Should We Retire “Mother Earth”?

Image of a celestial mother earth holding planet earth in space.

By Eve Wetlaufer

We have all heard the ubiquitous term “Mother Earth,” and often in reference to treating the environment with more care. While the term might seem innocent, does anthropomorphizing the Earth actually help or hurt the environment? What about when the gender is female? What about when the female is a mother? What does the feminization of the Earth do for the feminist movement? I will first look at the ways in which giving the Earth a gendered role as our “collective Mother” is harmful, and then the ways in which it is beneficial. This is a topic that, for me, raises many more questions then it answers, but that is quite all right. As long as we continue to use this term, it is important to discuss the implications.

In the English language, nature and natural forces (hurricanes, tornadoes), many animals (cats, deer, rabbits), and, in general, whatever cannot be controlled take the feminine pronoun; when applied to nature, “she” still carries the connotations of femininity. ‘We should check carefully whether we really want to view our relationship with the Earth through genderdized lenses,’ warns Yaakov Garb. ‘What baggage will carry over from one domain to another (especially in a culture whose relation to both women and mothers is as misogynous as ours is)?’

– Greta Gaard, Ecofeminism, p.303

Femininity as well as motherhood carry many, often-stereotypical connotations in the world we live in today. When the Earth is given both a gender and a familial role, those connotations carry over. Gaard goes on to say that when the Earth is seen as female, she becomes associated with some of the cliché female attributes projected on to her such as the “damsel in distress,” “out of control,” and the sexualized female who can be a virgin, pillaged, and raped. In the later example, and issue Gaard points out is that the one who does the raping is culture, thus “culture is masculinized, and the human-nature relationship becomes one of compulsory heterosexuality” (104).

The second layer of the Earth’s given femininity is that she is a mother. The mother role takes on a whole other array of linked attributes such as nourishing, caring, supportive, and forgiving, and then on the flip side, stern, punishing, and spiteful. Mother Earth is often (subconsciously, even) seen as the female counterpart to “Father God,” who is most always male in the three major monotheistic religions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. God is commonly understood to rule over (Mother) Earth, he created the Her (i.e. Psalm 24:1 states, “The Earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it,) and in contemporary commentary, God is often portrayed as working through the Earth with natural disasters, weather patterns, and the like. God and Mother Earth are commonly seen as separate from one another, but they are also in a hierarchical and heterosexual relationship of control.

A serene forest with a large tree canopy blotting out the sun

The many different characteristics associated with a female and mother Earth can be harmful not only to the Earth itself, but the humans living on it. For example, Simona Sacchi, Paolo Riva, and Marco Brambilla begin to answer the question of how anthropomorphizing the Earth helps or hurts it, especially when wearing the “wise mother” hat in their 2013 study, When Mother Earth Rises Up. They conducted two studies that tested whether or not a group of people would feel more or less inclined to help victims of a natural disaster when the Earth was anthropomorphized. They found that “humanizing nature undermines the tendency to support victims of natural disasters.” While hypothetically it could actually help people cope with natural disasters because the natural force that caused it is rational and therefore must have had a deliberate reason, that is, in fact, the exact reason people were less likely to help victims. If Mother Earth deliberately caused this natural disaster to destroy a group of people, she must have had a reason, the thinking goes, according to the study. The Earth is simply acting as the “wise and all-knowing” mother role attributed to her.

Mother Earth Painting

Another example of a Mother Earth characteristic that works against it is the “always-loving” and “ever-replenishing” role. It is said that you can treat those who love you the most, the worst, because you know they will forgive you. Time and again, we see how mothers of convicted killers, for instance, still deeply love their children. Unconditional love is something a parent often has for their children, and that dynamic carries over to the way humans can be careless in their treatment of the Earth. These individuals separate themselves so deeply from the Earth that they view environmental degradation as an outside problem, one that She can deal with, especially because She is a mother figure, who is often seen as a fountain of replenishing love, wisdom and forgiveness.

A final critique of the term “Mother Earth” is that it is typically linked with whiteness. Although artistic depictions of Mother Earth often show her with green skin, the Earth-loving, granola-eating, White people have appropriated sustainability and care for the Earth as their movement. Lolaboloca writes about this issue in her article Reclaiming Abuelita Knowledge As A Brown Ecofeminista. She writes:

The thing is, I DO care about the environment but I cannot stand it when white people pretend they are all connected to the earth and refuse to understand that many of us — Migrant Brown People — come from backgrounds where “environmentalism” is not talked about because we grow up doing unintentional “green” things.

She gives the example of reusable pads during menstruation. Associating Mother Earth singularly with whiteness also discounts many People of Color whose religious and cultural traditions incorporate Earth fundamentally and often in a maternal role, such as many Native Americans tribes, who have long linked the Earth with spirituality and the Mother of all.

An interesting case study regarding these issues can be seen in the current state of the Yamuna River. Snaking down from the Himalayas and passing through Delhi, the Yamuna River spans 853-miles through India. With the rapid industrialization and increasing population of Delhi, and India as a country, the Yamuna has become neighbor to many manufacturing plants that directly dump their waste into the river, while 60 million people rely on the Yamuna for drinking and bathing water. Although there have been protests and a movement to protect the river, in some areas it is a thick, black stream of sewage. For many Hindus, the Yamuna River is much more than just a holy river; it is quite literally the Goddess who is giver of life and a lover of Krishna. Many devotees perform rituals at the river, in which they bathe and then drink it ceremoniously.

Devotees wade in the Yamuna River, which froths heavily with pollution and is littered with trash

In David Haberman’s ethnography, River of Love in an Age of Pollution: The Yamuna River of Northern India, he describes how the belief in the Yamuna as a Goddess can actually cause a lack of environmental action for some people who believe Her to physically and spiritually wash away all sins, including the material waste. If She makes all unclean clean, then the pollution is inconsequential, and even offensive to some to discuss the current state of the river. Others feel the river’s condition can harm the living creatures in Her, but not the Goddess herself. And lastly, there is a group of Hindus who believe She (the river) is a victim and must be protected. This group has been a part of the protests and show us that personification of nature can in some cases be a motivator for action to create a more healthy Earth.

Before I explore the benefits of calling the Earth our mother, it’s important to take a step back and ask: Is anthropomorphism always bad? I don’t think so; in fact it seems to be a natural tendency for humans. We often relate the knowable (human) to the unknowable (non-human) in order to better understand. This is why we narrate what our companion animals are thinking, yell at technology when it isn’t working properly, and exclaim how wonderful the birds sound when they “sing.” In the same way, referring to the Earth as our mother allows us to frame the complexity and unspeakable mystery of the universe into terms we can easily relate to. This bridge has the budding opportunity to lead to empathy and compassion.

The Earth is a living, conscious being and the personification of it can help people to see that. This is one reason why James Lovelock’s Gaia Theory was so influential for the scientific community and beyond. In the late 1960’s Lovelock developed the Gaia Theory, which stated the organic and inorganic elements of the Earth have developed together as a single, self-regulating, living system. This allowed people to connect the Earth to any living organism, such as the human body. It also showed how humans as a species are dramatically effecting the harmony of the Earth, but how we also have the potential to live in accordance with the Earth’s equilibrium because we are a naturally occurring part of it. The theory is named after Gaia, Earth Goddess, whom in Greek mythology is said to have given birth to the universe.

"The Gaia Hypothesis: The earth is more than just a home. It's a living system and we are a part of it."

With all the problems discussed in calling and experiencing the Earth our Mother, it has shown to also be a pragmatic tool to help the environment. There are countless nature-based schools, gardening and conscious living publications, vegan cafes, cruelty-free beauty brands, health food stores, and more all using the name “Mother Earth,” “Mother Nature,” or “Gaia,” which draw people closer to nature-based living.

But perhaps the greatest benefit from identifying the Earth as our mother is something that goes much deeper into our core understanding of our place in the world. When we identify the Earth as our Mother, there is a greater likelihood that we will create a connection that allows people to empathize with the Earth and her suffering, as they would with a member of their family. Viewing the Earth as a member of one’s family is a profound shift from the mainstream understanding of our relationship to the environment, and even different than the mainstream environmental thought. If the Earth is a part of our family, or better yet, we are a part of it and all that lives and grows upon it, how could we ever bring ourselves to harm it? To harm her is to harm ourselves.

Thich Nhat Hanh elaborates on shedding the common dualistic mindset when it comes to our perception of the Earth and ourselves in his book Love Letter to the Earth. Just as we are made up of our biological parents, we are also made up of the Earth:

We often forget that the planet we are living on has given us all the elements that make up our bodies. The water in our flesh, our bones, and all the microscopic cells inside our bodies all come from the Earth and are part of the Earth. The Earth is not just the environment we live in. We are the Earth and we are always carrying her within us.

He goes on to say that by realizing our interconnection with the Earth, and understanding it to be our Mother, we are bound to change the way we act for the better.

We too can see that the Earth is a living being and not an inanimate object. She is not inert matter. We often call our planet Mother Earth. Seeing the Earth as our mother helps us to realize her true nature. The Earth is not a person, yet she is indeed a mother who has given birth to millions of different species, including the human species.

But don’t think that Mother Earth is outside of you. Looking deeply you can find Mother Earth within you, just as your biological mother who gave birth to you is also within you. She is in each of your cells.

If we need to turn to anthropomorphic terms to feel this connection and subsequent care for the Earth, is that worth the baggage that comes along with feminizing and giving the Earth the role of our collective mother? Ideally, we would simply be at peace with the Earth as it is; with utter awe, reverence, and respect for its intrinsic value. Ideally, we would break free of the desire to relate everything back to human terms, as if the very essence of our species is the central tenet of what all else needs to be compared to. But we do not live in an ideal world. So I believe that in order to get one step closer to it, we can call, and more importantly feel, the Earth to be our Mother. Moving towards a more inclusive sense of family; towards an interconnected relationship with our human and non-human brothers and sisters, and with our Mother Earth.

References:

Conniff, Richard. “The Yamuna River: India’s Dying Goddess.” Environment: YALE Magazine. : The Journal of the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Spring 2011. Web. 19 Jan. 2016.

Gaard, Greta Claire. Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1993. 303-04. Print.

Haberman, David L. River of Love in an Age of Pollution: The Yamuna River of Northern India. Berkeley, CA: U of California, 2006. Print.

Hạnh, Thich Nhất. Love Letter to The Earth. Berkley: Parallax, 2013. Print.

Lalobaloca. “Reclaiming Abuelita Knowledge As A Brown Ecofeminista | Autostraddle.” Autostraddle. N.p., 20 Mar. 2014. Web. 19 Jan. 2016.

Sacchi, Simona, Paolo Riva, and Marco Brambilla. “When Mother Earth Rises Up: Anthropomorphizing Nature Reduces Support for Natural Disaster Victims.” Social Psychology 44.4 (2013): 271-77. American Psychological Association. Web. 17 Jan. 2016.


EveEve Wetlaufer is in her third year at New York University in the Gallatin Program, with an individualized major investigating the historical human orientation toward animals, spirituality, and the environment, with a minor in the Animal Studies Initiative. Eve also holds a certification in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. She has worked at several animal rescues, most recently Catskill Animal Sanctuary, as an Outreach and Education intern. She is also the loving companion to a rescued hound named Chrissy.

whyveganism.com

Fedoras for Animal Rights

Several animals standing in the background; fedora in foreground, reads, "Fedoras for Animal Rights"

Why fedoras? See bottom of essay.

Dear readers,

Are you tired of endless microaggressions and intentional ignorance disrupting your activism? Totally over the overt racism and sexism levied at you by privileged persons determined to ruin your day? Got a racial tension headache?

Annoyed at the time wasted every day bouncing off derailing comments when you could be advocating for social justice? Yuck. I know I am.

Of course, activists are well aware of the tough resistance inherent to social justice work. Social change is hard. People don’t want to give up their privilege.

But feminists are also aware of a particularly insidious aspect of this work: the frustration, stress, and energy expended in grappling with disingenuous persons who want nothing more than to cause us pain and to block social progress. You know, the doxxers, the cyber-stalkers, the “all lives matter” espousers, the “not all men” proclaimers, and the “reverse racism/sexism” wannabe philosophers. It’s the trolling, the mocking, and the jabs at underprivileged people made by privileged people. It’s the revelry in bigotry.

Certainly, we do not live in a post-racial/post-feminist world, and these attitudes and behaviors are still commonplace in our society. However, it is especially disheartening when they characterize social movements. It’s also especially crushing when it takes place online, where there is little recourse for those targeted. In fact, this kind of behavior especially flourishes in online spaces (male-created and male-dominated) where marginalized persons network and advocate at low cost (which is crucial for us, as poverty targets women and people of color).

Brown fedora hat

Racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, and other oppressions that seem to proliferate and flourish online can leave activists feeling frustrated, sidetracked, and ineffective. And that’s the point. Countermovements and bigots are successful when they keep activists from doing their important work.

Just how to handle this conundrum has been heavily debated. Some advocate ignoring it, while others advocate spiritual recentering and understanding. Some prefer to tackle it head on by publicly shaming and outing abusers to demand accountability. Whatever works for you, it is still important to acknowledge that the negative impact that systemic oppression has on marginalized activists is real. It hurts.

It also hinders.

My wise friend Aph Ko once explained to me that we all know how to break things down and criticize what is wrong in the world, but we don’t seem to be as skilled in building things back up. We don’t nurture our imagination for reconstruction enough. Instead of incessantly focusing on the negative, how can we start to create the positive world we want to inhabit? Can we start to tune out the bad with stronger, clearer, more radiant messages of social justice and equality?

And so, my dear vegfems, this is my resolution to share with you. Every time someone with ill-intentions seeks to bring you down, slur you, scare you, silence you, try this:

Do something positive for Nonhuman Animal liberation (or Black liberation, or trans liberation, or women’s liberation, et cetera).

Take the ugliness you have been served and use it to fuel your actions in the service of good.
Straw fedora hat

Can you do that? Try it. It doesn’t have to be major. If someone tells you that Black Lives Matter is narcissistic, bring some food to a feral cat colony in your area. If someone calls you a cunt, send an email to a feminist friend and offer some support and tend to the friendship. Shamed for promoting anti-reformist approaches to animal rights? Go post some leaflets in your community. Received a microaggression on Facebook? Give your dog a nice brushing, or treat your cat to some playtime. You get the idea.

Take that negative energy and flip it. When life gives you fedoras, make social justice.

Keep putting the good out there. It won’t stop the hate, and it won’t stop the violence. But it can help you to cope in a constructive way, and it will move us closer to our goal of peace.

So let’s give it a go, okay?

And let us know how it turned out! Please stop by Vegan Feminist Network on Facebook and share your stories, or email them to us! Check out WhyVeganism.com for more ideas.

 

In love and solidarity,
Vegan Feminist Network
Heart

Why Fedoras? In modern feminist spaces, fedoras have come to symbolize fraudulent “Men’s Rights Activism,” or feminist countermovement activity.

VFN Founder Corey Wrenn Featured on Feminist Magazine Radio

Feminist Magazine

In an interview hosted by Cherise Charleswell and Valecia Phillips, I discuss my forthcoming book, A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory, as well as how veganism and the Nonhuman Animal rights movement falls into the scope of a feminist framework. Specifically I unpack the relevance of speciesism to feminism, the Nonhuman Animal rights movement’s problems with sexism and racism, and the corrupting effect that capitalism has on social justice efforts.

Feminist Magazine on KPFK is the weekly Southern California radio show of news, views, politics and culture with an intersectional feminist perspective.

You can access the stream by clicking here or pressing play below.

La Política Sexual del Veganismo Moralmente Superior

Translation by María. María is active with Ochodoscuatro Ediciones, a non-profit anti-speciesist book house that is noted for translating Carol Adams’ The Sexual Politics of Meat into Spanish. You can view the original English version of the essay below by clicking here.

Stella McCartney and dog walking on trail

Por Corey Lee Wrenn

La línea de moda vegana de Stella McCartney apareció en un reciente artículo de la revista feminista Bustle en la sección “Moda y belleza”. Al principio, me sentí encantada de que presentasen el veganismo en un espacio feminista, cosa que no suele suceder tan a menudo como debería.

Parece que la autora, también, es consciente de la falta de conexión política entre feminismo y veganismo, pues se encarga de amortiguar a los lectores con una advertencia. Siguiendo una declaración de McCartney que dice que su marca es “la empresa más ética y amorosa de la industria de la moda”, Bustle aclara:

La declaración apunta que ella dijo eso en broma, indicando que no se siente moralmente superior acerca de su postura libre de crueldad, cosa que no siempre es el caso de los activistas por los derechos animales.

Encuentro esa advertencia bastante curiosa, estando en el contexto de la política feminista. Las feministas generalmente ponen resistencia cuando alguien intenta controlarles el tono en que dicen algo y a menudo castigan a las celebridades que se niegan a identificarse a sí mismas como feministas. Pero todo vale cuando hablamos de los derechos de los animales no humanos. En otras palabras, las feministas fomentan con determinación un feminismo fuerte y orgulloso, en un esfuerzo por desestigmatizar el activismo de justicia social, pero pueden darle rápidamente la vuelta y vilipendiar a aquellas que hacen lo mismo en nombre de los otros animales.

Dado que el 80% del movimiento por los derechos de los animales no humanos está formado por mujeres y siendo que el veganismo está extremadamente “feminizado”, es importante reconocer los matices sexistas en la estereotipación de las veganas. Es posible que esa “superioridad moral” asignada a activistas y veganas sea de hecho una forma de vigilancia de género. En otras palabras, estos estereotipos trabajan para avergonzar y silenciar a las mujeres “engreídas” que se atreven a politizarse.

Las feministas deberían mantenerse al margen la ridiculización de la justicia social. Preocuparse por la opresión de las demás no debería ser algo que ocultar o que minimizar. El compromiso para acabar con la injusticia debería ser algo de lo que estar orgullosa. Deberíamos estar celebrando el activismo. Es un trabajo duro, se ganan pocos amigos, es mentalmente agotador y pocas personas están dispuestas a participar. Las feministas no deberían poner añadidos a esa dificultad, cuando podrían ser una fuente importante de apoyo. Esto especialmente cuando la mayor parte de activistas por el veganismo son mujeres y cuando el especismo está íntimamente ligado al patriarcado.

 


Corey Lee WrennDr. Wrenn is Lecturer of Sociology. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology with Colorado State University in 2016. She received her M.S. in Sociology in 2008 and her B.A. in Political Science in 2005, both from Virginia Tech. She was awarded Exemplary Diversity Scholar, 2016 by the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity. She served as council member with the American Sociological Association’s Animals & Society section (2013-2016) and was elected Chair in 2018. She serves as Book Review Editor to Society & Animals and has contributed to the Human-Animal Studies Images and Cinema blogs for the Animals and Society Institute. She has been published in several peer-reviewed academic journals including the Journal of Gender Studies, Feminist Media Studies, Disability & Society, Food, Culture & Society, and Society & Animals. In July 2013, she founded the Vegan Feminist Network, an academic-activist project engaging intersectional social justice praxis. She is the author of A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory (Palgrave MacMillan 2016).

Receive research updates straight to your inbox by subscribing to my newsletter.

Conseils pour Alliés Masculins

Translation by Christophe Hendrickx. See more French translations of critical vegan essays by grassroots activists by visiting his blog, La Pilule Rouge. The original English version of this essay can be found by clicking here.

Il ne fait aucun doute, le mouvement pour les droits des animaux non-humains a été compromis par le sexisme et manipulé par le patriarcat. Ce n’est dorénavant plus juste PETA qui mène la danse : c’est un nombre incalculable d’autres organisations (comme Fish Love), de compagnies (comme LUSH), et de pornographes (comme Vegan Pinup). Qui plus est, cela s’est propagé aux interactions individuelles comme le montre la normalité croissante d’activistes masculins tentant de contrôler, manipuler, menacer, ou harceler les militantes féminines.

Beaucoup de féministes insistent sur le fait que les hommes ne peuvent pas être des féministes (et l’Organisation Nationale des Hommes contre le Sexisme est d’accord). Être féministe, c’est être une femme auto-identifiée se battant pour l’égalité féminine. Être une féministe demande une expérience directe de l’oppression de genre, car c’est cette expérience unique en tant que membre du groupe visé qui informera l’activisme. Les hommes qui s’offusquent de cette définition et qui demandent à être inclus ne font que mettre en évidence l’ubiquité du privilège masculin. Lorsque les hommes réaffirment ce droit, ils démontrent leur besoin d’être aux commandes et ils démontrent le patriarcat. Bien que les hommes ne pourront jamais entièrement se soustraire eux-mêmes des privilèges de leur genre, les hommes peuvent tout à fait être des alliés.

Et nous avons grandement besoin d’alliés dans le mouvement des droits des animaux non-humains. Ce qui est peut-être le plus à blâmer pour le sexisme et la misogynie rampante dans notre mouvement (au-delà de la nature oppressante du patriarcat) est la complaisance. Il est temps de déplacer la responsabilité sur les membres masculins de notre communauté.

  1. Ne Soyez Jamais Complaisants

Si vous êtes témoin d’une femme se faisant brimée, harcelée ou intimidée… exprimez-vous. Si vous restez silencieux, si vous « restez neutre », ou si vous prenez la défense de l’agresseur (ce que j’identifie comme « mentalité de la bande de mecs »), vous êtes tout aussi coupable de sexisme et d’oppression que l’agresseur.

  1. Demandez une Représentation Égale

Si vous participez à un projet qui est principalement mené par des hommes (ce qui est suspect considérant que notre mouvement est composé à 80% de femmes), demandez à savoir où sont les femmes et refusez de participer avant qu’elles soient incluses. Ce problème est également présent dans le mouvement athée/sceptique, et les féministes et leurs alliés ont très bien réussi à faire pression sur les organisateurs d’évènements pour améliorer les proportions de genre.

  1. N’utilisez Jamais la Carte du “Sexisme Inversé”

Les femmes, qui sont un groupe oppressé vivant sous un patriarcat qui privilégie les hommes, ne peuvent pas, de par la nature même de leur statut social, exercer de sexisme envers les hommes. Dire d’une femme qu’elle est sexiste (ou, pire, « misandre ») vise à rediriger l’attention du problème des hommes, un groupe privilégié qui n’est jamais remis en question, vers les femmes. C’est une tactique visant à détourner l’attention de l’oppresseur vers l’oppressée. C’est une tactique visant à réduire au silence.

  1. Ne Mansplainez (Mecspliquez) Pas.

Le fait est que, malgré la sagesse infinie et la formation approfondie que pourraient avoir certains hommes, les hommes ne connaissent malgré tout pas mieux les problèmes des femmes que les femmes elles-mêmes. Le mansplainingsemble avoir frappé notre communauté. Beaucoup d’hommes insistent pour tout expliquer aux femmes, du féminisme au viol, avec l’intention de dominer la conversation ou de remporter le débat. Les expériences personnelles des femmes sont complètement écartées et dévalorisées, quand bien-même ces femmes ont les qualifications irréfutables les appuyant. Le mansplaining n’aide pas, c’est oppressif et irrespectueux.

  1. N’Harcelez pas les Femmes

Bien que cela puisse paraître évident, le harcèlement dans notre mouvement est un véritable problème. A travers des interviews réalisées avec des militantes, Emily Gaarder, dans son ouvrage de 2011 Women and the Animal Rights Movement, a constaté que le problème était plutôt répandu. J’ai moi-même été victimisée par plusieurs hommes vegans qui m’ont harcelée au point de devoir presque appeler la police.

  1. Écoutez

La majorité des hommes ne savent pas ce qu’est être une femme, n’ayant jamais fait l’expérience d’en être une. Tout comme les personnes de couleur blanche ne peuvent jamais totalement comprendre ce qu’est être une personne de couleur, unhomme cis ne peut jamais totalement comprendre ce qu’est être une femme. On considère généralement comme condescendant et peu utile qu’une personne blanche prétende avoir toutes les réponses sur les difficultés que rencontrent les personnes de couleur. Je soutiens que la même chose s’applique aux hommes qui pensent pouvoir comprendre ce qu’est l’expérience féminine et qui se sentent également dans leur droit de privilégié de définir ou de valider le sexisme. Au lieu d’insister, « Ce n’est pas sexiste » ou « Tu exagères », essayez d’écouter. Tentez de comprendre d’où viennent les femmes, les problèmes auxquels elles doivent faire face, et les solutions qu’elles recherchent. De même, rappelez-vous de leur faire de la place. N’essayez pas de dominer la discussion et donnez de l’espace aux femmes pour qu’elles participent sans être noyées par votre voix.

  1. Ne Gaslightez pas

Le Gaslighting est un outil efficace de contrôle masculin, se manifestant généralement dans des cas de violence conjugale ou de violence psychologique. Le Gaslighting est une tactique visant à faire douter une femme sur sa réalité et ses expériences. Si une femme déclare avoir fait l’objet de sexisme, et que vous lui dites qu’elle en fait toute une affaire pour rien ou qu’elle « exagère », c’est du Gaslighting. Faire en sorte qu’une femme se sente « folle » ou qu’elle apparaisse comme tel aux yeux des autres est un moyen de l’affaiblir et de la contrôler.

  1. Surveillez Votre Langage

Il y a des centaines de termes féminins péjoratifs (et seulement quelques masculins) qui utilisent l’identité féminine comme une insulte. Ils visent à affaiblir. Par exemple, l’association « Defending Pitbulls against Peta » appelle la présidente de PETA Ingrid Newkirk une « vilaine sorcière » et Nathan Winograd insinue qu’elle est une malade mentale. Ces deux exemples ne sont que la continuité d’une longue histoire de femmes ayant été ostracisées, institutionnalisées, et même tuées pour avoir été des « sorcières » ou « folles ». La langue française est vaste et contient plus de mots que la personne lambda n’en utilisera, donc il n’y a vraiment aucune excuse pour utiliser des péjoratifs genrés à moins que l’intention est de s’appuyer sur le sexisme pour renforcer votre argument.

  1. Soyez Critiques envers la Violence

Dans son livre de 2006, Capers in the Churchyard : Animal Rights Advocacy in the Age of Terror, Lee Hall avance que les tactiques violentes sont indubitablement associées à l’expression masculine du pouvoir, de la bravade et de la domination. J’ajouterais que ces approches sont en grande partie anti-féministes. La violence privilégie l’expérience masculine et le contrôle masculin, et, en même temps, rabaisse la féminité et vise à effrayer. Dans un discours présenté lors d’une conférence de 2012 en Italie, « La Paralysie du Pacifisme : En Défense de l’Action Militante Directe et de la « Violence » pour la Libération Animale », l’orateur crie littéralement sur une salle pleine de jeunes militantes, les accusant de pacifisme et insistant pour qu’elles abandonnent la non-violence.

  1. Soyez Critiques de l’Exploitation Sexuelle

Si vous êtes témoin d’une situation dans laquelle des femmes sont encouragées à se dévêtir pour « la cause »… faites entendre votre voix. Le corps des femmes ne devrait regarder personne, mais nous ne pouvons également pas ignorer la réalité d’un mouvement qui, couramment, exploite et objectifie sexuellement les femmes. L’oppression des animaux non-humains ne peut être démantelée via l’oppression des femmes. Faites entendre votre voix, laissez un commentaire, envoyez un email, ou tenez un blog sur le sujet. Ne laissez pas s’étendre l’exploitation sexuelle sans broncher.

 

Prière de reconnaître que ces requêtes ne sont pas une attaque envers les hommes. Ce n’est rien d’autre qu’une tentative honnête de créer un espace sûr pour les femmes dans un mouvement qui devient de plus en plus dangereux et humiliant. Nous devons faire face à l’inégalité là où elle survient. Nous sommes de plus en plus conscients de la manière dont nous traitons les autres groupes à risque, et pourtant nous ignorons si souvent le sort des femmes. Pire encore, ces femmes qui trouvent le courage de prendre la parole sont accusées d’en faire tout un foin. C’est représentatif de l’enracinement du sexisme et de la misogynie. Lorsqu’un mouvement composé à 80% de femmes ne peut se libérer des chaînes de l’oppression féminine, nous devrions être sérieusement préoccupé·es. Mais la charge du travail ne devrait pas reposer entièrement sur les femmes, les hommes doivent également prendre leur responsabilité et s’efforcer d’être des alliés féministes vegans pour le bénéfice de tous et de toutes, hommes, femmes, humains, ou non-humains.

 


Corey Lee WrennDr. Wrenn is Lecturer of Sociology. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology with Colorado State University in 2016. She received her M.S. in Sociology in 2008 and her B.A. in Political Science in 2005, both from Virginia Tech. She was awarded Exemplary Diversity Scholar, 2016 by the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity. She served as council member with the American Sociological Association’s Animals & Society section (2013-2016) and was elected Chair in 2018. She serves as Book Review Editor to Society & Animals and has contributed to the Human-Animal Studies Images and Cinema blogs for the Animals and Society Institute. She has been published in several peer-reviewed academic journals including the Journal of Gender Studies, Feminist Media Studies, Disability & Society, Food, Culture & Society, and Society & Animals. In July 2013, she founded the Vegan Feminist Network, an academic-activist project engaging intersectional social justice praxis. She is the author of A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory (Palgrave MacMillan 2016).

Receive research updates straight to your inbox by subscribing to my newsletter.

Fisicoculturistas Veganos, Hombres Músculo, y el Físico Masculino: Por Qué Promover lo Masculino es Dañino para el Movimiento de la Liberación Animal

 

Muscled man's chest and arms, holding large floret of broccoli

Translation by Mariángel Villalobos. You can follow her on Twitter @mvillabe. The original English version of this essay can be found by clicking here.

PETA y otras campañas de liberación animal son comúnmente criticadas por explotar los cuerpos de las mujeres de una manera sexualmente provocativa en campañas para los animales no humanos. A través de estas campañas, las mujeres son motivadas a prostituir sus cuerpos desnudos en la calle, todo para llamar la atención a la situación de los animales no humanos. Mi amiga y colega Corey Wrenn llama la atención sobre los efectos dañinos de usar el sexo para vender el caso de los derechos de los animales, señalando que “la degradación de la mujer socialmente aceptada y su objetificación sexual está directamente conectada a la discriminación y violencia en contra de la mujer.”

Mientras que estoy de acuerdo de que tácticas como las de PETA dañan a la mujer y que estos trucos perpetúan la objetificación de la mujer, que de vuelta engendra violencia sexual, me gustaría señalar que hay otra manera en que las campañas de liberación animal comúnmente dañan a los animales y a las mujeres al mismo tiempo: al usar la masculinidad para promover el veganismo.

No es poco común ver organizaciones de liberación animal, como Vegan Outreach  ilustrar en sus panfletos cómo uno puede mantener su masculinidad en una dieta vagana. De hecho, en el panfleto de Vegan Outreach “Even if You Like Meat” (Aunque te Guste la Carne) ellos incluyen una foto de un fisicoculturista Robert Cheeke en una camiseta que lee “Vegan Bodybuilder” (Fisicoculturista Vegano), dando la aprobación para llamar la atención a sus hinchados músculos. Publicidad como esta perpetúa el siguiente mensaje: puedes ser vegano y también tener tu masculinidad.

Pausemos por un momento para considerar qué es la masculinidad y por qué es dañina.

La masculinidad se relaciona con las expectativas de la sociedad para los hombres; hay ciertos roles de género que son vistos como apropiados para que los hombres fomenten. Mientras que los roles

de género son comúnmente definidos como “un set de expectativas para comportarse, pensar y sentir, que son basados en el sexo biológico de una persona,” la masculinidad es un set de roles de género, comportamientos, y aspectos de personalidad esperados de “hombres reales”: fuertes, independientes, con metas, trabajadores, dominantes, heterosexuales, vigorosos, agresivos, no emocionales, físicos, competitivos, enérgicos (KIlmartin 1994, 7-17).

La idea de que la masculinidad es responsable por la violencia, incluyendo los asaltos sexuales, es raramente cuestionada. Como Kilmartin señala, la gran mayoría de actos violentos son cometidos por los hombres, llevándonos a concluir que hay una alta relación entre la masculinidad y la agresión (KIlmartin 1994, 211). De acuerdo al FBI (2011), aproximadamente 90% de los crímenes violentos en los Estados Unidos son cometidos por hombres.

Además de la relación entre la masculinidad y la violencia, la masculinidad es asumida como la responsable de la violencia sexual, ya que “los asaltos sexuales son casi exclusivamente perpetuados por los hombres” (KIlmartin 1994, 212). En su estudio transcultural sobre el abuso sexual, Sanday (1981) reporta que las sociedades con un alto índice de violaciones “toleran la violencia y fomentan a los hombres y niños a ser fuertes, agresivos y competitivos.” De la misma manera, Kilmartin (2005, 1) sugiere que “la socialización de los hombres para que sean agresivos y iniciadores sexuales, su desproporcionado poder social y organizativo, y su habilidad para intimidar basado en superior tamaño y masa muscular“ puede explicar el fenómeno de los asaltos sexuales llevado a cabo por hombres. La moral de historia, entonces, es que, “la masculinidad es uno de los más poderosos contextos en los cuales los asaltos sexuales ocurren” Kilmartin (2005, 1).

Cuando usamos individuos como Robert Cheeke, cuya imagen ilustra lo masculino, para promover el veganismo, perpetuamos la idea de que la masculinidad es un tipo de ideal que los “hombres reales” deberían esforzarse para alcanzar. Sin embargo, si la masculinidad es responsable de la violencia, especialmente la violencia en contra de los débiles o “femeninos”, entonces deberíamos pausar para considerar si hace sentido que usemos este tipo de tácticas de mercadeo para enviar un mensaje vegano.

Recordemos qué es lo que el mensaje de liberación animal conlleva: una de las metas del movimiento de la liberación animal incluye desafiar el modelo de dominio al repensar por qué nosotros damos privilegio y admiramos a los seres “dominantes” o “fuertes”. Sin embargo, cuando las organizaciones usan a los fisicoculturistas para vender el mensaje vegano, envían el mensaje opuesto, un mensaje peligroso: la masculinidad es preferida sobre lo femenino y hay una jerarquía donde lo masculino reina y domina sobre los demás.

Esta idea no solo pone en peligro a las mujeres, pero la idea de que hay una dicotomía entre lo masculino y lo femenino pone en desventaja a los animales, ya que los animales son identificados como parte de la “naturaleza” – y la naturaleza es de vuelta identificada con lo femenino.

Si queremos erradicar la explotación de los animales, debemos desafiar la idea de que “no importa por qué alguien es vegano, simplemente importa el que ellos son veganos.” Por que el que alguien sea vegano importa si nuestra metal final es completar la liberación animal. Si uno no comprende que los principios de fondo detrás del veganismo ético, como el rechazo al dominio de la jerarquía, entonces qué va a prevenir que él explote animales en situaciones que le permiten expresar su masculinidad, como en las corridas de toros, la caza de animales, etcétera? La masculinidad es un mensaje peligroso de mandar, y si podemos promover los beneficios para la salud del veganismo sin tener que recurrir a las imágenes de la masculinidad, por qué las organizaciones de liberación animal como Vegan Outreach se centrar en hacer esto mismo?

Por 1LT Cheryl Abbate