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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, June 12, 2009
Animal rights and control of women's bodies
I am so at the fucking end of my rope right now with the goddamn animal rights movement. No, I'm not going to go out and eat a goddamn steak or some immature, illogical shit like that, because it's not like cows ask some vegans to be obnoxious, vicious, triggering assholes. I would, however, like the animal rights movement to extend 1,209,348th of the respect to women's bodies, and all human bodies, that they extend to animals.

This is because I just went to a speech by a supposedly famous vegan who I'd never heard of before that literally has me wanting to hurt myself really badly. It's a good thing I'm a fucking hairy feminist or I'd know right where my razors are and I'd be up and running with them – of course PETA would disagree about hiding razors and be mortified that I'd rather be hairy and female than bleeding all over the carpet and sheets – but that's a story for another time.

Anyhow, in the aforementioned speech, a schmancy-ass vegan from New York obsessed over food and told us how going vegan made! her! skinny! Which is really funny, because it's made me gain 20 pounds in the last year since I started again. I've been struggling with my weight gain a lot, although I don't even weigh that much, and it's made my relationship with food really disordered and fucked up. The only time it's been this messed up was after I was raped and lost tons of weight, thus becoming a Model of Good Veganism. I haven't yet begun restricting my food intake as much as I did then because physically I feel better than I have for a long time, although this starts to recede every time I look in the mirror.

The thing is, for rape survivors, a HUUUUUGE part of recovery is becoming comfortable and non-hateful toward your body once again. When I was really little I hated how I looked because of Disney movies, yet although I never really came close to actually liking my body, I grew into an acceptance and natural flow with it. As long as I treated it well, it treated me well and that was all that really mattered.

But of course, rape changes that. The act itself, obviously, is the worst loss of control you can imagine. What happens after that, for many survivors, is an epically nightmarish continuation of that. Assholes who don't give a shit about ending rape fault you if you don't report it and criticize every aspect of your recovery, every shitnozzle in the world feels entitled to tell you how to get over it and when to get over it, you have vicious nightmares that you can't control, you have waking nightmares in the middle of the workday or when you're out with friends, you argue with longtime friends because they all think rape is hee-larious, your muscles start to tense up and even spasm because you're under so much stress all the time until your entire upper body is a fire pit of pain; basically nothing is under your control anymore, and you realize just how little ever was within your control.

Fast forward to years later, and suddenly you realize that one of the most important aspects of your life is being twisted by people who would like to control your body and actions in much the same way that the aftermath of rape did. I'm not talking about the (obvious) fact that vegans ask people not to eat animal products – indeed, consumption of animal products is simply asking people to not do something to other beings without their consent, so the control issues there really lie with omnivores.

However, the animal rights movement seems to increasingly be co-opted by people who equate thinness and obsessive exercise with moral goodness. This speaker harped on everybody in the audience about the importance of exercise, self-righteously telling us to go to the gym nearly every day (because hey, we all have the money for that, right?!?) and at one point she even said, “I don't care if you hate physical activity -- do it anyways!” And then she tried to go on about how oh, she hated gym in school too, but now she looooves exercise!

Well, I'm sorry Ms. Society, but you obviously didn't experience what some people did in gym. I'm not disparaging the importance of exercising, but just saying that to be that flippant about it is callous and extremely privileged. Why not say, “If you hate exercise, try to get therapy so you can perhaps work out your issues with it, or try out some types of activity you haven't tried before?” I mean, hell, girls get raped quite frequently by athletes in locker rooms after phy ed, and some kids have really, really serious issues that arise from how they were treated in gym. One of my first elementary school memories is of a group of boys surrounding a fat kid in gym, a kid who was one of the sweetest, most harmless people you could ever meet, dancing around him screaming “Horny Henriett-AH, Horny Henriett-AH!!!” while he cried and lashed out at them and the teachers did nothing. To this day I can still see the looks on most of their faces, including the boy who was their target, and it was horrifying. If it was that horrifying for me, I can only imagine what it was like for him – and from then on, all through elementary, middle and high school, he was a favorite target of bullies in gym class. One could hardly blame him, I think, if he hated exercise to this day and rarely engaged in it.

I was also a target, not to the same extent, but because of a minor eye disability I'm really shitty at sports and have had a hard time finding enjoyable ways to exercise, for both physical and emotional reasons. (For example, I don't have emotional issues with biking, because we never did it in gym, but my disability makes it difficult in certain situations.) And the thing is, sure, exercise is good for you, but why the fuck does it become a moral issue, particularly in the animal rights movement? Aren't we advocating for justice for animals, not the eradication of ZOMG FAT!!!!?!?!

Furthermore, is it only a moral choice if not exercising makes you fat? What about all the thin people who don't exercise – are they A-OK because they're not shaming the animal rights movement with their unsightly, un-patriarchy-approved fatness? After all, if it were really about health we should also be shaming people who smoke, or who work in dangerous environments, or people who don't get their houses tested for radon, which is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Given the environmental issues surrounding radon, one would think this would be something the animal rights movement would be hopping right on, since the environment affects animals too. And really, not getting your house tested for radon affects EVERYONE in your house, whereas not exercising affects only you – so why the obsession with exercise and thinness in animal rights? I mean, if you're going to encourage exercise so we can run away from angry security guards after an undercover filming of a factory farm, hey, that I could get behind – but until I plan to participate in something like that, you have NO FUCKING RIGHT to tell me what to do with my body. And really, we all know it's not so we can run away from security guards -- it's because some assholes think beautiful people will better attract followers to our cause than exposing abuse of animals in factory farms.

And so, they start telling us what we can and can't do as vegans, and telling irrelevant, alienating stories about their weight. Well, I am a woman. I am a rape survivor. I have had about all I can stand of people telling me what I can and can't do with my body, and if it doesn't benefit animals, it has no fucking place in the animal rights movement. Start your own goddamn exercise movement if you want, but leave me in peace and don't give me any more reasons to hate my body. I already have plenty. I came here to save animals, not shame myself, so move the fuck out of the way and let me do that. Because I sure as shit will not be a lot of help to the movement when I'm starving and sobbing in my bed, as I will be for many nights to come after this drivel.
posted by The Venerable Vegan Empress @ 9:01 PM  
  • At June 14, 2009 at 5:23 PM, Blogger Vanessa said…

    Hey there,

    I just found your blog and am really enjoying catching up. As for the whole "I lost weight being a vegan"--argghhh! That makes me so angry. Hence an old blog post, "Skinny Bitch: helping veganism or giving it a bad name"

    The Colonic

  • At June 15, 2009 at 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey Smart Lady,
    Keep up the good rants! You are so right on.


  • At June 16, 2009 at 10:43 AM, Blogger The Venerable Vegan Empress said…

    Hi, Vanessa! I love your blog -- I'm so honored that you commented here! Someday if I ever get my shit together I'm going to compile all the great links people have left in comments and post it as a round-up of general awesomeness.

    And Alice! I'm so happy you commented here! I wish I'd told you about my blog sooner. :)


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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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