Years before I became a vegan, I considered myself a feminist. I abhorred that my gender would affect people’s perception of my abilities. I even pulled the classic “but human rights” excuse prior to going vegan. I thought, “Why worry about animal rights when women are still viewed as unequal to men?”
But after learning about the animal industry, I quickly realized that I could not have been further from the truth. Animal rights is very much a feminist issue. This is why:
Farmed Animals Lack Autonomy over their Reproductive Systems.
In the animal industry, farmed animals do not have the right to reproduce naturally. They are regularly artificially inseminated, genetically manipulated to produce more babies than they would naturally, and some are even kept pregnant for nearly their entire lives.
Artificial insemination is alike to sexual assault in every way. In the dairy industry, when it is time to artificially inseminate the cow, she is first restrained in what is commonly called the “rape rack.” Then, both her anus and vagina are forcibly penetrated and she is injected with bull semen (which was also obtained with no consent). Worse, she must endure this highly terrifying and invasive assault every single year until her body becomes exhausted from being treated like a baby and milk machine.
The pain and fear the dairy cows feel prior to being violated in this forceful manner is incomprehensible. But I imagine that the most painful part is when her newborn calf, the only ray of sunshine in her dark and terrifying life, is torn away from her and locked in a crate to die.
When you pay for dairy, you are paying for more than just a drink to wash down your cookies. You are paying for someone to repeatedly sexually assault a someone, steal her babies, and kill her when she is the equivalent of a teenager.
Farmed Animals are Objectified
All farmed animals, male and female, are viewed as mere objects to be bought, sold, used, and killed as humans please. But in the conversation of women’s rights, let us turn our attention to the egg industry, where sentient hens are viewed as nothing more than disposable egg laying machines.
Sexual discrimination in the egg industry begins shortly after the chicks emerge from their eggs. The males, useless to the egg industry, are dropped into a grinder alive or are suffocated.
But they may very well be the lucky ones. The female chicks have their highly sensitive beaks cut by a searing hot blade to prevent them from hurting one another in the highly stressful conditions to come. This process is so painful that some birds die on the spot from the shock. Others may die of infection or starvation due to the pain preventing them from eating.
On factory farms, the hens are kept in tiny battery cages, where they cannot even lift one wing. So called “free range” hens do not have it much better. They are packed into large, dark warehouses, constantly standing on their own feces with little space to move.
The egg industry has turned these sentient beings into egg laying machines. All hens, from backyard to factory farmed, have been bred to lay 300 or more eggs per year, when they naturally would lay only 10-12. This is extremely taxing on their bodies, and many die of complications due to this gross manipulation of their reproductive systems.
And when their egg production declines, laying hens are sent to slaughter and are quickly replaced with younger hens so the cruel process can continue.
Farmed Animals Cannot Give Consent
When did the cow tell you you could take her milk? When did she say it was OK to rape her and steal her baby? When did the hen give you permission to manipulate her reproductive system and turn her into an egg laying machine? When did animals ever tell you that their bodies were yours to use, that their flesh and secretions were for the taking?
The answer is a resounding NEVER! Never would anyone want lose control of their own body. Never would anyone want their reproductive system to be used for someone else’s pleasure and profit. Never would anyone want to be viewed as merely a nameless machine.
Just because animals cannot speak or defend themselves, does not give us the right to invade their bodies without consent. It is time for us to give animals their bodies back.
As you can see, animal rights and women’s rights are strongly interconnected. As I painfully learned, all feminists should be vegan, or else they do not stand by the rights of all females. Animals may not be human, but they are persons. Persons who deserve to be respected, to have control over their own bodies and reproductive systems.
As a woman, it is deeply saddening to see other females being abused in this way, just because they were born a cow or a hen instead of a human. It is time for equality take on its true meaning. Equality is not conditional, not divisive, not exclusive. Equality means Equ-ALL-ity, with no one left out. It means that no matter how different someone is from you, their feelings never stop mattering. Because in terms of our abilities to feel pain and fear, we are all the same. We are all equals.