Women and the Animal Rights Movement


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That colossal power emanates from hundreds of thousands of everyday activists who justifiably believe that conscientious consumers can, through a wide variety of measures, take gradual steps toward removing animal products from their diet. These true believers do the grunt work of activism: they hand out pamphlets, write books, blog, make documentaries, start campus veg societies, publish vegan recipes, open vegan food carts, work for animal sanctuaries, run veganic farms, and do basically anything they can to encourage consumers to contemplate the face on their plate.

Radical Activism and the Future of Animal Rights

I consider myself a member of this noble tribe. The heel of the movement, by contrast, consists of a handful of radicals, mostly academics, who do little more than set an unrealistic benchmark of success and effectively crucify activists who do not join them in dreaming the impossible dream. The fundamentally unachievable position that the radical fringe adopts as the one-and-only approach to ending animal exploitation has two components.

The heel does not want the good, or even the better. It wants perfection. The tension between rank-and-file and the radical-fringe approaches routinely negates pragmatic efforts to help animals live better lives. Take the Humane Society of the United States.

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Among other goals, HSUS works diligently to improve conditions for animals raised in factory farms. By no means does HSUS seek to eliminate all animal exploitation and all forms of oppression. However, it lays down important stepping stones for those who want to start hiking in that direction.

They traveled widely by car, which represented a potentially dangerous show of black upward mobility in the rural Jim Crow South, especially when their lectures discussed exploitative practices such as debt peonage and sharecropping. Yet the organization embraced moral expansionism when sponsoring American missionaries, who integrated humane education curricula into their evangelical activities across the world. With the growth of motor power during the s, fewer laboring animals populated American cities.

SPCAs staged nostalgic workhorse parades as a tribute to equine service and to raise funds for new comfortable retirement farms. The organization's fundraising pleas reminded donors that equines performed invaluable labor in impenetrable terrain despite the ascendancy of motorization. After the armistice, global horse markets collapsed and American warhorses were auctioned off in Europe because trans-Atlantic transport was cost prohibitive in an age of impending obsolescence.

While equines remained an important source of agricultural labor, the expanding dominance of motorization changed the scope and direction of American animal protectionism. Animal advocates increasingly viewed animal performances, long a staple of popular entertainment, as unethical. While the organization had no immediate legislative impact, it represented a harbinger of activism to come in a motorized world. During the twentieth century, slaughterhouse reform and antivivisectionism remained important activist sites.

Yet pets, especially dogs and cats, escalated as subjects of protection.

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Historian Katherine Grier contends that the growth of a consumer culture of pet keeping, alongside the development of sulfonamides, parasite control, and antibiotics in the s and s, enabled people and their pets to live longer, healthier lives together in closer proximity. In the nineteenth century, some animal protectionists maligned the cat as a semiwild killer of cherished songbirds.


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Medical advances and new consumer products, such as cat litter in , brought cats indoors. By the mid-twentieth century, dogs, cats, and sheltering dominated animal protectionism. The coalition of movements dedicated to moral uplift that had given animal protection its interconnected human and animal agenda eventually fractured, portending an almost singular focus on animals.

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The professionalization of social work during the Progressive Era cleaved the earlier union of child and animal protectionists into separate fields. The repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment in dissolved the temperance movement—a longstanding stalwart ally. Gradual secularization also transformed animal protection. Earlier generations of activists forged alliances with religious leaders, but mid-century humane periodicals focused on celebrity animal lovers in media and politics. While the movement's mainline Protestant founders believed in biblical stewardship, their descendants embraced Darwinism.

Energized by the social justice movements of the s and s, animal protection evolved into two distinct but overlapping movements. Animal welfare groups, such as the ASPCA, remained focused on sheltering, adoption, and the prevention of suffering.

When #MeToo Meets the Meat Industry: The Links Between Feminism and Animal Rights

In utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer published Animal Liberation, which was immediately hailed as a "bible" for an emergent animal rights movement. Singer argued that sentient creatures have a right to "equal consideration" because they can suffer and considered "speciesism" to be a form of discrimination akin to racism and sexism. Singer, like most animal rights writers, supported veganism in an age when factory-like Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations have replaced pasture farming.

Yet some activists, such as philosopher Tom Regan, concluded that Animal Liberation 's utilitarian call to minimize suffering was ultimately too conservative or "welfarist. His book, The Case for Animal Rights, contended that animals possess intrinsic moral rights as individual "subjects of a life" with complex feelings and experiences that extend beyond their ability to suffer.


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Some scholars, most notably Steven Wise, argue that certain animals such as this lowland gorilla pictured here possess legal personhood, owing to their superior cognitive abilities. Paradoxically, vivisection has unwittingly validated the newest frontier in animal protection in the twenty-first century: legal personhood. In legal scholar Steven Wise used recent research in neuroscience and genetics in his book, Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals, to argue that great apes, cetaceans, elephants, and African gray parrots possess the legal right to "bodily liberty," owing to their superior cognitive abilities.

Armed with the writ of habeas corpus in state courts, Wise and his associates contend that captivity constitutes unlawful imprisonment.

Gillian Anderson is something of a feminist icon, known for portraying strong female characters. What you may not know is that the woman who brought Dana Scully of the X-Files to life is also a passionate animal rights activist. Many of her vehement efforts include letter-writing to various governments on the subject of animal testing. In , she encouraged every Member of the European Parliament to vote to protect animals.

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While filming in India in , she pleaded with the Indian government to end toxicity tests on animals when the data for such experiments already exists. Kesha is famous for detailing her history of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her producer. Kesha is also passionate about animal rights and even starred in a video for Human Society International in Now she hosts her long-running talk show that first aired in Ellen is vegan and her website has an entire section on veganism.

Women and the Animal Rights Movement Women and the Animal Rights Movement
Women and the Animal Rights Movement Women and the Animal Rights Movement
Women and the Animal Rights Movement Women and the Animal Rights Movement
Women and the Animal Rights Movement Women and the Animal Rights Movement
Women and the Animal Rights Movement Women and the Animal Rights Movement
Women and the Animal Rights Movement Women and the Animal Rights Movement

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