Posts Tagged ‘gender’

Why not like a Rooster?

September 24th, 2010 No comments

First a poem. (via)

Poor Patriarch
The rooster pushes his head
high among the hens, trying to be
what he feels he must be, here
in the confines of domesticity.
Before the tall legs of my presence,
he bristles and shakes his ruby comb.
Little man, I want to say
the hens know who they are.
I want to ease his mistaken burden,
want him to crow with the plain
ecstasy of morning light as it
finds its winter way above the woods.
Poor outnumbered fellow,
how did he come to believe
that on his plumed shoulders
lay the safety of an entire flock?
I run my hand down the rippled
brindle of his back, urge him to relax,
drink in the female pleasures
that surround him, of egg laying,
of settling warm-breasted in the nest
of this brief and feathered time.
from Quickening; Slate Roof Press, 2007
Then …

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  (Luke 13:34, Mat 23:37)

In this passage the very Son of God chose a female, mothering, nurturing metaphor to express how he desired to relate to Jerusalem.   I like the combination of that and of urging the Poor Patriarch to “drink in the female pleasures … of egg laying, of settling warm-breasted in the nest of this brief and feathered time.”   Beautiful.

Seeing the Interconnections, Racism-Sexism-Speciesism

April 25th, 2010 No comments

Real Men and Diet

April 1st, 2010 No comments

Based on a sexist stereotype, I know.  I had a hard time not putting quotes around the phrase in the title.  But still, the stereotype of manhood somehow being based on or qualified by flesh eating is a live one with a long history in stockbreeding cultures.  That’s a book in itself.  But for now, some glimpses into the world of men who are not part of the the man=meat equation.   Yes I know this is dumb but it is, sadly, necessary.

the vegetarian athlete

Well, now I’m 6′ 6″ tall and weigh 200 pounds – all while maintaining my vegetarian diet and playing ball in college.  I was  also one of the strongest guys on my team. Basically, I’m livng proof that you can be athletic and build muscle – without eating animals.

trend piece on men and veganism

To stay competitive during rugby games, athlete and writer Jay Atkinson of Methuen substituted soy cheese for the real deal last summer and cut out turkey sandwiches. “I needed to extend my career by staying lean,’’ says Atkinson, 52. He was already eating well before he turned to veganism. Commuting to Boston to teach magazine writing at Boston University or slapping on skates to whiz across a frozen pond, he needs as much fuel as he can get. The vegan diet delivers.

Austin firefighters and the Engine 2 diet …

Professional athlete-turned-firefighter Rip Esselstyn is used to responding to emergencies. So, when he learned that some of his fellow Engine 2 firefighters in Austin, TX, were in dire physical condition-several had dangerously high cholesterol levels (the highest was 344!)- he sprang into action and created a life-saving plan for the firehouse.

professional hockey player

…  I also continue my free public viewings of the movie Earthlings and want to thank everyone who has purchased the documentary through my website. Buy it and pass it along, it will make a difference. I also want to thank all the people who came to the Anti Seal Hunt Protest on March 13. There were more than a hundred people. That was awesome ‘cause people are seeing a change. The movement is growing and that’s how you make a difference; that’s how you force the government to make changes because, at the end of the day, they need us. They need our votes and the more people that can unite against animal cruelty, the more of a change we will see. At the end of the day, all activists just want to achieve three goals, in a peaceful matter: we want to spread compassion towards all animals; improve your own health and our environment!!!

vegan bodybuilders

Vegan Bodybuilding is one of the best things you can do for your body, your mind, and the environment.

aggressive strength and extreme fighting

For the record, I cut dairy completely out of my diet in 1999 (over 5 years before I ever committed to a full-Vegan diet)… This was due to an allergy that I developed in my adolescent years to dairy that effected my sinuses and everything connecting to them. For a good part of my teenage years, I suffered from severe ear infections and chronic Vertigo (which is completely miserable). It took me a few years of to finally realize that the antibiotics were only temporarily subduing a much bigger problem. I did my research and finally found the source. A lot of people don’t realize how hard milk, whey, and other dairy products are on the sinuses and respiratory system, and the dairy industry would like you to believe that you need milk to get calcium. That notion is as oxymoronic as you can get.

I have to include Howard Lyman here.  “Plain truth from the cattle rancher who won’t eat meat.” …

The question we must ask ourselves as a culture is whether we want to embrace the change that must come, or resist it. Are we so attached to the dietary fallacies with which we were raised, so afraid to counter the arbitrary laws of eating taught to us in childhood by our misinformed parents, that we cannot alter the course they set us on, even if it leads to our own ruin? Does the prospect of standing apart or encountering ridicule scare us even from saving ourselves?

As a bit of a post-script … a vegan dietitian suggests vegan nutrition websites.

I’ve been writing in my examiner column about some things to watch for when evaluating vegan nutrition resources. Today I listed my favorite websites for finding reliable information on vegan diet and, for those who don’t read the Seattle Vegan Examiner, I want to reprint them here.

Hockey Just Got Hotter

September 23rd, 2009 No comments

This guy knows what it means to pick on somebody your own size.

Everything changed, Laraque said, after he saw Earthlings, a 2006 documentary that is widely celebrated in animal-rights circles.

“It’s unconscionable what’s happening to animals in this country and the way we treat animals we eat. … I realized I had to make some big changes,” Laraque said.

Men who are man enough to call out cruelty … that’s hot.

* The link above is dead, it was a link to an article about George Laraque.  Here’s a new link to Laraque’s personal page.

Haven’t seen Earthlings yet?


August 30th, 2009 No comments

“People for the Ethical Treatment of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals”.  It does have a ring to it.   I can only hope this doesn’t actually need explaining. It’s the Onion.

Advocacy Group Decries PETA’s Inhumane Treatment Of Women

Mimesis and Stepford Theology

July 26th, 2009 No comments

“Real Men” vs. Jesus?  an examination in 3 acts.

Act 1.  Gender construction via beef jerky.

Act 2.  Metaphor therapy and confusing gender roles with “issues of agentic psychology”.

Act 3.  This last one will cost you an hour and a half, but it’s worth it.  Granted, at a few points I find myself rolling my eyes, as if there isn’t already a “new” standard bearer for what healthy ‘real manhood’ looks like. (His name is Jesus, do you know him?  (HT: hp :->)  Strength of character first, all the rest is just window dressing.   My favorite part begins at 10:15, he shows examples of the hiddenness of dominant power structures. Second favorite section begins around 15:00-20:08, cultural representations of gendered bodies and guns.

Is masculinity something that can only be constructed over and against the feminine? Where does the idea of mutual exclusivity come from?   Jesus embodied both male and female characteristics.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matt 23:37 NRSVS)
“As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!” (Luke 19:41-42 NRSVS)

She (oops) They Wanted It

May 19th, 2009 No comments

Ah, my peeps.  For those who have eyes to see … one of my new favorite blogs.  Suicide Food. (h/t sociological images)

What is Suicide Food? Suicide Food is any depiction of animals that act as though they wish to be consumed. Suicide Food actively participates in or celebrates its own demise.

I especially love the 1-5 nooses psych evaluations.  While you’re there … be sure to check out the “sexy” tag for some she/it wants to be “taken”, “consumed” symbolism in action.  In case you’re just tuning in … consider this an addendum to this post.

Left Behind with God the Garbage Man

April 18th, 2009 No comments

In her article, “Murder in the Theme Park: Evangelical Animals and the End of the World”1, Kristin Dombek lays out a critique of the intersection of apocalyptic thought and secular humanism as it gives birth to popular Christian entertainment like the Left Behind fiction series and the Holy Land Experience theme park.  Great Read.  A few selected excerpts …

In current mainstream Western culture, of course, the ritual sacrifice of animals is taboo (and, in an inversion of the sacrificial logic of “primitive” cultures, considered violent), while killing animals for eating is commonplace (and not considered violent); in performance, though, the two look uncomfortably similar.

The Left Behind series has only one scene depicting animal sacrifice, and the depiction is damning.  The Antichrist’s performance of the abomination of desolation, staged in book nine of the series, Desecration (laHaye and Jenkins 2002), involves slaughtering a “gigantic” pig in a parody of Jesus’ triumphal entry … he attempts to butcher the pig, but fails.  “Pity!” he exclaims; “I wanted roast pork!” thus conflating the sacrifice with slaughter for the sake of eating (163).  Like the sacrifice in general, the novel represents this conflation as an abomination.

In the end, it is our dependence on our difference from nonhuman animals that allows us to think apocalyptically without figuring our own extinction as a real possibility.  But it is a difference we earn by identifying with some animals we love, as if the violence they survive is not our own.

And so it is that by reading closely these Christian texts and performances, we come full circle to the same enemy that conservative Christians have positioned themselves against during the 20th century and now the 21st: humanism.  The impulse for such positioning came in part from a recognition of the bankruptcy of a vision that left humans alone in a world in which all else was simply not human, and therefore not meaningful.  Rightly, fundamentalists wanted us to realize that we are no gods of this world.  But the Left Behind series – as the clear fulfillment of this tradition -posits the most deeply humanist vision of all: the utopic feast, after God reaches down and cleans up all that humans have done.  This final image shows us just how secular conservative Christianity can be: for Christians to enjoy all the consumer pleasures that secular humanism has allowed citizens of capitalism, but escape responsibility for the violence upon which global capitalism depends, God must be demoted to garbage man.

I would add “butcher” to that.  Part of her discussion is how, in the series, the kingdom is represented as a place where animals literally volunteer to be butchered.  Talk about a guilty conscience.  The authors of the Left Behind vision of the kingdom unveil the heart of the matter specifically by their fantasy portrayal of being able to kill without guilt.  That’s what they think the kingdom is about?  Being able to kill without guilt?  Our biggest claim to fame is the fact that we have a conscience in the first place and yet the most popular bit of Christian fiction ever portrays the kingdom as the time when “we” will finally get to kill animals without being burdened by a guilty conscience – because animals will want us to kill them.  Does that sound familiar?  That’s the “she wanted it” defense played out in pop theology against the other creatures who share the breath of God.

… the utopian butchering depicted in the series’ final pages is easy, relatively clean, and divinely ordained.  … In the millennial kingdom, then, no longer do humans have to hunt, for all animals are docile and turn themselves over for killing whenever humans need food.  Now that the Beast is gone, humans will no longer need to be martyrs; the only skin to be cut, the only bodies slaughtered and on display, will be those of nonhuman animals.

The tone is unmistakeable … that which the authors of this book (this theology) want to “consume” will finally quit complaining, quit struggling, be docile and just give themselves over to the authors appetites.  Do Christian women see this?  Can we acknowledge all the victims of Stepford Theology (animals and certainly men too) or do we care only in so much as it suits a particular slice of feminist agenda?

1. originally published in TDR: The Drama Review 51:1 (T193) Spring 2007 © 2007

Humans and animals are equal?

February 14th, 2009 No comments

Gary Francione holds the line between welfare and rights; at its core is the fact that the terms ‘welfare’ and ‘commodity’ exist in mutually exclusive conceptual realms.  A snippet from his FAQ:  

7. Question: By equating speciesism with racism and sexism, don’t you equate animals, people of color, and women?

Answer: No. Racism, sexism, speciesism, and other forms of discrimination are all analogous in that all share the faulty notion that some morally irrelevant characteristic (race, sex, species) may be used to exclude beings with interests from the moral community or to undervalue interests in explicit violation of the principle of equal consideration. For example, speciesism and human slavery are similar in that in all cases animals and enslaved humans have a basic interest in not being treated as things and yet are treated as things on the basis of morally irrelevant criteria. To deny animals this basic right simply because they are animals is like saying that we should not abolish race-based slavery because of the perceived inferiority of the slaves’ race. The argument used to support slavery and the argument used to support animal exploitation are structurally similar: we exclude beings with interests from the moral community because there is some supposed difference between “them” and “us” that has nothing to do with the inclusion of these beings in the moral community. The animals rights position maintains that if we believe that animals have moral significance, the principle of equal consideration requires that we stop treating them as things.

A related question that often arises in this context is whether speciesism is “as bad” as racism or sexism or other forms of discrimination. As a general matter, it is not useful to rank evils. Was it “worse” that Hitler killed Jews than that he killed Catholics or Romanies? Is slavery “worse” than genocide? Is non-race-based slavery “worse” than race-based slavery? Is sexism “worse” than slavery and genocide, or is it “worse” than slavery but not worse than genocide? Frankly, I am not even sure what these questions mean, but I suspect that persons considering them assume implicitly that one group is “better” than another. In any event, these forms of discrimination are all terrible, and they are terrible in different ways. But they all share one thing in common: they all treat humans as things without protectable interests. In this sense, all of these forms of discrimination–as different as they are–are similar to speciesism, which results in our treating animals as things.

Finally, there are some who argue that in saying that some animals have greater cognitive ability than some humans, such as the severely retarded or the extremely senile, we are equating those humans with animals and characterizing them in a disrespectful way. Again, this misses the point of the argument for animal rights. For centuries, we have justified our treatment of animals as resources because they supposedly lack some characteristic that we have. But some animals have such a “special” characteristic to a greater degree than do some of us and some humans do not have that characteristic at all. The point is that although a particular characteristic may be useful for some purposes, the only characteristic that is required for moral significance is sentience. We do not and should not treat those humans who are impaired as resources for other humans. And if we really believe that animals have morally significant interests, then we ought to apply the principle of equal consideration and not treat them as resources as well. The argument for animal rights does not decrease respect for human life; it increases respect for all life.

The crux of this argument is based on whether or not “we really believe that animals have morally significant interests”.  As a society we have anti-cruelty laws, we agree animals can be subjects of cruelty, i.e. they have morally significant interests.  Those same laws don’t apply to farm animals of course.   In fact, if a private citizen did to an animal what is considered standard practice in agribusiness, they’d be criminals.  We have standards until those standards infringe upon our appetite.  From B.R. Myers on the idolatry of food …  

… the idolatry of food cuts across class lines. This can be seen in the public’s toleration of a level of cruelty in meat production that it would tolerate nowhere else. If someone inflicts pain on an animal for visual, aural, or sexual gratification, we consider him a monster, and the law makes at least a token effort at punishment. If someone’s goal is to put the “product” in his mouth? Chacun à son goût. 

What would you say to a child who was torturing a dog?  Why would that be wrong?  How do we reconcile animal cruelty and human dignity?

It’s not about sissy

February 8th, 2009 No comments

So along with the idea that manhood is about predation goes the idea that the only alternative to predation is sissy.  False choice.  

Contact sports are violent.  That’s ok because it’s between willing participants.  If two people (men or women) want to get into a ring and beat each other senseless, I say have at it.  If that’s what two willing adults want to do then go for it.  Football, mixed martial arts fighting, it’s all good.  In fact I’d rather watch Ultimate Fighting than boxing any day.  Those guys don’t mess around.  No thickly padded gloves, just mano a mano.  But that’s not predation.  It’s fair because they both know what they’re getting into, they both have the choice to be there or not, they both want to be there … it’s no coincidence to see this is the same line that demarcates the difference between rape and consensual sex.

Humanity bringing order to chaos is not the same thing as humanity mirroring predation.  Predation is part of the chaos.   Let’s stick with the sports metaphor.   We know deep down what qualifies as unfair advantage.  Boxing divides men into different size/weight categories.  It wouldn’t be sport if a Heavyweight went into the ring with a Featherweight.  In a real way that would be predation.  There would be no honor in that kind of victory.   Follow that through to powerful nations and weaker nations, the strong taking unfair advantage of the weak is predation, the strong helping the weak is bringing order to chaos.  Keep going to what makes us different than other animate life – we alone have the power to bring order to chaos; we are made in the image of God.  Using our strength to prey on their weakness is predation and it’s the exact same kind of wrong as all the other examples.  

Christ showed us what real strength is about.   The power of God revealed in the foolish weakness of the cross.  

Sex and food are good in their proper place … and predation isn’t the proper expression of either.  I’m not making that up.  It looks to me like God did.    I believe if we take one more step away from monotheism with man-the-predator at the center we will find ourselves closer to the real Christ on the cross and one step away from the long heritage of mistaking the creature for the Creator.