Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Problem with Promoting Veganism at All Costs

As my attention has turned to issues of intersections between human and nonhuman inequality, I've come to recognize that a lot of those entanglements of oppression operate unchallenged within social justice spaces themselves.  The Nonhuman  Animal rights/vegan movement, unfortunately, is rife with sexism, racism, sizism, and classism.  What disturbs me the most is that, once confronted with criticisms of this violence, many react even more violently by reasserting their bigoted position.  Others simply ignore it altogether.  It's "bad for the cause," "drama," or "attention-seeking."  Of course, the people who dismiss this violence are generally those in positions of privilege.  Here's the short of it:  If you look the other way when you see sexism, racism, sizism, classism, etc. enacted in our movement, you are just as violent as the perpetrator.

Violence in our movement is a political problem.  It silences.  It also works to detract others from the movement.  Getting people to go vegan at all costs while ignoring violence in our ranks means that people will come in, take a look around, get disgusted, and bounce right back out.  Or, worse, they will become victims, too.  We need to get our house straight before we can invite people in and have them want to stay and work with us.  Violence in our movement is not going to go away by ignoring victims.  And, really, there's something disturbing about advocates who seek to end violence against animals "at all costs," while blatantly turning their backs on others who are suffering right under their noses.  If the vegan movement can't be a safe space, it can't be a powerful force. It becomes yet another trap for vulnerable humans to encounter more cruelty, bigotry, harassment, stalking, and rape.

Some Insight from Feminist Bloggers

"Creating Drama" via CaptainAwkward.com
But so often, “creating drama” is a phrase that people use when they want someone who has been a victim of something to shut up. It allows them to blame the victim for bringing the problem to their attention and making them feel bad while glossing over the fact that the drama was really created by the victimizER back when they did bad things. The friend group gets all caught up in issues of “fairness” and “logic” and “It was so long ago, why are you dredging it all up now?” and treating the victim’s feelings (or, again, quite rational & reasonable request to not have to sit next to one’s rapist at dinner) as illogical and unreasonable. 
Someone who accuses you of “creating drama” in this case is basically saying that abusing & raping one’s partner might be bad, but making people feel weird about it at parties is worse. 
"Red flags" via Moopflop:

  • Calling the legitimate anger of oppressed people “drama” or “hate”
  • Referring to allocation of human rights as simply “politics”
  • Referring to basic human empathy as “political correctness”
  • The childlike refusal to admit mistakes and throwing a literal tantrum
  • "It’s just my opinion"