As the animal rights movement expanded in the late 20th century, fuelled in large part by the popularity of the civil rights movement, vegan feminism took shape as a potent and explicit critique of patriarchal oppression women and other animals and the male-centeredness in anti-speciesist mobilization.
In addition to the influences of anti-racism, feminism, and other social justice movements of the era, the environmental movement also offered a much-needed seedbed for theoretical development. Vegan feminism might be identified as a theory of animal rights, but it owes much of its development to the ecofeminist movement of the late 20th century. Many scholar-activists from the animal rights movement, such as Carol Adams, Greta Gaard, Lori Gruen, and Marti Kheel published and presented extensively in ecofeminist spaces.
Ecofeminism emerged in resistance to the androcentrism of environmental philosophy and activism, arguing that gender inequality served as the foundation to environmental destruction and subsequent violence against women and the natural world. Vegan ecofeminists expanded this discourse in the late 1970s, 1980s and 1990s by explicitly acknowledging the oppression of nonhuman animals as important for advancing ecofeminist theory to its fullest intersectional expression.
As vegan ecofeminism gathered strength, it began to take on the Nonhuman Animal rights movement with more confidence. This culminated in the formation of Feminist for Animal Rights in 1981. For the next twenty years, FAR would develop an activist-oriented theory of vegan feminism that would interrogate anti-speciesism as a gender-neutral affair.
Dr. Wrenn is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Kent. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology with Colorado State University in 2016. 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 is the co-founder of the International Association of Vegan Sociologists. She serves as Book Review Editor to Society & Animals and is a member of the Research Advisory Council of The Vegan Society. She has contributed to the Human-Animal Studies Images and Cinema blogs for the Animals and Society Institute and has been published in several peer-reviewed academic journals including the Journal of Gender Studies, Environmental Values, 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), Piecemeal Protest: Animal Rights in the Age of Nonprofits (University of Michigan Press 2019), and Animals in Irish Society: Interspecies Oppression and Vegan Liberation in Britain’s First Colony (State University of New York Press 2021).
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