It's Time for Social Justice Advocates to Stop Bashing the Animal Rights Movement and Start Embracing It
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM


Abhijit XVX, SpeciesRevolution.org

So, dear speciesist social advocates reading this, it's time to wake the hell up and recognize nonhuman rights as an important social justice issue. Let us break the chains that keep us collectively oppressed, regardless of the arbitrary moral (and political) distinction of species.
 

chicks ground up
I came across this comment by a radical social justice advocate just yesterday. When confronted with nonhuman abuse, SJAs seem to lose all sense of justice and compassion.

 

I know why they do it so much - it's easier to mock the suffering of a marginalized group than acknowledge our own privilege. It's something that the radical left completely understands about other oppressed groups but chooses to ignore when it comes to nonhuman animals because, in this case, leftists are the ones doing the oppressing. But seriously, this shit needs to stop right now.

Shifting Focus to Vegans

Vegans are flawed - sometimes exceptionally flawed - humans. We make mistakes like the rest of our species does. Some of us are incredibly shitty people, like so many SJAs love pointing out. SJAs believe that the general shittiness of vegans somehow exempts them from taking responsibility for the oppression they contribute to.

I simply fail to understand SJAs who claim to not be vegan because of all the shitty vegans. I mean, have you looked at the nonvegans around? The most destructively evil humans to have ever existed - everyone from Trump to Hitler - have been nonvegan. If the behavior of certain vegans turns you off veganism, why doesn't the behavior of nonvegans like Donald Trump turn you off nonveganism? And why doesn't the exceptional activism of vegans and animal rights activists like Coretta Scott King, Cesar Chavez, or Angela Davis attract you towards veganism?

Veganism and the animals rights movement have never been about vegans; they have always been about the victims of speciesism - nonhuman animals. Vegans are at most only allies to nonhumans. The validity of nonhumans' marginalization, oppression, and suffering should not depend on the flaws of their allies.

vegans are evil

Shifting Focus to Capitalism

I know that eating ethically is an epic task because exploitation is built into our food system. I GET that. But regardless of what else you do, vegan will always be the more ethical choice. No, I don't always know who picked my strawberries. No I don't always know how far they had to travel. But YOU know goddamn well, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that beef is *always* someone's corpse and dairy is made from stolen breast milk. So I'mma need you to be just ever-so-slightly more woke.
- Christopher Sebastian

No, there is no ethical consumption under capitalism. [There is no ethical consumption under any economic system, actually. All forms of consumption involve some sort of inherent exploitation. But this is another discussion for another time.] However, this does not mean that all consumption is equally unethical. Buying child slaves, for example, is exceptionally unethical. So is consuming the bodies of nonhumans; it is a form of consumption that involves the direct exploitation of others and there is simply no ethical way to do it.

Exempting ourselves from personal responsibility because of a larger system at play is a display of moral laziness more than anything else.

Shifting Focus to Marginalized Groups

There has been a recent rise in the trend of social justice platforms denouncing veganism using their favorite tactic - memes. Whether it's memes proclaiming that "veganism isn't cruelty-free" or that "expecting everyone to go vegan is classist and ableist," this stuff seems to be everywhere. On the surface, the criticisms certainly seem valid until you examine the mindset behind them.

Now I know that vegans saying silly things like "veganism is cruelty-free" are a thing. However, I also know that it isn't really a systemic problem. So why do social justice seem to want to talk about these few vegans so much? Is vegans saying silly things really one of the biggest issues the left needs to concern itself with? The answer is very simple: guilt. The guilt of oppressing others manifests in different ways for different people. For nonvegan social justice activists, this guilt they feel about consuming other animals seems to take the form of ostensible critiques of vegans in the name of marginalized humans.

One commonality among the leftist groups that indulge in such memetic displays seems to be the fact that they never talk about nonhuman oppression. Even veganism, which is supposed to be about nonhumans, is discussed entirely from an anthropocentric point of view. Ignoring the benefactors of veganism is their way of avoiding confronting the ethics of nonhuman exploitation, which is undoubtedly a much larger thing to worry about than vegans making false statements online. Acknowledging the presence of the nonhuman victims of their lifestyle choices would force SJAs to actually acknowledge their role as the oppressors.

In fact, I did a little experiment to see if vegan-bashing SJAs actually cared about the people they claim to be representing while bashing vegans. I went through all the pages I came across that shared the aforementioned "veganism isn't cruelty-free" meme (supposedly in support of the farm workers exploited in the production of vegan food) to see if they actually spoke out against farm-worker exploitation before this. And guess what-- I couldn't find a single post about the issue. I went through months and months of posts and I COULDN'T FIND A SINGLE DAMN ONE TALKING ABOUT FARM WORKERS. It's almost as if these SJAs didn't even care about farm workers unless it provides an opportunity to bash vegans.

Essentially, SJAs are using one oppressed group (farm workers) as an excuse to justify their oppression of another oppressed group (nonhuman animals); and I hope we can all agree that that's kind of fucked up.

comment
This comment was made among a series of troll comments by SJAs on a post about speciesist language on the Species Revolution Facebook page. Evidently, when we talk about the importance of non-discriminatory language for one marginalized group, we are being legitimate, but when we do the same for a different marginalized group, we're just being silly.

The worst part is that they contribute to the abuse themselves by eating plants and animals. I mean, did you ever see the shit that happens to slaughterhouse workers? How can SJAs claim to care about farm workers but ignore the rampant abuse perpetrated in slaughterhouses and factory farms? Slaughterhouse work is essentially the worst job one could have and we have all these folks acting like it doesn't even exist. There's also the other inconvenient fact that exploiting animals for food requires the production of many more plants than direct plant consumption does. So, basically, nonvegans SJAs are contributing to the abuse of a lot more farm workers and take no responsibility for it, but vegans are guilty of not caring about the very same workers?

Shifting the Focus to Humans

"There is no hierarchy of oppressions," said Audre Lorde. "...except when it's convenient to us," added speciesist social justice advocates.

Okay, this isn't anything new. Oppressors have a long history of trying to make social justice movements about themselves - men do it to feminism and white people do it to Black Lives Matter. But, from what I've seen, nobody does it as blatantly as humans do it to the nonhuman rights movement. Every call to stop oppressing nonhumans is met with an immediate outcry from SJAs. "Let's deal with human oppression first." "You care about animals more than you care about POC." "Lol yt vegans lol."

what about me I have lost count of the number of times I was called a "yt vegan" for speaking out for nonhuman animals. Speciesist SJAs simply refuse to acknowledge the presence of vegans of color. They tend to hold the racist view that only white people are capable of compassion towards other animals. This puts immense pressure on vegans of color to prove our existence. Such blatant racism seems to be acceptable in social justice circles as long as it helps SJAs be comfortable in their speciesism.

In social justice spaces, there is usually an extraordinary amount of pressure on anti-speciesist advocates to prove that they are more dedicated to ending inter-human oppression than they are to nonhuman oppression. Every time we speak of nonhuman liberation, we are demanded to show receipts for all the work we've done for other marginalized groups. We are held accountable for shitty things other vegans say. To even include an animal rights group at a social justice event, the group needs to prove their "intersectionality." Meanwhile, the same spaces demanding such high standards from nonhuman rights advocates don't impose any restrictions on the number of nonhumans murdered and eaten by their own people at their own damn events.

Nonhuman animals are being murdered by the trillions every year. They deserve a movement dedicated to their emancipation. Humans have no more a right to demand to be made the priority of the nonhuman rights movement than men have a right to be made the focus of feminism. A call for nonhuman liberation does not detract from the liberation of others.

Dichotomy of Oppression

One thing speciesist SJAs fail to (or pretend not to) understand is the nature of oppression itself. Oppression demands the otherization of the oppressed. By creating social categories from which they exempt themselves, the oppressors maintain their hierarchy over those they consider inferior. The categories might have biological roots but are transformed into political identities. Man, straight, white, and cis are some of the political identities of the oppressors and woman, gay, colored, and trans are the political identities of the oppressed.

By excluding ourselves from the category animal, we have created the most powerful political identity of them all - the human. The false human-animal dichotomy has been used as a free pass to oppress both nonhumans and human marginalized groups over the ages. Putting someone into the animal category makes it easy to discriminate against them without any need for an explanation. Consider the following examples which further illustrate my point.

Comparing black people to nonhuman apes has a long, painful history. It is still used to depersonify black people and mock their oppression. Research shows that an association of 'black' and 'ape' allows a lot of white people to justify police violence against black people.

great chain of being
This image appeared in Ernst Haeckel’s Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte in 1868. It depicts "the great chain of being" with a white Apollo Belvedere at the top (the most perfect human), a black person below, and an ape below him.

Men continue to perceive women as emotional animals who do have a control over how they feel. Such perceptions run parallel to the misguided view that nonhuman animals are instinctual creatures with no rationality. In her book The Sexual Politicals of Meat, feminist-vegan thinker Carol J. Adams offers countless examples of the animalization of women and the feminization of nonhumans, which play off each other to keep both women and nonhumans in a cycle of oppression. Similar to racist perceptions towards black people, the sexual objectification of women has been shown to correspond with their animalization.

Hillary buttons
Although Hillary Clinton has her faults, she is a very powerful woman. What better way is there to mock her than to reduce her to "meat"? That is exactly what Republican Party vendors have done.

sexualized chicken
The sexualization of nonhuman bodies is a very popular advertising tool.

Need I even go on? How many times haven't we heard members of the LGBTQ+ being compared to nonhumans? Or disabled humans judged by their "animalistic" characteristics? One can find that every marginalized human group has been animalized.

Oppression necessitates animalization. Our political and social systems always see the oppressor as the human and the oppressed as the animal. When oppressed human groups themselves engage in the oppression of nonhuman animals, they become the human, thus otherizing the animals they are oppressing. By discriminating against other animals, oppressed humans become the oppressors, thus taking on a flexible human-animal identity. The animalization of oppressed humans intersects with their humanization as regards to nonhumans, creating a dichotomy of oppression, which I illustrate with the diagram below. [Although I have tried to articulate my views on the dichotomy of oppression, the concept of the human-animal dichotomy itself is nothing new. I recognize and acknowledge that thinkers like Aph Ko and Carol J. Adams have done a far better job explaining a similar concept than I have here. Check out their work for a deeper understanding of the subject.]

dichotomy of oppression

When we fully understand the construction of the human-animal dichotomy, it is easy to see how inter-human oppression is reinforced by our views on other animals. As long as we have the option of justifying the oppression of marginalized humans by comparing them to nonhumans, such oppression will continue to prevail unless we include nonhuman animals in our circle of justice. We need to recognize other animals, who are capable of suffering as we are, as those who deserve basic rights. All oppression is connected, and when we ignore nonhuman suffering, it becomes a means to human suffering.

We simply cannot achieve human liberation without achieving nonhuman liberation.

So, dear speciesist social advocates reading this, it's time to wake the hell up and recognize nonhuman rights as an important social justice issue. Let us break the chains that keep us collectively oppressed, regardless of the arbitrary moral (and political) distinction of species.


Return to Animal Rights Articles