Rape as an Anti-Speciesism Tactic and the Vegan Male Discourse

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As vegan feminism becomes more prominent in contemporary third-wave anti-speciesist activism, countermobilization within the vegan movement has emerged to protect activism “for the animals.” Status quo activism that lacks a clear feminist lens, however, defaults to the patriarchal status quo.

Feminist criticism of especially contentious tactics (such as utilizing reenactments of sexual assault against female activists to depict human violence against animals) is sometimes deflected by status quo activists as “anthropocentric.” What is more, women are sometimes aligned with the perpetrators, perpetrators who are, for women and other animals, primarily men:

In my opinion intersectionality is the epitome of human centric ideology, it diminishes everything in a much too simplistic and shallow way. I dont agree that every struggle/injustice is equal. I believe and able to prove very easily that the non human animals are the most in need at the moment and are the ones who get the least amount of help. Also the ones who are responsible for said oppression are in many cases the ones who get the fruits of your brand of activism. I choose to protect and defend the rape victims, instead of the rapists.

269life representative, 2013

Likewise, feminist critiques of sexist campaigning are regularly dismissed with sexist stereotypes about women’s communication: we’re “bickering,” “gossiping,” or “distracting.”

Misogynistic campaigning reinforces a violent culture whereby the exploitation of vulnerable bodies is normalized. Resistance to feminist discourse also reinforces a violent culture in which the voices of those vulnerable bodies are not deemed relevant.

Can analogies be helpful for advancing anti-speciesism? Sometimes. Capitalizing on rape culture to scare women into compliance, however, is cruel. We must keep in mind that at least one in three women (not to mention boys, genderqueer folks, and other marginalized groups) have experienced completed or attempted rape.

All women, for that matter, live in a society in which the possibility of being raped is high and the possibility of that rape being trivialized by others is also high. That is rape culture.

I cannot imagine how visually shocking rape analogies would be psychologically persuasive, only traumatizing. Trauma is more likely to encourage withdrawal and self-protective measures. It invites inaction. A vegan society cannot be built out of the trauma and fear of rape.

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

Readers can learn more about the politics of sexism in Nonhuman Animal rights activism in my 2016 publication, A Rational Approach to Animal Rights.

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