It’s been bugging me recently how uncomfortable I am with pan-subject “safe spaces.” I never feel safe or comfortable in them because I know who the favor is going to go to, and I know that people I love will not, by popular vote, be considered people—and by inference, me: I have more similarities with them than I do with the denizens of the “safe spaces,” usually, which also means that I am not a person by the same qualities I share with them.
Most carnists, though, perceive me as judging them first and foremost. To these people, I get pissed off at humans consuming animal products because of them—when actually this is basically the most inaccurate way possible to think of my beliefs and my anger. And that mistake is because of one fundamental difference in perspective: where the point of consideration begins.
From my point of view, I care about animals. Veganism is about the rights of non-human animals, not about humans, although human rights are also served by veganism.
Doing it the other way around would be like worrying about child abusers before and above children—although this is actually what usually happens, because parents are seen as having a damn near inalienable right to their children as property. Once property status is solidified, any dispute revolves around “acceptable use,” and this is why I couldn’t give a flying fuck about parents and teachers. A focus on the oppressors gives those oppressors way more time than they deserve and it minimizes attention to the people actually being hurt.
To a carnist, they are the first point of consideration—it’s how you can rationalize animal product consumption as being a personal choice, involving primarily you and what you choose to put in your body. So when a carnist hears me say, “I believe animals have rights, especially rights over bodily and environmental sovereignity,” it gets translated in their head into, “I want to stop you from eating what you want to eat because I’m a silly douche.”
And like I said, I couldn’t give a flying fuck about carnists. I believe that rights should not be bargained out of the privileged—they should be taken, and enforced violently if necessary. Having been out in nature more than most people—more than the vast majority once you include the mental isolation from pro-civ ideology—this is rule #1: fucking respect or you will get your ass kicked.
Nevertheless. Carnists are incidental to me:
I) Animals have rights.
II) Carnists infringe on these rights.
III) Therefore, carnists should get the fuck over themselves and stop infringing on animals’ rights.
The primary spotlight of any rights movement needs be on the people they are fighting for, not those they are fighting against. The first two U.S. women’s rights movements worked, to a point, because they focused on women, not on men. I see very little hope for the Third Wave because, ultimately, they want to focus on men and women equally, and successful rights movements do not work that way.
The focus should be on your first point of consideration, as this is basically the major problem with any oppression. Men see rape and think the first point of consideration is them—so you get Julian Assange complaining about a feminist conspiracy, and you get a bazillion and one anklebiters screaming, “But men get raped too!” and “What if she’s lying?” The first point of consideration is on men—women being raped in droves doesn’t matter because men are raped too; girlfriends lie about rape to “get back at their exes” despite it being possibly the worst mode of revenge you could choose, given how likely people are to say, “What if she’s lying!?”
And, actually, that’s one of the main characteristics of privilege. Outrage over being called on privilege comes around largely as a byproduct of having your belief that you are the first point of consideration called out. Basically, if you find yourself coming up with excuses for why it’s not that big an issue—like, “Well, they’re not like me,” or “I have more important things to worry about first,” or any variation therein, congrats. You are contributing to an oppressive structure, and you are succeeding splendidly in not questioning that contribution.
No, for real: if you notice yourself doing that, take yourself up on it immediately and start questioning and looking for information. I have thought these things way too often to be comfortable—though honestly, I think that my comfort level is “once” and then fixing it, so that’s not saying much—and it’s an illuminating experience.
And then change.
That’s the second problem I run into, and it’s basically the only part of veganism that focuses on the carnists’ actions. For me to believe that non-human animals have the right to be left the fuck alone and that humans are not entitled to go mucking around in other species’ lives and ecosystems, I have to believe that, similarly, you are not entitled to be using/ingesting any part of their bodies or anything that comes from their bodies. And that you should, like, stop, ya know?
Yeah. Any radfem who’s had to argue about porn will absolutely understand how hard it is to get someone to change their actions—especially when their actions now result in some amount of personal pleasure. And the reactions from both porn watchers and carnists are identical, whether you’re saying, “You can learn to be egalitarian, sexually,” or “You know, there’s such a thing as millet, rice, oranges, pineapples, mangos…” They’ve never had any concept of another possibility, as real. This is all there is. It’s normal.
But this is, at its basis, the problem. Porn watchers believe that they are the first point of consideration: the women, and how they’re treated, are incidental. Carnists believe that they are the first point of consideration: animals, and how they’re treated, are incidental.
That’s the opposite of what I believe. Women are the first point of consideration, and destroying their property status is first priority—porn watchers are incidental. Non-human animals are the first point of consideration, and destroying their property status is first priority—carnists are incidental. This is a pretty vital point here: even when someone is actively perpetuating the rape, torture, slaughter of many millions and billions of people, you can never lose sight of the real goal. The beneficiaries of liberation need your attention more than the beneficiaries of oppression—after all, those beneficiaries are used to the attention.
Your definition of “people” is different than my definition of “people,” because your definition excludes anyone it would be inconvenient for you to consider. And regardless of whatever arguments you’d like to come up with that are still all about you, that’s still the point—your supposed “needs” are entirely incidental.
Because it is not. about. you.