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Vegans Against PETA
This is a blog for animal rights activists who are concerned about the misogynist, racist, homophobic and transphobic tactics used by PETA.   
Friday, March 20, 2009
I learn about Ingrid Newkirk so you don't have to
I have an obsession that's been festering since Sarah Palin's run for vice president. It has recently been inflamed by two wackaloon women journalists who have worked themselves up into a frenzy over Obama announcing the creation of a Council on Women and Girls, because that's apparently sexist and degrading to men or some shit.

Basically, I am obsessed with women who revel in their own oppression. I am obsessed with women who actively seek to oppress other women. Call them collaborators, self-haters, female Uncle Toms, they're all the same at heart. Whether it's Camille Paglia or Phyllis Schlafly, they all seem to have this belief, like collaborators in wars, that pleasing and appeasing their oppressors will somehow gain them a measure of privilege, that they will somehow become not-woman, that their oppressors will give them a piece of the pie and they will transcend gender. Of course, as far as I can tell it hasn't worked for a single woman, but that doesn't stop these appeasers from trying. In the animal rights movement, of course, that person is PETA president Ingrid Newkirk, who when confronted with the misogyny of PETA pulls out all the pathetic stops in defending it. Aside from the fact that objectifying women is, as I've written here, only going to result in more animals being tortured for beauty, how the hell does a woman get her head so far up her ass that she can't even see what she's doing to her own sisters? Is she crazy?

Well, maybe. One blogger surmises that Newkirk has Münchausen By Proxy Syndrome (I've linked the cache both because that blog takes forever to load otherwise and I'm not sure whether they deserve much traffic). I have my own reasons for not thinking that's the case, including how gendered that diagnosis is. I also have my reasons for feeling kind of bad discussing this, because it's not as if women aren't already labeled crazy for the slightest thing. But because this blog is about PETA, and because the damage Ingrid Newkirk is doing both to animal rights and women's rights is incalculable, I've decided a little introduction to her is necessary.

Right. So, one of the most searched things about Newkirk is her will. Because it's batshit fuckin' nutzoid. A few, er, tidbits include:

a. That the “meat” of my body, or a portion thereof, be used for a human barbecue, to remind the world that the meat of a corpse is all flesh, regardless of whether it comes from a human being or another animal, and that flesh foods are not needed.

d. That one of my eyes be removed, mounted, and delivered to the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a reminder that PETA will continue to be watching the agency until it stops poisoning and torturing animals.

e. That my pointing finger be delivered to Kenneth Feld, owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, or to a circus museum to stand as the “Greatest Accusation on Earth” on behalf of the countless elephants, lions, tigers, bears, and other animals who have been kidnapped from their families and removed from their homelands

Of course, there's no mention of the poor sap who's gonna have to execute this will. My guess is they won't find any takers, unless they find some Jeffrey Dahmer type who'd take joy in it rather than learning any valuable lesson about animal rights.

OK. On to her Wikipedia article!

The first thing you'll note is mention of her crazy-ass will, though there's no real discussion of anything in it, which is sad because it prevents the masses from learning about the Real Ingrid.

Another irking thing is her constant invoking of the term "press sluts." Somebody needs to tell this woman that derogatory slurs that denigrate an entire group of people are so not cool. Next thing you know she'll be calling meat-eaters "dietary n***ers." And nobody will be surprised when she does.

Onward. Sister likes Formula One racing? Wow, so much for the fucking environment. And, it's like SEX! Grody. I'll take my vagina without gasoline in it, thanks.

We also see her get all self-righteous and indignant about the woman at the shelter who euthanized her neighbor's unwanted kittens, but as this blog and her Wikipedia article show, Newkirk is now a full-fledged Kitty Killer herself. In fact, she is no longer simply the one who carries out those killings, but the one who orders them. She is the grim reaper of all creatures sweet and fluffy.

When she talks about becoming vegetarian, we get a glimpse into why, perhaps, she sympathizes almost exclusively with men and we see just how childish her understanding of gender is when she talks about how she loved meat and "would eat roadkill if [she] could":

"I'd eat burgers, steak, anything. I love car racing and meat. I am a boy at heart, I am my father's son."

Yup. Gender essentialism is part of what makes you stupid, Ingrid. Just a tiny part, because there are so many things that make you stupid, but it takes many drops of water to make a flood, right? For the sake of brevity I won't get into why gendering every little last goddamn thing in the world is beyond ridiculous, but perhaps that can be another post for another time. (And you'd think maybe after being told several million times to read "The Sexual Politics of Meat," girl might give it a thought. But that would require challenging her assumptions, which we all know Ingrid Newkirk does. not. do.)

This little part, which gives some background on the history of the animal rights movement, also made me snicker, in a sad way:

The concept of animal rights was at that time almost unheard of in the United States. The modern animal rights movement had started in England eight years earlier, in 1972, when a group of Oxford University scholars, particularly philosophers, had formed the "Oxford group" to promote the idea that discrimination against individuals on the basis of their species is as irrational as discrimination on the basis of race or sex.

But apparently in today's Brave Newkirk World, racism and sexism are perfectly rational, while animal abuse somehow isn't. Good one, Ingrid!

And speaking of, now we get to the racism! You knew there would be racism, right? This is PETA's president we're talking about, after all. Newkirk told Michael Specter of the New Yorker that "she has had to stop vacationing in tropical or poor countries like Mexico, because she spends the entire time rescuing animals from what she calls their 'horrid owners.'"

Holy fucking hell, right? Is Ingie Poo saying that it's worse for animals to be abused by brown people? Because that's sure as fuck what it sounds like. You'd think she'd know from her activism in the United States that we have 1,930,208,488 ways to abuse and treat animals brutally and are no better than anybody else in this regard. But no, she can't even go to fucking Mexico because she might see the same thing she could see here, except it's infinitely more traumatic because brown people are doing it. Hey, I've got an idea, Ingrid -- since there's so much animal abuse here on Earth and you've made clear that you can't stand to be around it, how about you go live on Mars? It's even the Dudely Planet, which would be right up your alley since you're so above all things female.

Well, that's about all I got for the Wikipedia article, since I can't stand to parse it for a second longer.

One final thing needs saying, however. You may have noticed that as you type in Firefox's Google toolbar, it makes suggestions for what you might be looking for based on commonly searched words and phrases. Well, if you type "Ingrid Newkirk" into the Google toolbar of Firefox, it doesn't suggest "animal rights" or "veganism" to go with it. It suggests "will," "quotes," "insulin," "diabetes," etc. (For the record, Mary Beth Sweetland, a PETA VP, has diabetes, not Newkirk.) If you type the letter "a" after Newkirk's name, the only suggestion is AIDS, due to the fact that she once said PETA would be against a cure for AIDS if it was brought about through animal testing. Now, if you type in "MLK," many of the suggestions include civil rights. If you type in Malcolm X, Black Power is heavily associated with his name. If you type in Gandhi, non violence is a suggestion, all of which makes perfect sense. But how pathetic are you, and how much of a failure is your activism, if people don't even associate you with your cause? In fact, the majority of the most common searches on her name suggest that people are just looking to point and laugh at her (which will happen no matter what type of a search you do on her).

God, reading all this crap about Newkirk has been one of the most obnoxious experiences of my life. In summary, I've figured out a little bit about her allegiance to patriarchy, but in the end, this is all I've got:

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posted by The Venerable Vegan Empress @ 9:16 AM  
  • At March 24, 2009 at 4:07 PM, Blogger Carina y Jorje said…

    Actually, it isn't so racist to decry the state of dogs and cats in Mexico & other poor or tropical countries (regardless of the race of their citizens). If you've been to these countries and seen the state of some of these animals, generally, you would notice a great difference. It relates more to economics than race, although I know from personal experience in Nicaragua that there is a cultural difference, too.

    Most Nicaraguans loves puppies, yet don't like (often fear) grown doge. While living there, I was given the advice that I should restrict food to the farm dogs & puppies because then they would stay smaller longer (puppies) & they would be less dangerous because they would be too weak to pose a threat (adults).

    As well, they are the second poorest country in the hemisphere, so dogs & cats are well down the list when the food resources are being partitioned (after pigs, chickens, ...).

    Together these factors would make it difficult to travel in Nicaragua if you are particularly affected by the sight of skinny, mangy, tick-ridden dogs (or cats, or horses). That isn't racism, it's sad reality.

    That over, what's with the PETA strip tease!?!?? I've never seen anything so stupid in my life! And, yes, misogynistic! What are they thinking!

    Plus, this woman's attitudes to guide dogs for the blind are way out of line...

  • At March 24, 2009 at 7:11 PM, Blogger The Venerable Vegan Empress said…

    Hi, Carina y Jorje! I also don't think it's necessarily racist to decry animal abuse in other countries, but I don't think Newkirk was simply talking about animal mistreatment. Instead of understanding and explaining the issue like you did, she simply referred to the people there as "horrid owners." Also, she specifically mentioned Mexico, and in the United States mentioning Mexico in a disparaging way is usually kind of a dogwhistle to racists. In a country that already has a problem with hate crimes against Latinos, I don't think "horrid" is a particularly responsible way of referring to an entire group of people.

    Plus I think there's a lot of grandstanding going on there - she claims she kept on rescuing all the animals she found in the countries she went to. Well, what the fuck did she do with those animals? In the extremely unlikely case that she managed/was allowed to bring them to the United States, one would probably assume that she took those animals to PETA's shelter, which has a 97 percent kill rate. So for her to hold herself above the poor people she criticizes is pretty hypocritical. It sounds to me like she's got a serious case of white savior syndrome. One also has to keep in mind her history of being incredibly condescending to poor people. I think that puts her comments into a slightly different context than if you or I were saying them. (But then again, I don't think either you or I would say something so simplistic and judgmental!) Oh, and I just have to say that I really like your description of the economic factors that lead to animal neglect in Nicaragua -- it's a great example of how interconnected people and animals are, and how when people are suffering, animals are, too. It's also a perfect example of what Paul Wellstone meant when he said “We all do better when we all do better.”

    Actually, now that I'm re-reading Newkirk's quote, is she talking about poor or tropical countries, or both, or does she really know? And is she including Australia when she talks about tropical countries, and is she including India when she talks about poor countries that mistreat animals? The whole statement just seems so indicative of her habit of reducing everything to an utterly simplistic worldview without really understanding the various cultural or economic factors at work, and assuming that she's the only one who is capable of coming and fixing it. Ugh.

    Anyhow, thanks for stopping by!

  • At March 25, 2009 at 7:50 PM, Blogger Marla said…

    You're fantastic. Thanks for the refreshing candor and unabashed feminism. Also, thanks for linking to my blog. I will return in kind once I get that thing operational. I also wanted to let you know that I posted extensively on PETA yesterday on my blog, The title is, what else?, On Naked Ladies And The Gassing Of Chickens. Keep up the great work, Empress!


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Name: The Venerable Vegan Empress
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If you have any ideas for an article here or would like to write a post, I'd love that! I work full time, volunteer and take classes at my city's university, so I don't work on this project nearly as often as I'd like. Just send me a comment with your contact info -- I approve all comments before posting, so if you include info that you don't want published let me know and I won't publish your comment.
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