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Animals & Women


trueboo
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This book I'm reading is called "Animals & Women: Feminist Explorations." It's a collection of essays edited by Carol Adams and Josephine Donovan and the essayists all purport that feminism and animal rights theory are compatible.

 

Since there are so many essays in here, it's difficult for me to give a basic overview. But this book does more than reconcile feminism and animal rights, it also explains the distancing mechanisms in use to alleviate the guilt and responsibility of animal exploitation as well as the legitimacy of using sentiment in making decisions. I've also heard from the general public that it's wrong to "force" a vegetarian lifestyle on children, and one of the essays points out that many young children don't want to eat meat once they realize where the meat comes from. Of course, these writers all do the subject matter more justice than I do, but I've been taking notes!

 

Since I am only one of two people (the other being my husband) that I know personally who is veg for animal exploitation reasons, reading this stuff really empowers me! This is the first book like this I've read all the way through (with the exception of an Animal Law souce book), having only perused some books for research papers and what not. I'm really excited about it and look forward to reading more.

 

Anyhoo, just wanted to share.

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Hi trueboo!

 

I own this book and remember it had a profound impact on my thinking. A similar collection of essays on the interconnections between nonhuman animals and women is Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature, edited by Greta Gaard.

 

Adams and Donovan edited another book, Beyond Animal Rights: A Feminist Caring Ethic for the Treatment of Animals, which came after Animals & Women and is more strictly focused on the "women's ethic of care." Both books offer interesting insights, but both lack writings by women of color.

 

This is significant since Animals & Women focuses on interlocking oppressions (intersectionality), which originated as a product of Black feminist thought. However, only the last essay in the book, Chapter 13 "Speciesism, Racism, Nationalism... or Power of Scientific Subjectivity" by Susanna Kappeler, addresses racism. Other chapters mention Indigenous peoples and the enslavement of Africans, but fail to integrate an analysis of race into their critique of interlocking oppressions. As Kappeler notes, "whites in general--including women and even children, and including workers exploited by capitalism--benefit from racism in their own countries, from Eurocentrism, and from the international imbalance of power--that is, the exploitation of the [Global] South by the North."

 

Regarding Beyond Animal Rights, the so-called "women's" ethic of care is based specifically on Carol Gilligan's research that focused on a limited group of white middle-class women and is not reflective of women of color or women with lower-incomes. To say that the ethic of care is a "women's ethic" or even a "feminist ethic" whitewashes both women and feminists making women and feminists of color invisible, which perpetuates White supremacy. Adams and Donovan will soon be coming out with a new book on the ethic of care, hopefully it will do more to respect the life experiences of women of color.

 

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I'm glad someone else has read it! The essay "Sexist Words, Speciesist Roots" has even inspired me to take the word "bitch" out of my repertoire.

 

I'm on the last chapter, "Speciesism, Racism, Nationalism... or Power of Scientific Subjectivity", meaning I haven't started it yet. But I'm very interested because I've been told by college sociologists that feminist and AR movements are only the concerns of the white middle class (of which I am a part, thus had no rebuttal). I'll check and see if the other books you listed are at my library, too.

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I'm glad someone else has read it! The essay "Sexist Words, Speciesist Roots" has even inspired me to take the word "bitch" out of my repertoire.

Yeah, I felt the same way! The author of that chapter, Joan Dunayer, came out with a full-length book on the subject of speciesist language. The book is called Animal Equality: Language and Liberation, and it includes a style and vocabulary guide near the end that can be really helpful. Even though the book is about lanuage, it also does a great job advocating for animal rights.

 

I'm very interested because I've been told by college sociologists that feminist and AR movements are only the concerns of the white middle class (of which I am a part, thus had no rebuttal).

That's another reason why it's problematic for an anthology covering both feminism and animal rights to be stacked with White middle-class writers. There are people of color and people with lower-incomes who do feminist and animal rights work, but because of systemic Whiteness they are marginalized or ignored.

 

I'll check and see if the other books you listed are at my library, too.

If your library doesn't have any, or some, of these books you might try inter-library loan; better yet, ask them to purchase the books so others can read them.

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Have you read The Sexual Politics of Meat? I'd like to get to that one soon, as well. And I'd really like to read the work of others outside of the white middle-class writers you've been talking about. One way or another, this is the first book I've read on feminist ideas and I'm very interested in how it all ties together.

 

I'll check my university library first. When I search for animal rights at the public libraries I think a whole 3 books come up, and at least one of them is about terrorism. Then again, I never searched for specific titles. I'd like to get as much reading done this summer before school starts up again!

 

The next thing I have is Taking Animals Seriously: Mental Life and Moral Status by David DeGrazia. I'm not sure what it's about exactly, it claims to be a non-biased examination of the subject. We'll see. The library at school has a pretty good selection of books on AR.

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Yes, I read The Sexual Politics of Meat. That's a classic. Two other books by Carol J. Adams that I'd recommend are Neither Man nor Beast: Feminism and the Defense of Animals and The Pornography of Meat. I think Neither Man nor Beast is my favorite of these three books, and one of the most over looked books. Lots of animal activists knows about The Sexual Politics of Meat, but very few have heard of Neither Man nor Beast. In Neither Man nor Beast, Adams does take on racism and White privilege among animal advocates.

 

Neither Man nor Beast[/i],"]Granted animal defense currently is characterized by a "whitened center"--its theorists and national leaders are white, and many are men. All whites are bonded by racism, as bell hooks points out, and it is understandable that when a group of white people come together, the suspicion will arise that it is this whiteness that is the bond that brings people together. But, while predominantly white, the animal defense movement is not a monolithic movement, nor is it necessarily inscribing any "culture of whiteness" in its efforts on behalf of animals. However, anyone not actively resisting racist oppression can be seen as condoning white supremacy. If white animal defenders fail to support challenges to social oppression, the people who will be hurt are those who lack resources. White animal defenders cannot ignore the piece that each is a part of in relationship to others who suffer social oppression.

The Pornography of Meat is a more recent book based on a slide show that Adams does, mostly at AR conferences and on college campuses. I haven't read Taking Animals Seriously, but I'd be interested in knowing what you thought of it once you're done.

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Then I'll try to get a hold of Neither Man Nor Beast right after I finish the DeGrazia one. I just went to me school library's section that includes AR issues and perused them a bit, and grabbed these two. It was hard to choose! I'll definitely post what I think of both of them!

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