The New York Times invited only prominent white men to discuss the ethics of eating meat. Blisstree remedy this by inviting Carol J. Adams, the preeminent feminist vegetarian ethical thinker writing today to respond. She begins by noting the invisibility of identity in the New York Times choices:
Let’s remember the insight about who is “marked” and who is not marked in our culture. Until Black Liberation and Women’s Liberation began to change consciousness in the late 60s and early 70s, white men were unmarked, that is, their whiteness and maleness were untheorized and unremarkable. We all have to resist a kind of “colonization of consciousness” in which we participate in maintaining what is normative because that is what we are used to seeing. The irony here is that the Times helps to create what is normative and who the experts are. Whoever is quoted in interviews and is invited to be a guest writer in the Magazine section, becomes more well known.
And of course, the delicious core of the argument: that gendered representation is tied to how comfortable Americans are with meat eating. Adam’s continues:
Does it speak to the gendered politics of meat-eating? How much time do we have?
First, it begins with the presumption that meat eating as a normative practice can be defended, especially here in the United States. I don’t believe in general that it can be, not here in the United States.
Our culture is heavily invested in the identification of meat eating with manliness: The idea that meat protein is better for you; the notion that men need to eat meat to be strong (the countless vegan athletes who disprove this notwithstanding); the identification of veganism with women or with gay men (i.e., it is okay for those “kinds” of people to give up eating meat)! The fixation on hunting as being an important part of our evolutionary heritage is part of the sexual politics of meat, (and interestingly one of the panelists, Michael Pollan describes his very masculine experience of hunting wild animals).
Then there is the philosophical tradition from which much animal theory is written that emphasizes the rational and distrusts the emotional. I am part of a group of feminist writers arguing that a feminist care ethic helps us to see the important of choosing to be vegan. But if caring is disdained, then those kinds of arguments get drowned out in favor of the “rational.”
There is also the status of the other animals in a patriarchal world, one in which they are feminized and sexualized. (I argue in The sexual politics of meat that all animals are made female in image or language through meat eating.)