To abuse any living being is to open the door to the abuse of all living beings, this is clearly seen in our factory farm system and mass consumption of animal meat. The same society and system that supports the abuse, murder, and consumption of animals is the same system that supports the abuse, murder, and consumption of women, people of color, and LGBTQ folks. Carol Adam’s “Sexual Politics of Meat” discusses the connection between societies consumption of animal meat and images of sexualized women and how the sexualization of animals and animal meat is directly linked to the animalization and dehumanization of women as well as the animalization of other oppressed groups of people. Adam’s creates a key argument around the vegan feminist theory of anthropornography, identifying key examples in mass media and advertisements that establish women and animals as consumable by the patriarchal consumer, the straight white male. This power system established by the patriarchy is what has allowed for the abuse of animals, women, people of color, and LGBTQ people. By practicing the abuse of female animal’s reproductive systems, such as dairy and egg production as well as reproductive insemination, our societies have opened the door for one group of people (the straight white male) to feel as if they have the power to dictate overall female living beings reproductive rights (i.e. the need for women to have the right of choice (to terminate a pregnancy or to not), birth control, and respected sexual consent). The dualism between the consumption and sexualization animal meat and that of women is no mistake and intently done to assert white male dominance over all living things while simultaneously establishing the straight white male as the “most human” of all living beings, though these practices and ideology would prove otherwise. Below I will present a few images that are reused by Carol Adams to showcase this practice of anthropornography as well as it’s dehumanizing effects on women.
This first image is the logo of an ice cream business. In the image we can see the dairy cow (clearly female) with her buttocks hanging out through a porthole of some sort, with long blonde hair, gold hoops, a beret hat, consuming the dairy product (ice cream) and looking back at the “consumer” with a seductive and sexualized look, as if inviting them in (sexually) to consume her. This is a clear example of the male gaze, which is when an image is created to please an audience which is assumed to be male, typically eurocentric and straight. The exposed buttock implies that the dairy cow is nude and offering herself to the male (i.e. consumer/audience), placing the animal in a sexualized, submissive, and yet feminized, state. There is no missing the correlation between the sexualization of this cow and the dehumanization of all women.
This second image is an advert for Kenneth Cole shoes which depicts a white male taking an eating utensil (chopsticks) to a white female’s foot as it is presented on a wooden board amoung food (sushi). This established the viewer and consumer (the white male gaze) of the product as male and dominant while the consumed (shoes/feet/food?) as female and submissive. This is an interesting dynamic because clearly the shoes are created for use by women, but this advertisement is establishing that the shoes are only women by women so they can become consumable by men. It is advertising the idea that if a woman wears this shoe they are sexually desirable and “eatable,” a negative correlation and dehumanizing idea of women, their bodies, and clothing. The food is placed around the shoes to add to the sexual appeal. The sushi is raw, this can be, as Adam’s explains “It is as though through the use of raw meat there’s some sort of fantasy that one can experience life again as“raw, fresh, and tasty,” that there remains some untouched, originary zone connected to consuming dead flesh and naked women” (Adams 14) The quote by Kenneth Cole himself “raise some heel” is a reassertion and acceptance of the sexualization and dehumanized consumption of women, as if their body is something to be offered to men “raise some heel.” The quote being made by Kenneth Cole (a white male) asserts white male dominance and control over women’s bodies.
This third image is disturbing and senseless. It is a cooked chicken, clearly a young one at that, placed in a submissive state (i.e. feminized), tied up, legs raised, and arms cut off, plated for consumption by the consumer which in western society is established as the white heterosexual male. What this is representing, realistically is rape. There is no beating around that bush, this is a symbolic metaphorical image that places women as the tied up chicken, physically unable to resist sexual rape. This is an image that assets male dominance, an idea that women are not their own being and only made for the use of a man (we can go all the way back to Adam and Eve if we’d like to understand this long-standing dynamic) as well as simultaneously dehumanizing women and sexualizing animal meat. There is no way to not see the correlation between the consumption of meat (abuse of animals) and the rape and abuse of women. These images are exposed to young children before their logical minds have even developed and constantly show through different avenues to adult people to reassert gender roles, normalize abuse and rape, and victimize women at every turn, just in order to keep up a hox of a social system we identify as the patriarchy, which when boiled down shows no clear reason or purpose of its existence other than to reaffirm to the weak, inferior, and insecure male that he is of some greater power than all other living beings. This is the great LIE of our society!
This is an especially disturbing image I chose to show how women are depicted nonhuman, consumable, and here for the sexual pleasure/consumption of men. The image is of a nude woman who is half woman, half fish (mermaid, but mermaids are truly an example of two male “consumed” beings, fish (animal meat) and women) laying among other dead raw flesh (fish) drinking an espresso (because that makes sense) seductively and willingly looking on as a rather unattractive white man is fully clothed, touching her, and about to butcher her. This image when realized for what it is, is stomach turning. The woman is completely dehumanized and the animal (fish) is completely sexualized. The menacing look on the face of the white man as he breaks the fourth wall and stares directly at the viewer/consumer is one of excitement, hunger, promiscuity, and an assertion of his power over the woman in the image (thus a representation of all women). The creators of this image should be ashamed for not only the dehumanization of women to nothing more than meat or flesh to be consumed by white men but also the significant age difference between the young woman and the oger-like man. It is images like this that really scare me. Adams’ anthropornography; the sexualization of abusing and consuming animal and animal meat and the animalization of women is passed a theory or idea and, in fact,act a real everyday dynamic of how women and animals are treated under the patriarchy. These abuses are a few of many the patriarchy takes against all living things that are not white, straight, and cis-male. Past any other social structures like classism and socio-economy, these issues are pressing and life-threatening. With every chicken that is sexualized, every woman is raped. With every cow that is murdered for consumption, every person of color is killed. This is a check and balance system made to affirm the founding principles of the patriarchy, that white European straight men are above all other living things and all other living things are inferior and made to serve them. This system must be destroyed if we ever want true equality, and it can honestly start with you, not eating meat!