Tag Archives: Carol J. Adams

Carol Adams and the New York Times justifications for meat eating

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.

via Author Carol J. Adams Weighs In On The Ethicist’s All-Male Meat Panel.

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.)

via Author Carol J. Adams Weighs In On The Ethicist’s All-Male Meat Panel Page 2 |.

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Filed under Animals, capitalism, feminism, food, health, representation, vegetarian

James Beard and masculine barbecue

Thanks to booksinc for the image.

I’m almost done with Robert Clark’s biography of James Beard.  Beard was a crucial figure in american cookery — celebrating local ingredients and providing American cuisine with a serious shot of epicurean style.  Beard was also one of the first celebrity chefs and he took the corporate money for endorsements. It is an interesting read — at times it bogs, but the rewards from digging into the history of the people like this are the visibility of ideology in the text.

At one point in 1953, Beard is working out the rough ideas for a paperback on outdoor cooking.  He writes the following to a collaborator:

Here is the idea: 1. Definition of culinary terms and barbecue terms and certain dishes . . . some of the mouthwatering terms men like.  2. Cold and hot weather menus and recipes featuring masculine dishes and fish and meat.  3.  Recipes for sizzling platters and rotisserie junk.  4.  A glossary of drinking terms–also how to use whiskey with recipes and man-sized portions (most men drink less than women but I supposed we must say man-sized–and be male). No fancy schmancy drinks but drinks which are good and full and really wonderful (152).

I’m fascinated by the clear articulation of what he expects to be successful.  Again, Beard actually is the American chef who wrote the book on barbecue.   But the articulation of masculine desire maps a series of assumptions and ideas about masculinity and men in the fifties.

Lets note James Beard’s obvious appreciation for communication and rhetoric.  His idea of “mouthwatering terms,” points suggestively about a language keyed and cued to shared desire between men.  It would be a worthwhile excavation to cruise through Beard’s half dozen barbecue editions and track the changes in language.

The connection between male entitlement and food has been mapped by Carol J. Adams.  There is still work to be done about making these ideas visible.  If you haven’t read The Sexual Politics of Meat yet, go get it out of the library.

It’s a worthwhile quote if only for the drinking commentary and the notion of “rotisserie junk.”



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Filed under Animals, communication, food