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Carol Adams Booksigning this Thursday, Sept 16 at MooShoes

Carol Adams will be at MooShoes on Thursday, September 16th at 7pm to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her ground-breaking book The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory. She’ll be discussing and signing copies of the new edition of the book.

Speaking of, I couldn’t help but notice that Pamela Anderson’s recent Peta ad–the one that was banned in Canada-–looks so darn similar to the cover of The Sexual Politics of Meat. I know the Canadians got hot and bothered about it (a Montreal official explained that the city’s decision was based on being pro-equality, not puritanical) but the image wasn’t all that shocking in my opinion–more a riff on the book cover. So I thought I’d check in with Carol and PETA and get their takes on the ad.


The ad in question


Carol Adams:

Regarding the book cover: it is misogynistic. It is a (male) fantasy about metaphorical sexual butchering of women.

Regarding the poster: actually, I have never seen anyone point out [that the Pam ad riffs on the book's cover image]. While many things could be said–that this image is misogynistic, that this image is an anti-homage to The Sexual Politics of Meat, a sort of “f you” to all feminist-vegans who have been saying, for gee, almost 40 years, that meat eating arises from and exists with a patriarchal world and we can’t end meat eating if we don’t challenge the patriarchal world view, here is a different, vegan-based response, a vegan challenge to a vegan organization: what vegan do you know thinks of animals like this, a living animal divided into parts of (future) meat? PETA, if your goal is to create a vegan world, why sexualize body parts and make them enticing? Why not either tell the truth (body parts are muscle and bone, bleeding) or show the animal her or himself and let the animal represent her need to be seen as individual, not as fragmented body parts? I don’t expect anything feminist to arise from PETA institutionally (the proclamations from women like Ingrid to the contrary that they are women and thus they are feminist). But shouldn’t we as vegans, expect PETA to represent a vegan consciousness?

Dan Matthews, Senior VP, PETA:

The iconic butcher’s diagram showing how animals are dismembered for their various cuts of meat was an ideal thing to parody. It allows us to focus on the how animals and humans have so much in common. As the ad says, “we all have the same parts – have a heart and go vegetarian.” Within 3 days of the ad being released PETA received over 800 requests for our vegetarian starter kits, so we consider the ad a huge success.

Dan also did a CTV interview about the issue in which similar questions were posed.

I guess it’s time for me to revisit Carol’s book and get a refresher course–the larger issues at hand are no doubt still relevant. But if Pam Anderson wants to speak up for animals and chooses to use nudity to express herself and her ideals, perhaps it’s patriarchal to ask her to put her clothes back on when this is how she’s comfortable exposing (oops, I mean expressing) herself.

8 Comments

  1. Comment by

    Cat Clyne

    on #

    Nice post, Anne. I’m thrilled Carol will be in town signing her book. It had a big impact on me during my vegan and feminist awakening… quite some time ago. It is sad that it is still relevant, meaning, the absent referent is still invisibly ever-present today. Sigh.
    As for the ad generating requests for starter kits… I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s mostly hopefuls wanting to see more of Pamela Anderson’s body parts. The ad isn’t aimed at feminist vegans–it’s not aimed at vegans at all. Still, if meat-eaters are the target, my understanding is that the most receptive audience for an ethical vegan message is women. Clearly, that’s not the audience this ad is targeting.

  2. Comment by

    Ida

    on #

    I strongly oppose the implied assertion that “all feminist-vegans” are in agreement with Carol Adams and her theory.

    Adams, an able-bodied, cissexual, heteronormative, White, middle-class professional, Christian woman, is a throwback to a previous era of feminism when women like herself couldn’t be bothered to recognize how their own privileged position ignores the ways other women experience multiple forms of oppression. A self-described “radical cultural” feminist, she believes that patriarchy is the root of all oppression ? hence her the claim that “meat eating arises from … a patriarchal world.” This assumes that all women have a universal experience of oppression.

    This form of feminism has been thoroughly debunked by women of color, immigrant and Third World women, disabled women, queer women, poor and working class women, women sex workers, trans women, women prisoners, non-Christian women, and so many other women whose experience of oppression is complicated by being a woman and [fill in the blank]. This has lead to an intersectional understanding of feminism that sees racism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, speciesism, Orientalism, militarism, ageism, ableism, classism, and so on as part of an interlocking matrix of oppressions that intersect to form distinct experiences of oppression that require unique approaches to resistance. This intersectional feminism is quite distinct from and very critical of the “radical cultural feminism” that Adams draws from and promotes in her work.

    The Sexual Politics of Meat interesting as a historical artifact that can give us insight into an obsolete branch of feminism. However, what we really need now is a accessible and relevant praxis of feminism and nonhuman animal advocacy that can accommodate the interlocking myriad of distinct experiences of oppression.

  3. Comment by

    tofu_hunter

    on #

    I think everyone here is missing the point. That ad is not saying that it’s ok to view a woman that way. It is pre-supposing that people will be horrified at the thought of chopping up a human being into “breast,” “thigh,” etc., and then, by association, realize it’s not ok to do that to an animal, either.

    “what vegan do you know thinks of animals like this, a living animal divided into parts of (future) meat?”

    What vegan, indeed? Vegans do not think it’s ok to view people OR animals this way, and attempting to bring attention to this fact via an image. And yeah, it’s no coincidence that it’s a sexy woman in a bikini, but I think the sexiness juxtaposes the horror to make it all the more jarring.

  4. Comment by

    tofu_hunter

    on #

    and *are* attempting. Durr.

    Also, sounds like Carol is one of those Dworkinian anti-porn feminists who want to save sex workers, models, etc. from themselves, saying even those who think they enjoy what they’re doing are really just enacting some internalized misogynistic commands they’re too stupid to realize they’re enacting, etc. That’s not feminism in my book!

  5. Comment by

    Peace Loving Vegan Police

    on #

    Thanks for the heads up SuperVegan!

    I just got back from the MooShoes book signing and meeting Coral J. Adams. I got a shiny new autographed copy of 20th anniversary edition of The Sexual Politics of Meat.

    Marjorie Spiegel, author of The Dreaded Comparison was in the audience so I got to meet two influential authors in one night.

    I haven?t been to the new MooShoes location until tonight, it?s much nicer than the old site, I need to go back and pick of a pair of Simple sneakers that I was eyeballing.

    With a book like The Sexual Politics of Meat, it?s not important that a reader agrees with every single position of the author, it?s about the raising of questions and exploration of ideas; holding a mirror up against the world and seeing it in a different way.

  6. Comment by

    Tanzer

    on #

    Yes, The Sexual Politics of Meat changed my life, no the Pamela Anderson ad doesn’t offend me. It does not offend me because it does not aim to turn Ms. Anderson into a ‘piece of meat’.

    If anything, there is a sort of irony to ad: it uses the language and symbols of dominance explored in the The Sexual Politics of Meat to challenge the very idea of dominance over animals. Is Ms. Anderson marginalized in the process? No, because the ad celebrates her humanity and compassion.

    We’re living in a postmodern age folks, and its defining feature is irony. I ‘get’ the irony in the ad.

  7. Comment by

    champurrado

    on #

    I just wanted to respond to the claim that Adams is ‘obsolete’ and that her work has been ‘thoroughly debunked’ and is now only useful as a historical artifact.
    This is a huge overstatement and it’s really unfair. Yes, it’s true that third-wave feminism has expanded the discussion of second-wave and pointed out issues that were not accounted for by white, middle-class feminists.
    But just because Adams is not speaking about other forms of oppression doesn’t mean that her particular contribution isn’t valid. She has a narrow focus–the relationship between the mistreatment of women and the mistreatment of other species. This itself is a recognition of the interlocking nature of different forms of oppression. Her books may not cover racism, classism, heterosexism, etc, but her arguments about how society systematically devalues and abuses women and non-human animals are still just as powerful and true today as ever.
    I would highly recommend reading Adams, not as the end-all of the discussion, but as one important part of it.

  8. Comment by

    doowahdiddy

    on #

    Hmm…well I am a black, middle class, bisexual, completely atheist, vegan student who is interested in reading more about feminist theory since I definitely consider myself to be one. I’m putting this on my list of books to read about feminism. It seems interesting.

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