What Would Donald Watson Do? How This One Question Promotes Sexism

Donald Watson gardening, reads, "What would Donald Watson Do? WWDWD?"

By Dr. C. Michele Martindill

“WHAT WOULD DONALD WATSON DO?” How Does that One Question Promote Sexism and Prevent Inclusiveness in the Vegan Abolitionist Movement?

What sacrilege! How dare any vegan suggest anything negative about the man who coined the term veganism! ::gasp:: Read the title again. Donald Watson is not the problem, nor is his work to end the suffering of animals the issue. The problem is how vegans today invoke Watson’s name and his definition of veganism as a cure-all whenever there is a dispute in the movement, and in so doing fail to use critical and reflexive thinking to understand why the vegan abolitionist movement is floundering.

If someone asks why the vegan movement is almost entirely comprised of women, but the leadership roles are filled by men spewing ideologies born of patriarchy, they are told veganism is only about helping the animals. A question about how a vegan group could have a logo steeped in ageism is met with the observation that we have to keep the focus on the animals and not worry about ageism; besides, the caricature logo of an old man and woman are meant as a joke. When someone asks why Persons of Color are largely absent from the vegan movement, the response is that that they could be vegan if they wanted to, but they choose not to be vegan.

Black and white image of Donald Watson tending to some beanstalks in a garden.

Donald Watson. Image from The Vegan Society

In each instance there is usually a reminder that veganism is only concerned with the animals, and the name of Donald Watson and his definition of veganism are raised to punctuate the end of the conversation. The vegans who see veganism according to this very narrow understanding of veganism might as well be asking What Would Donald Watson Do? (WWDWD?)—a play on the ubiquitous What Would Jesus Do? refrain. In each instance where the movement excludes women, older people, POC, the lower classes or people with disabilities WWDWD? Meanwhile, those from marginalized groups are left to wonder how a white man from an age of white supremacy, patriarchy, colonialism and imperialism could be the final word on ending oppression and exploitation.

Vegans are for the most part well aware that Donald Watson came up with the term vegan in 1944 as a way of both differentiating his previous commitment to being a vegetarian from his new vision of how humans should relate to their environment, and as a name for his newly founded society of like-minded individuals, the Vegan Society.  Many can recite his definition of veganism from memory:

[…] a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

– The Vegan Society

It was a radical statement for 1944 as well as for vegans today, and Donald Watson was surely a radical in his time. Right?

One current leader in the abolitionist vegan movement contends that Watson’s definition of veganism is meant to inspire vegans to work toward social justice for humans as well as other animals, but he also states that radical veganism died decades ago, replaced by consumerism. This leader questions how vegans can be more concerned with a new brand of chocolate bar suitable for vegans than with the corporatization of the Vegan Society and similar groups, groups that garner large donations to pay high salaried executives. How is it that veganism succumbed to capitalism? Here’s a better question: How radical could Donald Watson or his concept of veganism be when they emerged from a society steeped in white supremacy, patriarchy, colonialism and imperialism? Keep in mind that this question is not meant to label Watson, but to help us understand how systemic oppressions affect social action and how the foundation of the social movement leaves it vulnerable. There is no personal attack on Watson in this essay.

Radical is a socially constructed concept, which is to say the definition of radical changes according to the historical and local contexts in which the word appears. Within Donald Watson’s social world of 1944 England it was no doubt radical for him to not eat meat and to further stop using all other forms of animal by-products. Still, much to the frustration of some vegans in 2015 there is no strong statement from Donald Watson that could be applied to other social justice concerns of his era or ours. We can ask WWDWD? with regard to sexism, racism, ableism, classism or ageism, but there are no definitive answers to guide the vegans who campaign for inclusion of marginalized groups in the abolitionist vegan movement today, an effort that recognizes the intersectionality of how people identify with particular groups according to gender, race, physical abilities, social class and age.

We can never know what Watson intended. Knowledge of anyone’s intentions requires the ability to read minds. We only have actions and historical context to analyze. We know that Watson was enabled to form the Vegan Society through his position in a society that respected the work and ideas of white men like Watson; however, he was also constrained in the extent to which he could promote social justice for all marginalized human groups when asking others to consider veganism because calling for an end to the use of animals for human purposes was such a radical request. It required many explanations, and it is not difficult to imagine the near overwhelming backlash he faced from the corporations and politicians that benefitted from the exploitation of animals. Watson was a radical challenging the mainstream belief that other animals were merely objects for humans to use as they pleased—for food, for scientific experiments, for farm work, for clothing, for transportation, and for entertainment. So, we are left with many questions about how the abolitionist vegan movement of today remains predominantly white, still grounded in patriarchy and making a dismal effort at inclusivity.

tiled image of blue male stick figures with one solitary pink female stick figure in the middle

A recent online discussion highlights the difficulty in relying on Watson to be the final arbiter of how the movement can become inclusive. When members of a group were questioned about the sexism in the movement, one man responded that structural or systemic sexism has always been around so there was no reason to worry about it. His concern was that someone in the discussion suggested Donald Watson was not a radical, but a product of a white supremacist society. He wanted to defend a perceived insult toward another white man rather than take seriously the sexism in the movement. Another man jumped in to claim the movement has always had plenty of women prominent in its leadership, and he proceeded to play the counting vaginas1 game by naming all of the famous vegan women. He even pointed out that Watson’s wife was in on the process of creating the word vegan, no doubt at the kitchen table. Others suggested that outside of the United States women lead animal liberation groups and are not all “thinking like men,” thus suggesting that sexism is relative to certain geographic locations and not to be found in the United Kingdom, New Zealand or Australia, for instance. All of these responses miss the main point: it doesn’t matter how many women organize or lead activities in the abolitionist vegan movement as long as we are living in a society dominated by the ideologies, social structures and movement strategies of white men.

At a time when the vegan abolitionist movement most needs to address its lack of inclusiveness, it is mired in defensive posturing and denial. As long as men are quick to claim #notallmen (McKinney, 2014) in their responses to concerns about sexism, we are left to think there are just a few bad individuals and efforts to end systemic sexism are in turn stifled. Corporatism and capitalism thrive in so-called vegan societies and organizations because we don’t acknowledge how the abolitionist vegan movement grew out of the man dominated white supremacy of our social world. Not one of us can escape the influence of these social structures unless we question and challenge their existence. Women are not completely constrained by patriarchal social structures, but they do have to become conscious of how those structures work, how they affect all women and then actively dismantle them to make space for structures that combine equity, compassion and peace.

What about men?

Telling women in the abolitionist vegan movement to quit making trouble by complaining about sexism is a way of defending the power and leadership of the men in the movement. Telling women that there were and are plenty of women in leadership roles or that the movement is primarily made up of women is a smokescreen that diverts attention from how menThought bubble that reads: "...Not All Men" maintain their status and privilege. Telling women to focus only on the animals and to stop making the movement look bad is another way men perpetuate their positions of power. Men might as well be saying they do not want to discuss gender inequalities and prefer to tell women how best to serve the interests of men. Men consistently interrupt women in both online and face-to-face conversations about veganism, aiming a barrage of questions at them, questions that constitute microaggressions against women (Khan, 2015).

Here’s a sampling of such questions:

  • How can you say there is sexism in the movement when Donald Watson’s wife helped with his work? [note: it’s always HIS work, not HER work that is cited]
  • How can you say there is sexism when women of the 1980s organized and carried out liberation activities, and we see women continuing to do the same?
  • How can you say there is sexism when we need to be concerned with spreading veganism, especially since veganism will lead to the end of sexism?
  • How can you say there is sexism when you’re the only one who’s being sexist? You don’t even know the meaning of being sexist. I know sexism and you’re not even close. It’s sexist for you to call me sexist.

AND ONE MORE THING:

Men need to put themselves in the positions of marginalized group members and think about how it sounds when a white man quotes another white man–Donald Watson in this case–when defining veganism. We need to hear the voices of women in the movement. Don’t just quote women to women. Step aside and know women can speak for themselves! Radical.
Works Cited

Khan, A. (2015, January 18). 6 Ways to Respond to Sexist Microaggressions in Everyday Conversations. Retrieved from Everyday Feminism: http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/01/responses-to-sexist-microaggressions/

McKinney, K. (2014, May 15). Here’s why women have turned the “not all men” objection into a meme. Retrieved from Vox: http://www.vox.com/2014/5/15/5720332/heres-why-women-have-turned-the-not-all-men-objection-into-a-meme

Notes

1. Meant as a figure of speech; not all women possess vaginas. White men in the movement don’t even realize there are trans or other gender identities. They still see the world in binary form. If they do see multiple genders, it’s still only vaginas they want or count in the movement.

 

Dr. Martindill earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Missouri and taught there in the Sociology Department, the Peace Studies Program and the Women’s and Gender Studies Department. Her areas of emphasis include political sociology, organizations and work, and social inequalities. Dr. Martindill’s dissertation focuses on the no-kill shelter social movement and is based on ethnographical research conducted during several years of working in an animal shelter. She is vegan, a feminist and is currently interested in the stories women tell through their needlework, including crochet, counted cross stitch and quilting. It is important to note that Dr. Martindill consistently uses her academic title in order to inspire women and members of other marginalized groups to pursue their dreams no matter what challenges those dreams may entail, and certainly one of her goals is to see more women in academia.

On the Hegemony of White Male Vegan Voices

Sarah Woodcock

 

If you claim to be against all forms of oppression but find yourself mainly subscribing to, valuing, and sharing the voices of white men when it comes to veganism or really all of life’s topics, you need to think about why. And you need to think about the consequences of that.

 

– Sarah K. Woodcock of The Abolitionist Vegan Society

Vegan Feminist Network Interviewed on “Under the Toadstool” Podcast

under_the_toadstool_web

Corey Lee Wrenn, founder of the Vegan Feminist Network, is interviewed on Episode 2 of Sonia Chauhan and Sarah K. Woodcock’s “Under the Toadstool” podcast. In this 40 minute program, the state of sexism in the Nonhuman Animal rights movement is explored, with some discussion of how to identify and disrupt it. This program was specifically designed to be introductory and is meant to share with those who are new to topics in intersectionality.

If you found your way to this page after listening to the podcast, welcome! We are so thrilled that you are here and that you care about social justice for everyone! Want to be a better advocate? Start by visiting our “What You Can Do!” page.

The Language of Patriarchy & the Animal Rights Imagination

Cartoon of woman breaking down wall with sledgehammer. Reads, "Live as an intersectional vegan and fight conformity"

An important aspect of feminist theory and practice is the challenge to problematic language. This is because language is power: it reflects existing power relations and works to reinforce them, often unconsciously. When we speak of our advocacy as a “battle” against speciesism that we are “fighting”–that is, when we use language of violence, competition, and domination–we are pulling on the language of patriarchy to reach a peaceful world.

“Rights” language is also the language of patriarchy because it puts individuals in competition with one another. For that matter, rights were originally devised by men to protect male interests and have been used to exclude vulnerable groups for several centuries.

Book cover, reads, "Animal Warfare: The Story of the Animal Liberation Front"

Direct action approaches that heavily utilize”war” language and literally attempt to act out their battle tactics amplify this masculine framework. Not surprisingly, these approaches primarily attract men.

I can understand the desire to use this language. Sometimes, it really does feel like a battle to liberate other animals, and, personally, I stand by the rights-based approach to liberation as the most appropriate in our current political climate. Nonetheless, we should always be cognizant to the power of language. This post is derived from the work of early vegan feminists who have previously theorized the masculine rhetoric of Nonhuman Animal rights. If you want to learn more about the language of anti-speciesism, check out the work of Josephine Donovan, Lee Hall, Carol Adams, and Marti Kheel.

Male Privilege, Discussion Derailments, and the Politics of Politeness

dawson-leery-is-crying-male-tears

Yesterday I was in a conversation with a male colleague who supports violence and welfare reform in Nonhuman Animal rights efforts.  As an abolitionist, I reject these tactics as both ideologically flawed and counterproductive.  The violence/non-violence debate and the abolition/welfare debate have long histories in the movement, and debates over effectiveness are never ending.  Because I specialize in social movement theory in my academic life, I have some rather strong positions on these topics.  My colleague, however, is a non-academic and is not versed in the science of social movements, basing his position on the dominant (male-led) discourse of the movement.  As the conversation progressed and I continued to remain strong in my position, my colleague pointed out that he didn’t feel like he could talk to me without eventually being accused of sexism.  This may have been because I was using the language of privilege to discuss the dominance of welfarist organizations in the movement, or it may have been because I noted that violent tactics are patriarchal and tend to attract men.  Whatever the reason, I was being flagged for communicating my position within the framework of inequality.  I certainly never accused him of sexism. However, it soon occurred to me that my colleague was probably not making this claim out of true exasperation, but rather as a manipulative tool intended to derail the discussion and restore male supremacy.

Men tend to be socialized to expect domination in discourse.  They are socialized to believe they are right, that their opinions matter, and that these opinions are the most important.  This is not based on experience or expertise, rather, it is based on their privileged social status as a male.  Women, on the other hand, are socialized according to the politics of politeness.  We are taught to give men more room to talk, to value their opinions no matter how ridiculous or offensive, to soothe their egos, etc.  Decades of sociological research on talk, language, and social space regarding mixed gender interactions has confirmed that men talk more, they take up more space, they dictate the discussion, and their opinions are viewed as more credible and legitimate.  Women, on the other hand, speak less, support more, and take up less space.  Their opinions are also extremely devalued.

When men complain about not being able to say anything without being accused of sexism, what they are really saying is:

1.  I am used to having control over the conversation, your awareness of sexual politics makes it difficult for me to enact this invisible privilege smoothly.

2.  I am used to being able to speak about any topic without my authority being challenged, the possibility of being accused of sexism interferes with my authority.

3.  I am drawing on politics of politeness to shame you into putting my feelings and interests first.

4.  Feminist theory is a charade.  Sexism isn’t real, you’re just using that rhetoric as a way to win the argument.

This tactic is a variation of tone-policing. Rather than engaging the discourse, there is a derailment created by appealing to the bruised male ego, the woman’s character, and the authenticity of feminism.  Women are distracted from expressing their own authority on a subject when men exploit femininity and pressure women into paying deference to the patriarchal social structure.  The validity of my argument goes by the wayside, I have to put his feelings first.  Not putting the feelings of men first is a cardinal sin in the patriarchy.  Being a woman with an educated opinion seems to be a great offense as well.

Finally, it is extremely important to recognize that when we individualize oppression, we obscure its systemic nature.  If we can’t discuss systemic oppression because people of privilege prioritize their discomfort at what appears to be a personal attack, we will not be able to have the important conversations necessary for creating an egalitarian society.  Making it personal (“Hey, I’m not sexist!”; “Hey, are you calling me racist?!”) seriously derails the conversation.  Instead of challenging structural oppression, advocates find themselves tending to the feelings of people of privilege who are used to being shielded from discomfort. It becomes extremely wearisome for oppressed people to continuously pander to the feelings of privileged persons.  Doing so redirects attention from the oppressed to the oppressors.  It also shuts down the dialogue, interferes with critical thinking, and impedes social justice work.

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.