Feminism is in no way a new movement. It’s waves span from longer than a century ago, however its is only recently that the word feminism is being used in every day language.Over the last decade talks of the word ‘feminism’ have risen tenfold in conjunction with the supposed pay gap, the opening up of feminism to be representative of all types of women considering class, sexual orientation and race with the central goal of feminism being the equality of the sexes.
Similarly, veganism has also risen tremendously over the last ten years, with a more than 350% rise in vegans in Britain since 2006. It is difficult to ignore the growing number of demonstrations and documentaries concerning animal rights, the effect of consumption on the environment and general health.
These two ideologies, though seemingly very distinct and disparate, may have more similarities than one might first notice. Furthermore, coming into question is whether one can be a feminism without being a vegan, if we are to consider the intersectionality of the two movements.
Women and Animals; both vulnerable, both pieces of meat
The objectification of women is used notoriously by patriarchal powers. However the general public tend to stay oblivious to the fact that animals and women are reduced to being treated like pieces of meat (literally in animal cases) in the ways that they are objectified, manipulated and abused. We often refer to ill-treatment as being “treated like an animal” without considering that animals are literally treated like animals in inhumane ways that humans would never stand for. An example of this is that 50% of pigs in the UK are gassed in gas chambers. And this is known as the humane way to kill them. Though for many, this type of murder might be reminiscent of something similar that has happened to humans in our atrocious history.
The logic of dominant cultures in discrimination are the same
The goal in political movements such as feminism is to protect those who are perceived as weaker and to rebel against dominant cultures. This also follows the same logic as xenophobia, racism and misogyny, repeating the idea that one type of being is superior making the other inferior by nature. Both movements deal with objectification and power dynamics.
What we do is instead of acknowledging what makes us similar, we focus on the differences: colour, religion, sex, species. When the similarities that we share are greater than what makes us divergent. Our laughter, our cries, the pain feel and the suffering. But we don’t think about this and allow our differences to aid in our reasons for discrimination.
We also pay for living beings and non-human animals to be raped, exploited and in the end killed all whilst fighting against rape culture, trafficking and violence against women, which to a level could be seen as hypocritical.
The Manipulation of Feminine Bodies
Cows are dosed with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to increase milk production and are raped by either (what is known in the industry as) rape racks or put in enclosures with several bulls who will brutally attack her.
Most milk, despite what most of us are aware of, is acquired like this (at least in the western world). The babies (calves but babies still) are taken away so that the milk can be given to humans and cows take on a lifetime of continuous sexual intrusion – rape and exploitation. Sound familiar? However, the fact that it’s a different kind of being in pain leads us to believe that this is acceptable.
There has even been much argument of whether word rape can be used as it is insensitive to compare an animal’s experience to a human, even though they are both forms of violence.
Being considered as property for monetary gain, to be constantly used and abused would never be accepted if it were women but any other type of female being abused is supposed to be fair game?
Always looking at the differences between people instead of the similarities is what causes all types of discrimination. For that reason we must always consider intersectionality of different issues in order for one’s actions to be in accordance with one’s beliefs. Speciesism we consider to be a small issue in comparison to all other world issues, however it is very much like every other discrimination we face.
Both the movements of feminism and veganism militate for equality and both groups look at various different forms and spaces of oppression. All types of oppression are linked because as humans we create the hierarchies which place those who are more vulnerable to exploitation, whether that be according to race, gender or species.
Or are these two issues all too different to compare?