Feminism and veganism. What do they have in common?
Although I think the term feminism is somewhat problematic – it’s not only about women’s rights, but equal rights for everyone – I do consider myself a feminist. I stand for the equal rights and equal treatment of everyone who is on the scale of men to women. In this article, I will focus on the question why feminism and veganism are so closely linked, and whether feminists can really call themselves a feminist if they support the bio-industry.
Dairy and sexism
I can’t ignore it any more. In the article “Why I chose to ditch dairy“, I tried to explain the suffering that lies behind the dairy industry. Dairy cows are being exploited. Where a cow usually reaches the age of twenty, these dairy cows are sent to slaughter after an average of two to six years, because they no longer meet the requirements: being pregnant and thus producing milk. However, what I did not mention in that article is the way in which cows are kept pregnant.
I know that this will probably encounter a lot of resistance, but if you see the photos and videos of cows being artificially inseminated against their will, you can hardly deny that this is, in fact, rape.
To support this point – and I know people won’t approve of this – I looked up the definition of rape in the Oxford Dictionary:
“The crime, typically committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with the offender against their will.”
For the moment I’m not dwelling upon the fact that the Oxford Dictionary mentions that the crime is typically committed by a man, but it’s quite striking.
Many lawsuits have shown that what should and should not be considered rape, is very difficult. Often, it’s the victim’s word against the perpetrator’s word. A “He said/she said” situation, if you will. In this case, however, the victim doesn’t even have a voice. The cow is impregnated, continuously pregnant, her calves are taken away, all without her consent. If this would be done to a human being, I bet it would definitely be frowned upon. But it seems like nobody cares about the victims without a voice.
Meat and sexism
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that I do not completely agree with the term “feminism”. This is because the “femi” part, coming from the Latin word “femina” (= woman), seems to imply that feminism only fights for women’s rights. This is not true for me. I should mention, though, that the definition on Wikipedia indicates the following:
“Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal and social equality of sexes.”
This is much closer to the definition of feminism that I follow, rather than being just a women’s affair. Because it is also about men. Which is explained perfectly by the bio-industry.
What I’m trying to point out is the following. We saw that dairy cows are being exploited. These are cows, female cattle. What happens with bulls is explained in this article as well. They are sent to the slaughter house and end up wrapped in plastic in our trolleys.
A calf’s purpose in this life is simply determined by what sex it has at birth. Imagine a human baby being born. The doctor finds out it’s a male. The baby has a will to live, just like baby calves do. Can you imagine how horrible it would be when the mother, after birth, was told, “He’s male, he’ll have to go to the slaughterhouse”? I bet that would be frowned upon as well – people would be outraged.
Eggs and sexism
I’ve only focused on cows, but what about chickens? Well, the “by-product” of the eggs industry, in other words, the male chicks, are killed by going through the shredder or being gassed. That’s only the male chicks, because they can’t lay any eggs. As you can see, the situation is quite similar to what happens to male calves.
Every animal in the bio-industry is doomed to be sent to the slaughterhouse – there are very few who manage to avoid this fate, usually by rescue operations by animal lovers. Male animals will be killed sooner than female animals – the female ones being kept alive to be exploited because they have a womb (or in the case of chickens: their ovaries; chickens do not have a womb and therefore eggs are not their menstruation).
The question you have to ask yourself is: does feminism just concern itself with equality among humans? I don’t think so. We are all animal species, and because we’re just a little more developed, does not mean that we can take full control of other species in order to exploit them, to rape them, and to murder them. I think that you are truly a feminist when you acknowledge that the actions of humanity on animals are inhumane. Just like raping a woman is inhumane, raping chickens, cows, sheep is. Killing male animals just because they’re the by-product of the industry, is a case of gendered violence.
I am convinced that this is not how nature is meant to be. I can’t close my eyes any more for the gendered injustice that takes place upon animals. With this article, I hope I’ve helped you understand why the bio-industry is not only inhumane, but also inherently sexist.