Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Skinny Bitch and Bulimic Vegetarians

In 2007, few people would have expected a "no-nonsense" book of "tough-love" for American females to become one of the most successful vegetarian advocacy publications in the Western hemisphere. This book, Skinny Bitch, spawned a whole slew of products including a cookbook, an instructional book on pregnancy, a journal, and now three work out videos. Already, the original book has become an international bestseller, hung onto the New York Times bestseller list (including a brief spot at the top), has sold two million copies, and has been translated into 20 languages.

While many vegetarian and AR activists have welcomed this book with open arms, too few people have heeded to the criticisms that this book preys on female body insecurities. Below, I will discuss why disguising a vegetarian message within a frame about weight-loss/management is not only detrimental to the health of adolescent females and young women but also trivializes the radical political orientation of veganism by conflating it with a self-interested, faddish diet. In light of continuous research that links the adoption of vegetarian diets by teens to disguise and/or justify their eating disorders, the sizist discourse that shames and blames "fat" people, and the vogue-ing of vegetarianism for the mainstream, I suggest that vegans ally instead with feminist and radical social justice groups to promote body acceptance and HEALTH rather than societal acceptance and "health."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Privilege: The U.S. Vegan Movement, Whiteness, and Race Relations (review)

Table of Contents

    Part 1:
  • Are Animals the New Slaves?
  • What Went Wrong?
  • Racism, Speciesism, and Cross-racial Misunderstanding
  • Are human-animal juxtapositions reductionistic?
  • Part 2:
  • Animal Rights or Animal Whites?
  • Animal White Supremacists?
  • Vegan Colonialism
  • One Word: Empathy
  • Part 3:
  • A Colorful Movement: Debunking the White Lie of White Exceptionalism
  • Making us Invisible: The Epistemology of Ignorance
  • The White Activist's Burden: Engaging the "Other"
  • Part 4:
  • Killing Us Softly: Narratives of Alienation
  • With Us or against Us –or- “Sit Down and Shut Up, Little Brown Girl”
  • Part 5:
  • Eating the Other: "Exotic" Food Fetishes
  • Are Vegans Oppressed?
  • The Police & White Privilege
  • Freeganism: The Privilege of Free Food?
  • Classism & Consumer Advocacy
  • Toward a Mutual Trust: Veganism as a Safe Place

Monday, April 6, 2009

Privilege: The U.S. Vegan Movement, Whiteness, and Race Relations (part 5)

After having argued that there is actually quite a bit of racial diversity in the international and domestic vegetarian and animal rights movements, I discussed reasons for why the movements are nonetheless perceived as so white: epistemologies of ignorance (i.e. a whitewashed history, framing veg*nism as a lifestyle rather than a social justice philosophy/diet), disinterest in outreach and collaboration within communities of color, self-fulfilling prophesies about race (i.e. scrutinizing "others" rather than scrutinizing our tactics), and alienating interested persons at events and conferences.[part 3]

Afterwards, I exclusively focused on several ways in which well-intentioned vegans and ARAs alienate vegans of color: They may (obliviously) make blatantly racism comments, treat VOC as tokens to flag in front of the public rather than full-fledged allies, be ignorant of/indifferent to how their discourse and tactics are offensive to VOC, suppress criticism of/concerns about said discourse/tactics ("you're being divisive"), marginalize the emotional trauma/rage triggered by said events (b/c "some good will come of it"), and invalidate their feelings ("get over it"/"you didn't get the message"). [part 4] In this post I will also add the alienation that arises when VOC are "Othered" through discourse of "exoticism."

The remainder of the series, which I will conclude here, will cover additional areas in which white and middle-class privilege go ignored by the majority of the U.S. ARA and vegan movements. Specifically, I'll discuss the greater obstacles and consequences VOC encounter within direct action (i.e. open rescues) and freeganism (i.e. dumpster diving), and why vegans are not "oppressed." In addition, I will briefly discuss the classism present within the dominant discourse of animal activism and veganism. I will conclude by acknowledging the limits of how much privileged persons can understand the struggles those without it face, and the need for them to "liberate" themselves from ignorance before they can become allies in their liberation.