What is intersectionality?
Intersectionality recognizes that all oppression is rooted in the same structural inequality. Many social movements avoid intersectionality, preferring instead to highlight the interests of one group or another. Often, ignoring the plight of other at-risk groups means that these groups are made further vulnerable to oppression. For example, the Nonhuman Animal rights movement largely ignores feminism, and the movement is rife with sexual objectification, sexual abuse, and misogyny. Without an intersectional approach, the actual cause of oppression is obscured, and social movements are weakened by their piecemeal, non-collaborative approach.
We maintain that Nonhuman Animals represent a distinct at-risk social group. Fighting against human inequality makes no sense so long as we perpetuate the inequality of other animals. What we eat, what we wear, how we entertain ourselves, etc. is so often built on the oppression of Nonhuman Animals (which also oppresses vulnerable human groups). Nonhuman and human oppression is linked in many ways; they often reinforces and aggravate one another.
Are men excluded from your mission?
Absolutely not. While we maintain that only self-identified women can be feminists, we believe men have a very important role to play as allies.
Do you hate men?
Nope. We are patriarchy-haters. It’s not about individual men, it’s about structural systems that maintain inequality. Although, some individual men, especially high-profile men, are sometimes used as examples of how that structural inequality manifests.
Do you hate women?
No. Sometimes our criticism of third-wave feminism, pornography, and sexual objectification is conflated with body-shaming, prudishness, discomfort with nudity, etc. Again, we are interested in deconstructing how institutionalized oppression influences the “choice” to be “sexy,” who gets to be sexy, and who that sexiness actually benefits.
Some radical feminists are against trans inclusion in feminist spaces, are you?
No. We fully support anti-oppression efforts for trans persons.
I see that you are critical of prostitution and pornography, are you critical of sex workers?
Absolutely not. We are critical of systems and institutions the oppress vulnerable women, not the individuals struggling to survive in those systems.
Why do you post about fat-shaming?
In our society, weight is often used as a means to shame, hurt, oppress, and marginalize many persons. Focus on body weight tends to blame the individual and obscures structural inequalities. Focus on an idealized weight also alienates bodies of color. We take the position that BMI is not always directly correlated with one’s health. Indeed, many vegans are overweight. We recognize the thin-privilege that has dominated many social movements, and we stand in support of anti-oppression efforts for “overweight” persons.
Your approach is divisive.
Actually, we attempt to be the opposite: We seek to be inclusive. We recognize that many social movements exclude vulnerable groups: Feminism often excludes Nonhuman Animals, the Nonhuman Animal rights movement often excludes people of color, etc. We take a critical approach to our writing and outreach in an attempt to break down artificial barriers between oppressed populations. We may criticize the manifestation of racism, sexism, or speciesism in certain movement spaces, but the intention is not to divide the community, the intention is to erode structural inequality and marginalization.
Focusing on human rights means you don’t care about Nonhuman Animal suffering.
Not true. This project recognizes that all oppressions are entangled and reinforce one another. Speciesism, racism, sexism, disableism, heterosexism, classism, etc. are all rooted in the same source operating with similar ideologies and mechanisms. If we cannot acknowledge human suffering and seek to build rights for humans, rights for nonhumans will also be meaningless.
Your approach is mean.
Most of the writers for Vegan Feminist Network are trained in critical social science. This means we specialize in critically deconstructing taken-for-granted norms, beliefs, and systems. Often people misinterpret this as a personal attack. We are interested in unveiling inequality and hidden power structures. Sometimes we may target an organization or a high-profile individual to use as an example, but our intention is never to personally attack anyone.
Who authors your essays?
Where ever possible, authors will be identified in their essays. However, due to the extreme harassment that many feminists experience in response to their public presence, some authors have chosen to remain anonymous.
Does Vegan Feminist Network accept donations?
Vegan Feminist Network is entirely volunteer-operated and is not registered as a non-profit. We accept donations only once each summer to cover web hosting fees. We are extremely critical of the capitalist tendency to conflate donating with engaged activism. The revolution will not be funded: we must all do our part in our own way in the pursuit of justice. Financial contributions should only be one of many means to support the cause.
How can I help?
We have a number of suggestions for activists who want to improve their advocacy and make positive change in their social world on our “What Can I Do?” page. If you are interested in contributing to the Vegan Feminist Network blog, website, or Facebook, please visit the submissions page. We are always overjoyed to receive new contributions.