10 November 2010

It's Assault

Vegina recently posted a blog on a "Sensitive subject."  It is worth reading. 

I am not a "sex positive activist" or anything like that. The entire subject tends to make me blush and giggle (just ask my friends who have spent hours making me feel uncomfortable with lewd statements.)  Despite this  immaturity in discussing sex, I am acutely aware of the rape culture that permeates the United States (or the world, generally) and I am definitely aware of how the culture affects something as seemingly benign as milk. 

Like Vegina, people have scoffed and/or feigned offense at my insistence that female dairy cows are raped. And like the previous blogger stated, there is simply no other way to describe the act. The industry itself acknowledges this fact; the contraption this happens on is called "a rape rack." 

Let that sink in for a second. I mean, really think about that. Just using the term "rape rack" automatically denotes that these animals are being sexually assaulted. For a cow to give milk, she must be impregnated.  How does an animal get pregnant? Through sexual intercourse.  If an animal is locked in a cage for her whole life, how is one going to get her pregnant? By sexually assaulting her. 

This much is true: if someone tied your dog to a "rape rack" and stuck a metal rod up her you-know-what for the sole purpose of impregnating her, you would consider that animal abuse.  If you then took away those puppies mere minutes after birth and stuck them in a cage while you hooked said dog up to machines to pump the milk out, you would be horrified and accuse the perpetrator of animal torture. 

I am not here to judge anyone, but if you eat dairy ice cream, if you eat cheese, you are paying someone to perpetuate this cycle of sexual assault and violence. Those are the facts.  Unless you know some dairy farmer who just happens to make cheese whenever one of their cows gets knocked up, this is what you are supporting.  [I guarantee that Kraft and McDonalds are not friendly with small hippie farmers.]

The intersection between these two topics is controversial and it sparks a lot of debate.  People are quick to make statements such as "To compare cheese and my cousin/sister/wife/daughter/best friend being sexually assaulted is just animal rights hyperbole and you deserve to be shot."  But I know many women who have been assaulted and who do see the connection between the topics.  To see the connection is to widen one's circle of compassion to accept that all animals feel pain and fear.  It is to acknowledge and realize that no sentient being enjoys being assaulted on a regular basis.  

To add more torture to that torture, the calves that these mothers have carried for 9 months are ripped away from them and stuffed into veal crates.  To deny any mother the chance to be with her child is cruel and barbaric.  I think most of us can agree on this.  That is why videos of animals caring for their young are popular on Youtube.  It's why people go, "Awwww" any time we see some interspecies bonding.

 To refer to the dairy industry as an industry of rape is not to belittle a human being's experience. It is to strengthen it.  How? If there is a hierarchy of animals (which I do not believe, but I can't deny that most people do think this), to acknowledge the abuse these creatures go through is to acknowledge the seriousness of what women go through.  

As it is, rape culture is scoffed at, joked about, and belittled.  It is one of the only violent crimes where the victim is shamed into silence or embarrassed.  Police stations needing volunteers to act as rape crisis counselors show the Culture of Rape. When a high school girl vomiting on herself while being gang raped by a baseball team is slut shamed by the media (google "San Jose baseball rape" - I dare you), that is a Culture of Rape.

 Which then leads me to my primary point that although true, I don't think it necessarily helps to make these connections on a massive scale.  This is where I deviate from popular animal rights thought.

To make a dent in either culture, you have to start from the bottom up or the top down.  How can anyone expect people to care about a cow when people don't care about a teenager? There are rape racks, because there are sluts. Plain and simple.  And until society can stop the slut-shaming, the name-calling, the she deserved it-ing, the date raping, the harassment, there will always be a rape rack.  Because it is said in jest. Because the Culture of Rape allows people to belittle assault (unless it's violent and/or perpetrated by a man of color onto a white woman), it allows everyone else to toss aside any violence towards an animal.

I cannot help but think back to my ethics class debate on sexual harassment where many people immediately jumped on the "But will you ever know if she is telling the truth?"  These are people who would claim that rape is abhorrent and, yet, they are immediately jumping to give the perpetrator a free pass.  This probably has to do with a few reasons.

1.  We do not want to believe that the people we know and the people we trust are capable of such atrocities. It can be said time and time again - the majority of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment happen between people who know each other - but culture is apt to not believe it.  And it is understandable.  Who wants to go out with a bunch of guy friends and believe that one of them is capable of such an atrocity? So, while we know it is possible, we do not want to believe it is possible.  Also, it is no doubt offensive to men to be seen as potential rapists.

2. There is no clear societal definition of rape as shown by the fact that raping farm animals is just considered "business" and ice cream.  Do I think men are all rapists? God no. Of course not.  I think the problem lies with the fact that there is no definition.  Men are not taught what constitutes an assault. This is why there are so many date rapes or sports gang bangs, etc.

If I may go one more step further, I would even state that the idea of rape being "the worst thing that can happen to you ever" belittles the entire experience. Because this idea carries so much ideological weight, you better really prove that something happened.  If the assault is accepted, then you get knighted as a victim for all of eternity.  (I use "knighted" to denote the infantilization and pity that is showered upon assaulted women who are able to "prove" it)

Ok, this is all I can muster on the topic for now. More at some later point. 

Wait, no, seriously, ya'll! Switch to non-dairy milk. It's better for you, the environment, and the animals. It's just a little thing, but it means so much. Almond, hazelnut, soy, rice, and hemp milks are all so much better anyways.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.