“Watch who they beat and who they eat” — Marge Piercy
The connections between the exploitation of women and the exploitation of animals are well established in fact and theory. Across history and geography, patriarchy has been correlated with the practice of keeping livestock. Traditionally, women and animals were grouped together, along with children, as the property of the male head of the household. This is why we speak of “animal husbandry.” Terms referring to femininity have been used to justify the exploitation of animals while terms referring to animals have been used to justify the exploitation of women.
Today, dairy cows are forcibly inseminated on what farmers call “rape racks” while women are encouraged to think of themselves as “fat cows.” Both cows and hens are imprisoned so that their specifically female bodies can be robbed of their milk and eggs. At the same time, girls and women around the world are held captive in brothels so that their specifically female bodies can be violated. Domestic violence often includes abuse of companion animals, and slaughterhouse workers are especially likely to abuse their partners and children.
In a process sanctuary cofounder pattrice jones calls “the social construction of gender by means of animals,” stereotyped ideas about masculinity and femininity are projected onto animals and then read as evidence that oppressive sex roles are natural. This can be seen most clearly in the case of fighting roosters, who are tricked and traumatized into unnaturally aggressive behavior and then cited as evidence that male aggression is natural.
Because sexism and speciesism are so interconnected, one cannot be solved without reference to the other. Women and girls will never be fully free until animals are also free. Similarly, animal liberation necessarily entails liberation of girls and women. Both feminists and animal liberation activists must recognize and act upon this insight, incorporating awareness of the intersections between speciesism and sexism into their work.
- Their Bodies, Our Selves (pdf) — Sanctuary cofounder pattrice jones argues that speciesism and sexism are just different aspects of the same underlying problem (Original archived here)
- Of Brides and Bridges (pdf) — pattrice jones on linkages between feminist, queer, and animal liberation movements (Original archived here)
- Rooster Rehabilitation: An Ecofeminist Project — 2006 Abolitionist Online article provides an overview of cockfighting and shows how the gendered exploitation of bird both reflects and supports sexism among people
- Thinking Like a Chicken — Karen Davis on “farm animals and the feminine connection”
- Mothering, Caring, and Animal Liberation — Ecofeminist Greta Gaard reflects on the connections
- From Heroic to Holistic Ethics (pdf) — In a highly influential essay, Feminists for Animal Rights co-founder Marti Kheel argues against a masculine ethos of animal liberation
- Anarcha-Feminism and Animal Liberation — Informal overview from Sekhmet magazine
- Reproductive Autonomy — Helen Matthews calls for reproductive freedom for everybody
- Violation & Liberation: Grassroots Animal Rights Activists Take on Sexual Assault — pattrice jones reports for Earth First! Journal
- pattrice jones in Abolitionist Online, 2007
- pattrice jones in Vegan Voice, 2004
- Greta Gaard on Animal Voices, 2001
- Carol Adams in On the Issues, 1995
Readings from the Blogosphere
- On Mares, Wet Nurses, and Shared Exploitation — From EasyVegan
- Animal Rights and Confronting Heterosexual Privilege — from Invisible Voices
- Bacon, I Bid You Farewell — from I Blame the Patriarchy
- Silly Women — from SuperWeed
- To be a Feminist is to be a Vegan — from Care2 Make a Difference
Other Online Resources
- Speciesism & Sexism (pdf) — Our primer on the intersections
- Feminists for Animal Rights — Archived website of inactive organization
- Carol Adams. The Sexual Politics of Meat. Continuum, 2000.
- Carol Adams. The Pornography of Meat. Continuum, 2004.
- Greta Gaard (Ed.) Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature. Temple University Press, 1993.
- A. Breeze Harper (Ed.), Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans in North America. Lantern Books, 2010.
- pattrice jones. Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent World. Lantern Books, 2007.
- pattrice jones. “Mothers with Monkeywrenches: Feminist Reflections on the Animal Liberation Front.” In Steve Best & Anthony Nocella (Eds.), Terrorists or Freedom Fighters: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals. Lantern Books, 2004.
- pattrice jones. “Stomping with the Elephants: Feminist Principles for Radical Solidarity” In Steve Best & Anthony Nocella (Eds.), Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth. AK Press, 2006.
- pattrice jones. “Roosters, hawks and dawgs: Toward an inclusive, embodied eco/feminist psychology,” Feminism & Psychology, August 2010, vol. 20 no. 3, 365-380.
- Lisa Kemmerer (Ed.) Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice. University of Illinois Press, 2011.
- Marti Kheel. Nature Ethics. Roman & Littlefield, 2008