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Posts tagged ‘invisibly oppressed’

A Ranty Post About Dairy

The pro-forced birth ideology is one of the reasons I’ve come to the conclusion that men learned to rape from farming animals. Because the basic concept of “forced breeding” is one of machinery and alienation; fundamentally, it doesn’t matter what your property thinks or feels about it, because the goal is merely to produce more property to be owned and also exploited—unless they are in the owner class, which women, children and animals are (naturally) automatically excluded from.

Remember that if you say, “it’s wrong to treat women like animals,” you’re missing the point. It was wrong to treat animals like that in the first place; ignoring that fundamental wrongness allowed it to be done to women, too. It’s pretty easy to expand a category of inferiors, after all—the trick is to make sure there is no category of inferiors to expand.

I used to believe that being pro-forced birth was merely believing in rape by proxy—raping a woman, taking over a female person’s body against her will, by way of a fetus. At the time I wasn’t yet vegan, and couldn’t understand the nuances of what I was saying; now I can. In a sense, it’s still basically true: you’re reducing a female person to a machine, to property, by affirming that using her body to produce more property—children, whether of owner/property-manager or property class—is more important than anything else she could do with her life, like, for example, actually living it without being subjugated as an incubator.

In short, rape objectifies you by reducing you to a thing to be used (property); forced birth reduces you to a thing to be used (property). Who is doing the using doesn’t really matter; the fetus is still going to be property if/when it actually becomes a sentient being—a baby—and a fetus isn’t exactly forcing itself on anyone. It has no thoughts or feelings—the entire point of gestation is getting a fetus to a point where it is developed enough to have thoughts and feelings—and thus it can’t really force itself on anything. It’s still the people around you, stewing in the putrid sewage of a misogynistic society, who are forcing a fetus on a woman, and don’t you ever forget it.

Without having the inferior property status of her body enforced upon her, she’d have her uterus contracting firmly in a jiffy, and the fetus wouldn’t be much more than menstruation. It would happen, because that is what women have always done.

Always.

The concept of someone’s body being property should horrify anyone; I still can’t quite figure out why it doesn’t. The life of a dairy cow bears an unhappy resemblance to the life forced upon women, by socialization, by culture, by capitalism and men: you are impregnated as soon as possible, for money; you are used to produce more children (caged and slaughtered for veal or caged and impregnated), for money; you are used up, for money. And when you aren’t “good” at producing things for your owner anymore, you are dealt with. For as much money as he can milk from your corpse.

That was a mild description. Do you really need to hear that dairy farmers are basically entirely men to realize what’s wrong with it? Do you really need to know that the dairy farmers themselves gave a nickname to the artificial insemination stands where the cows are restrained, calling them “the rape racks”? Do you really need to hear a dairy cow yowl herself hoarse after they take away her calf a few hours after birth—the best to collect the colostrum, now a new “health supplement” product—to understand how that’s fucked up?

And do you really need to have the lines drawn to understand that property is property, and that exploitation doesn’t become acceptable when it’s directed towards a different target?

Carnism has more implications for women, not merely on the stage of justification—because, as you should know, women’s exploitation has always been rationalized on the basis that they were “like animals”; I am still surprised that feminists have not yet cottoned to the fact that, since men were so wrong about the women they wanted to use, they are also quite likely wrong about the animals they used as a comparison.

There’s more nuance than that; over and over, women end up being destroyed by their participation in capitalism, civilization, racism, ageism and carnism, because all oppressions reinforce each other. It’s just that the link from dairy to women’s bodily autonomy is more direct and distinct because of several things:

1. Dairy contains the more potent animal estrogens (as opposed to phytoestrogens, which are much weaker); the age of menarche and puberty has dropped in tandem with the rise in dairy consumption. FAABs of color are more likely to begin puberty earlier; they are also vastly more likely to have been enrolled in WIC, which is heavily reliant on shoveling subsidized dairy products out of the market (and which only in the past five years included soy formula, thanks).

High levels of estrogen—especially from dairy, which, again, is from pregnant and nursing mothers—are also linked to a longer period of fertility, as many as seven extra years from menarche to menopause. More time to get pregnant and fucked over.

Did I mention that dairy can also increase your chances of having twins which, aside from being incredibly dangerous to the mother, is also fraught with peril for the children and somehow more than twice as tiring for any mother? This has been in the news several times in the past few years; it’s not exactly hidden knowledge.

2. Dairy sabotages herbal abortion methods.

I’ve worked with herbalists over the past several years of my life and, aside from being incredible people, they are also very willing to change the way they think based on how their patients do with different treatments. Three of them assisted abortion regularly, especially for low-income youth; all of them affirmed that herbal abortions were more likely to be successful the fewer animal products were consumed, with no reduction in benefit as consumption went lower; all of them said that a mixture of herbs and activities were best; and two of them were so alarmed by what dairy did to their patients that they refused to assist anyone who wouldn’t give it up for at least six weeks so the abortion could work properly.

And this is why: most abortive herbs, combined with dairy, will wreck your kidneys.

Angelica root (1/2 tsp. as a tea twice a day with 2 tsp. tansy or 1 tsp. black cohosh as teas every two and a half hours) turns into an incredible poison when mixed with dairy. It produces, at best, violent nausea; without dairy it works well.

Pennyroyal (1 tsp. as a tea three times a day with black or blue cohosh 1/2 tsp. as teas three times a day) also produces the nausea, but sometimes causes tingling in the extremities as well. It doesn’t do this with dairy.

Ginger, a well-known, mild abortifacient and contraceptive in large, consistent quantities (as a raw juice mixed with orange or papaya juice, chopped raw taken like pills, freshly powdered, in food, constantly, about 1.5 tablespoons three to six times a day.) loses its effectiveness when combined with dairy. It doesn’t become poisonous; it just becomes useless.

Slippery elm, too (1 tsp. as a tea twice a day with any of the above, with cedarwood essential oil rubbed firmly in a specifically downward motion just below the bellybutton to the mons) becomes completely ineffective.*

All the time, every time, even the most minor intake of dairy will fuck up the chances an herbal abortion will work. I like to say this is because dairy is evil and the cow is cursing you for perpetuating her pain, but only to people who really piss me off.

Carnism fucks up women; it fucks up your ability to control your own body and you can only be carnist by fucking up someone else’s ability to control theirs. Abortion is a necessity for women, and always has been; women have always had abortions and basically always will, unless or until we can make it so that no one ever has PIV unless they really really want to get pregnant. Abortion is a necessity not because it is a special thing needed to make sure women are equal to men, but because it is a basic right not to have your body used against your will—not a human right.

*I’ll make a more lengthy post about nonmedical abortion methods later.

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The Lessons of Pornography

So I wanted to point out the wondrous Elkballet again (I’m really digging that blog) on a particularly compelling post on the effects of porn. In large part because it’s all fucking true.

I watched porn regularly to masturbate for about two years beginning from when I was twelve. It took me more than six years after that point to really rid me of its effect enough to make an impact—of course, it didn’t help that I kept reinforcing the pornthink by repeatedly calling up the images and tropes when I was masturbating. I did this because, like Elkballet, masturbation wasn’t as fun or stimulating without it; it was years before I managed to masturbate to orgasm without using pornthink in some way.

When I first saw my boyfriend again, I found porn images would pop into my head during sex. I would have trouble being turned on, even orgasming without at least briefly calling up images I had seen. I would sometimes wish I could hop online and quickly look up images so things would go easier. Images would randomly pop into my head, without my meaning for them to. Without even realizing I had done it I developed a voyeuristic attitude towards sex. I wanted to watch him do things to himself, to me. I was even pressuring him into performing things, asking repeatedly despite him telling me it made him uncomfortable. I had stopped looking up porn, but my brain wouldn’t allow me to stop seeing it.

Check, check, check and check.

Looking back, one of the most bizarre and disturbing distortions that porn caused in my mental state was that I dissociated from my body during sex. I saw myself from outside—I saw myself having sex instead of actually being within my body, having sex. I became voyeuristic, too: sex developed into a series of actions. Me doing to my partner. My partner doing to me. As Catharine MacKinnon said—subject verb object.

There was none of the sense of sharing and being together that I now consider one of the best parts of sex; it was very mechanical and automated, though not in the way you’d typically think. Instead sex was segregated into roles—the top; the bottom; the sadist; the masochist; the dom and the sub. One was done to and one was doing to, except if the one usually done to was the one commanded to do. In case you can’t tell, I also became obsessed with BDSM; if you’re interested in it, it’s actually quite boring and you should stop and detox for a while. Forcing sex into a series of actions where one partner is passive/submissive and one partner is active/dominant stops you from ever getting to see how fucking awesome sex really is. It kept me from being able to see it for a fucking long time; I saw my partners as mechanical, too—like they were characters: they were just vehicles for the actions that were “hot,” as determined by porn—penetration, no doy.

Even when my partners persuaded me to stop being so intent on doing things and to simply relax, I couldn’t figure out what to do. Enjoying the sensation is alright, but it gets old fast. In porn, people don’t really, like, touch each other when they have sex—which is just beyond sterile; I can’t figure out why anyone would find it attractive anymore.

And you learn sex from porn; even if you don’t think you do, you do. Even if you think you already know about sex, the way you have sex will change if you start using porn. I had to go through a very painful growth period where I couldn’t figure out what to do with my hands if I wasn’t doing something to my partner.

Porn inhibited my ability to have sex with another person; I learned not to have sex with my partner, but to be preoccupied with porn. I’d say that porn was my sexuality for a good chunk of my life—that my sex life was haunted by the ideas of sexiness and hotness contained in porn, acting as a go-between for my partner and I, instead of merely allowing us to have sex.

Eventually I got over that. I’m still getting over it. But while I’ve recognized this for a while—recognized just how powerful pornography can be, and just how much it can absolutely cripple your ability to relate sexually to another human—there was another thing that made me decide to post this. I confided in one of my friends, as the post had caught her eye while she was visiting and she went ahead and read it, just how true it was and just how fucking hard ever having watched porn had made any kind of healthy sexuality for me. She replied—and has given permission to me to post about this—that she’s suffered from all of the same distortions in her own sexuality and mental state.

Except she’s never watched porn more than a handful of times, and for their comedic value at that. What caused that shit inside her head was the multiple rapes she endured as a child from grown men.

Rape taught her the same things that porn taught me: sex was penetration; one person was allowed to be active and the other person had to be passive; fear was inherently sexual; dominance was sexy; when having sex, people were really just things—objects using each other. She thought that large, painful penises or inserts were the only things that could be “sexy” and couldn’t stop herself from reducing the people around her into body parts—arms, legs, chest, stomach, butt.

Let me repeat that, more clearly: enduring repeated rapes as a child caused the same worldview changes as porn.

And now more succinctly: porn teaches the same things as rape.

For all the sex poxes may cry otherwise because they’re still having their sexualities warped and twisted by porn, I have to say, because I know better—porn is profoundly anti-sex, anti-sexuality, and just generally hateful shit. It’s much more fun over here.

Privilege 101: The Slant

Continuing on the topic of elaborating upon and understanding how privilege functions—as opposed to simply its effects—I wanted to talk a little about what I’ve termed “the Slant.” Part of how privilege behaves—the processes it uses to perpetuate itself as a vicious cycle—is a particular mental distortion inculcated within everyone growing up inside a power dynamic.

What makes it so insidious is that the Slant is entirely perception-based. The Slant describes two specific “cognitive biases” that are entirely based around the status quo: the reasonableness and trustworthiness of both the “empowered” and the powerless.

To clarify:

1. The “empowered” are:
a. Reasonable.
b. Objectively motivated.

2. The powerless are:
a. Unreasonable, irrational.
b. Personally or deceptively motivated.

Part A of the Slant is particularly important because the falsehood that humans are uniquely rational, reasonable beings, set apart from all other animals by a capacity for logical processes, is actually the freaking basis of human civilization.

It’s fairly obvious, given enough time and energy seriously dealing with other animals, that this is not the case: all animals have logical processes—they just aren’t necessarily based on sight-stimulus and technology the way humans’ information-gathering is. Animals come to logical decisions, like humans, but using different sets of information. Furthermore, animals only seem “irrational” if one is thinking of them specifically as not-person—as someone malformed because they were not born with a human interface.

And not to put too fine a point on it, tell me I’m the only bee in your bonnet the human concept of “logical” has always had quite a bit to do with whether or not you supported the status quo. Here’s where we get into the mind-boggling reinforcement of one oppression to another, which yes, means you support all of them if you are not vegan.

Women’s insistence that women were not inferior—not irrational, not child-obsessed dunderheads, not incapable of brilliance, not frail, needy histrionic cases—has always been used as an example of how women were inferior and irrational, and it still is. Evolutionary psychologists, MRAs, and trans misogynists use women’s belief that they are, well, people in order to argue that women are irrational. They’re delusional; they don’t get that we’re just the way we are because nature made us that way, which is not an argument for our extermination, somehow, but an argument against it and an argument that women should just, like, let us be evil. Women are just too stupid, self-absorbed, naive and idealistic to understand that the Kyriarchy exists because it is inevitable.

The fact that Black people did not want to be enslaved was used as evidence for how little they understood, and how much they needed to be “guided,” however brutally, by white people (men, generally). The fact that they didn’t agree that they were inferior was proof that they were inferior.

That fat people refuse to starve and emotionally torment themselves over the size of their body is evidence to the fatphobic, body-obsessive, carnist medical establishment that fat people just don’t understand how inferior they are. When fat people point out that any self-destructive endeavor would be fruitless—starvation, even with exercise, doesn’t work for somewhere around 98% of the population—they are assumed to be too stupid to understand “the facts.” Literally, fat people are expected to ignore the actual facts and embark on a terribly scarring journey of self-loathing—the more you agree that fat is evil and wrong, that fat is an indicator of a personal flaw, the more “rational” and “reasonable” you are. Surely we can all agree that you are weak-willed and immoral.

And today, too, if you are “mentaly ill” and object to the idea that you need to be institutionalized and “treated” into docility with psychotropic medicines—or if you and your others refuse to believe that integration is necessary in order to live a healthy and happy life—then it’s further evidence that you are just too mentally ill to understand you need to be controlled helped.

In our society, reasonable is a loaded word. It doesn’t take brilliance to see that.

Part B is simple but slippery, because it’s so easy for the “empowered” to wordle their way out of the claim. I can’t be responsible for what other people think of my motivations; are you implying my motivations aren’t pure? Yadda yadda, whine whine whine, what about teh menz/whitez/humanz.

But really, the best way to describe “assumption of motivation” is in terms of a good-faith/bad-faith argument. An assumption of good faith is the default: it’s reasonable to assume that a given human doesn’t mean you any harm unless you are given actual evidence to suspect otherwise—for example, the epidemic of rape perpetrated by men; the disenfranchisement of nonwhite people by white people; the abuse of animals by humans. It’s not unreasonable to assume that someone who was born and raised as an “empowered” person will be able or willing to see you as a person if you’re on the “powerless” side.

Bad faith is what is automatically attributed to those who are powerless, or who are fighting for the powerless. Their words are interpreted within the most unflattering meaning; on the other hand, when the “empowered” say bigoted things, they are defended and excused. Very often someone challenging the status quo is simply not listened to at all—my experience with trans commenters made me wonder, briefly but seriously, whether or not being transsexual actually impaired your reading comprehension. Simply by not agreeing, you can be accused of derailing or having impure, personally-motivated, bigoted motives:

1a. Animal experimentation has not brought about any serious medical advance; in fact, most medical advances have happened IN SPITE of animal experimentation and were slowed down by it instead of being helped. And in fact many diseases have afflicted humans specifically from their use of animals; it’s not good for humans, either.
1b. You care more about animals than humans!

2a. The gender dichotomy is fucked up. We should destroy it so that no one is gendered; then we can all be free to be people, instead.
2b. You’re transphobic! I worked HARD to be seen as a woman!

3a. Dude, what you just said is really racist; affirmative action doesn’t give non-white people an advantage.
3b. You’re just a reverse racist who doesn’t want to work for what you have!

And on a deeper level, the experiences and feelings of the powerless are unconsciously demeaned. Women are hysterical and overreacting about rape; women of color—people of color in general, but especially women of color—are “angry and militant” when they object to being alienated from a group (yes, as if it were undesirable); children and animals aren’t as complex or as rational and logical as adults, humans; and women who were forced to be “women” from the day they were born are just expressing “insecurity” about their “femininity” when they object to male-socialized people in their spaces.

Unreasonable. Hysterical. Irrational. Doesn’t know anything. Ignorant. Naive. Idealistic. Delusional. Doesn’t understand how the world works. Illogical. Emotional. Silly. Empty-headed. Airhead. Man-hater.

The Slant makes it impossible for you to know whether you agree with, or find persuasive or intelligent or competent, any “empowered” person because of the behavior/reaction sets they and you were indoctrinated into; similarly impossible to know whether your opinion of anyone on the “powerless” end—on the basis of age, race, sex, species, body shape, etc.—is based on your cultured filters of power or on who they really are.

No, scrap that: the Slant virtually guarantees that your opinion of anyone will be, in part, based on the place of power they are given in the Kyriarchy, regardless of how reasonable and logical you think you are.

And there are no easy answers. You can’t watch porn and pass out condoms to encourage sexual liberation; you can’t buy cage-free eggs and grass-fed cow products to encourage animal rights; you can’t put a Black or Asian person smack-dab in the middle of the photo amidst a group of white people and expect to be hailed as anti-racist or inclusive. You can’t decide that it’s okay for people to switch sexes in the gender binary, but not for anyone to object to the existence of a gender binary at all, and ever help anyone except the most privileged male-socialized people.

It is a long, hard, fucking cold road, and it’s one you have to take alone; there are no quick fixes. You can decide that every animal can feel and deserves not to be used as property, to be farmed; or you can give the fuck up and resign yourself to the fact that your unwillingness to dispense with the idea of property—with gender, with capitalism, with a “right” body to have, with the idea that sex can be power—has doomed everyone you claim to be fighting for. Because you are too fucking obsessed with getting yours to ever do anyone any fucking good.

Take people seriously. Listen to them; genuinely consider their experiences and feelings as valid; and don’t ever justify anything that is done to them in the name of oppression and power as “not as bad” as something happening to another person elsewhere.

The Erasure of Dicks

In about forty different ways.

Now for your daily dose of transactivist transphobia!

This time it’s “the majority of transphobic violence is committed against MTFs.”

It’s a general sentiment, but Julia Serano has actually written this in her book Whipping Girl (very closely paraphrased). And it is an unexplodey piece of shit.

This claim is bullshit because of two things: first, it’s unsubstantiated; and second, if you actually consider the actual way the world works, it’s very likely false. For simplicity’s sake (and honesty’s), I’m going to consider “violence” to be specifically physical violence, because even I know that having something shouted at you from a passing car is not nearly as traumatizing and intimidating as being physically attacked.

The first problem is self-explanatory; let’s focus on the second. Without any actual evidence, for example a survey that takes into account the relative time spent outside versus online, we don’t have any idea how often MTFs:FTMs are attacked—we don’t actually know how often either of them are attacked. Surveys are not very enlightening when it comes to the most vulnerable and abused, because they are the least likely to have the leisure and safety to fill one out.

And that’s part of the problem. From my observation, corroborated by the FTMs I’ve had the pleasure to meet, MTFs are by far the most prominent voices in the trans community. Put simply, FAAB men are not heard or counted as much or as loudly as their male-born counterparts.

This is not a trend isolated to the trans community. Reporting of eating disorders are similarly confused on a class and race basis: because of the way eating disorders are reported, they are incorrectly assumed to be largely specific to upper-middle class young white women. Here are the problems with assuming eating disorder reporting is correct:

1. Reports are gathered from medical and psychiatric authorities. Consider monetary and time expenditure, as well as cultural values and expectations (stigmatization, bootstraps fuckery, et cetera).

2. Eating disorders are often well-hidden until an extreme point; for example, Lierre Keith has gone more than twenty-nine years with an eating disorder without anyone recognizing what it was.

3. Those who are typically victimized by “authorities” are more likely to be suspicious of medical and psychiatric authorities, for good reason, and thus more likely to hide their eating disorders, if they go to aforementioned establishments at all.

4. The majority of eating disorders are not recognized and acknowledged; severe emaciation and/or constant self-induced vomiting is required for it to be seen as a “real” eating disorder.

5. Whether or not someone’s eating disorder qualifies as a “real” eating disorder is also highly dependent on sex, size, age, race/ethnicity and class.

That’s a lot of societal crap standing in the way of that nice, neat conclusion. Fact is, street kids—generally the poorest of the poor and marginalized so much that the word doesn’t even work to describe it—have eating disorders. All the time. All of the street kids I’ve met have eating disorders; the vast majority of the street kids Aslan has met (dude, Denver Five Points Area) also have eating disorders; almost none of them were white. I’ve got way more than enough evidence that the “profile” of people with eating disorders is worth less than the bananas I ate yesterday.

And even then, street kids have one more thing working against them—something that FAAB men do, too: they’re usually starving anyway, so any intentional starvation on their part is obscured and rendered as invisible as the lives of street kids generally are.

Same with FTMs, which the people crowing about how MTFs are the primary target of trans-related violence always miss: when violence is perpetrated against FTMs, how much of it is just violence against women? How much violence against FAAB men is identified as “merely” another woman killed, raped, beaten?

Certainly, that’s what their attackers mean it to be; it’s virtually certain that an FTM’s attacker is going to be MAAB, and even more certain that he is going to be viewing the violence as not against someone who is trans as it is a woman. Generally, MTFs get beaten, raped and killed for being “freaks” and “fags”; FTMs get beaten, raped and killed because they’re girls. The reality of violence is different for MTFs and FTMs, and it is exceedingly male-centric to deny these two things: first, that MTFs are more visible because of their at-birth assignment (that is to say, as male); second, that MTFs are not the standard by which transphobic violence can be measured.

We can see that to deny these things is patriarchal, also, because of the history of homophobic violence and the focus of the recent gay rights movements. When gay men are beaten or killed, it is horrific, although not so much for rape (since sexual violence is still a big no-no in the hot-to-trot social justice scene); when lesbians are beaten, killed and raped, it’s more of the same. The rape of lesbian women is so institutionalized, in fact, that we have a fucking name for it: “corrective rape.” And you can bet how widely-used that is—I found it via surfing a bunch of feminist blogs.

What about the New Jersey Four? What about the lesbians who have been subjected to male violence because they were lesbians? What about the lesbians who have been subjected to male violence because they were women? What’s the fucking difference between those two things? The life of women—people who are put into boxes labeled “women,” a fucking social reality—that landscape is covered with so much blood and violence that it becomes virtually meaningless. Violence against women is normal; as it is said, “the water we swim in and the air we breathe.” When an MTF actually goes beyond a refusal to see and avoid dealing with the privilege and behaviors she was socialized into from birth, when she reaches the point of being just a woman, when that woman experiences rape, battery, abuse, murder at the hands of men, she isn’t experiencing it because she’s trans. She’s experiencing it because she’s a woman. That’s what life means; that’s what the social reality of “woman” is.

And it is important too to ask the questions: Who is doing the beating? Who is doing the raping? Who is doing the abusing? Who is doing the murdering?

If transactivists are genuinely interested in stopping trans-related violence, then the answer to that question cannot be fudged. You can’t argue these words are beating, raping and murdering you. I am doing no such thing and, furthermore, no person who ever reads these words and agrees will be doing any of those things to you, either. Get over yourself. You either care about trans-related violence or you don’t. And if you want to stick the responsibility of violence to people who are not perpetrating actual violence against transfolk, then you don’t care about ending that violence at all.

FTMs are not given this extra-special kind of respect by the holders of power (that is to say, MAAB men as a social reality) because they want to be one of the guys or whatever. They’re still seen as women. When they get attacked, they get attacked because they’re seen as women. And their safety is exponentially more at risk, because they are traveling into the domain of those who are most likely to beat, rape and kill them. Invisibility is paramount. Invisibility is passing, and passing is safety.

But when you’re an MTF, and you’re exploiting that invisibility to argue that you’re the most specialest and oppressed, you’re just acting like everyone born with a dick is trained to act. Which is, well… a dick.

“I Paid for You.” Capitalism’s Inherent Property Ethic

Even amongst the less capitalist circles, there’s not a whole lot of talk about the totalizing objectification created by a system run by exchange. Pretty much everyone understands the basics of classism: that you’re perceived as being inherently worth more and a better person if you’re richer, and given more opportunities based on that, whereas the reverse is true if you’re poorer. In other words, socioeconomic class is perceived as a reflection on one’s personality in capitalism in a similar way to beauty in medieval Italy. The richer or more beautiful you are/were, the better a person you are/were.

Yeah, that’s basic. And pretty obvious. But classism is inextricable from capitalism in another way—and ageism, racism, and sexism insofar as these groups are capitalistically disadvantaged, too—because, to put it gently, our entire system is based on the value of currency given to anything in general… and it invades everything.

There’s a particular transactional model of oppression that states thus: the more money that others have to give you in order to support your survival, the less you are worth and the more you are owned by them.

You see this everywhere. Look at the anti-welfare crap going around; look at the anti-socialized medicine crap going on in the U.S., the fire being rained down on unions in Wisconsin and Indiana, the sabotaging of jobless benefits. Resentment is bred because the people who feel they are “paying” for these things without benefiting feel as though they’re getting ripped off—because they’re having to buy something without getting to benefit from it.

When you look at it from an item perspective, it makes sense: if a store charged you for items you didn’t buy (and therefore didn’t get to use), you’d be pretty pissed too. It makes sense, except for the fact where we are talking about peoples’ lives instead of an actual object.

… But thanks to capitalism, the monetary value assigned to someone’s life and/or quality of life is the signal that they are property—an item or a product that you are having to pay for without being able to use.

You know those old “jokes” about how wives are merely bad prostitutes—they take men’s money and then don’t even put out in return? This is why. They are being “paid for” as products, but the men, their “purchasers,” don’t get to use them at all. This follows other forms of oppression, too—ageism, for example. Literally, by paying for their children, parents feel an entitlement to force/abuse them into doing something just so because they are effectively buying them.

A person becomes a product when a monetary value is assigned to them for whatever reason—their survival, their quality of life, maybe just a momentary indulgence. It even applies to employers: Aslan, at a previous job, would be stocking about $20,000 of product every night—usually mostly on zeir own, too—but zeir manager wouldn’t even let zem get fucking overtime. That’s another problem with the product-purchaser capitalist worldview: it brings into play the “natural” desire of a purchaser to get the most for their money.

This is endemic, too, unless and until we cut the line tying someone’s survival and basic quality of life to a monetary value. Food, shelter and water must be upheld as basic human rights, inalienable, such that they cannot be sold unless they are luxury products—as with exotic fruits like passionfruits (in some places), animal products, several kinds of sweeteners, sodas, prepackaged “junk” foods, etc. Outside of luxuries, whole foods are your right. So is shelter. Until capitalism falls or compromises, you will be objectified just by surviving.

What Does Life Say About Those Who Die? Submission and Ventriloquism

I found an article on Gary Francione’s blog, The Abolitionist Approach, a post entitled And What About the Four Other Dogs? In it, he talks about how five dogs were scheduled to be euthanized at a shelter; four died, but one—a puppy—was found to be still alive after being given two lethal doses of euthanasia medicine. The dog’s survival was posted by a veterinary technician on a pet adoption website, and hundreds of people over North America began clamoring to adopt the dog.

He asks, as with the title, what about the other four dogs? The ones who didn’t make some kind of miraculous escape?

This story is similar to the stories about farm animals who escape from slaughterhouses and are then given homes to live out their lives. They, too, are “special.” They escaped from the institutionalized exploitation that we have established. They have cheated death.

Many people think that when an animal escapes death in this fashion, it is some sort of divine sign. These sorts of events ironically reinforce our view that because there is no divine intervention for all the other animals that are killed at “shelters” or in slaughterhouses, then this is the way things ought to be for those other animals. They are killed as part of the “natural” order.

This is true. I have heard exactly this kind of “argument” used against veganism, although I last encountered it several years ago, perhaps because the most obvious inaccuracies are hard to ignore: “If animals cared about not being killed, why don’t they try to escape? [Kidnapped African] slaves did, after all.”

That’s paraphrased, but I did not actually add in the part about the kidnapped Africans. She put that in on her own. There’s the obvious problem with the argument, which is that many animals have escaped and that slaughterhouses are built to prevent that from happening—a la Temple Grandin—but then there’s something else wrong that she didn’t realize. The fact that most kidnapped Africans did not try to escape, or successfully escape, was used as evidence for the idea that slavery was perfectly fine.

I. After all, if the kidnapped Africans really objected, they would be escaping, successfully, in droves. II. After all, if she really felt it was rape, she would have fought him off. III. After all, if she really didn’t want to be beaten by her husband, she would leave him. IV. After all, if he really didn’t want to be bullied, he’d fight back or go to a teacher. V. After all, if zie really felt zie was getting cheated by zeir boss, zie would have sued. VI. After all, if zie doesn’t want to be poor and starving, zie would have gotten a job. Et cetera.

This is a variation of the No True Scotsman No True Rape Victim fallacy—the idea that if someone being oppressed really thought it was unjust, they would fight back against it. And they would win. But the idea of the Iron-Willed Escape invalidates not just those who can’t imagine fighting off their abuser—it invalidates the people who do successfully manage to fight off their abuser, too. Rape victims are discredited because, given that he didn’t really manage to rape zem, he’s still Shrödinger’s Rapist and therefore, not really a rapist. The question is always, “But how do you know zie was really intending to hurt you?” because any resistance against power is always seen as fundamentally unjustified.

Thus, if zie was able to fight him off, zie couldn’t really know he was actually going to rape zem—he didn’t, so therefore he’s not a rapist! But if he does succeed in raping zem, then it wasn’t really rape because zie failed to fight him off so zie wasn’t really serious about not wanting it… so therefore he’s not a rapist!

That’s what rape culture is. That’s what victim-blaming is: placing the onus of rejecting violation on the victim instead of the violator. It is Lierre Keith‘s perfect philosophy because, no matter what, the oppressor is never to blame for oppressing. An abuser can’t be held responsible for their actions: you just let it happen. You just let him sell away your children. You just let her beat you. How were they supposed to know it wasn’t okay if you didn’t force them to stop?

“If you don’t like me hurting you, then you shouldn’t let me hurt you.”

The oppressor becomes invisible and the oppressed becomes solely responsible for their own oppression. If they don’t like it, then they should have tried harder to keep it from happening. Somehow, the abuser is never held responsible for their decision to abuse and never expected to actually treat anyone like people. The victim is portrayed in a black room, empty save for zem, shuddering as an unseen hand batters zem—something that is assumed, because of the absence of any visible perpetrator, exists entirely in zeir own mind, that zie is submitting to. A personal pathology. An individual flaw. No atrocity to see here, folks; move along.

You should perhaps question why it is easier to hold the victim responsible than the one who victimized zem.

I draw together all these examples not to show similarities between different forms of oppression, but to show how all oppression is fundamentally the same. Oppression and its justifications are all the same—they’re utterly unoriginal, just a repeating pattern of the same thoughts, the same arguments. Every carb-starved fuckneck thinks that “but plants are alive too” is a unique and compelling argument against veganism, and so does every porn-addled fuckneck think “women’s choice” is a unique and compelling argument against anti-exploitation, consideration of abuse, capitalism, coercion, reality. Then they wonder why they keep hearing the same rebuttals in response, over and over again, and conclude that those desperately trying to scrape their way out of a fucked-up, oppressive world and into a new one, those people simply have nothing else to offer.

It’s the other way around. Being aware of oneself requires an accounting of one’s bigotries, one’s life, one’s actions. It requires a vicious, snarling demand for self-inflicted honesty and ultimately, honesty requires change.

In a society that wants to view oppression as normal, as neutral, as right, it becomes much easier to blurt some self-indulgent nonsense and let yourself fall into the ensuing applause.

Oppressors are Incidental

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.

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