11 May 2020

Comparing Women to Animals

In animal rights, there are those who advocate humane slaughter and other measures to make slaughter of animals as painless as possible eg using a captive bolt gun to stun a cow before it is slaughtered. However, even when the cow is stunned, the cow still suffers, and when there is pressure by business to make money, there is pressure to slaughter as many cows as possible, which results in businesses not following regulations. The pressure of commerce ends up hurting the animals. Abbatoir workers take out their aggressions on the animal leading to atrocities.

This is why vegans believe that the problem starts with demand. Stop putting the cow in the supply chain as an economic commodity and it won't be exploited. To stop the cow being there, there must be reduced demand. If there is no demand for beef, it everyone went vegan, then cows would not be exploited. It would be unprofitable to start an abbatoir or CAFO business if no one will buy the meat. However this is difficult given so many people lust for eating meat. The problem is the demand of the end consumer.

The same can be seen in porn and sex work. There are those who argue for welfare of sex and porn workers. They argue for regulations on sex work eg in Australia sex work is legal but is regulated eg women must get regular STD checks. However, many times the pressure to serve clients as well as the demand from clients for rough sex, can take its toll on the women, which is why many believe a "vegan" approach is necessary ie stop consuming porn or visiting sex workers to reduce the demand. If there is no demand for porn or sex work, it would all disappear. Too often we focus on the supply (eg pornographers and brothels) without thinking of the demand. However, this faces the challenge that many people like to visit sex workers or watch porn, often violent porn. It is the male lust for female sexuality that drives the porn and sex work industry in the same way that human lust for meat keeps abbatoirs and CAFOs running, and in both cases, sentient beings are exploited to feed the desires of the end consumer.

The two are similar in that a group of beings are seen as lesser beings exploited through commerce to meet the desires of the end consumer who is completely addicted to the product.

There are multiple approaches for dealing with the problem, from mitigation of suffering to an abolitionist approach. The problem is made complex by the fact there there are many interest groups eg the businesses making huge profits from the exploitation and the end consumer who derives pleasure from consumption of the product. Both these groups conspire to keep the "lesser beings" continually exploited and oppressed.

Noting that animals are oppressed in abbatoirs and CAFOs and women are oppressed in brothels and in pornography, let's look at an example of abolition succeeding, which is the victory over human slavery. There is definitely slavery that exists today (so-called modern slavery) but the attitude and legislation is broadly against human slavery. While slavery has not been eradicated, I am confident the magnitude of slavery is much less than centuries ago.

Yet if we look at veganism and antipornography, the oppression of animals and women is very mainstream, which is why vegans and antiporn advocates are seen as extreme.

One of the problems is that the end consumer, as I mentioned, is addicted to the product. Many people like eating meat because it tastes good, and many people like consuming porn because it is stimulating. The self-interest of consumers is strong.

If human slavery back in the eighteenth century was normalised such that each household had a slave in their home whom they could use for slave labour, sexual exploitation, etc, I would imagine the abolitionist movement would not have succeeded. My understanding is that human slaves in the eighteenth century were mostly owned by wealthy slave owners, which meant consumers and households did not feel that freeing slaves hurt them, so they could easily support the abolitionist movement without feeling guilty they they themselves had done anything wrong. However, if meat or porn were banned or if environmentalists banned cars and made people ride bikes, these products strike into household demand.

This is why there is a knee-jerk reaction to banning cars, meat, dairy or porn. People don't want to admit to the truth that they are oppressive but want all the conveniences and stimulation that oppression provide them. Most consumers want the convenience of cars in spite of the environmental damage, the taste of meat in spite of the suffering to animals, and the sexual release of masturbating to porn in spite of the harm to women.

Had the household consumer had a personal slave, I fear there would be no way to eradicate human slavery. Once the masses are addicted and complicit in the oppression, it persists. The only solution it seems is gradually lowering demand either through boycott of the product or general human population decline.