17 Carol J. Adams Quotes on The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory and Feminist - Quotes.pub

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Granted, vegetarian naming wrests meat eating from a context of acceptance; this does not invalidate its mission. One thing must be acknowledged about vegetarian naming as exemplified in the above examples: these are true words. The dissonance they produce is not due to their being false, but to their being too accurate. These words do not adhere to our common discourse which presumes the edibility of animals.Just as feminists proclaimed that 'rape is violence, not sex,' vegetarians wish to name the violence of meat eating. Both groups challenge commonly used terms. Mary Daly calls the phrase 'forcible rape' a reversal by redundancy because it implies that all rapes are not forcible. This example highlights the role of language in masking violence, in this case an adjective deflects attention from the violence inherent in the meaning of the noun. The adjective confers a certain benignity on the word 'rape.' Similarly, the phrase 'humane slaughter' confers a certain benignity on the term 'slaughter.' Daly would call this the process of 'simple inversion': 'the usage of terms and phrases to label...activities as the opposite of what they really are.' The use of adjectives in the phrases 'humane slaughter' and 'forcible rape' promotes a conceptual misfocusing that relativizes these acts of violence. Additionally, as we ponder how the end is achieved, 'forcibly,' 'humanely,' our attention is continously framed so that the absent referents--women, animals--do not appear. Just as all rapes are forcible, all slaughter of animals for food is inhumane regardless of what it is called.
In accepting as two primary texts, Singer's Animal Liberation and Regan's The Case for Animal Rights--texts that valorize rationality--the animal defense movement reiterates a patriarchal disavowal of emotions as having a legitimate role in theory making. The problem is that while on the one hand it articulates positions against animal suffering, on the other hand animal rights theory dispenses with the idea that caring about and emotionally responding to this suffering can be appropriate sources of knowledge.Emotions and theory are related. One does not have to eviscerate theory of emotional content and reflection to present legitimate theory. Nor does the presence of emotional content and reflection eradicate or militate against thinking theoretically. By disavowing emotional responses, two major texts of animal defense close off the intellectual space for recognizing the role of emotions in knowledge and therefore theory making.As the issue of caring about suffering is problematized, difficulties with animal rights per se become apparent. Without a gender analysis, several important issues that accompany a focus on suffering are neglected, to the detriment of the movement.Animal rights theory offers a legitimating language for animal defense without acknowledging the indebtedness of the rights-holder to caring relationships. Nor does it provide models for theoretically engaging with our own emotional responses, since emotions are seen as untrustworthy.Because the animal advocacy movement has failed to incorporate an understanding of caring as a motivation for so many animal defense activists, and because it has not addressed the gendered nature of caring--that it is woman's duty to provide service to others, while it is men's choice--it has not addressed adequately the implications that a disproportionate number of activists are women motivated because they care about animal suffering.Animal rights theory that disowns or ignores emotions mirrors on the theoretical level the gendered emotional responses inherent in a patriarchal society. In this culture, women are supposed to do the emotional work for heterosexual intimate relationships: 'a man will come to expect that a woman's role in his life is to take care of his feelings and alleviate the discomfort involved in feeling.' At the cultural level, this may mean that women are doing the emotional work for the animal defense movement. And this emotional work takes place in the context of our own oppression.
The situation is established not only to provoke defensiveness but to sidetrack the reformer into answering the wrong questions.... In this, the pattern of discourse resembles that of dinnertime conversations about feminism in the early 1970s. Questions of definition often predominate. Whereas feminists were parlaying questions which trivialized feminism such as "Are you one of those bra burners?" vegetarians must define themselves against the trivializations of "Are you one of those health nuts?" or "Are you one of those animal lovers?" While feminists encountered the response that "men need liberation too," vegetarians are greeted by the postulate that "plants have life too." Or to make the issue appear more ridiculous, the position is forwarded this way: "But what of the lettuce and tomato you are eating; they have feelings too!"The attempt to create defensiveness through trivialization is the first conversational gambit which greets threatening reforms. This pre-establishes the perimeters of discourse. One must explain that no bras were burned at the Miss America pageant, or the symbolic nature of the action of that time, or that this question fails to regard with seriousness questions such as equal pay for equal work. Similarly, a vegetarian, thinking that answering these questions will provide enlightenment, may patiently explain that if plants have life, then why not be responsible solely for the plants one eats at the table rather than for the larger quantities of plants consumed by the herbivorous animals before they become meat? In each case a more radical answer could be forwarded: "Men need first to acknowledge how they benefit from male dominance," "Can anyone really argue that the suffering of this lettuce equals that of a sentient cow who must be bled out before being butchered?" But if the feminist or vegetarian responds this way they will be put back on the defensive by the accusation that they are being aggressive. What to a vegetarian or a feminist is of political, personal, existential, and ethical importance, becomes for others only an entertainment during dinnertime.