I will be presenting on the topic of vegetarian ecofeminism at the Human Science Institute conference this September. The approved abstract follows:
Vegetarian ecofeminism is a scholarly approach to an idea also expressed by animal rights activists, that our relations of domination among humans are inseparable from our domination of the environment and of non-human animals.
Among humans, a social system of organization that relies heavily on power relationships of domination has prevailed since the Neolithic. Its failure appears in the failure of elites to address numerous existential threats to humanity, some of which are cited by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in keeping the Doomsday Clock. These include climate change and various nuclear-related threats. This failure also appears with social inequality, physical violence, and in deprivations that David Barash and Charles Webel label structural violence. Riane Eisler points to a devaluing of and even the absence of remuneration for ‘caring’ jobs often filled by women.
With the environment, a relationship of domination has proven to be devastating. Even as our population now exceeds by thirty times the number the earth is estimated to have been able to support in hunter-gatherer societies, it continues to grow. Even as people go without enough to eat, we rely on grossly inefficient—in food and water consumption by farmed animals—livestock production that significantly contributes to climate change and water pollution.
Our power relationship with animals combines the ills of the other two. Factory farms and slaughterhouses are environmentally disastrous and require us to suspend compassion for non-human animals. Vegetarian ecofeminists (among others) connect dairy practices with crimes against women, including sexual assault and rape. More broadly, one might connect the reduction of living bodies to units of production with slavery and other abusive labor practices among humans.
This presentation will point to a more egalitarian end, for humans, animals, and the environment, as a goal for social change.
I expect this to be a rather brief introduction. I’m allotted twenty minutes including discussion.