The Sexual Politics of Meat and what it means

Carol J Adams with her popular book, “The Sexual Politics of Meat,” is popular among many vegans and feminists. The eyeopening book expresses the link between oppression of women and animals.

tspomDuring the presentation, Carol J Adams added more to the topic of eating animals and objectifying women for consumption. “An entire industry wants us to believe that animals WANT to be eaten. To mask animal suffering, comparing a woman’s body to dead [slaughtered] animals, perpetuates that women want to be consumed. The anti-#metoo movement.” said Adams. As a feminist, Adams loves what late 2017 and early 2018 has brought to the attention of millions, the #metoo movement. “I love the #metoo movement. It’s important and long overdue, we’ve been talking about sexual harassment since the 1970’s, since the legal concept developed [then].” said Adams.

When Adams says the “anti-#metoo movement” she’s talking about female exploitation. Agencies talking from a patriarchal view of the male in society, the main focus of advertisements for meat and other food products. Adams talks about the idea of men needing meat to feel masculine, why are salads and healthy foods defined as ‘chick food’? Patriarchal ethics permits the oppression of other beings and promotes violence. That’s the ‘eat like a man’ gender binary, that men need to be seen as masculine. another type of gender binary is that the color pink is for women and tofu is thought of as a ‘gay’ type of ‘meat’ because they’re rejecting the male binary or eating meat. “Feminizing and the misogyny of dead animals is a feminist issue.” said Adams, she says this because of the demeaning manner of advertisements for men that over sexualization women and the over sexualization animals. For example, pigs are depicted as female ‘white trash,’ or chickens and cows having huge pouty lips and their hair done up.

Kat DuBrey (NU ’18) member of NU CARES, simplifies one of the more difficult meanings in the book, the absent referent. “In the Sexual Politics of Meat, Carol J Adams presents the idea of the absent referent. When we eat chicken, we forget that we’re consuming a living, breathing animal. When we look at a picture that objectifies women, we forget that we’re looking at a living, breathing woman.” Often, products are being presented to the public in a way that dehumanizes women, depicting them in ways that show weakness and submitting. “We commodify and consume animals in the same way we objectify and ‘consume’ women.” The absent referent is the spirit of the animal that has been removed due to disguising what the subject is; the literal being that disappears while eating its body. Companies often have a dismissive view of animals as living beings and view them as a product for sale. What’s hidden from consumers is how reliant food industries are on female exploitation and female reproduction organs (cow’s milk, goat cheese, veal, lamb, cheese, etc.).

The act of visual consumption is subliminal messaging, whether viewers are openly accepting the message or they are trying to ignore it, it still works. The intent is for consumers to be reminded of how well a product works when consumers see it on the shelf of a store. Regardless if consumers had previously used the product or not. In advertisements, print, video, pictures, billboards, etc. women tend to be posed in a delicate way, whilst men are participating in sports or some sort of active environment. Women’s bodies are also taught to be ashamed of at an early stage in life, for example from Adams’ PowerPoint, a baby’s onsie has the print that says, “I hate my thighs.” Why would the mother put that on her child when babies are supposed to be chubby? Furthermore, “Women of color have been represented as nature and foreign and with animals’ bodies.” said Adams. Even pornography takes a political claim and sexualizes it. Women are animals and want it like animals, images making her open, willing, and available. Women are often depicted in powerless positions.” said Adams. “Asking for consumption = ‘consent’ in rape culture.”

As for the title, “I picked “The Sexual Politics of Meat” because there was an important book that came out of a book published in 1970 called ‘Sexual Politics.’ The idea is that we needed a conceptual framework, a feminist, in terms of viewing animals as consumable.” said Adams. (2nd link.) “In 1990, the word vegan wasn’t popularly known, a vegan feminist book in 1990 was laughable.” said Adams. “The word vegan wasn’t known, I don’t know if some of the historic feminists were vegan, but they were vegetarian. The way you would know if you were vegan was the term complete vegetarian. Why do you need the word vegan? The word vegetarian completed it.”

“The first step in change is to stop treating other beings as objects, women, other disenfranchised people and other animals.” said Adams. “The ends do not identify the means,  this is the transformation of caring.”

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