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Meat is not my sex

May 10, 2011

There’s something that really irks me about people making a point to bond over meat, particularly during bbq season as if to ensure that we know they eat meat and to not by any means confuse them for being faint-hearted vegetarians. Someone posts something or other about pig roasts and barbecuing ribs and all of a sudden people start clamouring about how they so adamantly agree: “YES! We also barbecue pig and cow! That makes us super friends!” Well… at the very least, it makes you mutually ignorant.

My cynicism in this post stems from my skepticism regarding someone’s almost lecherous attraction to meat and whether or not it is just another way to assert one’s masculinity. (Men like beer, women/sex, and meat. If you don’t have that in your manly make up, or if you try too hard to be different or — heaven forbid — knowledgeable in other less stereotypical or gender-specific activities, you may find your macho peers questioning your manhood.)  Very rarely do you see women getting together and bonding over a bloody steak. And if you do, they come across as kinda butch, no? Of course, I don’t blame men per se for being so meat-oriented. The media has indoctrinated the rougher sex into believing that, well, they are rougher, they like trucks, they like meat and beer, and they like scantily-clothed women who don’t seem to make much sense when they talk. The sexism that still runs rampant in our advertising (including meat and beer ads) must have most of the feminist world (read: enlightened people) gritting their teeth and wondering what we have truly accomplished. Only ironically could I bond with my fellow male vegetarians over grilling a tofu burger or slices of eggplant on the barbie. And perhaps that’s a good thing. I don’t really want to appropriate the macho inclinations of my fellow males, even if no animals are abused in the process.

I truly wish people who ate meat would do so with a bit more shame. If not shame, then at least consciousness. The brazen disregard for the animal that so unfairly and so brutally had to give up its life so that you can have your bbq party is what upsets me most and causes me to constantly question whether or not humans could ever, as a whole, be humane, or whether we will ever reach the heightened state of cognition that is required to truly understand what it means to be compassionate. One of my favourite quotes by Gandhi summarizes this in a way, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

So that being said, I beseech the meat-eating community to take a moment to reflect on what it means to take a life, or rather to have someone else take a life for you so that you can eat meat. And that “someone else” is so unknown to you, and the way that the life was taken is so mysterious, that perhaps you can put aside your assumed compliance with the factory farm industry and finally question how the meat got to your table and whether or not your moral consciousness could ever agree with these methods and whether or not you are willing to continue to support it. If you disagree with me and consider me to be some sort of animal activist crazy, that probably means that you haven’t done your research. It’s a shame that the animal welfare and activist community has to fight tooth and nail to expose the cruelty and the suffering of millions of animals from factory farms and slaughterhouses, as opposed to you choosing to just be an informed consumer. What has happened to our collective will to know the truth?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Elah permalink
    May 10, 2011 6:10 pm

    Word! Though in my experience, a lot of younger women are into this yay-meat-and-beer culture too. You’ve seen them on fb no doubt. They just think it’s super cool to be one of the guys… or they really just are one of the guys. Dude Women. Also identifiable by their zingers and dirty one-liners. Admittedly, I get into that mode too sometimes, minus the dead animals and beer.

  2. Michael permalink
    May 11, 2011 4:47 am

    Hello! Fully-subscribed member of the meat-eating community here. I agree totally that smacking your chops over a sad little piece of factory farmed meat is pretty lamentable. But I think that if an animal has been raised in good conditions, and had a happy life, and been killed humanely, I’m not ashamed to enjoy the meat. I’ve done my research, and I’d love to see a big push for a wider availability and better standards of free-range meat, and a drastic overhaul of slaughterhouse conditions.

    (Also, really? We’re labelling women who enjoy meat and beer “butch” and “dude women”? Huh.)

    • May 11, 2011 8:28 am

      True, Michael! Although I would still question how that meat got to your table and where the animals were originally purchased by the free-range farmers. Was it from a cruel factory farm or hatchery? Have they already had their beaks cut off, or their testicles removed without anesthetic? Have they been painfully branded for no good reason? Are they still unhealthy animals based on being genetically modified beyond recognition? Most likely, the answer to these questions is yes. Also, I wonder whether the animals still had to be exposed to the trauma of inhumane transport to slaughterhouse and then suffer the factory farm-type violent slaughterhouse endings anyway. Of course, one could argue that at least the animals had a better life in the interim, but sadly, you would be still supporting factory farming. Also keep in mind, that at least in the US and Canada, over 99% of our meat comes from factory farms. It’s all well and good to say that you would do your research and eat only meat from free-range, organic farmers, but in reality, most people still just end up eating factory-farmed industrial meat, because it’s convenient. It’s time to stop kidding ourselves. In our world, if you truly want to avoid supporting factory farming, quite frankly the only way to do it is to go vegan.

      Let’s not forget that the entire ethical issue of even whether it is appropriate to raise another animal’s life for its flesh is always on the proverbial table. Though that one is quite a bit more contentious.

      PS – There’s clearly some irony in the “butch”, “dude women” comments. Of course, truth be told, women who like certain generally male-dominated pastimes or professions tend to get tagged with such terms, albeit unfairly, but barbecuing is arguably a male-centric sport. I look forward to reading “The Sexual Politics of Meat” (Carol J. Adams), and I’m so confident that it’ll be good that I recommend it to you, too! It may give us both some insight on why meat is so characteristically “male” and why women who revel in barbecuing or red meat in general come across as manly.

  3. Elah permalink
    May 13, 2011 3:17 pm

    Okay, okay. Now I feel compelled to explain the “dude women” comment. There was a bit of judgment there, yes, but mostly judgment of the meat part. As the blog post argued, there’s nothing inherently mannish about drinking beer or eating meat, but there *are* certain ways that men vs women typically act or are expected to act in our culture. Things like, for example, telling dirty jokes and loving steak are more often associated with men than women.

    In general I’m completely good with women taking on stereotypically guy things and vice versa. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and it can even be really sexy. Calling a woman “butch” is not an insult in my books. It can even be a compliment, one that I’ve received and appreciated on occasion in the past (okay, I’ve rarely been called that, but it’s happened). Just to clarify, “dude” is a little more specific for me than mannish or butch. I’m referring to the younger, carefree guy culture, maybe a little Liz Lemon. But meat, which is 99% from factory farming in North America, yeah, that I do judge. You can be a totally awesome dude woman without eating meat.

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