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.