The Link Between Feminism and Animal Welfare
Recently, I wrote a piece here asking the question, “is sustainable meat production possible?” I’d like to muse today on another reason why changing our meat production model is so important to me.
I believe the objectification of any being is wrong — be it a human or an animal. That’s why for many, the intersectionality of feminism and animal welfare is becoming clearer and clearer. But if you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “How do animal rights even compare to my own?”, I’ve outlined a list of ways that feminism and animal welfare correlate.
- The Treatment of Animals and Women is Socially-Constructed BehaviorYou may not think twice before you land your fork into a juicy steak or burger, but you wouldn’t dare think of eating a dog. In fact, the very thought of eating anything that resembles your dear Fido may leave you with feelings of repulsion and disgust. But why? Because what we decide to consume is based on our cultural construction — much in the same way that society views women.
So when you find yourself fighting against the social construct attached to women, you may want to think about the way that the consumption and mistreatment of animals are naturalized, too. In both cases, a feminist can help make those first necessary steps to societal rethinking about these groups, leading to more positive change.
2. The Symbolism of Meat
The fact that women and animals are both looked at as prospective “pieces of meat” isn’t a coincidence. In a patriarchal society, power stems from taking control of others’ bodies and having a say in what happens to the livelihood of these individuals — or namely women, in this instance. But the same mentality applies to certain powerhouses in the food industry, too.
Women and animals alike are inarguably objectified and exploited within society. Since exploitation is all about power, the objectification of humans and animals can be viewed in similar ways.
Turning both animals and women into meat and commodities helps others to depersonalize them in society. This leads others to view both respective parties as “less-than” their counterparts, reducing them from beings into objects.
3. The Correlation Between Animal and Human Harm
According to the Humane Society, an astonishing 71-83% of women who seek help at a domestic violence shelter also express that their abusive partner tried to harm or kill their family pet.
This statistic indicates that those with a lack of empathy towards pets are likely to demonstrate abusive tendencies towards others in their household, too. The correlation of violence directed towards someone more vulnerable than themselves cannot be overlooked.
How to Lead an Animal-Friendly Lifestyle as a Feminist
So now you may be feeling more like animal-rights movements and feminist beliefs go hand-in-hand. While you may be looking forward to changing your lifestyle, you may not be sure how to make this change. But when you find yourself passionate about making life easier for your fellow beings, you’ll see that becoming an individual who fights for animal rights is similar to being a feminist.
One way to make this change is by being more conscientious of your food sources. You can try going vegan or vegetarian, or just make sure to do extensive research on where you buy your food from. If you do start up a vegan or vegetarian diet, make sure you’re finding alternative sources of protein! From personal experience, I can say that adding foods like avocado, nuts, beans and hummus into your diet are great places to start. Vegan and vegetarian diets are incredibly healthy when done right.
Don’t forget that the misrepresentation of businesses as “ethical” is more prevalent than you’d think. Although your favorite bistro may advertise “sustainable” and “locally-grown” ingredients, they may purchase the majority of their food products from large-scale distributors instead — which means foods processed in unethical, and often harmful, ways. Make sure your dollars are going where it counts. Hit the large-scale meat industry where it hurts — their pocketbooks.
If you’re a self-proclaimed fashionista, remember that no animals have to be harmed in the making of your killer outfit, either. Don’t support companies that use real fur products in the construction of their fabric. There is plenty of research out there on which companies are sustainable and which ones definitely are not.
And if you’re not quite yet ready to cut cheeseburgers out of your diet entirely or the thought of becoming a full-blown vegan doesn’t sound like a simple change, start by taking smaller steps in your life towards a more animal-friendly future. Simple acts such as volunteering at a shelter, vowing not to visit zoos and aquariums and adopting animals rather than buying them from pet stores can help you in your journey, too.
Ultimately, you want to see a world where all beings are treated with kindness and fairness — women and animals alike. Although you may think the intersection of feminism and animal rights is a stretch, some of these parallels can’t be ignored. Because at the end of the day, what we’re really fighting for is compassion for all living beings.