Sunday, April 14, 2013

wise words from a defiant daughter...

a month since posting… hmmm, appears i have been ‘neglecting’ my blog somewhat so i thought it was time to at least add something new to read – although not something i have written… i've been reading many blogs and articles lately so thought i would share something that - as a vegan and womyn's liberationist - i found inspiring, refreshing and totally 'in tune' with my views...

ruby at edgar's mission

Intersecting oppressions: perspectives from a Muslim vegan feminist’ is by australian journalist ruby hamad, whose writing i have shared before because i just think she is brilliant…

she talks of her childhood growing up at “the tail end of a family of seven children in 1980s Australia…"

"Life was good… until puberty hit. That’s when the illusion of equality was shattered.
I first noticed it at about the age of eleven. Whereas before, my brother and I would loiter around the playground hanging off the monkey bars until it started to get dark, my mother began demanding I come directly home after school. The pleas for permission to play a game of touch football with the neighbourhood kids (mostly boys) were treated with open-mouthed expressions of horror.

You want to play with the boys?

By the time I was twelve, I too was being saddled with chores. The chore I hated most, the one that had me seething with unspoken rage, was the task of making the bed of my younger brother.

No longer my equal.

That’s when I knew.

I knew that the gap between how my brothers were treated and how my sisters and I were treated was only going to grow, and that the reason was our girl bodies. I knew that my days of freedom were numbered.”
** i have to say here that her experience was not much different from a girl growing up in a family that had christianity in the form of catholicism as its religion in the 1950s & 60s australia - my brother could do anything, get away with anything, never had to take responsibility for anything (and still doesn't!!) hey as far as everyone was concerned 'the sun shone out of his arse' (and pretty much still does!!!) - took me until my late teens to understand patriarchy and religion were inextricably linked, and male privilege was inherent in both...  anyway, back to ruby's story...

she goes on to speak of her “deep discomfort with the practice of eating meat.
"It all started with a chicken. I am often saddened at the inability of many adults to recall just how much children view animals as equals. At the age of five, I was thrilled to wander in to the backyard one day and find a chicken scratching away in the garden. She seemed to come out of nowhere and I didn’t think to ask what she was doing there because there she was and that was good enough for me.. I quickly informed her she was my new best friend and immediately set about chasing her all over the yard. So it struck my five year old self as nothing short of tragic to see myself go, a few short days later, from trying to settle on a name for her to witnessing my father hold her fragile body in his big hands and, invoking the name of God, slice her little head clean off her neck. Yes, it’s true. Headless chickens really do run around like…headless chickens.

I was too shocked to scream. Instead, I fled to the garage, which had been her short-lived home, and lay there trembling for hours, curled amongst the straw and her stray feathers. My parents thought my devastation was sweet but entirely unnecessary. It never crossed their minds that I was grieving the loss of my best friend.

That was my first brush with what Carol Adams calls the patriarchal model of meat consumption. I didn’t know it then, but eating meat is, in its very nature, an expression of male power and control over the bodies of others. There is no denying this now. We are all, vegetarian and meat-eater alike, aware of how closely aligned eating meat is with the stereotypical notion of ‘masculinity’. I remember the Australian advertising campaigns of the 1980s urging housewives to ‘Feed the man meat!’

The reason meat made me uncomfortable as a child was because it was a reminder of my own powerlessness.  Much like women, animals suffer because they are treated as commodities. Relegated to the status of objects, their own desires are irrelevant. They simply exist to be used and abused. This is not specific to one culture or religion, it is a global, structural problem that stems from the belief that the powerful have the right to dominate the weak.

Feminists who eat meat may be fighting for their own liberation, but as long as they participate in animal exploitation—Feed the man meat!—they are propping up the very system they are fighting against.

My early rejection of patriarchal authority and my repeated attempts at living a meat-free life were indeed related. I was rejecting control over both my body and the bodies of animals who I have always identified with.”

there's so much more that she has to say, and you can read the entire article at the scavenger – which itself is an edited exerpt from a new book “Defiant Daughters: 21 Women on Art, Activism,Animals, and The Sexual Politics of Meat” in which ruby has written a chapter entitled “Halal”, but my favourite statement from the article is this one...

I am a feminist and a vegan because I am opposed to all oppression, to all violence, to all discrimination. I am opposed to the so-called ‘natural order’ that regards perceived inferiority as permission to deny basic rights.”

i hear you sister… that’s exactly how I feel too…to know there are younger womyn like ruby who have made the connection and really ‘get it’ is uplifting - that's the sisterhood i align myself with, not the 'watered-down' version of feminism that has lost its connection to nature…


parlance said...

She sounds like a brave woman. It's hard to fight against such ingrained cultural attitudes.

Bea Elliott said...

You're not alone. It's so very easy to let blog posts slip by especially when there's such good writing elsewhere. This story surely is it!

I too was brought up in an environment where meat-eating was a matter of giving status to men too. I remember being very young and instructed that men should always get the best servings of whatever was served - particularly "the meat".

Heartbreaking about the murder of ruby's hen-friend. Glad she was strong and smart enough to question the injustices to connect them all as they are felt.

Defiant Daughters seems like such a profound collection - I must own it! Thanks for the review and this thoughtful post.