Sex, Work, Meat: The Feminist Politics of Veganism

Feminist Review 114 (1):112-129 (2016)
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Abstract

Since the publication of The Sexual Politics of Meat in 1990, activist and writer Carol J. Adams (2000 [1990]) has put forth a feminist defence of veganism based on the argument that meat consumption and violence against animals are structurally related to violence against women, and especially to pornography and prostitution. Adams’ work has been influential in the growing fields of animal studies and posthumanism, where her research is frequently cited as the prime example of vegan feminism. However, her particular radical feminist framework, including her anti-pornography and anti-prostitution arguments, are rarely acknowledged or critiqued. This article challenges the premises of Adams’ argument, demonstrating that her version of vegan feminism is based upon an unsubstantiated comparison between violence against women and violence against other-than-human animals, and on the silencing and exclusion of sex workers as subjects. The article contests the limited reading of Adams, and of feminism, offered in some key works in animal studies and posthumanism, at the same time that it recognises the need to challenge the anthropocentrism evident in much feminist theory. By way of alternative approaches to the sexual politics of veganism, the article highlights the interventions of artist and activist Mirha-Soleil Ross, proposing that her situated and embodied commitment to animal rights brings sex worker agency into the story, while resisting simple comparisons among different forms of violence. The concerns raised by Ross overlap in compelling ways with recent research in performance studies and labour history, bringing the question of work and workers, animal and human, to the fore. These studies point towards a potentially more useful framework than that of Adams for understanding the human violence suffered by different species, including those destined to be eaten by people.

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Citations of this work

The Political Economy of Meat.Markus Lundström - 2019 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 32 (1):95-104.

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