Edit: Kristofer Aberg commented to link to his response article. I was kind to mention his response that misses the point and furthermore spells the author’s name wrong. NB I did not bring up his article but since it has been mentioned:
How can one respond to an author, use their surname many times and get it wrong in the first word of a paragraph?! I won’t link to it/ approve his linkspam comments. I haven’t read the entirety, it seems careless and it’s long (with random anecdotes instead of facts or analysis). Aberg argues against pinkwashing as real with a vague Swedish joke or quote of a gay comedian, so I can only conclude he has never researched pinkwashing. Folks, please don’t write about intersectionality when you are not intersectional then come here trying to publish your link in some comments, force me to read your crap, then whine that you’re a leftie so you can cry wolf.
It seems Aberg covered vegan places in Israel and did not hear of anti-occupation Israelis. One doesn’t have to even go there or listen to the Palestinian side to learn about the Israeli apartheid and its atrocities.
I’m not even going to mention radical groups, a famous Israeli architect travelled to my very white & Jewish university to give a presentation on the occupation to us architecture students. Perhaps I was lucky to have been exposed to such people – anti-zionist Jews.I want to recommend a documentary, again nothing radical, mainstream journalists were present at a peaceful protest and documented the attacks by Israeli army (with complete knowledge that Caucasian film-makers are with the protesters) on civilians, including wheelchair users. I’m searching for the title. I don’t even recall the year I saw it, I recall only some faces and scenes but it was shown at the cinemas.
And I don’t know what conspiracy theories he’s talking about, everyone knows Judaism is not Zionism, right?
Presumably it’s this Aberg with a similar history to Yourofsky. We would expect these guys to be against the prison industrial complex perhaps but they’re applauding military IDF for providing pleather options in a violent occupation. If we notice cognitive dissonance, why not here? We’re all uninformed about something or the other, I googled critics of Yourofsky’s glorification of rape as punishment and found sensible-seeming people quoting Gandhi, who was worse than Yourofsky and anti-semitic. I will never quote either of them, I will criticise anyone for praising Gandhi.
A thought crossed my mind just now while reading a vegan blog: we criticise fast food culture out of privilege. When I was forced to eat dairy in spite of my lactose intolerance (I did not know I had), growing up as vegetarian (:. fed LOTS of dairy), I’d throw away my lunch or rather give it to a stray dog and bought chips or dholl puri, the only thing I could afford with a coin when I was given any pocket money was that, Mauritian fast food (incidentally vegan). Other days I’d starve just because I felt grossed out by what I was given for lunch. Even that was probably better than dairy.
So it’s International Women’s Day; as many surely realise apathy towards sexism and sexism itself are still winning, everywhere and here. A petition to Google. Relatedly I’d be keen to know how many women of colour feature in these 17% women total we see in films, currently I only have TV and sporadic internet here (multiracial country with a POC majority) and even in adverts I see few women of colour (counting South African ads, otherwise I recall 2 local ads with WOC and can’t help but notice 1 hair type). I was mostly sharing the petition, I’m not writing more about this today.
I’ll write about yesterday’s obvious oppressiveness towards women by national TV director on the occasion of Women’s Day, and the oppression by a vegan group to celebrate Women’s History Month 2012 for the sake of ‘sexist white imperialist gurus’ PeTA or who knows what. Among the consequences of which are this blog but also the fact that there are among local followers, only 2 veg*n women perhaps. This article about sexism and its reinforcement in the Indian context is worth a read if you’re not familiar enough with Gandhi.
[…]the issue goes way beyond Gandhi. What really matters now, and it matters deeply, is how we respond to what Gandhi did!
Today we like to believe that we are far more progressive in terms of recognizing and condemning the abuse of power by men for sexual exploitation and abuse. And yet, I repeatedly find every time I bring this up [for eg. in this article Gandhi to Asharam: Who Empowers the Sex-Crimes of Gurus?] most people’s responses are defensive and regressive!
Why did MBC director Dhanjay Callikan have to speak at the launch of the Art Exhibition of women artists, for Women’s Day hosted by their corporation, when the vice director of the national TV channels is a woman? On the news, I saw one woman, the organiser of the exhibition, speaking after several men. Then Callikan was quoting Gandhi at the end of his speech.
The second case is about this advert (description included) which promotes sexism and glorification of domestic violence as well as misrepresentation of a part of Indian culture by PeTA. Merely saying the first part of this about the advert got me insulted, then character-bashed and banned from the Vegan Society-Mauritius (VSM) whose image I had boosted as an administrator. I got unfairly banned from the group by sexists who support violence against women. My posts and comments in response got repeatedly deleted (my guess by Harry Pillay) and all this seemed widely tolerated. Last year my fake facebook profile that almost no one knew of and who only participated once, with a different tone and absolutely not knowledgeably, long before, got banned too.
The VSM are not endorsed by Vegan Society UK, if they were, do they have the liberty of giving false and dangerous information on B12 (alleging aloe has B12) in a country where a blood test needs to warrant the need for a B12 injection. If you’ve been vegan a while, you would know about B12 analogues in spirulina etc. and know that a blood test may be misleading. A non-vegan friend of mine just died from some sort anemia, pernicious anemia (from b12 deficiency) can be serious and give rise to irreversible and grave physical effects. Everyone on a bad or sanitized diet is at risk of B12 deficiency, modern agriculture (manure needs to be washed off veggies to avoid E-Coli etc.) and medicine makes us all conducive to it. Another post.
CN for photos linked: Ableist/disablist slurs, I’m lame and yet I didn’t know better than to use the term to mean ‘pathetic’ 2 years back.
Snapshot 1 where I’m being defended by someone I later came to know is a Men’s Rights Advocate or a variant, but she was allegedly defending my right to free speech.
Snapshot 2 of my post about the unfairness of getting my comments deleted repetedly by an admin who didn’t even come forward to admit to doing this. Nor did other admins try to figure it out.
Can non-facebook users see these? Usually one has to click cancel on the sign-up request and can read public pages.
“I usually don’t mention that I’m vegan but that has evolved, I think it’s the right moment to talk about it because it is part of a revolutionary perspective – how can we not only discover more compassionate relations with human beings but how can we develop compassionate relations with the other creatures with whom we share this planet and that would mean challenging the whole capitalist industrial form of food production. It would mean being aware – driving up the interstates or driving down the 5, driving down to LA, seeing all the cows on the ranches,” she stated. “Most of people don’t think about the fact they’re eating animals. When they’re eating a steak or eating chicken, most people don’t think about the tremendous suffering that those animals endure simply to become food products to be consumed by human beings. I think the lack of critical engagement with the food that we eat demonstrates the extent to which the commodity form has become the primary way in which we perceive the world,” she said. “We don’t go further than what Marx called the exchange value of the actual object- we don’t think about the relations that that object embodies- and were important to the production of that object, whether it’s our food or our clothes or our iPads or all the materials we use to acquire an education at an institution like this. That would really be revolutionary to develop a habit of imagining the human relations and non-human relations behind all of the objects that constitute our environment.”
At a talk Dr. Davis gave, in response to a question from Dr. Harper: “I don’t talk about this a lot but I’m going to do this today because I think it’s really important. The food we eat masks so much cruelty. The fact that we can sit down and eat a piece of chicken without thinking about the horrendous conditions under which chickens are industrially bred in this country is a sign of the dangers of capitalism, how capitalism has colonized our minds. The fact that we look no further than the commodity itself, the fact that we refuse to understand the relationships that underly the commodities that we use on a daily basis. And so food is like that.”
Dr. Davis suggested the audience watch the film Food, Inc. and added “And then ask yourself, what is it like to sit down and eat that food that is generated only for the purposes of profit and creates so much suffering?”
“I think there is a connection between, and I can’t go further than this, the way we treat animals and the way we treat people who are at the bottom of the hierarchy. Look at the ways in which people who commit such violence on other human beings have often learned how to enjoy that by enacting violence on animals. So there are a lot of ways we can talk about this.”
Neither Man Nor Beast: Patriarchy, Speciesism, & Deconstructing Oppressions
February 23, 2014 – Web
You are invited to attend a WEB-based conference on February, 23rd, 2014 to empower minds, bodies and communities. Moving beyond the typical boundaries of social justice activism, this conference will be advocating for intersectional liberation across species and social identities.
By creating a space to discuss critical feminist theories and offering our unique experiences under patriarchy, we will be re-evaluating how oppressions relate in our lives and our communities and how best to integrate this into advocacy for the rights of non-human and human animals alike. Critiquing the limitations of popular and mainstream animal rights campaigns currently, and by offering solutions, we hope to advocate for a more unified and diverse movement.
Ultimately, we wish to develop a more complete understanding of oppression and justice. Creating allies aware of the intersectionality of oppression can afford us more opportunities to collaborate in meaningful and mutually inspiring ways. Our diversity of ideas and experiences offer potential to build a more comprehensive, sustainable and effective movement against oppression. We need to strive for creating safer communities and more responsible allies, in hopes of beginning to truly break down the existing hierarchical power structures, rather than reinforcing them. This conference will function as a platform for dialogue, networking and organization with others in creating a more resilient rights liberation movement for all.
Call for Presentations:
We are accepting abstract submissions for presentation topics on the following intersecting issues: veganism; women/womyn empowerment; queer rights; hetero-normative privilege; feminism; trans and gender-queer rights; racism and perspectives from women of colour; white male supremacy; patriarchy; ableism; sexism; sizeism; sexualities; gender and cisprivilege; colonialism; indigenous rights; eco-feminism and environmentalism; anarcha-feminism; animal rights and radical self-care.
This is a conference welcoming academic and non academic presentations alike. Presenters are encouraged to use webcams, and powerpoint visuals during their presentation, as well as to engage in Q&A after with attendees.
Please submit your abstract proposal with your name, presentation title, a 200-300 word abstract, and location that you currently reside. You are welcome to include any additional information about yourself and why you
would like to participate. Presentations should be maximum 20 minutes long, with additional time for Q&A.
Email submissions to email@example.com
Deadline for submission is January 31st, 2014
This event is hosted by Vegan Feminist Network
and Animal Liberation Ontario
My reponse article published on Women24, March 2012 (with their editing). Note that PETA is also racist and ableist but I focused on their sexism here, however their cultural insensitivity is not accidental.
Advertisers usually have certain ethical guidelines, but not for PeTA, as they keep creating controversial ads that get shared virally online. They sometimes use the V-word but their only relationship with vegan organisations is they give them a bad image.
T.O.F.U puts it all too mildly. I’d say if PeTA is the perverted sociopath that gives my town a bad name, then Jodi Allemeier (whose article this responds to) is a strange neighbour who enjoys their sick jokes. Being vegan does not automatically cure one from other prejudices based on arbitrary differences; similarly being a feminist often doesn’t challenge other prejudices, and doesn’t erase all the sexist ones.
The advert (synopsis below) starts with Jessica limping on a cold day after, one would guess, being attacked – she looks bruised and seems to have lost her clothes and some of her jacket fastenings (Anyone with a painful neck would close their jacket around it for warmth, she’s holding it with her hand). Domestic violence is hinted at, in jest, and the 32-second clip ends with the implication that her head went through the wall during sex and the intended lack of clarity should raise concerns. A simple web search indicates that anti-violence advocates, feminists, and vegans alike, as well as vegan magazines and non-vegan mainstream harshly criticised PeTA again.
Audience reactions that I observed ranged from disbelief that this is in fact a real advert from an organisation, to disgust mixed with surprise/shock/anger, and profound disgust. At the very least, disapproval was characteristic of every reaction when I questioned a small group of ‘sex-positives’, tantric adepts, BDSM practitioners who had in common the lack of heteronormative prejudice and knowing what PeTA is, although not being familiar with their campaigns. Lili Radloff’s personal twitter reaction, while I’m not condoning it, was not atypical – people who equate PeTA with veganism may well now hate vegans. Prominent voices for animal rights seemed not only worried about this reaction to vegans or their cause as a result of the controversy, but were concerned about the anti-women sentiment itself.
The ad does not refer to consensual BDSM. No one argued that it makes a modern reference to Gorean cults (the good slave-girlfriend with a severely-injured neck goes to buy food; did any advert supporter argue that she is wearing is all that she owns?) but most, and I assumed well over 70%, see the link with abusive relationships, and it certainly makes reference to violence or the criminally abusive parts of some BDSM scenes (whatever those are called). To correct Jodi: sex sells but violence-with-“sex” sells particularly well – ask the mainstream porn industry of which these characters are a by-product. Sex is not something that gets done to a woman (or women – if we consider other BWVAKTBOOM videos where all the women are serious casualties and the men are not injured in any way), which Jodi should know for quoting Les Mitchell on oppression and discourse.
There is Women24’s flavour of mainstream ‘feminism’, Radloff’s falls within the 66% if not the 60% of this poll, and within the 34% lies Jodi’s version – Jessica may well love that Popeye pounds her head into a wall when he ‘knocks the bottom out of her’ (credit to Austin J. Austin for the Popeye phallic-muscle analogy). While it is, Jodi argues, a valid personal view, I doubt it should be aired without stressing on consent and psychological clearances, not when it helps perpetuate myths that easily affect not only her, but other women. Not only women but everyone is affected by the harmful myths we let circulate, men are too.
Furthermore, I asked for reactions of tantric adepts with no historical background in tantra or a related culture, although some were acquainted with Buddhism. In other words, they had a different bias than I, yet they echoed my view that it promotes an anti-tantric sentiment. A woman of colour and a white American male felt it was apt to call it racist for appropriating the word. What is suggested is the very anti-thesis of tantra which in fact, does not require penetrative sex. The mis-use in “tantric pornstar” distorts the traditional meaning to an extent that it erases and replaces it with another. Austin found the use of ‘tantric’ “disrespectful of a culture, ignorant, and focused on one superficial aspect of mainstream media i.e. that tantra is merely something that makes [men able to engage in penetrative sexual activity with women for long periods of time, which is a sexist construct of male sexual prowess]”.
Like rape, this ad isn’t about sex. Jodi’s comment “Why is consentual BDSM offensive? Some are offended by gay sex, should all ads showing happy gay couples also be banned?” went unchallenged and I’ll end by saying that I find her analogy offensive, I don’t have to be gay to find that politics of substitution insults my intelligence and hurts people. I support feminism as I support struggles against sexism or any prejudice. There is a pressing need for not only feminism but social and environmental justice, for all. We – men, women and intersex – are a part of this ‘all’.
Synopsis of the ad: “The thirty-two second commercial begins with a head shot of a thin, light-skinned woman with arm-length wavy brown hair and bangs. She is wearing a blue and white plastic neck brace, holding a dark green coat together with one hand. She is almost limping along a sidewalk, towards the camera, with a blank look on her face. A voiceover goes through the commercial**. After four seconds, she winces. After a side-facing close-up shot, the camera pans out to watch Jessica (the character) walking to the left of the frame. She is also wearing black and white sneakers and does not appear to be wearing pants. She carries a plastic bag in her left hand, containing vegetables. She climbs a set of outdoor stairs slowly, her face and movement express pain as she holds onto the railing with her right hand. A lower shot from behind follows, where her pink-and-orange-polka-dotted underpants are the focus of the frame, lit up by the sun which comes in through her legs. For less than a second, there is a flashback to a shot of Jessica with both hands up against a red interior (bedroom) wall, looking over her left shoulder – facial expression suggesting intense penetrative sex with someone behind her. The frame becomes Jessica indoors, having returned from the store (and the hospital?). The walls are blue, yellow and red; the place is furnished and has a sari curtain, picture frames, a chess set, a lamp, etc.
Jessica removes the coat to reveal a light-pink patterned bra. The frame changes to her view: a guy is shown applying white spackle/caulk paste to a (skull-sized) hole in the red wall, that was ostensibly made during the sex act and that caused Jessica’s neck injury. He remarks that she is back. The frame shifts back to Jessica standing in the bedroom doorway, leaning against the right side. Her underwear is inexplicably pulled in between her buttocks on the left side, revealing her most of left buttock. Celery and red peppers are visible in the bag, and there is a yellow elastic bundling the celery (it is printed, and might indicate that it is organic). The light-skinned boyfriend is thin, with short dark hair, and is wearing striped grey and black boxer briefs and eyeglasses. He asks if she is feeling better and she tosses the bag to him abruptly. He catches it and looks down into it. The commercial ends with Jessica looking past the camera at the boyfriend, with a slight smirk on her face.”
**”This is Jessica,” the narrator, Kevin Nealon, says. “She suffers from ‘BWVAKTBOOM,’ ‘Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom Out of Me,’ a painful condition that occurs when boyfriends go vegan and can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star. For Jessica, it was too late. Go to bwvaktboom.com and learn how to go vegan safely”
I adapted the version Austin kindly wrote for access purpose, original version here
[…] in a large hotel. A deaf woman asked directions to the toilets and the concierge looked at her, me and her hearing dog and made the inexplicable decision to lean down and explain the directions to the dog! — Interpreter Annie.
This is funny although the concierge’s behaviour was rooted in ableism. S/he gave the dog directions, not the person asking it but Annie was there to counter the ableism. The laugh is at the expense of the ableist concierge, arguably about his ‘smartness’ but in a that’s-what-ableism-can-do-to-your-brain way perhaps?
I’ve seen one amusing meme (below) among the memes and ‘jokes’ on faketerpreter at Madiba’s memorial, Thamsanqa Dyantyi, the rest is plain offensive (two-fold if anyone buys his schizophrenia claims) and the persistence of the media (French, British, US, SA’s Mail&Guardian – the only coverage I’m able to follow regularly) to stick to a one-sided perspective regarding schizophrenia, criminal history and potential security risk seems like a another bad ‘joke’.
Dyantyi’s signing struck me as odd but the scale of Madiba’s memorial (which I only saw briefly on BBC) was such that I didn’t think about it, but I stopped paying attention to something I’d be attentive to (without any understanding but with the interest pertaining to a language one plans to learn) – I have that privilege as a hearie who furthermore understands South African English accents. I don’t speak any sign language. Since I before could talk and until her death, I learned my late aunt’s sign language – she’d never met another deaf person, nor accessed media with sign language.
Dyantyi should’ve been interviewed in sign language, he should be. I don’t buy the schizophrenia story. Suppose the reason is economic and there’s still a fictitious hiring company involved, this was in complete and utter disrespect of deaf people, he would have at least recognised this if he really had learned SASL then he wouldn’t have signed gibberish. It’s also harmful to people with schizophrenia (one friendly schizophrenic I met worked at the Robben Island Museum, as in with tourists, famous or not). Imagine all politicians ‘taking care’ of corruption charges henceforth by feigning schizophrenia. His criminal history only indicates that he may be a skilled scammer and liar, I would bet with ties with the ANC.
The man also did sign interpretation at an event last year that was attended by President Jacob Zuma.
At that appearance, a deaf person in the audience videotaped the event and gave it to the [Deaf] federation, which analysed the video, prepared a report about it and a submitted a formal complaint to the ANC, Druchen said.
In their complaint, the federation suggested that the man should take the five years of training needed to become a qualified sign language interpreter in South Africa. But the ANC never responded, Druchen said.
Druchen said a fresh complaint will be filed to the ANC about the interpreter he called a “fake” with a demand for an urgent meeting.
The ANC professed no knowledge of the man.
“I don’t know this guy. He doesn’t work for the ANC. It was a government event. Ask them,” spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said.”
So there’d been at least one complaint. I’ve seen more than one post, perhaps of the same. This event is a year later and planning at ANC level has surely been going on since Madiba was in hospital this year. Anyway reporting and humour around this has been both an indicator of ableism and the apathy around it, and a detraction from speaking about deaf people and access.
An account of my experience of sign language ‘jokes’ with someone who claims to be on the other side of the political sphere: South African Vegan Society* director, also at the forefront of anarchism in SA, once randomly told me he’s fluent in ASL. As we were new friends, I asked why ASL not SASL, and so on. Anyway he stressed on the fact that he knew ASL (the friend party to our conversation knew him and nodded), even made some signs. Following that, while helping them organise an intersectional conference, I asked who we can ask or hire as SASL interpreter (ASL ‘speaker’ was taking financial decisions, they also had friends coming from another city, might they know a terp?). I was then told that the claim of his knowledge of ASL had been a joke – right, then surely he knew SASL? He didn’t know any sign language! He was amused, also at me not getting the ‘joke’. How could it have been a joke?!! It was offensive, and I started thinking of excuses I could make to a deaf friend who was planning to take a bus from another city to the conference, to not reveal their insensitivity.
What sort of privileged existences do people have to think anything is permitted when it comes to disabled people (people disabled by them and their precious privileged world)?! The ableism did not stop there, I wasn’t aware I was being the gimp (and the brown representing black and all colours) token so I was trying to not limit myself to assigned tasks but to ensure I think of maximum possible access. The venue was next to a beachfront parking lot, the event on a Saturday the whole day, so it was important to demarcate disabled parking spots somehow as it would also be used as busy beach parking. All my suggestions regarding access were dismissed without consideration, I was kicked off the organising team in the week before the event (many may have seen the edit on one event page) with access thrown out the window, and with clear threats in writing so I would remember not to mention anything publicly. This had been voluntary work but aside from that, what did it cost me, reputation-wise? I lost friends and an acquaintance who took part in the conference. Why? I’m yet to find out, nearly 2 years later and perhaps there’s more to come. What did it cost our disabled community? Lack of inclusivity that day (videos of the talks were not made public to my knowledge) and at least this: a related event, the 2012 Capetown anarchist book-fair reeked of ableism, while claiming to seek to create discussion of ableism!
The CT Anarchist book-fair was in a suburb with a privileged and student population, where parking is scarce, far from the largest anarchist collective locally, in Khayelitsha township. There were talks scheduled all day as well as documentaries, in English and there were no details whatsoever about access or subtitles. The reply to my inquiry from a novice organiser, an ex-classmate, gave no information either. Only that she didn’t think of many things and had even forgotten to buy the toilet paper for the event ’til the last minute. I’m sure they wouldn’t have been short of arsewipes – I don’t see the link so perhaps that’s what they expected me to say or think? Didn’t they think of anything when they decided to publish the event? Were they only interested in flaunting the term ‘ableism’ or perhaps talking the talk in the eyes of an unsuspecting international audience? I doubt they had an SASL interpreter and basic access, but they organised a nude march. How innovative (sarcasm). As a multiply disabled person, I couldn’t go so I can only speculate based on their advertisements and my experience. I don’t know if there were disabled people in attendance.
In the case of public and free music events by Soundz of the South that I have been to in Khayelitsha, where numbers far exceeded the conference attendance, and perhaps exceeded that of the preceeding anarchist book-fair – there were enough print-outs distributed so we could share a sheet and read lyrics to some songs. That in spite of limited means. In contrast, the conference had projector facilities but did not ask their speakers, not even directors or previous directors to provide text on screen for the talks.
I see oppressive humour as a sheer lack of humour, compensated by oppression or discrimination. Many have been trained to respond with laughing, I believe, and not only in SA. Not only the incident is embarrassing (what is embarrassing is taking deaf viewers for granted right?) but so is the detraction.
* I’ll take this opportunity to tell all who’ve seen me holding SAVS’s GAIA market stall in the past, some of whom had never received SAVS products promised with an arguably high membership fee: I trusted them because of one director who seemed to be doing a good job, and she was the driving force seemingly. They were friends of friends (not only of our allies the animals), endorsed by the Vegan Society and in the SA vegan scene, no one had said anything except that working relationships with the director I refer to in this post (‘leader’ henceforth for sake of abbreviation), don’t last. I was scammed myself after spending time, unemployed savings and spoons helping them in Capetown. I was convinced to pay a year’s membership but not getting any of that money back after the 1st month, after the leader ostracised me, blocked me from the facebook page for no reason and made threats urging me not to say anything. I was also repeatedly told by a friend that they’re broke then a year ago, that they were disbanding or handing it over. I’m used to seeing organisations that were donation-based and did lots, like BWCSA… not that I agree with all their views but bottomline: they do shit, help animals, motivate people.