Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sigh, the sexual politics of meat once again

PETA has released a new video implying sexual and domestic violence against a woman by a vegan man. They may claim that they are simply celebrating S/M and the "healthy" sexuality of a male heterosexual vegan.

Let's just make it clear.

The only reason the healthy sexuality of a heterosexual male vegan is in doubt is because of the sexual politics of meat.

I hate participating in this conversation and giving any attention to PETA. For like a child who misbehaves for attention, PETA thrives on negative attention.

I will not link to the video and please if you are discussing this issue, don't link either.

PETA knows our culture well: what can still get attention is images of injured women, women who like dominance, women for whom dominance has been sexualized.


The only reason PETA is getting attention, once again, is because of a culture permeated by the sexual politics of meat. Why would they want to eradicate the sexual politics that undergirds the consumption of all animal products?  PETA benefits from the sexual politics of meat. Both their methodology and their message are embedded within the sexual politics of meat.

What are they exactly?

* The belief that you have to approach men differently than women about veganism.

* You have to appeal to women and show that dominance is good, as though heterosexual vegan men need to be rewarded for giving up eating dead animals and feminized protein.

* You have to be edgy enough to make veganism an issue because you don't believe you can get people to care about animals.

* You realize that Carol J. Adams is right about animals being the absent referents and you yourself decide to keep it that way.

* You are grateful for any attention.

* You cultivate the adolescent male and the heterosexually privileged man because with that perspective you know you will get attention.

* You have no desire to be a team player; you want to be first on the block.

* Grassroots women advocates for animals all around the world, independent women--forging alliances with human rights groups, feminist groups, and creatively disrupting business as usual--have it all wrong. It's okay for Ingrid Newkirk and the other women at the top of PETA to have power, and to declare that they do what they do as feminist, but actual feminists  doing the grassroots labor of challenging multiple oppressions should be ignored.

* Feminist-vegans are your most dangerous critics because they show there is another way to talk about veganism.

* Therefore, you will enjoy splitting feminists, even though it de facto means encouraging those who eat meat never to engage with feminist-vegan theory or to enjoy vegan meals.

One of the most dangerous messages in the world is equality. PETA makes an art of the negation of equality. As I said in The Pornography of Meat, PETA sells inequality.


Here's their real message: Dominance, in and of itself, is sexy. Veganism, in and of itself, isn't.




21 comments:

  1. Thank you for decoding that bizarre video for me. I honestly couldn't make any sense out of it, & couldn't believe that they were actually linking violence against women w/veganism, in some sort of supposedly positive way. What a waste of energy.

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  2. Bravo. Don't get tired of repeating yourself, please. Some of us are listening, and spreading the word. I'll be doing a unit on sexual fantasy and violence with my students this semester, and I'll incorporate this issue into my discussion.

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  3. Yep, that video was definitely sickening.

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  4. WOW. How can they think that violence against women is a reasonable medium for discouraging violence against animals? I don't understand.

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    1. Because it shocks and offends, and that's they're goal. PETA puts stuff like this out in a calculated fashion precisely because they WANT the shitstorm it generates to garner attention. They want us to say "this is awful - look what PETA did!" and then draw more attention to their video. That's why Carol didn't post a link to the video. I was grappling with exactly this - how to comment on this atrocity without playing into PETA's game by giving them free publicity by criticizing them.

      The storyline the video presents is not that the woman was abused, but rather that she was physically injured by very powerful sex. However, it is very deliberately designed to give the opposite impression of this, down to the end scene. Abuse against women is reduced to a punchline. Given the animal liberation movement already has a problem where vegan men (including prominent activists) are not held accountable for abusing women, I have to wonder what message this is sending to abusive vegan men - does this read to them as a nod of approval?

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    2. I see what the storyline purports to be, but the image is very much that of an abused woman, and one with little use other than sex, since under her coat she has only underwear and a bra. Yeah, it garners attention - but not positive attention, undercutting it's own message.

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  5. My only direct contact with and evidence of the efficacy of being a vegan is a young (26) dude who, along with his wife, avoids anything having to do with animal products...eggs, fat, etc. He is slim, fast, alert, strong, amazing. Probably too late for me because I am addicted to meat, eggs, cheese, etc. He also beats his wife. OK, that's a lie. I have noticed that after eating a slab of meat that I want to declare war on somebody. Dick Cheney, for example, eats only near raw meat. Why won't he do us all a favor and die, painfully?

    Regardless, Carol has many active brain cells, so is worth listening to. Rod Ruger

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  6. misogyny and violence against womyn are fine so long as you are a male vegan? that's not the world I'm fighting for... thank you for your post Carol...

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  7. Excellent deconstruction of PETA's new ad. I could not agree more. Shared and shared.

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  8. To avoid searches on the video, I'm sharing this perfect synopsis of the ad by Austin J. Austin:

    "The thirty-two second commercial begins with a face-on shot of a thin, cisgendered* woman with light skin and bicep-length wavy brown hair with bangs. She is wearing a blue and white plastic neck brace, and she is holding a dark green coat together with one hand. She is walking down a sidewalk, towards the camera, with a blank look on her face. There is an immediate voiceover that goes through the entire commercial, a "younger male voice."*. After four seconds, she winces. After a side-facing close-up shot, the camera pans out to watch Jessica (the character) walking to the left of the frame. She is also wearing black and white "Chuck Taylor"-style sneakers and does not appear to be wearing any pants. She carries a plastic bag in her left hand; it contains several vegetables and fruits. She climbs a set of outdoor stairs slowly, with a painful look on her face, and holds onto the railing with her right hand. The camera starts on her face, but ends up filming her from behind, where her pink-and-orange-polka-dotted underpants are the focus of the frame, lit up by the sun which comes in through her legs. For less than a second, the frame changes to a shot of the character with both of her hands up against a red interior (bedroom) wall, looking over her left shoulder as if engaging in a sex act with someone behind her. Then the frame becomes Jessica inside a home, returning from the store. The home has blue walls, yellow walls, and red walls, and is furnished with a sari curtain, picture frames, a chess set, and a lamp, among other things. Jessica removes the coat with a small, slight smirk on her face, and we can see her light pink, patterned bra (not the same pattern as her underpants). For a split second, the boyfriend is shown applying white spackle/caulk paste to the hole in the red wall that was ostensibly made during the sex act that caused Jessica's neck injury. The frame then fills with a shot of Jessica standing in the bedroom doorway, leaning against the right side. Her underwear is inexplicably pulled in between her buttocks on the left side, revealing most of her left buttock. Celery and carrots are definitely in the bag, and there is a yellow elastic bundling the celery (it is printed, and might indicate that the celery is organic). The boyfriend is thin, has light skin, short dark hair, and is wearing striped grey and black boxer briefs and a pair of eyeglasses. He asks if Jessica is feeling better and she tosses the bag of produce to him abruptly. He catches it and looks down at it. The commercial ends with Jessica looking past the camera at the boyfriend, with a small smirk on her face.

    * This is PeTA, and I'm taking liberties about how they probably gendered these characters."

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  9. WOW this is unbelievable. You just assume you know what peta is thinking and the entire time peta doesnt say any of that--not only that it is YOU that is reading into the vid as promoting violence however you dont even post it for the rest of your idiot followers to view for themselves. Maybe the problem with society is women like YOU who SHAME women like me because I choose to make a CHOICE with my body and my brain to bring the important message to the foreground of animals being slaughtered on factory farms, beaten in training for cheap entertainment, condemned to a life in tiny cages and horrific tests performed for your lipstick and foxes being skinned alive for their fur.

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    1. Why are you so angry? Why do you impute "shaming" techniques rather than analysis? who chose the topic of the video? the actors or PETA? what is consent in a world of inequality? how does this video help animals? you haven't in any way shown this is not about the sexual politics of meat.

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    2. Well written carol "what is consent in a world of inequality" fantastic.

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  12. Pornography and other forms of violence against women keep our spirits in prison even if we have not been directly imnpacted by them. To achieve liberty from our captivity all powers, authorities and institutions muust be subject to equality. PETA is selling the sexual enslavement of women. It is unconscionable to not oppose sexual terrorism. This is elementary.

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  13. I completely agree, my latest blog was also about this ad. How can we expect to end cruelty to animals when the most heard voice from the movement is filled with misogynistic and heteronormative gender enforcement.

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  14. Great way to sum it up Carol. I still remember how great you were at speaking to your audience in Melbourne a few years ago. Thank you for all your work!

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  16. I saw the ad as a comparison of abused women with the horrendous abuse suffered by sentient beings every day. I see that both mirror the effects of patriarchy. I have worked with women and children who have experienced abuse for many years and experienced this myself. Is it just me who sees an important parallel? Animals have even less of a voice than we do.

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