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

 

It’s a Man’s World for Talking Dogs

Closeup of a collie chewing food and talking from Beneful commercial

Why is it that almost every voice-over for dogs in commercials for flea & tick medication, pet food, or treats is masculine?

 

First, animals for whom we do not know the sex or gender we often presume to be male by default. Secondly, canines in particular tend to be masculinized. However, the predominance of masculine voices in media is well documented. Human or nonhuman, it really speaks to the patriarchal dominance of public spaces and experiences.1

Feminine voices only seem to be consistently ascribed to Nonhuman Animals on television in dairy commercials featuring farmed cows. These voices are often matronly, as well, likely in an attempt to frame the product as something that is nurturing, healthful, and familial.

 

One exception can be found in the 2015 Yoplait commercial that gives a masculine French voice to an American female-bodied dairy cow. In fact, cows are frequently represented as male despite being female-bodied.2 This not only demonstrates a general ignorance about the American food system, but it also lends evidence to the male-as-default schema.

Notes:

1. Voice-overs are also white-dominated, with few ethnic intonations represented.

2. Gender and sex are not one in the same of course, but human constructions of gender in the nonhuman world are even less consistent and tend to reflect gender hierarchies.


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 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).

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Miss Molly & Masculinity

Trigger Warning: Contains a graphic description of violence against a Nonhuman Animal and a discussion of domestic violence.

Closeup of emu face

Nonhuman Animal rights groups have been circulating a horrific story of the kidnapping, battering, torture, and murder of a female emu by high school football players at a party:

On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2015, eighteen-year old student Cassius Mankin entered the property of Bob and Carol Falk in Comanche County, Texas with several other people, both minors and adults. They took the couple’s emu to a party where they allegedly punched out her eyes and choked her to death. Police charged Mankin, a high school football player, with felony animal abuse.

How did this happen? A few bad apples? No, this incident is much more insidious . . . it is systemic. What happened to Miss Molly the emu reflects the power of masculinity and the normalization of violence against feminized bodies.

Violence against the vulnerable in highly-masculinized spaces such as football team parties and frat houses is a phenomenon that is increasingly gaining media attention. Importantly, as the crimes continue to pile up and are kept visible and relevant thanks to the efforts of feminist activists, the facade of gender neutrality in reporting is beginning to lift. That is, the narrative of crime and violence is more likely to acknowledge that there are gendered patterns in this behavior. This isn’t just a perpetrator that happens to be male and a victim that happens to be female. We are starting to recognize that we live in a system where men are socialized to be aggressive and violent, a system where men must prove their masculinity by enacting dominance and control over the vulnerable.

In reading the report of Miss Molly’s terrible death, if we did not know she was a bird, we might easily imagine the victim was a human female. This universality is key–masculine violence knows no species barrier. Patriarchy is a system that privileges men and exploits and terrorizes all feminized bodies.

These connections are essential to recognize for anyone hoping to dismantle oppression. For Nonhuman Animal rights activists, it is important to recognize the violence faced by women as it supports the violence experienced by other animals. For domestic violence activists and social workers, it is important to recognize how men hurt animals like men hurt women. Fortunately, it is common for social workers to be trained to identify these connections when interviewing clients or performing house visits. Social services departments are aware that when Nonhuman Animals are being abused, it is likely that humans in the home are as well.

Great. Now . . . what about the Nonhuman Animal rights movement? It’s time to acknowledge that women matter because masculinity matters. A single-issue movement that frames vegan feminism as “selfish” or “speciesist” wholly misses the point.


Corey Lee WrennDr. Wrenn is Lecturer of Sociology and past Director of Gender Studies (2016-2018) with Monmouth University. 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).

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Steak & BJ Day: Because Women’s Cancer is All about Pleasing Men

Not Safe For Work: Contains graphic discussions of sex acts. Website discussed is pornographic.

Content Warning: Intense degradation of women, particularly women disabled with cancer.

Close up of a woman's bottom, legs spread. She appears to be naked except for an apron and a pair of underwear with the organization's logo printed over the back of the panties. The logo is a cartoon of a steak and a pair of lips.

On “Steak and BJ Day,” women are encouraged to please the men in their life by cooking them a steak and performing fellatio . . . to “help punch cancer in the face.” You know, because breast cancer, a perfect excuse to serve men.

The event’s corresponding website is a veritable celebration of degradation and male entitlement.  The small print is all that distinguishes it from a run-of-the-mill pornography service, but I’m still not convinced. Multiple detailed and graphic instructional essays and videos are available to teach women how to give “the perfect head.” Here’s Step #11 “The Blowing of the Load” from “Blowjob 101”:

Spitting it out means like. Swallowing means love. And gargling with cum makes you look like a crazy slut that probably has STDs. Most guys don’t care about where it goes eventually, but there are some ways to keep it sexy and fun. If he’s into it, he may want to cum on your face. It’s just cum and you trust him. It has to go somewhere and it’s good for your skin. Wherever it goes, wipe it up soon. No one can relax and fall asleep when paste is hardening around them.

Swallow it or wear it if you want to demonstrate perfect servility.

Website visitors can also learn how to cook a steak, purchase merchandise, or pleasure themselves to a gallery of pornographic images of naked women cooking and cleaning for men. Only young, thin, attractive white women, though, all of whom have large, full, and undiseased breasts. Based on the imagery of the website, there are clearly age, weight, racial, and health restrictions to participation in Steak & BJ Day.

Cringing yet? Don’t, because this is actually for a good cause!

In 2015 we’re supporting Coppafeel® – a charity formed to raise boob awareness, fight cancer and save lives. 1.7 million people a year are diagnosed with breast cancer, and who knows how many more are indirectly affected.

You read that correctly. A deadly, painful, miserable disease that disfigures and kills millions of women is really all about saving women’s breasts so men can “cop a feel” and keep the blow jobs and steaks coming.

Beyond the clear pornographic aim of Steak and BJ Day and aside from the atrocious sexualization of a deadly disease for men’s enjoyment, it is also vital to acknowledge clear intersections between the objectification of women’s body parts with the objectification of Nonhuman Animal body parts. The organization’s tag line:

Rumps and Romps. Fillets and Fellatio. Sirloins and Sucking. Best. Day. Ever.

Women’s breasts, mouths, vaginas, and buttocks are put on a plate for men’s pleasurable consumption alongside the slices of lightly cooked and bloodied cow’s flesh. The language used makes the degraded body of the woman indiscernible from the degraded body of the cow. This is all about paying homage to patriarchy. Nothing is sexier in a patriarchal relationship than the humiliation and death of the vulnerable. In this case, the vulnerable could include cows tortured and killed to produce steak, women hurt and humiliated in the performance of androcentric sex acts, and women suffering and dying from breast cancer.

The intersection of these values is especially visible in the below image of a partially nude and sexualized woman covering her breasts with rotting flesh for the male gaze. The pain, vulnerability, humiliation, disease, death, and objectification of vulnerable bodies is considered a turn on.

Thin white woman on her knees, kneeling in front of a plate with silverware and blood. She is rubbing bloody steaks over her breasts and looking seductively at the camera

Actual image from the website

To those who have loved ones impacted by breast cancer or are struggling with the disease themselves, I can only imagine the humiliation they might feel if they were exposed to this “charity’s” imagery and claimsmaking. Beyond the misogynistic nature of the campaign, the fact that animal flesh consumption is known to be a primary cause of cancer makes this approach not only offensive, but conceptually backwards. Appealing to male privilege to raise awareness for women’s health is also suspect. Historically, women’s diseases have been trivialized or ignored due to patriarchal prioritization of men’s interests. But, again, I do not believe this to be a project with a primary goal of fighting cancer. This is pornography: the sexualization of suffering and subjugation. The cancer variable was likely thrown on superficially as a means to justify this grotesque display of male entitlement. Drawing attention to the fact that women are suffering and vulnerable to death and disfigurement is probably an added bonus: more female pain to fetishize.


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).

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Vegan Moon – Food, Control and Masculinity

By Stevie LynneBook cover: White heterosexual in the nude embracing.

I read Vegan Moon so you don’t have to.

Trigger Warning: Abuse, racism, and sexual assault.Not Safe for Work: Contains graphic descriptions of non-consensual sexual encounters.

Note: If you’ve come to this post expecting romance fiction bashing, you’ve come to the wrong place. Romance fiction is important. Yup, that’s right: romance fiction is important. In arts and academic circles it’s a struggle to get this popular genre to be seen as anything other than some kind of fleeting triviality. Probably because it’s a genre dominated by women and prioritises women’s pleasure (both physical and emotional) and as we know, those things are “trivial”. This is not a space to dismiss the romance genre.

I was curious to pick up the novella Vegan Moon as it has a vegan werewolf as the hero. But it didn’t take me long to realise that this wasn’t the fun, sizzling, romantic romp I’d been promised…

Vegan Moon is a cis-het paranormal romance novella by American author Kerri Nelson. The central themes are masculinity, flesh-consumption, control and animality. The story follows the perspectives of Santiago Salazar, a Venezuelan dog trainer and werewolf, and professional chef Gabrielle (Gabbi) Connor as they experience instant steamy attraction to one another. Santiago’s plant based diet (there is no mention of veganism as an ethical system) is a source of conflict for the characters, along with the fact that Santiago is a werewolf.

The Hero and Heroine

Santiago is a werewolf who is struggling to control his urges for killing humans and part of his mechanism for control is his vegetarianism/veganism. Other examples of this trope are Munroe from Grimm as well as plenty of vegetarian vampires.

Santiago is described as a “a tall, dark mystery man… with pure lust in his eyes,” and as “[t]he tall, dark creature”.

The heroine of the story is Gabbi. She is described as “petite” and “blonde”, and although it is unsaid, she is probably white. She has a successful career as a celebrity chef, but finds her personal life a little lacking.

I won’t pretend to be an expert in race, but I think it is worth pointing out that constructing Santiago as “dark” and Venezuelan and as part animal in addition to making Gabbi as a pretty, petite, white woman, who spends a good chunk of the narrative afraid of Santiago, is problematic.

Veganism and Self Control

The novella’s thesis is outlined in chapter one. The hero, Santiago, as a werewolf has killed and eaten humans in the past. However, ten years ago, Santiago killed a drug dealer whom he says “deserved” it. But Santiago had a bad experience:

[ . . . ] the man’s blood was so full of chemicals that it had made Santiago sick for days. After that, he’d decided to turn over a new leaf…He’d become a practicing vegan with a new lease on life… Of course, since wolves were carnivores by nature, Santiago still had cravings that required serious impulse control management.

We learn a number of things about the premise:

  1. Santiago’s choice to go vegan has nothing to do with non human animals or systemic injustice
  2. Santiago’s choice is based on personal cleanliness
  3. It is against Santiago’s nature to not eat meat, therefore abstaining from it is a difficult exercise, showing him to be a strong-willed character.

The author has a foreword in which she explains her own desire and failure to go vegetarian (in the text, she uses vegetarian and vegan interchangeably):

I’ve always believed that I could be a vegetarian as I’m addicted to the crisp, delicious selection of produce that calls to me at the grocery story [sic]. However, there’s apart [sic] of me that still craves the juicy taste of a well-prepared hamburger… I’ll never truly be a vegetarian despite my best efforts.

Nelson then goes onto say that she wrote this novella while she was pregnant and explains how much food cravings, especially for the flesh of non human animals, took away her control when it came to food choices. (Now, I don’t know what the food availability options are where Nelson lives, I can only go from what she says in the foreword. It may be the case that she lives in an area where a wide variety of plant based foods are not available all the time.)

Nelson has provided us with a tool to help readers construct one possible reading of her novella: Santiago can be read, in part, as an exploration of Nelson’s own desires and struggles to go vegetarian. What both author and character have in common is that non human animals are missing from their reasons. Nelson in her foreword constructs vegetarianism as an addiction to produce and the ability to conquer cravings. For her character Santiago, it’s all about overcoming and controlling his craving for human flesh.

It’s worth noting that the hero’s perspective in cis-het romance novels is never just a masculine perspective. There is a complicated interplay between author, cis-het hero, and reader. Not to mention how socially indoctrinated ideas about masculinity, identity and action inform the construction of the hero in cis-het romances.

Food and Arousal

After the our two main characters hit it off on a coffee date, Gabbi offers to cook Santiago dinner to show off her super fancy professional chef skills. She decides to make… pasta primavera (Note to any pro chefs looking to impress a vegan: that better be one heck of a pasta primavera).

Gabbi’s cooking puts Santiago close to losing control of his “animal libido” and the sensations he feels remind him of “hunting” and “feasting on meat”:

… all the scents of herbs and spices wafting around them, he could barely keep his animal libido in check.

He’d never known cooking and eating a meal could be this sexually stimulating. Well, he’d felt similar surges when hunting his prey and feasting on meat back in the day.

Food, killing and sexual arousal are all melded into one here, already we can predict the not-so-nice pathway that we’re headed down.

Werewolf and woman

Consent, and Manipulation

Before we talk about the “sex” scene, there’s a bit of information revealed later in the story that is, I think, required to frame the “sex” scene. Santiago says:

Now that we’ve mated, you’ll continue to be drawn to me. You’ll slowly start to lose your mind if you don’t give in to the call. I’m sorry that this happened this way, but I’d like to help you. If you’ll let me.

In theory, Santiago knows prior to “mating” (here meaning a sexual act – presumably penis in vagina because of the way our culture prioritises this type of sex act as being “legitimate”) with Gabbi, that it will cause her harm: she will “lose her mind” if she doesn’t stay with him. In addition, if Gabbi were to find out that Santiago was a werewolf:

Their species code required that they either kill or mate [stay with for life] with any human who discovered their existence.

Essentially after “mating” Gabbi’s only option would be to stay with Santiago. If she finds out he’s a werewolf, her only options are to stay with him for life (made contextually obvious later), or the werewolves will kill her. This prior knowledge of Santiago’s makes all his actions suspicious. If he knows pursuing a romantic relationship with her might lead to “mating”, which will then forcibly make her stay with him (which he doesn’t tell her up front), that’s downright manipulative. Communicating any possible bad outcomes for your potential sex partner to them is something that you should do, full stop.

On one level Santiago’s inability to resist Gabbi, even knowing the harm it will cause her, both actual and potential, is also tied to the theme that animal flesh is irresistible (as seen in the foreword by the author). Neither Nelson nor Santiago seem aware/care about the harm their choices create and frame those choices in terms that remove their agency such as “addiction” and “craving”.

This knowledge, that we only learn after the “sex” scene, makes the violence and abuse in the “sex” scene even more shocking. At one point, Santiago shoves Gabbi. Gabbi protests to being shoved, but  he ignores her protests and continues without her consent: “his hand continued to stroke up the inside of her thigh…”

After he makes her orgasm through manual stimulation, he also does not seek any kind of consent before penetrating her, let alone put a condom on:

She felt dazed and confused in the aftermath of her passionate storm. She felt the cool night air on her ass as her panties were thrust downward, and then she gasped at the feel of his hard cock shoving into her from behind… He was almost too rough in his possession of her tender, swollen pussy, but she was so lost in the moment that she just submitted to the frenzy. As he drove inside her, she heard the wet sound of their carnal connection… She closed her eyes and tried to imagine what they must look like as they mated like animals.

A comparison of who is doing what in this scene shows that Santiago is described with physical actions: he removes her underwear, he penetrates her, he “possesses” her pussy, and he drives inside her. Gabbi is described in a primarily passive ways: she is dazed, confused, feels, gasps, submits, hears and closes her eyes.

Note: I know this is not really sex, it’s assault. Also I know condoms and other safe practices aren’t “trendy” in romance novels, but it still pisses me off when I see it, because c’mon writers, you’re a creative bunch; make safe sex sexy.

Craving and Abuse

As if to emphasise the twin themes of craving and abuse, afterwards Gabbi observes Santiago’s personality change:

She shivered at the now delicate touch. It was in such complete contrast to the rough way that they’d just had sex. This man was an absolute mystery.

The “craving” for flesh has been satisfied. As it often is with domestic abuse: “The abuser’s ‘good side’ can give victims reason to think their partner is capable of being nurturing, kind, and nonviolent.”

After what the author calls “sex”, what can go wrong, does go wrong: Gabbi sees Santiago transform into a wolf. It of course totally freaks her out. As we already know, this means one of two things for Gabbi; either become his mate – i.e. stay with him for life – or the werewolves will kill her. She, however, doesn’t know these are her only options denies his phone calls and refuses to see him, even briefly thinking that he may have drugged her. She holes herself up away from him and spends time in hiding.

The werewolf council (there’s always a bloody council!) find out that Gabbi has seen Santiago transform into a werewolf, therefore steps must be taken to either make her be Santiago’s mate for life or kill her. Santiago seems remorseful about this fact:

He ached for the pain that he’d caused Gabbi, and he didn’t know how he’d go on living day to day as if he’d never met her… never touched her… never possessed her body and made her his own.

But Santiago’s remorse has virtually nothing to do with Gabbi, but himself. This is especially true of the phrase “possessed her body and made her his own”. This verbally echoes Gabbi’s observation that he “possessed” her pussy. She is not an agent, she is a thing to be possessed.

The werewolf council send Santiago’s friend, Tenny, to assess Gabbi’s suitability as a “mate” for Santiago. During this time, Tenny manages to convince Gabbi that she should stop being scared of Santiago and become his mate. We never see how or why she changes her mind. This is highly suspicious and once again shows that Gabbi’s agency is not important.

At the end of the novella Gabbi’s only reservation about everything that has happened is: 

We’ve got to talk about this vegetarian thing.

Nelson’s construction of Santiago as a foil for her own relationship with animal flesh foods manifests as an abusive man who disregards Gabbi as an agent in her own right. Even Nelson’s construction of Gabbi is mostly passive to Santiago’s physical onslaught. The world building choices that Nelson has created makes Santiago into an abusive figure – he knows prior to any kind of sexual activity that Gabbi has to stay with him or else she will “go mad”. It’s difficult to excuse his behaviour in light of this. Thinly, the author suggests that Gabbi is probably his “soul mate”, but this is grossly inadequate.

There are a few things I think are worth highlighting in light of this novella: firstly, that even men who identify as “vegan” can be abusers; secondly, that the author constructs a world and characters where manipulation and abuse are considered okay in the pursuit of desire; and finally that the author believes abstaining from animal products is an act of immense control tying into how the abuse in the novel is symptomatic of the author’s view that cravings for animals’ flesh can’t be helped.

It was disappointing to see abuse and assault in this novella presented as sexy and desirable. It was also disappointing to see veganism misconstrued. It would have been nice for this to be a fun, romantic romp with a non abusive vegan hero, but alas, Vegan Moon did not deliver on that front.

Masculinity, Music, and Animal Rights: Vegetarian Billy Corgan Slammed by CNN

Corgan poses on the cover of PAWS with two black cats

Gender politics in Nonhuman Animal rights continue to be a major impediment to the movement’s growth, not only because of the harm done to targeted female audiences and female advocates, but also due to the feminization of pro-animal sentiment. Caring about other animals is not considered acceptable for men. This gender norm maintains patriarchal power in delegitimizing vegan claimsmaking and normalizing male rule. It also acts as a serious impediment to growth because men who associate with Nonhuman Animal rights are heavily stigmatized as effeminate. In a patriarchy, femininity is always a bad thing. For this reason, we often see elite-run patriarchal media spaces engaged in maintaining these gender boundaries.

The summer issue of PAWS Chicago Magazine, a publication for Chicago’s largest no-kill humane organization, features vegetarian rock music legend Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. Lending his celebrity status to raise awareness to Nonhuman Animal rights might be seen as charitable and ethical . . . if it were not for his contradicting gender identity. In a recent episode of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, well-known American journalist Anderson Cooper took aim at Corgan’s support for the welfare group, suggesting that he may be mentally ill or immoral. Cooper’s point was that Corgan was misusing his rockstar status by posing with kitties.  Presumably, he should be doing more “manly” things like eating “meat,” screaming into a microphone, crowdsurfing, and setting guitars on fire.

Considering that alternative rock is a hypermasculine space, I think there is a very gendered nature to Cooper’s attack on Corgan. When Cooper states, “Maybe he’s being ironic, or maybe when the cool rock stars start doing less rock starry things, it kind of makes us face our own morality,” he implies that caring about other animals is too feminine for rock. The only way Corgan’s support could work would be if he was doing so sarcastically. Cooper frames his attack as Corgan “selling out,” but PAWS is quite obviously a non-profit, not a commercial enterprise. This isn’t about selling out; this is about challenging gender norms. Although Cooper is an openly gay journalist and likely recognizes the problems associated with these socially constructed norms, he nevertheless appears to be using his class and gender privilege to police gender performance.

Corgan’s response to Cooper (via Twitter):

I realize you’re too busy being a globalist shill to know the difference, but there are those of us who do as we like

Corgan posing with dog for PAWS magazine


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 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).

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