In a lot of the ads we see today, women are the central focus. They are often scantily clad and overly sexualized. Kemmerer quotes Carol Adams saying “viewing other beings as consumable is a central aspect to our culture…viewing some individuals as consumable is so central to Western culture that most of us fail to notice it” (Kemmerer). The consumed are women and the consumers are the people who sexualize them. In most advertisements, women are often compared to animals. This is a objectification and sexualization of both women and animals.
I selected three images from The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams that supports my point. The first image is presumably a card with a man sitting next to a cow either pretending or genuinely milking the cow. On top of the image, it say “Carl could finally claim he’d gotten to second base”. This again compares women to animals. The writing at the top is implying something sexual, that women are prudes. It implies that Carl had to milk a cow to get to second base rather than actually get to second base with a woman.
The next image I chose is of a pig dressed as Marilyn Monroe. It is of her iconically standing in a white dress on top of a taxi grate from her movie, The Seven Year Itch. This is another interpretation of women as animals, this time comparing us to a pig. The words above say “Aixo son pernils” which roughly translates to second grade pork. In Latin, there is no significant difference between first and second grade. The purpose of that poster, presumably in front of the restaurant is marketing their pork, so what was the point of this particular poster. The promotion of meat is not even obvious. The saying is in Latin and the human sized pig does not make it any easier. People would recognize Marilyn Monroe in her white dress more than that Latin phrase. This poster is essentially saying we have the best pork, come and get it. The problem with this is that they chose to compare women to pigs.
The last photo are button pins of Hillary Clinton. This was obviously made by her opposition. The button says “KFC Hillary Special 2 fat thighs 2 small breasts … left wing”. This again compares women to animals. This time demeaning a specific woman in the process. There is another pin on the bottom, I can’t read the whole thing but a simple google search solved that. It says, “Life’s a bitch, don’t vote for one”. This button also compares Hillary Clinton to a dog, as if calling someone a bitch incentives people enough not to vote for her.
Another photo I chose to analyze is of a naked woman strategically posed to hide her naked body. Next to her is of a bunny and to her side it says, “who needs fur to feel beautiful? I’d rather go naked than wear fur”. This again compares women to animals (you may have noticed a theme here). This ad was posed by Olivia Munn for Peta to expose fur farms. This ad is claiming that fur only looks good on its original owner, the animal. As powerful as this message is, the advertising could have gone differently. This was most likely unintentional, but patriarchy is so deeply rooted in our society that we didn’t even notice. The woman, Olivia Munn is stripped naked like an animal. Although it was Munn’s choice to be naked, she did not have to go that route to get her message across. A naked woman seems like a cheap attempt to get attention for the ad. I am positive that the majority of the people who have seen the ad were more focused on the naked woman than the message of the ad itself.
The image above is of meat being sliced on a cutting board by a person wearing a chef hat. They have one foot on the cutting board while balancing a knife getting ready to cut another slice of meat. If you look closely, the person doesn’t have any gender identifying characteristics. The image implies that anyone, men and women are the ones in control of what they eat. Society is not in control of what foods should be gendered. Another interpretation is that both men and women are the authority figure in the human-animal relationship.
Zoe Elsenberg’s Meat Heads: New Study Focuses on How Meat Consumption Alters Men’s Self-Perceived Levels of Masculinity talks about something as simple as eating meat equates to a man’s masculinity. She goes on to say that society has marketed meat for men and salads for women. In her article, she advises us to google “men eating” versus “women eating”, the results prove her point.
As a kid, I always watched movies where the man is in charge of handling the meat. I don’t remember a specific movie, but I’m thinking of that one stereotypical, cliche scene in every holiday movie where the man is standing at the front of the table getting ready to carve the turkey. I didn’t think much of this as a kid. I assume that the woman would prepare the food and the man carved the turkey, trying to insert some form of participation in the preparation process.
I’ve also come to know about food products marketed towards men and women. I’ve seen words like “low calorie” marketed on food products catered towards women, as if women only eat enough to stay thin. I’ve also seen pre and post workout protein bars/powders marketed towards men, this implying that men should workout to get bigger, not healthier.
Greta Gaard argues in Ecofeminism on the Wing: Perspectives on Human-Animal Relations that “to be a pet is to have all one’s life decisions controlled by someone else … if the situation were offered to humans, we’d call it slavery” (Gaard 20). She focuses on the oppression of animals with the tale of Bella and relates it to women, as “feminists and ecofeminists alike have noted the ways that animal pejoratives are used to dehumanize women, pointing to the linguistic linkage of women and animals in such derogatory terms for women” (Gaard 20). Gaard starting her paper off with Bella (meaning beautiful in Italian), a green and yellow canary in a golden cage is her essentially implying that women are put in cages to be admired, but not cared for.
While Deanne Curtin also had the same views on the human-animal relationship to Gaard, she also brought a moral perspective into it. Curtin believes in what she calls contextual moral vegetarianism, she says “there are persons who have a choice of what food they want to eat” (Curtin 8).
In the image above, I am standing at the highest point in Malden, Massachusetts. I am facing away from the camera with my arms extended out, looking up at the sky, just basking in the beauty before me. Waitt’s Mount Park not only carries history for me, but Massachusetts as well. It was home to a Fresh Air Camp during World War l and gun batteries during World War ll. It was also the place where people observed the Battle of Bunker Hill. For me, the history is a lot more positive. I didn’t know about this place until my junior year of high school. My friend and I were just walking around Malden, bored out of our minds, when all of a sudden she suggests we go to this park. I didn’t have high expectations of this place. We made the trek up to the park and when I say trek, I mean a trek. It was steeper than some of the sprints I had to do for track. When we finally made it to the top, I was just stuck in a state of shock over what I saw. From there, I could see all of Malden and the Boston skyline. I even saw planes coming and going. I chose this image because not only does it hold history for the place I’m from, but also me as a person. Despite not being able to see my face in the image, its evident that I am enjoying and appreciating the place I was at.
In Terry Tempest Williams’ Homework, she defines the bedrock of democracy as a landscape that “informs who we are, a place that carries out history, our dreams, holds us to a moral line of behavior that transcends thought … a participation in public life to make certain all is not destroyed under the banner of progress, expediency, or ignorance. We can not do it alone” (Williams 19). The place I chose does function as a bedrock of democracy because its a place where all the noise disappears and lets us appreciate it. This ties in with Kingsolver’s theory about wildness.
I do agree with Barbara Kingsolver that we need wildness. She states in her book Small Wonder from the chapter Knowing Places that it “puts us in our place, it reminds us that our plans are small and somewhat absurd” (Kingsolver). Kingsolver is saying that wildness is much bigger than we are. We need to appreciate it and know that we are not the center of the world, nature is. We can’t put all our efforts in one thing, that would create a disconnect to nature. We need it to ground us.
I don’t consider myself a city dweller even though Malden is a city. I don’t carry the characteristics and traits of a city dweller. I hate loud noises and traffic. I do think I have a connection to nature. Most people I know that are also from Malden go to Boston and other larger cities. They seek out new places to eat and trendy spots. I don’t seek those places out, I appreciate how much beauty there is in a place not known for its beauty. If I were a true city dweller, say from Boston, I still think I would experience a connection with the earth. I can say this for myself that I would seek out nature more than not. I would continuously prefer to go to parks rather than a trendy hotspot. A city dweller can only experience a connection with nature only if they’re open to it. Bell Hooks describes our connection to nature best, she states in Touching the Earth that “When we love the earth, we are able to love ourselves more fully” (Hooks 363).
While women in the west are keen on ecofeminism, the ideologies of women in the global south who identify as ecofeminists differ. Vandana Shiva’s grew up in Dehra Dun, she developed an interest in environmentalism during a home visit. She discovered that her favorite childhood forest had been cleared and a stream drained ready for an apple orchard to be planted. She discovered it was the Green Revolution and big corporations that led to monoculture. The pharmeceudical industry also patents many things in India, like tumeric. The two perspectives can be categorized as a western perspective and the other as non-western perspective.
Bina Agarwal writes that “third world women are dependent on nature for drawing sustenance for themselves, their families, their societies”. In my previous blog post, I mentioned that Hobgood-Oster (a western ecofeminist) defined ecofeminism as a philosophical and political movement that combines ecological concerns with feminist ones that resulted from a patriarchal society. According to Hodgood-Oster, the goal of ecofeminism is to eliminate all forms of domination while recognizing the connections between humans and nature. Karen Warren, another western ecofeminist identified eight connections between women and nature. Those being historical, conceptual, empirical and experimental, symbolic, epistemological, political, ethical, and theoretical. Both Hodgood-Oster and Warren only consider the perspectives of western women. I don’t think they understand or are even aware of another perspective. A non-western perspective differs from a western one in that they focus more on gender and environmental degregation. Women of the global south often have to get water for themselves and their families, they are more at risk for danger than if men were to get the water. They also have to worry about corporations and industries taking their land or patenting herbs they have been using for years. The western ecofeminist goal is to take away the male domination rooted in nature layer by layer. A non-western ecofeminist goal is to maintain their land. While these two perspectives have their differences, they are also similar in some ways. Both types of ecofeminists seek to preserve nature.
I personally find both perspectives very interesting. As for the western perspective, I can relate more to that one than the non-western one. I have always felt uncomfortable when reading about how nature was described in an almost sexual way. Although, I can’t relate to the non-western perspective, I can understand it.
The image I chose is a line drawing of a tree, but the trunk/body of the tree is a woman’s form. This supports the idea that nature is very much rooted with female and sexual terms.
Hobgood-Oster defines ecofeminism as a “multi-faceted and multi-located, challenging structures rather than individuals”. The term first came into fruition when ecofeminism emerged in the 1970s and 1980s and Francoise d’Eaubonne coined the term in her book, Le Feminisme ou la Mort (Feminism or Death). Theorists disagree on how to classify this. Some would say it should be name third wave feminism and others would say it is in the category of deep ecology. Ecofeminism essentially combines “feminist and deep ecological perspectives”. Eco-feminists believe that all forms of dualism and binaries should be dismantled “otherwise humanity remains divided against itself”. These binaries and dualities include, but not limited to heaven/earth, mind/body, male/female, human/animal, spirit/matter, culture/nature, and white/non-white.
I found Warren’s fourth connection between nature and women to be the most interesting mainly because I have thought this before, back before I knew anything about ecofeminism. I don’t remember exactly where or why I was reading about nature, but the way women were described, I found them to be sexist. Like Warren said, “women are often described in animal terms … nature is often described in female and sexual terms”. In greek mythology, there was Dionysus and Demeter. Both had control of nature in some form, Dionysus of grape harvest and Demeter of agriculture. Demeter’s symbols include the cornucopia, wheat, bread, and the torch. Dionysus’ symbols include a bull, panther, ivy, goat, masks, chalice, grapevine, and thyrsus. Although, they are very different gods and goddesses, they are also quite similar. Demeter’s symbols only represent one part of her, not a lot of people knew she was also the goddess of fertility, sacred law, and the cycle of life and death.
My name is Winnie and I’m a junior here at Umass Dartmouth. I’m a liberal arts major with concentrations in sociology and women gender studies. This course interested me the most because I’ve been trying to live more sustainably. It hasn’t been very successful, but I’m getting there. I also hope to learn more about the connection between nature and feminism.
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