As Mother Jones points out, the newest HSUS expose about the treatment of female breeding pigs and their piglets on factory farms is remarkable for just how banal it is. No illegal acts, just routine terror and abuse that is allowed by the industry, unregulated and unsanctioned, in the name of profit. Indeed, it is standard practice.
”The remarkable thing…is how banal it is. It is abuse routinized and regimented, honed into a profitable business model.”
The intent behind these videos is often to raise awareness. Surely, if people just knew about these conditions, they’d choose more ethical options. But the picture is much more complicated.
Turning animals into commodities is both a symptom and a cause of the fundamental mindset that upholds a foundation of violence in our world:
“Me and those like me are better and more important than others. Our feelings, wants, needs, desires, and very lives are worth more than ‘theirs.’”
The fact that practices like these are so routine and banal demonstrates how norms of power and hierarchies of worth pervade culture. This is the standard. This shapes the environments in which we live. If we believe that it’s completely okay to control the reproduction of other living, thinking, and feeling beings, then how much of a leap is it to controlling the reproduction of human beings? If we believe it’s necessary to violently confine and forcefully impregnate other beings for our own pleasure, how far do we have to reach before we find sexual violence against women?
And even when we don’t believe it’s okay, it’s still the norm. It’s the standard – routine and banal. These practices and industries shape the environments in which we live, in which our kids grow up, in which we interact with each other.
What we do to animals is a springboard to what we do to each other. Whenever we want to hurt a group of people, the first step is generally to equate them with animals, to dehumanize. What if that integral step in marginalizing others was not available because to harm an animal, if other options are available, is to act without mercy and this becomes unfashionable? What if we corrupted the first step of the algorithm of oppression?
Sure, those who have access to the necessary resources may be appalled by these videos and change their daily food choices. And that’s great! But what about those who don’t? Just as what created this mess is complicated, the solutions are complicated and multifaceted as well. Knowing about and hating violence of any sort only goes so far when when Walmart is your only affordable choice.
Social justice activists within human rights movements have long worked for equity and justice. Primary prevention advocates in public health and human-exclusive violence prevention circles work tirelessly to identify and address the root causes of social problems. By expanding our lenses to include all beings, people and the planet, we can finally make the connections we need to create long-term, sustainable solutions to the world’s problems.
What is depicted in this video is not inevitable. It’s not just the way things are. And it’s certainly not necessary. What’s depicted in this video is the natural consequence of power-over and oppressive mentalities that fuel crimes like rape, murder, and child abuse – crimes that everyone agrees are wrong. If that sounds dramatic, if it sounds over-the-top, ask anyone who eats other animals why it’s okay. Ask yourself. Then look up the definition of entitlement. Or read this book.
Let’s build bridges between our movements. Let’s connect the dots.
Let’s stop violence and oppression at its root.
Let’s stop this.Categories: Animals, Connectionist Perspectives