and women play correlate.   Most people live their entire lives without learning of the barbarity that occurs behind the closed doors of brothels, pornography studios, massage parlours, sex trafficking, strip clubs and private dwellings on the one hand, and slaughterhouses, vivisection labs, animal entertainment industries, animal traffickers, product-testing facilities, factory farms and households on the other.  The business of exploiting women and animals for pleasure, convenience, amusement, taste and moneymaking is intentionally well hidden.   Disclosure would undermine the power and profit of male capitalist and socialist enterprises.   Men must have their sex and steak at all costs.

Men walking through red light district with women's bodies in the windows

The truth of the interrelationship of patriarchy, capitalism and speciesism is revealed by vegan feminists who believe it is crucial not to conflate them in ways that are fanciful and offensive to women or untrue of animals.   When relating the rape of women and farmed animals for instance, Corey Lee Wrenn  calls for respect: “Knowing that about 1 in 3 women have or will be raped, I find it extremely inappropriate to utilize rape imagery to promote veganism.  First off, our primary audience is women.  If 80% of the movement is women, and 1 in 3 women are rape victims, that means that more than 27% of our movement (or more than 1 in 4 activists) are likely to have been the victim of rape.  Any rape victim can tell  you, seeing images of rape or reading graphic descriptions is extremely triggering.  It is also revictimizing when it is made obvious that our community doesn’t care enough about our safety to avoid using our experiences for animal rights claims on our behalf.”   A discerning approach is always necessary to examine these oppressions together and separately.

 

Transforming Cognizance

Vegan feminists unmask and demystify our personal identities.  Part of seeing through the identity fog means admitting the delusions we took for granted, the “habitual patterns” -  the assigned gender hierarchies of masculinity and femininity, human species superiority and capital control –  reinforced through millions and millions of moments of social learning.  Before “awakening” we thought  it wasn’t possible for things to be any other way as if these tendencies were an unchanging part of human nature (coming from the stork or written in the stars).  These assumptions easily perpetuated themselves because they are some of the most unquestioned beliefs we have.  As we begin to grow in consciousness and apprehend the alternatives to the prison of gender roles, non-human animal inferiority and labour submission, we become unstuck from oppressive attitudes.  Declaring a primary loyalty to women’s or animals’ or workers’ liberation is now regarded as a misconceived notion.  They are different, interrelated and of equal value.  There is no complete separation among them when each is understood as they actually exist in the context of patriarchal systems and rules.

All this illustrates the extraordinary power and influence of male ideologies over our consciousness, unconsciousness and societal institutions. They render dissenting views like the abolition of pornstitution,  animal products and capitalism as absurd and unintelligible – it has always been this way so it must be this way.  Overcoming the suppression of freedom of expression by male dogma is daunting but achievable.   Promoting veganism is an essential though utterly deficient way forward.   Political engagement in women’s, people of colour’s, workers’ and other species’ emancipation from  patriarchal organizational injustice is the ultimate solution.    Single issue approaches focusing on higher status animals as in dogs, cats, bears, whales, dolphins, sharks, elephants, tigers, gorillas, etc., does not constitute a serious engagement with comprehensive structural violence when they omit contextual analyses and strategies.

 

Feminism, Anti-Capitalism and Anti-Specieisism

That deep feminism is the missing underpinning of anti-speciesist socialist/left/anarchist analyses is another point of this reflection.   Some pro-animal revolutionaries from these traditions agree that all oppressions including sexism are entangled.     However they are reluctant to admit that men, often white males, have dominated the top tiers of monarchial, feudalist, religious, slavery, animal industry, state, military, capitalist, colonialist, family and pornstitution systems.   The animalist left typically denies that the male sex class could well be the enveloping power of all social hierarchies throughout (his)tory. Patriarchy was never unvarying. It evolved in various ways depending on how societies were organized within the hierarchies of men of which women and animals had little decision making power. It would be more factual therefore to resolve other class struggles within the broader sex class struggle.   Male supremacy should be emphasized as the first among equal subjections rather than one structure among many.  Opting for an “interlocking equal oppressions method” has the effect of minimizing foundational sources and influences even though women oppress animals, women capitalists have power over their workers and white women as a group have advantages over people of colour.

How can we devise appropriate strategies to change the world if we don’t  analyze it accurately?

 

Note: Few of the ideas in this post originate with me.  The principal ones stem from feminists like Cheryl Abbate and Corey Lee Wrenn  who have taught me how to think rationally, critically and inclusively,  something my non-feminist teachers failed to do. 

 

Party with the Meat Stick: The Sexual Politics of Slim Jim

Slim Jim, an American brand of cheap, convenience store animal-based jerky has launched a new ad campaign, “Party with the Meat Stick.”  A series of three commercials, all place “meat” within the realm of masculinity by feminizing their competitors.  This is done in some cases to degrade the competition.  In other cases, Slim Jim jerky is positioned with women to make their jerky appear more sexy, attractive, and consumable.

Image from Slim Jim website that shows 2 white women's bodies in tiny shorts and tops with midriffs exposed. They are touching each other with the beef jerky sticks.

The first ad features two women’s bodies (their heads are cut off, because this is, much like the jerky, about the consumption of fragmented body parts).  The Slim Jim women touch each other sexually with the “meat sticks” (an obvious phallic referent).  The competitor’s jerky, however, is held by two fat men who rub and poke each other’s protruding bellies with the sticks.  The commercial pulls on homosexuality (and fat-phobia) and makes it “disgusting” in order to feminize their competitor in the negative sense.

 

In the second commercial, a display box of Slim Jim gets progressively more masculine (first donning men’s sunglasses, then a mustache and an athletic medal, and finally a captain’s hat).  The “impostor” jerky (or, what they call “impostor meat sticks”), however, gets progressively more feminized.  First, the display box dons a baby’s bonnet and diaper, then a possum appears next to the box. In the case of Slim Jim, many masculine referents are used; in the case of the competitor, femininity referents are used (infants and Nonhuman Animals are both feminized bodies).  Note that feminist theory considers any  group that is marked with powerlessness, vulnerability, and low social status and is also oppressed, dominated, and consumed within a patriarchal society a feminized group.

Man dancing behind Slim Jim display surrounded by several dancing women.

Older woman in a pink cat sweater holding two cats next to "impostor" jerky

In the final commercial, the Slim Jim jerky attracts a partying man with several young women dancing behind him.  The “impostor meat sticks” attract an older woman wearing a cat sweater who holds two cats.  With “real” meat, men can expect a sexy good time with lots of available women at their disposal.  With “fake” meat, we should expect non-sexy, worthless women who are of no use to men because they are no longer viewed as sexual resources.  The cats are additional markers of “negative” femininity, as, again, Nonhuman Animals can be considered feminized bodies.

In all cases, “impostor meat sticks” are feminized using references to women, children, homosexuals, older persons, fat persons, and other animals.  “Real meat’ is masculine, or rather “real men” eat meat, and “real men” are defined by what they are not:  feminine. They are in control, they dominate, and their power and social status comes from the denigration and consumption of vulnerable bodies. In the case of the Nonhuman Animals, cows, pigs, and other animals are tortured, killed, ground up, spiced, and squeezed into plastic tubes.  Their bodies are literally being consumed to maintain male privilege.  “Meat” becomes a signifier of masculinity.  The consumption of animal bodies becomes a way of “doing” male gender.  It is a performance of domination enacted through the consumption and the active maligning and mocking of the non-masculine.  Men are encouraged to “party with the meat stick,” meaning, they are invited to celebrate and enjoy the privilege of masculinity using feminized bodies.  Their privileged status is demonstrated by reinforcing the disadvantaged status of others.

 

This blog is based on the theory of Carol Adams. Learn more about the sexual politics of meat by visiting her website.

 

The Kiss a Nonhuman Companion Challenge: A way to help without hurting (or wasting)

For those of you who have logged onto one of your social media accounts within the past week, chances are, you have seen a video of one of your friends participating in the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge”: the trendy new way of supposedly raising awareness and money for ALS research, while at the some time, convincing one’s self that she has, with courage and bravery, fulfilled her moral obligation to be charitable. While I recently wrote a detailed blog post enumerating the ways in which the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” is harmful for both humans and nonhuman animals, counterproductive, and a shameful display of western privilege, Corey Wrenn and I have put our heads together to come up with a new “challenge” that does not waste precious resources like water, that does not raise awareness for harmful biomedical research, and that actually helps the most innocent and vulnerable within our society: nonhuman animals. Specifically, we want to initiate a project which will raise money for Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary: a farm sanctuary that not only rescues farm animals who have been exploited and used in agribusiness, but also promotes a vegan lifestyle.

The Challenge, then, is the Kiss a Nonhuman Companion Challenge.

kiss a non human animal challenge

The rules: film yourself kissing a nonhuman companion, whether it be a cat, dog, lizard, chicken, bird, and so forth. Then, challenge another individual or individuals to also kiss a nonhuman animal (and, of course, they should film this and challenge someone else). If they don’t complete the challenge within 24 hours, they should donate whatever they can afford to Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, even if it is as little as one dollar. They can go directly to the PPS website and make their donation on the front page (Of course, all individuals are encouraged to make a donation whether or not they meet the challenge). For those without the resources to donate, participating in the video challenge is a great way to raise awareness about animal rights. Feel free to leave your own message about why others should care about the plight of other animals and how they can help (by going vegan, for example!). Join the “Kiss A Nonhuman Companion Challenge” group on facebook and upload your video to inspire others!

**Note: you don’t need to be challenged to challenge. Start helping animals today and promoting awareness of animal exploitation by challenging others to Kiss a Nonhuman Companion today!

**Also note: there are no limits on challenges! Challenge as many people as you would like!

The goal of the “Kiss a Nonhuman Companion Challenge” is to raise awareness for not only the billions of nonhuman animals who are exploited and tortured every year in agriculture in the United States, but also, to encourage individuals to donate to Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary: a sanctuary that takes serious the rights of animals while promoting an unwavering philosophy of veganism. Finally, it is an attempt to remind others that love, and not the shameful wasting of precious resources like water, is what will help alleviate suffering in the world.

So here it is, the first Kiss a Nonhuman Companion Challenge: Cheryl Abbate of Vegan Feminist Network challenges her friend, colleague, and fellow Vegan Feminist: Corey Wrenn to the Kiss a Nonhuman Companion Challenge:

 

In addition, see Corey Wrenn of the Vegan Feminist Network challenge Stevie of Team Earthling: Vegan Radio to Kiss a Nonhuman Companion!

Let’s raise some money for Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary and remind others of the billions of nonhuman animals who suffer and die due to human selfishness.

Written by Cheryl E Abbate
Philosophy PhD Student at Marquette University
Follow her on
Twitter and through the Vegan Feminist Network on Facebook

Homophobia and Beyond Meat: When “Vegan” Companies Act Unethically

In recent twitter news, a Beyond Meat employee was caught using homophobic words to promote their “vegan” products (the orginal tweet was screen capped on Gay Fat Vegan’s blog and has been edited to preserve the identity of the tweeters).

Note: I sometimes use scare quotes around the word vegan because vegan does not just mean “products free of animal flesh and product”; rather, vegan refers to products produced by companies who promote vegan principles of compassion and justice.

Tweet

When Beyond Meat was publicly criticized for this act of homophobia, they immediately issued apologies on *twitter* while reminding their “fans” that their business is “founded on love and acceptance.”

Beyond Meat Apology

One blogger, Fat Gay Vegan, writes that the apology from Beyond Meat was “sincere and heartfelt” and that “If they [Beyond Meat] are guilty of anything, I believe it is outsourcing or not keeping a tight enough hold on their social media” (Fat Gay Vegan’s Blog).

Unlike this blogger, I find that this event demands further critical examination, especially since this event brings to light a re-occurring phenomena in the world of vegan consumption: when “vegan” companies emerge, or companies that offer “vegan” products, vegan consumers often assume that these companies can do no harm. After all, they are vegan so they must be ethical, right?

I beg to differ.

We cannot forget that most “vegan” companies have one primary goal: profit. The last I checked, Beyond Meat is a for-profit business that does *not* donate its profit to animal advocacy organizations. Furthermore, as far as I can see, they do not donate or plan to donate *any* of their proceeds to any animal liberation organization (and if they do, they do not find this important enough to mention on their website). They do, however, boast about promoting awareness of animal abuse in agriculture and environmental degradation, yet, sadly, the only “education” they offer on their website pertains to their own products and goals.

What should give vegan consumers even more reason to be suspicious of this company is that Beyond Meat is considerably incompetent when it comes to the animal liberation movement, as evident by their recent twitter interaction with Carol Adams (photo credit to Fat Gay Vegan), who they congratulated for “just going vegan.”

CarolAdamsBeyondMeat

Clearly, Beyond Meat is not a company that is genuinely engaged in and dedicated to the animal liberation movement.

So what is Beyond Meat? It is a for-profit company with high-profile investor-capitalists like Bill Gates and venture capitalist powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers who are eager to cash in on the vegan movement. Beyond meat has an executive team that consists of four men, none of whom have a degree or experience working in animal ethics (or ethics in general):

Ethan Brown: “previously worked eight years at Ballard Power Systems, the world’s leading PEM fuel cell company”

Brent Taylor: “served as a partner in a vegetable seed technology start-up and has several years of management experience in agriculture/food as a Senior Analyst – Corporate Development, at Dole Food Company, Inc”

Bob Prusha: “has 30+ year veteran in Manufacturing”

Tony Prudhomme: has a “career in finance, operations and general management executive for consumer products companies, including fresh food giant Dole Food Company”

These four men use technology and science to create and sell non-organic faux chicken at costs so high that the majority of Americans cannot afford to purchase their products (a small container usually sells for $5.79). While technology is not always bad, we should be reluctant to use it as a first-response solution to ethical problems, since technology often promotes masculine values and the manipulation of nature. Furthermore, since capitalism is, in- and- of- itself, a system of exploitation, we should remain suspicious of any attempt to “fix” the problem of the exploitation of animals and the environment within a system that is inherently individualist, competitive, and exploitative.

Beyond Meat, thus, operates under the capitalist system that prioritizes technology. It is a company that uses technology to manipulate nature (plant protein) into a “masculine” food which resembles animal flesh (which they refer to as “brotein”) and is available only to priviliged consumers. We see, once again, a male-dominated company which is determined to control and “fix” the world by using machines to manipulate nature itself. Capitalism and technology: score again!

Keeping in mind that Beyond Meat is a for-profit company that promotes masculine goals and there is little evidence that this company is ethically competent, we should not be surprised when we see its employees spouting off insensitive, homophobic twitter posts in an attempt to promote their products. After all, profit-driven companies are less likely to consider the ethical competence of their employees and will hire the cheapest labor possible without considering that it should hire someone who is both genuinely concerned with transforming the world into one of love and compassion and competent when it comes to ethical considerations.

What we can take away from this event is the following: companies which produce and sell “vegan” products are not off limits from moral criticism; a number of these companies are motivated by capitalist goals and exploit the moral principles of consumers in order to obtain these goals, while counting on the likelihood that they can get away with any “moral mess-up” by reminding consumers of their “compassionate” and “loving” foundation. Keeping this in mind, we must remember that we should not hesitate to be critical of self-proclaimed vegan companies and we should not be silent when they act unethically just because they are supposedly “helping animals.” For instance, many companies that sell vegan products, like So Delicious, contribute extensively to environmental degradation since they do not sell their yogurts in large containers, but rather, require consumers to purchase their products in individually packaged, plastic containers. While my mouth is the first to water at the prospect of vegan yogurt, I cannot forget that the way they package and sell their products is highly wasteful and hurtful to the natural world about us.

SoDelicious

While it is next to impossible to purchase and consume products that are produced in a completely ethical way, what we can do is hold companies accountable for their moral transgressions. What we can do, is demand for Beyond Meat to issue an official apology to the GLBT community. What we can do, is request that Beyond Meat employ individuals who are familiar with the animal liberation movement and what it really means to be a vegan.

 

***As a side note, I urged Beyond Meat to issue an official apology; in response, I was directed to a blogger who is not in any way associated with the company. This, of course, is their attempt to avoid publicly and officially addressing the issue themselves.

Beyond Meat

Written by Cheryl E Abbate
Philosophy PhD Student at Marquette University
Follow her on
Twitter and through the Vegan Feminist Network on Facebook

De Moura Opposed Animal Testing

Editor’s Note

Jon is a regular contributor to our sister site the Academic Abolitionist Vegan. He posts short investigative pieces that uncover the politics of historical and contemporary figures in the socialist movement who have recognized intersections with speciesism.  Many early female activists espoused vegetarianism.

Maria Lacerda de Moura Vivisection

Born in 1887, Maria Lacerda de Moura, a Brazilian left-wing radical, was an opponent of animal testing. While she is often identified as an individualist anarchist, this seems reductive, as numerous sources describe her as a supporter of class struggle who condemned capitalism.According to Francesca Miller, de Moura was “sympathetic to the goals of international socialism, but rejected all political affiliation.” Miller suggested she did this on feminist grounds, quoting from a 1932 book written by the leftist. “Up until now, which has been the party or program that presented a solution for the problem of female happiness?” de Moura said. “Who remembered to liberate women? …Fatherland, home, society, religion, morality, good manners, civil and political rights, communism, fascism, every other ism, revolutions, and barricades…continues to be the slave, an instrument skillfully manipulated by men for their sectarian, power-hungry, economic, religious, political, or social causes.”

She distanced herself from the mainstream of the feminist movement, June Edith said, “apparently feeling that the franchise would chiefly benefit middle-class women rather than aid the bulk of Brazil’s population or alter the country’s social structure.” But de Moura “found no constituency for a socialist feminist movement,” according to Susan K. Besse.

In a 2011 article titled ‘Representations of science and technology in Brazilian anarchism,’ Gilson Leandro Queluz provided rare English quotes from de Moura regarding animal testing. “I can only understand vivisection as a frenzy of unspeakable evil,” de Moura said. “I cannot even see the advantage of the scientific drunkenness that puts thousands of guinea pigs and dogs and any kind of animal at the mercy of ‘scientists.’”

Chimpanzee Vivisection History
De Moura was aghast at the experiments performed by the French surgeon Serge Voronoff, as many seem to have been. Voronoff, a frequent vivisectionist, was best known for involuntarily transplanting chimpanzees’ testicles onto human males in an effort to cure impotence. “By 1923 forty-three men had received testicles from nonhuman primates, and by the end of Voronoff’s career, that number reached thousands,” according to Nathan Wolfe. “Although Voronoff had inherited a fortune as an heir to a vodka manufacturer, he made more money operating on many of the most important men [sic] of his day.”

De Moura argued the surgeon’s procedures represented “quack science of modern industrialism, the science that served the golden calf, the science of human vampirism exhausted by early senility that sucks the glands of animals.” And Voronoff’s clients, she said, were “old, wealthy and powerful men, whose conscience was crushed by parasitism, whose safes were enriched at the expense of the exploitation of thousands and thousands of workers, at the expense of the martyrdom and servility of the human herd.”

There appears to be more material available elsewhere regarding her species politics, but it’s only in Portuguese. One hopes an enterprising socialist animalist familiar with the language might investigate this. Some sources state de Moura died in 1944, while others say she passed away a year later in 1945. She would have been in her late 50s.

Jon Hochschartner is a freelance writer from upstate New York. He is the author of Socialists and Animal Rights. Visit his website by clicking here

Lilian Wolfe likely Motivated by Animalist Concern

Editor’s Note

Jon is a regular contributor to our sister site the Academic Abolitionist Vegan. He posts short investigative pieces that uncover the politics of historical and contemporary figures in the socialist movement who have recognized intersections with speciesism.  Many early female activists espoused vegetarianism.

Wolfe Anarchism Animal Rights

 

Born in 1875, Lilian Wolfe, whose name is spelled in different ways in different sources, was a British feminist, anarchist and vegetarian. According to George Woodcock, she was a friend and collaborator to the influential anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin. Given her residency at the Whiteway Colony, a community inspired by Leo Tolstoy, one might assume her diet was inspired by concern for animals.

The seriousness with which Wolfe seemed to regard her vegetarianism can be seen in her steadfastness to the diet during her incarceration for opposing World War I. “The anarchists round the newspaper Freedom had their own anti-war organization,” Sheila Rowbotham said. “Lilian Woolf, an ex-suffragette who became an anarchist, was imprisoned [in 1916] for giving out anti-war leaflets to troops. Pregnant and unmarried on principle, she remained a vegetarian in prison and was forced to drink cabbage water to provide herself with some nutrition.”

While I no longer put much emphasis on the importance of prefigurative vegetarianism or veganism, I must admire her tenacity in this instance, even if it was for what I see now as a mostly symbolic end. When I spent a mere 40 hours in jail for my 2011 involvement in the Occupy Wall Street movement, I’m sure I betrayed my prefigurative veganism numerous times, which I then took very seriously, at least publicly. I abjured the offerings that obviously contained animal products, such as the cartons of cows’ milk and cows’ cheese sandwiches.  The former prompted many jokes contrasting 1 percent milk fat and OWS’ signature phraseology regarding the economic division of society.  But I ate peanut butter sandwiches I suspect were made with honey. The bread for these also could have contained animal products. I just wanted to keep my head down.

How much time Wolfe served in custody is unclear. She “was sentenced to £25 or two months and went to prison, but there discovered she was pregnant (at the age of 40), so paid the fine and was released,” according to Donald Rooum. She administrated Freedom Press, which identified with libertarian communism, for much of her life. “For more than twenty-five years Lilian Wolfe was the centre of the administration of Freedom Press at its various premises in London,” Nicolas Walter said. “She was the person on whom every organization depends — the completely reliable worker who runs the office, opening and closing the shop, answering the telephone and the post, doing accounts and keeping people in touch. She maintained personal contact with the thousands of people who read the paper.”

George Orwell Animal Rights

When the socialist George Orwell was sick with tuberculosis in 1949, an illness that eventually claimed his life, Orwell’s young son, Richard Blair, was sent to live at the Whiteway Colony, near the sanitarium where his father was being treated. He was placed in Wolfe’s care. Orwell, it should be mentioned, was hostile to what Whiteway represented. “If only the sandals and pistachio-colored shirts could be put in a pile and burnt, and every vegetarian, teetotaler and creeping Jesus sent home to Welwyn Garden City to do his [sic] yoga exercises quietly,” Orwell said. “As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.”

For what it’s worth, Blair seemed to enjoy his time at Whiteway. “As far as I can recall I was perfectly happy there and even attended a local kindergarten for a few weeks, until mid-August,” Blair said. “I remember regularly waiting with someone to catch a bus to go and visit my father and, on arrival, would always ask him where it hurt.”
Orwell described Whiteway and Wolfe herself with no small amount of condescension. The community was “some sort of anarchist colony run, or financed, by the old lady whose name I forget who keeps the Freedom Bookshop,” Orwell said. For Walter, this was quite a strange twist. “How nice to know that at the very end of his life Orwell was helped by a high-minded woman who was not only an anarchist but a pacifist, and also a vegetarian and a teetotaler,” Walter said. “A perfect irony to close the case of Orwell and the anarchists!” Wolfe died in 1974, at the age of 98.
Jon Hochschartner is a freelance writer from upstate New York. He is the author of Socialists and Animal Rights. Visit his website by clicking here