A friend of mine said to me recently that she believes animal rights are the fight of the 21st century; that fighting for the liberation of animals is the social justice movement taking shape in our time. If she’s right – and I believe she is – then we have only just begun.
If you look back at any cultural shift in terms of equality, be it civil rights, women’s liberation, gay and lesbian rights – movements that are by no means over and whose struggle continues in various forms across the globe – there was one thing they all had in common, especially in the beginning: they were collectively laughed at. It was a joke to think that black people, homosexuals, women or any previously considered “less than” group of individuals could possibly warrant the same rights and privileges as their white, male, heterosexual counterparts. They weren’t seen as living beings with the same desire to live a life free from suffering, ownership or governing interference of their most basic rights. If occasionally they were seen as equals, it was only on a selective basis, when they were found to be “useful” in some way that further served the already-existing patriarchal establishment. We still do it today: women are given all the room and opportunity to voice their opinions so long as the topics are getting married, raising children, going shopping and staying thin. Continue reading