The Social Psychology of Veganism – Linked Oppression

Vegan feminist theory argues that the oppressive treatment of Nonhuman Animals, particularly in their being animalized, is fundamental to sexism (and other systems of oppression). Vegan feminism also argues that patriarchy informs violence against other animals. In other words, oppressions are linked.

Increasingly, psychological research is lending evidence to this theory. Gender usually has a noticeable relationship in regard to participant relation to other animals. Allcorn & Ogletree (2018), for instance, found a correlation between nontraditional/feminist viewpoints about gender and positive attitudes toward other animals. This included an interest in not eating them. Conversely, sexist participants were more likely to harbor anti-animal attitudes and support meat consumption.

Research of this kind supports the notion that violence and discrimination emerge in systems of domination. Marginalized groups across the spectrum are subject to routine social mechanisms to normalize this social inequality. Be they women or nonhuman, they are understood to be “other,” less than, animal-like, irrational, nameless, unimportant, unqualified, unclean, unworthy of rights or political representation, and inferior in general.

Finally, although gender is a major component in determining human-nonhuman relationships, it is ultimately species identity that creates the strongest influence. Humans, regardless of gender, are in a relation of extreme privilege with other animals. In fact, some psychological research does not support that gender roles associated with femininity increase empathy for other animals (Zickfeld et al. 2018).

For the Vegan Toolkit

  • Gender impacts perceived relation to other animals
  • Tailor activism to account for the influence of gender role expectations
  • Incorporate an intersectional framework

References

Allcorn, A. and S. Ogletree. 2018. “Linked Oppression: Connecting Animal and Gender Attitudes.” Feminism & Psychology. Online first.

Zickfeld, J., J. Kunst, and S. Hohle. 2018. “Too Sweet to Eat: Exploring the Effects of Cuteness on Meat Consumption.” Appetite 120 (1): 181-195.


Cover for "A Rational Approach to Animal Rights." Shows a smiling piglet being held up by human hands.

Readers can learn more about the social psychology of veganism in my 2016 publication, A Rational Approach to Animal Rights.

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