The 20th Anniversary Edition of The Sexual Politics of Meat was released last year and it seems like there is a whole new generation discovering the book. I recently heard from someone who wrote, “I’m currently reading your book, The Sexual Politics of Meat, and I’m crying and nodding and just loving it. I was already a vegan, but I now have a clearer way to articulate why. THANK YOU.”
One thing I have found is that the book speaks to people on a variety of levels. Sometimes it’s simply seeing the book; as one feminist-vegan told me “you got me on the subtitle, ‘A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory.”
And actually, it’s hard to provide a sound bite for the book. When I show The Sexual Politics of Meat Slide Show, I summarize the ideas around what the book covers in nine points. These points are:
1. Meat-eating is associated with virility, masculinity. Meat eating societies gain male identification by their choice of food.
2. Animals are the absent referents in the consumption of meat. The function of the absent referent is to allow for the moral abandonment of a being.
3. A process of objectification/fragmentation/consumption connects women and animals in a patriarchal culture. The visual joke that substitutes one fragmented object for another can be found throughout our culture.
4. As an ecofeminist theory, it recognizes the environmental costs of animalizing protein. All protein is from plants; animalized protein requires that a living animal process the protein and then be killed. Meat production contributes to water pollution, climate change, habit fragmentation and desertification of arable land.
5. Female animals are the absent referents in meat eating and in the consumption of dairy/eggs. There would be no meat eating if female animals weren’t constantly made pregnant. Female animals are forced to produce feminized protein, (plant protein produced through the abuse of the reproductive cycle of female animals i.e., dairy and eggs).
6. Women are animalized and animals are sexualized and feminized.
7. Anthropornography (a term coined by a friend, to denote images of animals—especially domesticated animals—posed in sexually seductive ways) naturalizes sexual trafficking in and use of women.
8. Carnophallogocentrism and the construction of the (male-identified) subject. Carnophallogocentrism is aterm coined by French theorist Derrida in an attempt to name the primary social, linguistic and material practices that go into becoming a subject within the West; Derrida was showing how explicit carnivorism lies at the heart of classical notions of subjectivity, especially male subjectivity. I argue that the cultural transmission of attitudes that I have labelled “The Sexual Politics of Meat” helps to create the carnophallogocentric subject.
9. Resistance through a feminist ethics of care. Feminist ethics of care is a political ethic: it understands that ideology influences how we choose whom to care about.
Carol J. Adams is an internationally known writer, feminist, and animal rights advocate. She is the author of the groundbreaking book The Sexual Politics of Meat, released in the year 2010 in a 20th anniversary edition and translated into German, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. She is also the author of The Pornography of Meat, Living Among Meat Eaters and several other books focusing on the links between the oppression of women and that of non-human animals, veganism, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. She is a sought-after speaker throughout North America and Europe, and has been invited to more than 100 campuses, in several countries, to show “The Sexual Politics of Meat Slide Show,” which is always being updated to include contemporary cultural representations.