Although Vegan Feminist Network initially worked as co-host for this conference, we stepped down from the task in January due to some discomfort with the way the conference was being organized and were subsequently dropped as speakers. We are excited that so many advocates supported the event, but we are concerned about a few shortcomings.
We did not attend the conference, but did receive some interesting feedback that one attendee has offered us to present here (she prefers to remain anonymous). The presenter who discussed “sacrifice” was speaking to maintaining traditions within the context of colonization. We recommend checking out the work of Margaret Robinson, who offers an important counter-argument to this position.
So, I saw the last few hours of the Neither Man Nor Beast: Patriarchy, Speciesism and Deconstructing Oppressions. All lectures focused on the interesectionality between veganism and feminism; and how misogyny in the vegan community and speciesism in the feminist community work against each other and themselves. I’ve been excited about attending, and was definitely impressed.
Although I found many of the speakers intelligent and insightful, I was disappointed by the words “veganism” and “vegetarianism” often being used interchangeably. In fact, one speaker used the word “vegetarianism” more than “veganism”. She seemed to identify as vegetarian rather than vegan. Given that this discussion is about intersectionality, I found this a bit difficult to overlook.
In my opinion, vegetarianism is a form of carnism and is nothing to do with animal rights. Let alone its connection to women’s/female issues. I do not think vegetarianism should be promoted in such a sphere as a vegan feminist discourse. When deconstructing nonspeciesist ethicism and feminism, it is imperative we not promote an industry which functions by raping, torturing, and breeding animals for psychopathic justifications. Given that the word “vegetarian” implies a level of animal exploitation, I would have preferred if it wasn’t represented.
There was also a carnist speaker who claimed to have an animal spirit, and that animals can consent to being scarified. As a survivor, I was triggered by this “entitlement” mentality. The very notion of some animals “consenting” to be sacrificed reminded me of the claim that some women “ask for it”.
How is this speaker relevant to animal rights and feminism? Why did ALO feel this person was appropriate to academic lectures? Veganism is about eliminating violent, archaic traditions. Not condoning or upholding such violence. I feel there are ways to talk about sensitivity to other cultures, without appeals to animal oppression.
However, there were some concepts I hadn’t yet considered and was exposed to various cultures I wouldn’t otherwise know. Although I fear this conference may have set a precedence I personally cannot condone, it was encouraging to see so many people interested in the concept of intersectionality. I hope they upload the lectures to YouTube so that others have access to these important talks. I asked the MOD, twice, but wasn’t obliged a response.