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Posted: April 3rd, 2012 By BWM

A topic I’ve seen come up frequently on Tumblr and other social media sites lately is about privilege and veganism, which actually encompasses a broad spectrum of issues. Some of these are more clear-cut than others. While I think it’s valid and useful to talk about economic privilege and the relative accessibility of vegan foods, I will not be focusing on that here. I think there is another very pressing issue that gets less visibility that should be constantly on our minds: appropriation of human oppression to describe exploitation of nonhumans.

You’ve seen it before. Pictures of dying animals used for food crammed into slaughterhouses juxtaposed with an image of mass graves in concentration camps, or a picture of a lynching victim next to a pig suspended in the air by rope to help drain blood after the throat is cut. These are common, visceral, and almost always used as graphics with little or no context or description.

People who use graphics or arguments like these as part of their advocacy frequently say that people won’t understand the exploitation and abuse of nonhumans unless it’s described in simple terms, or that we should “call it like it is”. Moreover, they say the only people who have problems with such comparisons are speciesist themselves; that is, if the person in question were vegan and a supporter of animal liberation, then they wouldn’t have a problem with such tactics.

To all that I usually say: “wow”. But I can be more specific about why these tactics are problematic, and why dismissal of arguments or anger against them is exactly the kind of privilege we should seek to expose and root out.

It is unethical to hijack narratives or tap into the pain of historical trauma for your “education” project, as seriously as you may take it; you cannot use a story or experience as a point of comparison when that very experience is not taken seriously on its own terms. People of color, and more specifically, Black people, see their current and historical traumas used by a variety of movements as selling points or as “helpful illustrations”. The pain of racism and the violence and damage it causes is objectified as a rhetorical tool, and not understood on its own terms or respected for its uniqueness.

And what we’re really saying, again, is the sources of comparison are really unimportant in the context of nonhuman suffering. It’s just used as a stepping stone to get to an item on our agenda, rather than a separate serious concern that we work on simultaneously with nonhuman liberation struggles. Lynching and the Holocaust become illustrative and figurative; this is continuing the violence and delegitimization the survivors have to continue to experience by our privileged oversight.

We only feel comfortable bringing up lynching and the Holocaust and epidemic gender and sexual violence because they are easy tools to appropriate. It’s easy to be against them, but not so easy to understand the specific conditions that support them, or the implicit attitudes that continue to inform them even in people with the best intentions. It’s not a fair comparison not because nonhumans don’t suffer, but because erasure of difference is not taken seriously and that does significant damage.

Speciesism did not kill Emmett Till, racism did. To deny that root cause by a simplistic graphic you whipped up on publisher in 5 minutes is why we still don’t take racism seriously as a deadly and oppressive force with a history and contemporary record of killing Black people with impunity.

Activism: You're Doing it Wrong

Solidarity does not require us all to be the same. By definition, it implies there is some piece that is inviolable, unique, and worth appreciating from a perspective that will never fully understand its effects or implications. We have the vision of building better coalitions when we rely on true solidarity, rather than doing what’s been done by the very oppressive structures we criticize.

Oppression of nonhumans has a history and quality that is all its own. We do a disservice to the nonhumans we advocate for when we erase their specific experiences in order to hang them on the scaffolding of human experience. We imply that the only meaningful way to talk about pain and suffering is through human terms, and then only those human terms we feel okay with constantly appropriating and co-opting. This is not a good framework for the non-speciesist society we wish to envision.

This really demonstrates, in action, what Breeze Harper describes as the whitewashing of the vegan movement. Whiteness that is by nature, reductionist, consuming, and gains power by co-opting and appropriation is why advocacy tools like these are so popular. Not only does this misrepresent our larger goals of total liberation, it silences PoC vegans and animal liberation advocates who are alienated by such rhetoric and aren’t taken seriously when they promote their own tactics and work.

I’m not saying comparisons or analogies are 100% never helpful. I am saying that they are frequently used without care, without self-reflection, and with the assumption that being anti-speciesist automatically comes with a pass freeing you from checking relevant racial, economic, and gender privilege. I am saying that more often than not, most examples alienate the people you are appropriating for your cause and that does damage to all of our goals. Nuanced examples require research and thoughtfulness that seems impossible to do in a simple graphic or a tweet. So their use following these guidelines would be well researched, vetted for accuracy, come from non-privileged folk, and be used sparingly.

It is not speciesist to ask that your historical and contemporary trauma be respected. It is not speciesist to ask that “abolitionist” not be used to describe anything other than as relevant to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (especially when the people appropriating the term frequently know next to nothing about actual abolitionists or racial struggles).

The atrocities that non-humans experience are bad enough (and we have the pictures and the language to capture this horror) without constantly appropriating the pain of others, especially when explicitly asked not to.

We have creative methods that are non-exploitive that deliver our message. Pushing ourselves to do more, rather than relying what’s been done before, seems to be the most effective route to take.

27 Responses to “On Analogies as Advocacy Tools: Some Thoughts on Appropriation”

  1. Alexander Says:

    I’m very impressed with this article, Jen. The main problem I have faced as a vegan advocate is the association people make between vegan individuals and the rash, unethical juxtapositions that many vegans make between the treatment of non-humans and humans. No matter how much I disagree with factory farming, putting chickens in a coup is NOT the same thing as trying to wipe out an entire race of humans. I’m so happy to read the writings of a fellow vegan with a similar set of values as myself. Keep up the good work.

  2. Matthew Ruscigno Says:

    Well said. Thanks for taking this on as it is a complex topic with many nuances and not easy to write about.

  3. Anon Says:

    Yes! to all of this!

  4. Dylan Powell Says:

    Excellent article.

  5. Peter Keller Says:

    Thank you for this. I’ve always been uncomfortable with such comparisons, as it discounts the very real differences in how oppression occurs between humans and non-humans. There are different motivations at play, and to ignore the differences does a disservice to our own advocacy and those who we appropriate. I think what happens often is that people take the view that “the ends justify the means,” similar in my view of how PETA uses the objectification of women in their campaigns.

  6. Catch Says:

    While I hear some of what you are saying, I also hear the unacknowledged winds of privilege whistling down your own canyons. (Or should I just say, “Wow.”) I am on the front lines of a battle to save the lives of animals right now. Animals who are innocent of any crime, who are beautiful, intelligent, and persecuted. It never ceases to amaze me that people cannot seem to comprehend that what they are doing to these animals is WRONG. I’m sorry if you are offended that your “narrative” has been “hijacked,” but you know what, I can’t be bothered to care about some semantic, armchair argument while living beings are being tortured and killed all around us, bleeding their lives into the ground, by people who don’t want to be compared with “mere animals.” Frankly, I do not care about dry arguments like this while their blood is running from their bodies. In point of fact, there IS a comparison to be made between the torture and killing of Other humans, and the torture and killing of animals. That may or may not “alienate” you, I do not really care. It’s not like the non-alienated are breaking down the door to help the animals either, so your rules of etiquette sound as ineffective as they are hollow.

    I do not mean to insult you. If I had never had the thoughts you express here, and then moved past them, I would see this as educational to me. However, there is a whole world past this essay that has nothing to do with human sensibilities and delicate taste of “offended” humans. And no, I’m not white so this is not white privilege talking. It’s reality.

    Yes, the animal movement has its own narrative. Filled with the suffering of others whom most people cannot feel or understand, because they look different than us. This is the SAME impulse behind racism, behind sexism, behind homophobia… and etc. If you cannot see that, then you need to open your eyes. One way to open those eyes, my friend, is through the very images you disdain. You are not better than a pig hanging from a conveyor belt. Neither am I. It is our obligation to see that, and to show it to others. There are too many people wandering around right now who see what was wrong with slavery, but not what is wrong with the enslavement of non-human animals. Too many who see what was wrong with concentration camps, but not what is wrong with factory farms and slaughter houses. The point is that these people would love to think that they would have been better than that – that they would not have had slaves, that they would not have sent anyone off to the camps. But they WOULD have. Why? Because they are STILL not capable of recognizing the being-ness of the Other. Not until it’s been beaten into their heads with a movement, and then had the patina of time laid on it, not until it’s clearly the “right” and “moral” choice. The people who are now dismissing the suffering of cows and chickens and pigs and dogs and cats and horses and lab rats and etc? These are the SAME people who would have been dismissing the suffering of slaves, of concentration camp victims, of disenfranchised people everywhere. It takes WORK, and a LOT of it before people start to see and empathize with The Other. It does not help to have armchair theorists like you sitting there on your ass doing nothing for the animals and berating the people who are engaged in this struggle for not being polite enough.

  7. cath Says:

    Found it interesting that on the pic of the concentration camp was Bashevis Singer’s quote ” …[for animals] …all people are Nazis..[for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka]…..
    most of you will be aware that Singer was a Jew and had relatives that perished in the Holocaust…yet, he found it acceptable to use these comparisons, which are laced throughout his writings. Make of that what you will.

  8. Jen Says:

    Hi Cath, thanks for the comment. I think if Singer is weaving those arguments in because of his identity, then that’s for him to decide. I think that falls under the second category I describe where “Nuanced examples require research and thoughtfulness that seems impossible to do in a simple graphic or a tweet. So their use following these guidelines would be well researched, vetted for accuracy, come from non-privileged folk, and be used sparingly.”

    As far as I know, Singer wrote an entire book to defend these comparisons and this pic does not have the ability to do so. Also, if the people in question responsible for this display did not identify with the historical trauma they are referencing in the picture, then they are using Singer’s words to describe is his own identification with the experience without any context for that either.

    I have a problem with the people who excised the quote and created the display, not the book it was found in.

  9. Jen Says:

    Hi Catch, Jen here. I’ll reference your arguments mostly in order.

    It’s really common for advocates who use these tactics to want to refuse to acknowledge privilege or ask that I examine my own. I think this writing is the best example I have of reflecting on my own privilege as a white, female, bisexual survivor in the Midwest. I have continually educated myself on what PoC vegans say about being excluded from the larger animal liberation discourse/movement, and heard what others who are not vegan say about the racism often deployed as part of the message. This tactic I describe where people whip up graphics to spread around on Tumblr for “awareness” is incredibly oppressive and damaging to our cause, so I sat down and thought about my position here and chose to use my white privilege and the privilege of writing for BWM to bring up these arguments against it.

    I mean you do realize there is a significant portion of people in the animal liberation/vegan communities, both PoC and white folks, who agree that the suffering of animals is unjust but also refuse to throw others under the bus to get people to realize it? Let me be clear again: it is not because they think they are better than animals, but because it is insulting to reduce human suffering that is already not taken seriously to a 5 word graphic to try to make your point. It would be offensive to do this between human groups as well (which is why you hear about a lot of white queer folk getting called out for co-opting Civil Rights rhetoric, when it is simply not the same thing). It’s not saying one is more important than the other. But when you focus on one and reduce the other to a simple “analogy” or “illustration”, that is messed up and counter to our total liberation goals.

    I think we should always evaluate our tactics for effectiveness. If this tactic alienates people from our message, why use it? Let us used nuanced arguments, let us not fall back on easy cheap graphics that gloss over difference, and let us not silence the voices from PoC who offer the most constructive criticism on how to deploy this message. We don’t have to sugarcoat the truth about nonhuman exploitation to also be anti-racist. We can be honest and not take cheap shots. It’s totally possible (as this website proves).

    I did say too that when we constantly use human terms to describe non-human suffering, we completely erase the uniqueness of nonhuman oppression. There is literally nothing like vivisection or the slaughterhouse, and to constantly compare that to human experiences means we will not do our jobs in communicating the reality of nonhuman suffering. What kind of new world can we build if we only use human terms to describe non-human oppression? It would still center around human experiences, which is part of the problem we’re both fighting.

    As for my own activism, I think I can always do more for animals. My skills are in writing and educating others, so that’s why you see me writing here. And I’m not doing so from a distant, criticizing position, I’m doing so from as reflective a position I possibly can. I will talk about veganism and animal liberation, but I refuse to do so in ways that support white supremacy. I don’t see a way this specific tactic I’m criticizing does not. I support a diversity of tactics when confronted with the suffering of animals, and we can all agree that some work better than others. Racist ones are cheap shots that do not work.

    This is not about being polite. It’s not about being politically correct. It’s about refusing to use the precious goal of animal liberation and rhetoric to oppress others. It’s about extending the same courtesy to our own species that we give to others: respect for their experiences. It is about total liberation, which means racism and ethnic cleansing and gender violence are not side-projects, but important and connected and vital to undo. Animal liberation folks do not have to come with a one-track mind, and we are capable of talking about nonhumans in very specific and real terms without oppressing others. This requires more work, but absolutely necessary if we want solidarity from other groups or to increase our numbers in the fight for total liberation. We are totally capable of rising above racist discourse for this very important work.

  10. Mark Says:

    “It is not speciesist to ask that “abolitionist” not be used to describe anything other than as relevant to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (especially when the people appropriating the term frequently know next to nothing about actual abolitionists or racial struggles).”

    Maybe not speciesist, but quite strange.

    Abolition
    noun
    1. the act of abolishing: the abolition of war.
    2. the state of being abolished; annulment; abrogation: the abolition of unjust laws; the abolition of unfair taxes.
    3. the legal prohibition and ending of slavery, especially of slavery of blacks in the U.S.
    (Dictionary.com)

    To use a word as it is defined is not offensive. To say that you are for the abolition of animal slavery, or for the abolition of war, or for the abolition of whatever-you-want-to-be-abolished is an appropriate use of a word (if you want something to be abolished).. Likewise, saying you are an abolitionist in respect to a cause is just using a word from the English language that predates people using it for one certain, albeit very important, cause in one certain country during one certain period of history. If people are offended because a word that was properly used in respect to one struggle for social justice is being properly used in a different struggle for social justice, I think they are too easily offended and inappropriately claiming ownership of a word.

    Even though I find this aspect of the article strange and inaccurate, and am not convinced some other aspects, I appreciate the dialogue on considering the message and its effect on the audiences we are trying to reach.

  11. Jen Says:

    Mark, I think relying on the dictionary to address ethical concerns is profoundly lazy and self-serving. I’d address your arguments but the folks over at Vegan Police do it much better: http://theveganpolice.com/main/?p=1397

  12. Rick Bogle Says:

    A friend asked me to comment about this article because he thought I might disagree with the author, and I do. I think Catch made some strong arguments.

    If the author subscribes to the BecauseWeMust Mission Statement, it might explain her perspective to some degree:

    “Because We Must is founded on the idea that all forms of oppression and, in turn, the struggles against them, are intimately connected. The subjugation of the earth, it’s non-human animal inhabitants, and the people that are not members of the wealthy white male elite are not unrelated phenomena. Each of these, among the many other injustices that must be confronted, is a product of the white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist culture that dominates the planet.”

    It is this intimate connection between the various bitter flavors of oppression that subsume them. They are variations on a theme. Pointing out the similarities between them seems very appropriate to me.

    But the notion that the problem is the result of “white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist culture” is myopic.

    I’m not aware of any historic culture that hasn’t, or any modern culture that doesn’t, oppress humans and other animals. One’s race, gender, and economic system don’t seem to matter at all.

    A woman crammed in the back of a “money bus” with a dozen or more other people traveling the muddy roads of West Africa doesn’t care about the feelings of the tightly bound chicken in her bag because of her color or her oppressive economic system any more than the rich Japanese businessman cares about the feelings of the lion who he has traveled there to shoot .

    And, the exploitation of other humans has a long long history; the advent of slavery and war predate writing.

    The evil things we do to each other aren’t about capitalism or gender or race. Over time, and very slowing and grudgingly, progress has been made — there is nothing inappropriate in calling attention to our past acts and beliefs to underscore the wrongness in our current behavior and to help people understand why we should change our ways.

    Inaccurate comparisons should be avoided. But some comparisons are accurate.

    The suffering of Mengele’s victims is very much like the suffering of monkeys being used by modern day Mengeles. This comparison doesn’t make light of the Holocaust or of Mengele’s victims.

    A criticism of the comparison might grow out of a belief that the suffering of Jews and monkeys isn’t of a like kind even when the circumstances they were and are in are of a like kind.

    One other thing: I don’t see this tactic — the graphic comparisons — used so very much. I think they should be used more.

    I suspect that this tension will not go away until society embraces the notion that suffering is a commonality of all sentient beings. The extreme cases have much in common; they are manifestations of the same mindset. This should be pointed out more often.

  13. Mark Says:

    I don’t think using a dictionary to help demonstrate the common usage and meaning of a word is “profoundly lazy and self-serving,” but instead think that replying to a critique of one aspect of your blog with one condescending and rude sentence and a link to someone else is likely both. And thanks for replying to me in that condescending and rude manner, by the way. So much for productive and respectful discourse as we move forward for the animals, right? (even after I thanked you for the discussion, no less)

    You and the Vegan Police both have it wrong.
    Abolitionist comes from the root word “abolish”.
    Is it offensive to say you want to abolish something, because a prior movement for social justice wanted to abolish something? Of course not.
    The Black Panther analogy on the Vegan Police site is extremely un-analogous and unconvincing.
    It has nothing to do with Francione, Best, or anyone else.
    So where does your one sentence and linkage to another site leave us? Nowhere, and fast.
    If you feel like responding to a critique of something in your blog with your, the author’s, thoughts and without condescension and rudeness, please do. If you can’t, please don’t.

  14. Tommy Says:

    I guess I’ll throw my two cents in, though I hold no illusions about your anthropocentric definitions of intersectionality.

    First, I want to reiterate that I wholeheartedly agree with you on the topic, that the struggles of all aforementioned groups are distinct and that the setting of each is profoundly different in their own respect. I acknowledge that the victim of marital abuse, the murder of Emmett Till and cattle going to slaughter are not the same situations and that the oppressive systems involved are not interchangeable. That being said – and something I don’t think you addressed from the last time you and I discussed that post – I think there is something to be said about the fundamental ignorance that goes into arbitrary prejudices and I think that the universal foundation of misunderstanding and refusal to attempt to consider those similarities is absolutely something to be kept in the forefront of our thought when we look at these struggles in comparison to one another. You’re vegan and I think we can agree that animals are as deserving of consideration as humans, so hopefully we can agree that, objectively, the suffering endured by non-human animals is undoubtedly more severe and devastating than any anguish resulting from an oppressed person’s feeling cheated out of having their experiences recognized as their own.

    Now, this is where I think were the main difference in our thinking lies. Because the present day struggles of non-human animals are far, far more costly than drawing parallels between situations outside of a particular group’s experiences, I think that certain things are justified in order to do the least harm. You are right, we as advocates for animal liberation have our own rhetoric and our own images and more than anything, I wish that was enough. However, like I said before in our original exchange, if our goal is to impose upon non-vegans the importance of veganism in ethical terms, certain things that need to be understood by the audience that simply are not. If you try to make statements about non-human animals’ rights and in the same breath speak about other forms of oppression that still frame non-human animals as something to be commodified and consumed, you are making a very clear assertion that one is more important than the other. There is a very real and a very pervasive disconnect between a non-vegan’s dinner plate and the bodies from which their meal was taken. It is the absent referent that has been engineered for decades to remove guilt and it effectively negates the rhetoric and imagery to which you’re referring. Our methods exist but are consistently widely neutralized by the “animals are food” mentality. Like I said, I wish those methods were effective but the reality of the situation is that as long as that suffering is confined to a group that is considered food to a vast majority of people, it will not trip any kind of response because it does not force the person considering the rhetoric to apply the suffering of non-humans to anything with which they can identify and therefore there is no ethical epiphany to be had because there is no victim in their eyes. I feel that limiting our tactics to boundaries that refuse to draw parallels between human and non-human animals out of sensitivity for how an oppressed group may feel about having certain similarities highlighted in order to bring attention to those similarities in groups that are not them. When I make comparisons like the one you linked to, I am not attempting to equate the two groups, struggles or the details of either, I am trying to bring attention to the common foundation of ignorance upon which those prejudices are built in a way that forces a person to peek past that disconnect by ensuring that what they’re being told to consider is in itself is a bridge between the two, thereby not allowing that disconnect to exist for the entirety of that comparison’s consideration. Because non-human animals should be regarded as equal and because the disparity between the urgency of the two oppressive systems is so stark, I have a hard time understanding how the ends don’t justify somewhat irreverent means. If your goal is to honestly evaluate the effectiveness of the tactics we use, it is important to see what is most effective while setting context aside and then reintegrating that context while simultaneously prioritizing the damage to the parties involved. Until the struggles of non-human animals are brought down to the relatively minuscule struggles of any group in our society (relative in comparison to the former), the two evils cannot be considered equal because they simply are not and that inequality warrants more aggressive tactics.

    But, like I said, you and I have very, very different understandings of intersectionality as it relates to the commodification of non-human animals. I really want to keep talking about this issue as well as other issues (like your views on food politics as it relates to veganism), but I’m not sure if this would be the appropriate medium for that. If you’d like to talk about it, you have my email. If not, you can respond to this here, email, elsewhere or not at all if it suits you.

  15. Janet Weeks Says:

    I appreciate and thank you for your post, Jen. It caused me to think about these comparisons in a useful new way: from a nonhuman animal’s POV.

    If I, for example, were a female pig who had been taken from my mother as an infant, had my body parts mutilated without anesthesia (my ears, teeth, and tail), raped the minute I reached puberty, confined in a narrow cage my entire pregnancy so that I could not turn around, let alone take a step forward or back or lie down comfortably on the cold, hard, slatted floor covered in my own shit, then bear my babies in another cage where I could not nuzzle or caress them. And, if then my babies were taken away to a place where I could hear their screams, but not protect them, as they, too, had their bodies mutilated (the boys even worse)–never to see my babies again. And, if then the process were repeated several times over for 4-5 more years until my body was so weak and depleted I could no longer produce offspring. And, if then I were hauled away in a truck jam-packed with others of my kind to a place of intense fear, where the smell of blood filled the air and the squeals and cries of other terrified pigs were deafening–if then, someone were to say to me, “Your experience is like the Jewish holocaust,” I would scream “NO! My experience is NOTHING like theirs! My experience is FAR WORSE! How dare you compare my suffering, my pain, my torture to theirs!”

    To each in turn we should honor their suffering and not liken it to anything else. It is sort of like telling someone whose beloved parents were killed in a horrific car wreck, “I know just how you feel.” Wouldn’t you want to scream, “NO, you have no idea how I feel!” In many cases, the animal suffering is FAR WORSE or at least far different than any suffering a human ever had.

    Sometimes I think language is our worst enemy. We lose nuanced emotions when we try to capture them in strings of grouped letters. Language defeats our purpose, muddles our thinking, and addles our brains. We argue and quibble. What we need is for people to FEEL an animal’s pain and suffering, without using words. The undercover images do it for me. While watching a full-grown cow dangling upside down, by a hind leg, suspended in fetid air, while spinning down a disassembly line, bleeding from a deadly neck wound. blinking and sensing death and fear all around her–I could not help but imagine and FEEL the sickening horror, as if it were happening to me. There was no need to relate it to any human experience I’ve witnessed or read about in history books or felt on my own. Seeing it was enough. Likewise, seeing old newsreels and photographs of the Holocaust and its victims is more powerful than any words used to describe it.

    Have you ever heard someone referred to as a bitch, a dirty pig, a dumb ox, or a stubborn mule and thought, how dare they insult the animal?! Did you always think that way, or did it happen after your eyes were opened to animal inequality? I used to use those expressions myself, without any thought. Even if pigs have not studied racism or the Holocaust, do we not diminish them by assuming they have no way of sensing our attitudes of superiority. Our assumptions prove what we think deep down inside: that we are somehow nicer, cleaner, smarter, less stubborn, and, in general, better than they are. And, in that, we err grievously.

  16. On Analogies as Advocacy Tools: Some Thoughts on Appropriation « Profane Existence Says:

    [...] Article from Because We Must dot org [...]

  17. will Says:

    Janet, I am Jewish vegetarian and I kinda resent you sitting there comparing the holocaust to a bunch of fucking pigs…

  18. Brandon Becker Says:

    Have you read “Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust” by Charles Patterson? What about “The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery” by Marjorie Spiegel? These books make the case for comparing atrocities and argue that what humans are doing to other animals can be accurately described as a “holocaust” and “slavery.” Also see this helpful illustrated page by David Sztybel “The Holocaust Comparison Project”: http://70.67.160.176/ds/ber/16.html

    Considering that every animal (other than humans) is legally categorized and often treated as property, we are talking about slavery. Considering that the word “holocaust” originated in humans’ mass killing of other animals, we are talking about a holocaust. Allowing the terms “slavery” and “holocaust” only to describe human victims reinforces speciesism and human supremacy.

    On a side note, it seems many activists’ supposed incorporation of “intersectionality” leads to tired Leftist anthropocentrism and a marginalization of human domination over other animals. I hate to say it but I was a much bigger fan of VeganThis than BecauseWeMust.

  19. Jen Says:

    Again, it’s not the term slavery I take issue with, but the visual-rhetorical co-optation of specifically Trans-Atlantic slavery narratives and images.

    And also, as I’ve said in other places, continuing to use human experiences to illustrate nonhuman suffering seems to be just as anthropocentric (as if we could not understand nonhuman suffering on its own terms). And, if human liberation movements are subject to criticism on these points (re: gay rights for co-opting civil rights rhetoric), then it is definitely anthropocentric to assume animal liberation movements should be exempt from the same criticism. I am using incredibly specific language to describe specific tactics, and referencing those instead of these broad characterizations about “slavery” and “holocaust” would be engaging the real issues I am seeing about vegan advocacy.

    I hope that clears up any ambiguity here.

  20. Brandon Becker Says:

    If we talk about nonhuman animals enslaved or the ongoing holocaust against them without explicitly mentioning that black humans were once enslaved or that Jews were killed in a holocaust (or otherwise connecting the struggles in some way), we will likely face speciesist backlash from anthropocentric humans who will label us misanthropic or racist or anti-semitic. Therefore, we need to be careful in all our advocacy to ensure the message gets through and that it’s effective, not just when invoking human over human oppression as a means of historical comparison.

  21. The Vegan Police Says:

    [...] For those unconvinced – we strongly urge heading over to Because We Must to read Jennifer Cox’s – “On Analogies As Advocacy Tools: Some Thoughts On Appropriation” [...]

  22. Andris Says:

    As an Australian Lithuanian for me the word abolition does not only refer to the emancipation of American slaves. It is of all slaves. I understand that to Americans it means only American slaves but that is not so for me. It means the emancipation in the Russian Empire, America, Romania, Haiti, France etc. If it is what I use for all human animal slaves then why should I not use it for non-human animal slaves?

  23. hey Says:

    “If I, for example, were a female pig…if then, someone were to say to me, “Your experience is like the Jewish holocaust,” I would scream “NO! My experience is NOTHING like theirs! My experience is FAR WORSE! How dare you compare my suffering, my pain, my torture to theirs!””

    If you were a female pig, would you really know someone was talking about Jews to you and know what the Shoah was and scream words back to them?

    Anyone know what words pigs *do* say to humans? Anyone know about from a nonhuman animal’s POV how much human speech and human history lessons get through to them?

    “The central analogy to the civil rights movement and the women’s movement is trivializing and ahistorical. Both of those social movements were initiated and driven by members of the dispossessed and excluded groups themselves, not by benevolent men or white people acting on their behalf. ”

    - from http://www.social-ecology.org/2005/01/ambiguities-of-animal-rights/

    If the Shoah was like slaughtering animals for meat then who’s the cow or chicken version of Elie Wiesel?

  24. hey Says:

    BTW, when some ANIMALS have been rescued from farming and are in sanctuaries where vegans can go reach them right now, why not go ask THEM about this stuff and listen to what they DO say back instead of just listening to HUMANS imagining what they WOULD say back IF someone asked them about this stuff?

  25. On Appropriation | KVARM Says:

    [...] On Appropriation Share this:TwitterFacebookMoreEmailGoogle +1TumblrLike this:Like Loading… This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  26. KVARM Says:

    [...] campaign sign would have been a good one to vegan-friendlitise but I'm still wondering whether it's appropriation. Since I am an ally to one and the other, maybe it isn't, but is it fair to use certain platforms [...]

  27. anna key Says:

    nope. I think you’re coming from such a position of educational privilege that you are utterly failing to appreciate the relationship that the more simple-minded people have with visual media. yes, sometimes shit gets dumbed down. that is because the target audience is dumb. that’s just science.

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