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Women and the Animal Rights Movement

Women and the Animal Rights Movement

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Women and the Animal Rights Movement
    Book Description:

    Animal rights is one of the fastest growing social movements today. Women greatly outnumber men as activists, yet surprisingly, little has been written about the importance and impact of gender on the movement. Women and the Animal Rights Movement combats stereotypes of women activists as mere sentimentalists by exploring the political and moral character of their advocacy on behalf of animals.

    Emily Gaarder analyzes the politics of gender in the movement, incorporating in-depth interviews with women and participant observation of animal rights organizations, conferences, and protests to describe struggles over divisions of labor and leadership. Controversies over PETA advertising campaigns that rely on women's sexuality to "sell" animal rights illustrate how female crusaders are asked to prioritize the cause of animals above all else. Gaarder underscores the importance of a paradigm shift in the animal liberation movement, one that seeks a more integrated vision of animal rights that connects universally to other issues--gender, race, economics, and the environment--highlighting that many women activists recognize and are motivated by the connection between the oppression of animals and other social injustices.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5081-7
    Subjects: Philosophy, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. 1 Connecting Inequalities
    (pp. 1-18)

    A line of protestors formed on a sidewalk along the road. The signs they held were simple and straightforward: “Stop Animal Abuse: Boycott the Circus,” and “Cruelty Is Not Entertainment.” A smiling woman offered leaflets to motorists stopped at the red light. It’s not everyone’s idea of a good way to spend a Saturday morning. But for this activist, it was a meaningful day’s work. “If I can persuade just one person not to buy a ticket, or even to start thinking about the issue, it’s totally worth it,” she told me. It was a scene typical of social protest...

  5. 2 The Road to Animal Activism
    (pp. 19-40)

    Abby, a twenty-year-old college student, had wanted to work with animals ever since she could remember. She attended an elementary school where learning how to ride horses was as important as reading and writing. “I guess growing up that way just instilled it in me, being very connected to the land and to the earth.” Abby discovered very early that “the world didn’t see things the same way I was raised to see it. I came from a place where people would shoot deer and hang them in their front yard, which was kind of hard for me to take....

  6. 3 Where the Boys Arenʹt: The Predominance of Women in Animal Rights Activism
    (pp. 41-60)

    From its early stirring in Victorian England to contemporary times, one of the most striking characteristics of the animal rights movement is that the majority of its activists are women. The Animals’ Agenda report of two 1985 surveys concluded that “at all levels of participation … women constitute the single most important driving force behind the animal rights phenomenon” (Greanville and Moss 1985, 10). This legacy begs the question, How do we explain the connection between gender and animal rights participation?

    This chapter focuses on how women make sense of their majority status in the movement—in other words, how...

  7. 4 Risk and Reward: The Impact of Activism on Womenʹs Lives
    (pp. 61-86)

    Ida was fully immersed in two life roles: animal rights activist and veterinary student. On the surface, the two roles appear compatible, even complementary. In Ida’s experience, they were sometimes contradictory and often a challenge. She had agonized over the interview for vet school, afraid they would ask her ethical questions relating to animal rights. Fortunately, she didn’t have to deal with any “touchy” subjects in that area (“because it’s against my religion to lie and I feel strongly about telling the truth”), and she was accepted into school on her first try. Ida considered herself lucky, “because they do...

  8. 5 Gender Divisions in Labor, Leadership, and Legitimacy
    (pp. 87-116)

    As a young activist in the 1940s, Irene cofounded an animal advocacy group with another woman. It was the first and only animal organization in the area to rescue animals and spay and neuter them. When they affiliated with the American Humane Society, Irene was replaced as leader “because they didn’t want women running things.” Irene recalled: “[They] found a man to run things and more or less took it out of our hands. My friend was leaving town anyway, but there I was. And I saw that they were accepting vivisection as a necessary evil. So I went ahead...

  9. 6 “The Animals Come First”: Using Sex(ism) to Sell Animal Rights
    (pp. 117-147)

    At a busy intersection in an Indiana city, two naked women were the highlight of a PETA animal rights demonstration. The activists simulated taking a shower together, naked behind a banner that read: “Clean Your Conscience: Go Vegetarian! 1 lb. of Meat = 6 Months of Showers.” They soaped each other’s backs and smiled at the audience as a cascade of water streamed down their bodies. PETA’s news release announcing the protest promised: “Two PETA beauties will shower together at a busy Evansville location to let consumers know that the best thing that they can do for the environment is...

  10. 7 Connections, Contexts, and Conclusions
    (pp. 148-156)

    My interest in the animal rights movement as a subject of study was stirred by the impressive number of women involved in the movement. I wondered what that connection had to say about larger social relationships, inequities, empathy, and political choice. I can only begin to answer the question of what distinguishes women animal activists from others in society or what made them connect to animals in such a political way. Most of the activists professed an early fondness for animals, but as I have argued, this characteristic alone cannot explain the choice these women made to embark on such...

    (pp. 157-160)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 161-166)
    (pp. 167-176)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 177-181)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 182-182)