Tag Archives: Women and Animals

Women and Animals

There’s a link between veganism and feminism.  I didn’t make this connection until a vegan friend casually said to me one day, “I think animal rights is a feminist issue too,” and my brain did a one-eighty.  Wait, what? How? “Well,” she said, “Take dairy cows. They’re all female, used strictly for their capacity to breed and produce milk, and then slaughtered when they can no longer do either.” Suddenly the connection seemed so obvious.

Women, like animals, are constantly objectified in our world, and often at the same time (ever see an attractive woman in the same ad for wings or burgers? In these cases, both become a form of meat to be consumed – the woman with our eyes, the animal with our mouths).  Carol J. Adams wrote an entire book linking these two oppressions – The Sexual Politics of Meat – and made famous the term for it: the absent referent. Continue reading

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The Absent Referent

This year I read the famous book by Carol J. Adams called The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory.  It’s a famous read among both animal activists and feminists because it makes those links between animal oppression and female oppression.  One example of this given in the book is how many survivors of physical and sexual abuse often describe their perpetrator as making them “feel like a piece of meat.”  How the perpetrator views the victims of these violent attacks is what Adams calls, the absent referent.  When victims/survivors describe themselves as feeling like mere pieces of flesh, the animal – the piece of meat – also becomes the absent referent. Adams was not the first to coin the phrase but she did make it famous through this book.

So what is it?  What is the absent referent?  According to Adams, in chapter two: Continue reading

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