How Animal Abuse Undermines Social Justice Movements
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

How Animal Abuse Undermines Social Justice Movements

All social justice movements involve advocating for individuals who are weak and vulnerable. Usually, those who victimize weaker individuals benefit materially (e.g., in terms of money or sexual gratification) or psychologically (e.g., a sense of superiority). I maintain that social justice advocates who endorse victimizing nonhumans profoundly undermine their own causes.
Consider first feminism. A central tenet of feminism is that women should have control over their own bodies. Feminists reject the notion that men are entitled to objectify womenís bodies and treat womenís bodies as mere vehicles to satisfy menís sexual desires. When it comes to nonhumans, few people give a momentís thought to how animalsí entire bodies (not just their sexual parts) are objectified. Humans feel perfectly entitled to have someone else take an animalís life and then convert the entire body into food for human consumption. If feminists hope to see a world in which the owner of a body is the individual living in that body, then they would do well to advocate for animalsí rights.
Similarly, those advocating for people who are attracted to members of their own sex, or whose sexual identity does not correspond to their biological identity, or who have sexualities that differ from the norm generally argue that a person should not be victim of prejudice because of factors beyond their control. Should a nonhuman be a victim of violence and abuse simply because that individual was born as a nonhuman member of Godís creation? Discrimination on the basis of species makes it much easier to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and identity.

I donít think everyone must advocate aggressively for nonhuman beings. We each have our own greatest passions. But, whatever the focus of our attention and concern, our lifestyles and our general advocacy should not contribute toward injustice, because our endorsement of injustice undermines any justice we might champion.

Go on to: Essay: Is Eating Meat Sinful?
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