TO BE A FEMINIST IS TO BE A VEGAN
Does veganism have similarities with feminism and gender equality? Whether you eat meat or not, it might be news to you that women’s rights and animal rights have more or less always intersected during history.
Feminism has strong links with vegetarianism and veganism. Many suffragists in the late 19th century were ethical vegetarians who stayed vegetarian even while imprisoned and took part in the anti-vivisection movement. A fun fact, early vegetarian restaurants were used as popular meeting spaces for suffragettes
Regardless their different denominations, veganism and feminism in some way are related: Feminism is the believes that all humans should have the same freedom, rights and opportunities; Veganism is kind of the same, but it expands the idea of equality to all living beings. We can also observe that patriarchy’s justification for carrying out gender inequality and humans’ justification for eating meat, are almost identical. Historically women were seen like objects, vulnerable and man properties, exactly like we consider animals, items for consumption and to profit from. The example of the reproductive violence done to female animals is perhaps the most iconic and yet extreme comparison to the oppression of women; however there are other examples of woman and animal oppression similarities. Meat-eating is associated with virility and masculinity. Women are animalised and animals are feminized: let’s think about sexy animal Halloween costumes for women and Playboy bunnies.
So, the continued transmission of animalising metaphors for women may help spread prejudicial beliefs about “proper” roles for women in society. Should this mean that all those against the objectification of human bodies must deny and fight any objectification of all forms of life? Karolina Skowron, of Polish group the Albert Schweitzer Foundation, said: “Animals and women both live in systems of violence in which their bodies serve somebody else. If we allow any group or species to be objectified we agree to objectification itself”.
Some studies have shown that there’s also an undeniable link between animal abuse and violence against women. A 2009 study by criminologist Amy Fitzgerald (link) showed that towns that have slaughterhouses in it, also had much higher rates of violence, including crimes like domestic violence, rape and murder. The majority of the victims of these crimes are women. These correlations points out that feminists who rightly want to dismantle the patriarchy also need to include animals in their fight. So, we can agree that both feminism and veganism are trying to defeat an idea of society based on dominance for a fair and equal world.
During the first and second waves of feminism, woman’s attempted to conquer few rights regarding their political voice, property, children and so on; fighting the society structure where man are superior than woman. Veganism movement is trying to fight a system of hierarchy where humans have self-proclaimed themselves superior and worthy to other species. Speciesism, sexism, racism and other forms of oppression are interconnected and intersect.
One of the most influential activists in recent history, Angela Davis advocate against oppression of all kinds, once said: “I think it’s the right moment to talk about it because it is part of a revolutionary perspective – how can we not only discover more compassionate relations with human beings but how can we develop compassionate relations with the other creatures with whom we share this planet and that would mean challenging the whole capitalist industrial form of food production.”
You might have thought that eating animals has nothing to do with feminism but after reading about it, I hope you feel the connection. We could all use a little more empathy. One further observation by way of conclusion: To be a feminist, you do not need to be vegan. But you can be vegan because you are a feminist!
Author: Federica Abruzzesse, ESC volunteer at Sójovem