Tuesday, February 01, 2011

maybe a little conflicted


I saw Bold Native at the animal allies club showing, and I've been somewhat floored by my own reaction to a movie that, over all, I liked a lot. In many ways it was a great film; in some, a film I've been waiting for. It was entertaining, engaging, and funny while intelligently bringing up very relevant ethical discussions. For a self-funded propaganda piece, it was spectacular. Afterwards I asked the film-makers: why is the left so stratified into single-issue organizations and causes, and how did they feel about (participating in) this?

They were in support of all forms of social justice. In fact, they just didn't understand why so many social justice activists drew the line at the edge of their species. They thought that the rape of cows for the production of dairy products was clearly a feminist issue. I heard several voicing approval in the audience behind me, and felt disoriented. Also a little sick.

Pathologically or not, at some point I came to associate my own safety--my own right to be safe--with feminism. At it's root, this is what my passion for feminism is all about; I want to be safe. I want a right to be safe. I want it to be unquestioned and upheld by all who surround me, even when this comes at a very high cost. I'm not going to argue that this always the most ethical thing, but however selfish, it's understandable that I should want this deeply.

Lest I'm unclear, when the choice comes between a cow being raped or myself, I want it to always be the cow. Always. Unquestionably. Without a shadow of a doubt or a moment of hesitation: I want it to be the cow. The usual animal-rights activist response to this is that you don't have to choose; you can (and should) be against the rape of everybody.

The problem is--you do have to choose. In principle you can coherently oppose it all but in practice you choose. To be spending time, energy, and money one one project inherently means you aren't spending those resources on something else. More than once I've watched in person while human beings were tortured, and been powerless to stop it. This very likely could have been prevented if the movement for protecting foster children were as active and involved as PETA. When you go through the effort it takes to make a movie entirely focused around animal rights, you are choosing to save the God damned fucking cow.

None of which negates the fact that we allow the creatures we eat to be treated in profoundly evil ways, all so we can pay less for a diet that's terrible for us and the planet.

5 comments:

___________________________ said...

Is it alright to rape cows for fun?

SAC said...

Not the exact words I would have used, but yes.

___________________________ said...

Ok, I listened to some of the Dresden Dolls.

Actually, I had heard of them before. A friend introduced me to them. Basically, I don't hate their music, but it isn't my style. This friend also likes My Chemical Romance, and something about some of the songs just seemed similar enough to me to mentally lump them together.

Btw, here's the bands I've really liked:
Sirenia
Kamelot
In Tenebris
Metallica
Cradle of Filth
Marilyn Manson
Mortal Love
Disturbed

Not a complete list, but not horrible. Hopefully you know enough musical stuff to figure out what it is like to musically be me.

misssrobin said...

Interesting the different things people choose to spend their life and energies on.

I'm with you. Take the cow.

forgetfully said...

hi! i'm a new reader. just wanted to chime in to support this piece. somehow i managed to get on an animal rights listserve, which over the past few weeks has called on me to demand justice for slain huskies and a kicked-to-death owl. as a person with a deep love and affinity for all living beings, i admit these stories do fill me with grief and anger, but i just can't bring myself to devote the time i have on this earth to protecting them, when so many of my people are suffering.

that being said, ecological destruction and animal abuse are bound up in capitalist means of production and accumulation. everything is interconnected, and who knows which entry point in this battle is the best, most valuable one? i like your final point; there are small ways we can opt out of the status quo and choose not to participate in some systems that abuse other people or life forms. until we smash capitalism, that might be the best we can do.