It’s been 20 years since Carol Adams, acclaimed vegan and feminist, released her first book, The Sexual Politics of Meat, and it’s still sparking discussion and controversy today. In the book, Adams proposes the theory that the exploitation of animals is linked with the exploitation of women and that in order to combat a society based on patriarchy, we must also stop eating meat.
Over at On the Issues magazine (republished on AlterNet), Teresa Noll has published her thoughts about revisiting Adams’ critical theory. She writes about how in the past two years alone, Adams’ ideas have been severely distorted by both animal rights activists and feminists, who each advocate for one cause while furthering injustices against the other.
For example, Noll criticizes Lady Gaga’s “meat dress” fashion statement at the Video Music Awards earlier this fall, finding a contradictory hole in her head-scratcher of an argument that if people don’t take a stand, “we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones.” Noll called the choice “a naïve exchange of meat for attention,” writing,
Lady Gaga offered up butchered meat in place of a segmented woman’s body, but the concept is the same: something, someone was sacrificed and silenced to grab attention, to make a point, to gain a sort of power.
Meanwhile, advertising campaigns from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been sexualizing women for years (check out The Onion’s parody, “Advocacy Group Decries PETA’s Inhumane Treatment of Women“)—notably and recently in its (NSFW) “2010 State of the Union” ad and its much-discussed (NSFW) “Vegetarians have better sex” Super Bowl ad earlier this year. In an interview with Conducive Chronicle, Adams herself spoke about PETA’s ads.
PETA’s sexist campaigns … have probably alienated more feminists from animal activist messages than any one organization. … One of the implicit, if not explicit, messages of such advertisements is, “Yes, we’re asking you to give up animals as objects, but you can still have women as objects! You can become aware of animals’ lives, but you don’t have to give up your pornography.” Thus, rather than challenge the inherent inequality of a culture structured around dominance and subordination, the ad instead tries to leverage sexual inequality on behalf of the other animals.
Say what you want about Adams’ theory or Noll’s article (dozens of others have), but you can’t deny that many of the points expressed here make you think. But what are your thoughts? If you advocate for gender equality, do you also feel obliged to reject a diet that includes meat?