April 22, 2019 | 56° F

PETRUCCI: Patriarchy uses meat consumption to invalidate females

Opinions Column: The Annoying Vegan Millennial

Veganism and feminism. The two “isms” that appear to inhabit two completely different galaxies, but meet up at the annual liberal millennial convention in San Francisco. 

So how is veganism inherent to feminism? Feminism views females as more than property, eye candy and a set of reproductive organs. It is the equality of the sexes and a clear detest of patriarchal rule. What divides women is our distance from the patriarchy, said Yakin Erturk, United Nations special rapporteur on the violence against women. So, while women have not always been treated with an equal lack of privilege, a constant force in the lives of all women is the patriarchy. 

Where does your cheeseburger fit in this picture? 

The consumption of the cheeseburger, or what Carol J. Adams refers to as “feminized protein” perpetuates patriarchal rule and female subordination

Step one: domestication. We first domesticate the non-human female animal. We first domesticate the human female animal. 

This domestication is a way to control non-human females to reproduce and to consume. We place human females into “domestic” roles to reproduce and to consume the results of their domestic labor. 

Female non-human animals are doubly exploited through meat consumption “... both when they are alive and then when they are dead. They are the literal female pieces of meat. Female animals become oppressed by their femaleness, becoming surrogate wetnurses,” Adams said. Sound familiar?

Step two: Relegation of the female body to an inferior status. 

We often forget that both a female cow body and a female human body are female bodies. The relegation of certain animal female bodies to an inferior status mimics how we relegate female human bodies to an inferior status. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke at Rutgers this past fall on his "It's On Us" platform, which aims to encourage males to take responsibility for sexual violence. “Rape is not about sex, it is about power,” Biden said. 

We replace baby cow with veal and adult cow with steak, equating all animals to "meat." We are now able to digest meat as a word and as a cuisine. 

The husband then burps and tells his wife that the “cheeseburger” rather than “the domesticated female topped with its own curdled milk was delicious!”

Through meat consumption, the animal simply exists to fulfill the needs and the desires of the consumer, “in this case the original meaning of animals’ fates is absorbed into a human-centered hierarchy, ” Adams said. This hierarchy asserts men to sit on the higher rung in the hierarchy

Step three: Domestic violence and rape. 

Through systematic de-animalization, slaughter becomes moral. While systematic dehumanization perpetuates a rape culture which accepts the slaughter and sexual abuse of women and girls. 

The parallels between human rape and animal rape are stark. Cows are often harnessed in what are called “rape racks” to be forced to reproduce to meet the meat needs of the male consumer. The process results in the production of literal non-human pieces of meat and women who "feel like pieces of meat."  

Step four: Reinsure patriarchal control and define toxic masculinity. 

While this piece is about women, this discussion is also a racial one. Throughout European and Asian history, meat has been considered a first-class citizen food, while second-class citizens like females and laborers instead consumed vegetables and starches. It is also common that during a famine, men will consume meat, causing higher starvation among females. Women give up their needs to the dietary needs of men, while simultaneously assuming role of the food preparer. 

Meat and masculinity have long been synonymous with one another. A "meat and potatahs" guy paints a picture of a hardy, strong and dominant man. This image is bolstered by his consumption, which acts as the protein, which energizes his physical body and his masculinity. 

Meat consumption is added to the litany of characteristics of what it means to be “masculine” right after unemotive, muscular and high-earning. 

When will we understand the consumption of feminized protein as an act which perpetuates patriarchal norms, female subordination and gender roles? 

Francesca Petrucci is a School of Arts and Sciences junior double majoring in journalism and media studies and political science and minoring in Spanish. Her column, "The Annoying Vegan Millennial," runs on alternate Tuesdays. 


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

YOUR VOICE | The Daily Targum welcomes submissions from all readers. Due to space limitations in our print newspaper, letters to the editor must not exceed 500 words. Guest columns and commentaries must be between 700 and 850 words. All authors must include their name, phone number, class year and college affiliation or department to be considered for publication. Please submit via email to oped@dailytargum.com by 4 p.m. to be considered for the following day’s publication. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

Francesca Petrucci

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Targum.