Sunday, September 21, 2014

Title: Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice
Author: Ed. by Lisa Kemmerer
Genre: non-fiction, ecofeminism, food issues, animals

I found out about this intriguing title through my Women's Studies class and college library. Years ago I had read an article about animal welfare that casually mentioned in a sentence that eating dairy products was harmful to animals, but the author of the article didn't elaborate as to WHY this was wrong. This book does that and explains how veganism, feminism and social justice are related.

Ecofeminism is a termed that was invented in 1972 by a French author (14) and "focuses on interconnections between the domination/oppression of women and domination/oppression of nature" (14). How exactly are women and animals connected in our society? "Nature and women have been devalued, objectified or exploited for the benefit of the dominant culture" (15). This view of women and nature has manifested itself through the centuries as "both women and animals have historically been considered less intelligent, less rational and ...more primitive and closer to nature than men" (16). This mindset has led to "objectification, ridicule, and control of reproduction" (16).

Feminist vegans have turned to animal activism because "the majority of factory-farmed animals, more than 20 billion individuals a year, are female" (67). " To produce milk, cows undergo a cyclical process of forced impregnation and repeated separation from their young. The male calves often are crated and killed for veal. The females, like their mothers, will be turned into dairy machines" (91). The various essays in this book also show us that pigs, chickens and turkeys are not safe either. Parts of this book are graphic as industrialized agricultural living conditions are explained in gruesome detail: pigs and hens living in cramped cages with no room to turn around, living in humongous warehouses with no exposure to fresh air or sunlight, forced separation from their eggs or piglets. Being a "farm" animal in the US is not the peaceful, pastoral scene we imagine it to be. Death at the slaughterhouse is not quick. Due to increase in animals being butchered some animals are not stunned/incapacitated as they should be before they are killed.

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