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Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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31 Responses

  1. pennylane
    pennylane March 31, 2008 at 1:44 pm |

    Absolutely, I think exploring those intersections show all the reasons why it is necessary to NOT throw women under the bus if you do have genuine concern for animals. I’m sure there will be plenty of well deserved outrage on this but I want to put in a positive plug for Moscowitz’s cookbooks and blogs that are fantastic. She kicks some Skinny Bitch ass.

  2. Betty Boondoggle
    Betty Boondoggle March 31, 2008 at 1:52 pm |

    “It’s not politically correct to suggest women should be thin,” she said. “But it is healthier

    Oh, geez. “Fatties are unhealthy!!!” is the best defense she could come up with. Color me unimpressed.

  3. Rachelgbd
    Rachelgbd March 31, 2008 at 2:00 pm |

    It is unfortunately popular to play the “My cause is more important than your cause” game, and it is I think easier to do so when it is something like animal rights that is generally seen as a more progressive cause and so anything they do must be A-ok with other progressive movements like feminism.

    And on the Skinny Bitch subject, I’m really tired of being told that daring to submit to the status quo is so brave and noble. i.e. “It’s not p.c. to talk about abstinence/condemn homosexuality/support the war/tell women they’re supposed to disappear.” It does not take courage to stand up for any of those things. And it only feels like you’re being persecuted because you’re wrong and can’t think of any better counter-argument than crying oppression. Statements like that are an insult to anyone who actually is taking a chance by standing up for a just cause. /rant

  4. cinnamon.mcbadger
    cinnamon.mcbadger March 31, 2008 at 2:48 pm |

    I’m a feminist and a vegan and have just recently stopped my financial contributions to PETA due to my ever increasing discontent over their use of women in their campaigns. They argue that this is the language of advertising these days and that the sexualised women ‘sells’ their message and that the women involved do it of their own choice for the benefit of animals. Well I am ALL for the humane treatment of animals but not at the expense of women. What further annoys me about their campaigns is the premise that ALL vegans are slim, sexy ‘perfect’ examples of the benefits of a vegan diet. Not all vegans are slim, I aint and believe me a vegan diet can be just as unhealthy as a meat laden one.

  5. Ms. Wingtips
    Ms. Wingtips March 31, 2008 at 2:53 pm |

    Right or wrong aside, that PETA ad just doesn’t make sense — it looks like bondage/furry soft core to me, which doesn’t exactly bring home the point that animal abuse is a bad idea.

  6. Angie Bowen
    Angie Bowen March 31, 2008 at 3:20 pm |

    As a feminist and vegan I’ve been speaking out against these things a lot lately. I just did a blog entry on Veganism and Body Image covering PETA, the strip club, and Skinny Bitch. I’m one of those people who see the two issues tying in together and I hate it when one group minimizes the other in order to further their cause.

  7. Cymbal
    Cymbal March 31, 2008 at 3:32 pm |

    Yeah, given that I think the average *dood* sees a woman naked and beaten and thinks OMG PORN SEXXXXY, I don’t think images of abused women exactly strike the dood viewer as a BAD thing.

    Images of animals would be better. People unconsciously love animals. People, with the same mass generalization, unconsciously hate women (constant-drumbeat socialization there.) So why why WHY wouldn’t PETA just use images of animals?

    GEE, could it possibly be that PETA is stuffed full of doods who just really think that bitches are for fucking and blowjobs and cleaning and nothing else? Shucks. Hey, and if you do it this way, then you can claim pissing all over women is sooo righteous. Dood is just down with the suffering of the animals, why you fuckin’ bitches gotta like, ask questions and not be naked and suck his dick? Man, men are just so oppressed by all these evil evil feminazis these days.

    (/rant. Sorry. I live on the west coast and I’ve met kazillions of guys just like this.)

  8. Dianne
    Dianne March 31, 2008 at 3:37 pm |

    He may have overestimated the appeal of stripping to vegans, or of vegan cuisine to striptease fans; an earlier vegan restaurant he ran was poorly received.)

    Or maybe he’s a lousy restrauteur. There are a number of excellent vegan restaurants around NYC and they’re doing fine. Probably someone with that much contempt for women doesn’t like men much either and so doesn’t know how to make people of either gender feel welcome, which is deadly for a restaurant–or a strip club. Plus he may be of the “veganism means denial” school of thought, which means bad food.

  9. Jenny Dreadful
    Jenny Dreadful March 31, 2008 at 4:28 pm |

    Countdown to the part where somebody comes into the thread and denigrates veganism, the vegans show up to defend their lifestyle as an acceptable choice, and the thread devolves into Teh Omnivores vs. Teh Vegans!

    Seriously, though, I think it’s brave to post this, given how a lot of other discussions about sexism in the animal rights movement have gone in the past. I think it’s important to explore these issues and I hope it’s something we all get better at in the future.

  10. Diane Dresden
    Diane Dresden March 31, 2008 at 5:11 pm |

    So the solution is to tell the women who VOLUNTEER for PETA (and men, by the way, too) that they shouldn’t use their bodies they way THEY want to? Yes, of course women can be sexist and engage in sexist activities. But sex does not equal sexism. What IS sexist though is telling women (like those who work for PETA and do much, much more than simply take their clothes off), “I’m sorry, I don’t agree with you, so you should do what I say with your body.” Hmm.

    This is aside from the strip club issue–I’m not sure I agree with that, as those women are doing it for money and are probably desperate for money and I think they are being taken advantage of (well, I’m sure of them choose to work there despite other options, but…).

    I just wish this country hadn’t been founded by damned puritans…and that those puritans didn’t still exist today under many different guises.

  11. piny
    piny March 31, 2008 at 5:17 pm |

    But not all feminist animal rights activists seem to get it, and some are totally willing to sell women out in order to promote animal rights:

    Elaine Vigneault[….]

    Blooooody Maaaaaryyyyy….
    Blooooody Maaaaaryyyyy….
    Blooooody Maaaaaryyyyy….


    Dammit, Jill. Just when we got the spit-take stains out of the lounge carpet.

  12. piny
    piny March 31, 2008 at 5:20 pm |

    Yeah, we’ve got Millennium and Herbivore, and both are doing well (even though Herbivore is…well, I imagine that your vegan options are limited even in SF, but it’s not that great). There are also several vegetarian restaurants that offer a lot of vegan options, and there are places like Cafe Gratitude.

  13. Hornet
    Hornet March 31, 2008 at 5:40 pm |

    Thanks so much for posting about this in such a thoughtful manner, Jill. This is something that frustrates me beyond measure, as it impacts me almost daily. Every time my veganism comes up, I have to work to undo the completely justified negative reactions of people whose only exposure to vegans is from these ads. I could weep.

    Count me among the feminist vegans who feel that it’s important to discuss these issues, and call PETA on their bullshit. They have an equally troubling history of racism in their ads. I understand wanting people to make some sort of connection between animals and humans, to encourage greater compassion for both, but it seems ridiculously obvious that this is not the way to do it. Calling on others to examine their privilege or look at an issue in a new perspective is only effective if you are willing to acknowledge and work on your own prejudices. PETA wants to be able to push their message without having to consider how the images they use affect others. That’s simply unacceptable.

    Bottom line: You want others to act with compassion, and listen to what you have to say? Walk the walk. Listen to what others have to say. Don’t be an asshole. Why is that so hard?

  14. StacyG
    StacyG March 31, 2008 at 6:38 pm |

    Most of my vegan friends are feminists, and all of us are able to connect the exploitation of women and animals. Furthermore, what ever it is that intrinsically leads me to one cause is likely the same that leads me to the other. As vile as I find the vegan strip club to be, both for its sexism and distortion of veganism, I derive some consolation (and damn, is it slight), that the women involved are at least choosing somewhat to be there. The animals victimized by the various ‘food’ industries have no options.

  15. Hugo
    Hugo March 31, 2008 at 6:57 pm |

    I love Elaine, honestly, I do. We agree on, well, a lot. But not on this.

    That Bob Torres fellow sounds pretty cool, and I’m already familiar with the wonderful Isa Moskowitz. Count me in the club of those who reject the Machiavellian notion that ends and means don’t need to be congruent.

  16. Jen
    Jen March 31, 2008 at 7:11 pm |

    You know, it’s probably not the greatest idea to protest the exploitation of animals with the objectification of women. I would like PETA to get a clue: some of us are true liberals; we’re not content to cash in only one liberal stance and let the rest hang.

    Sadly, I feel like we’re in the minority here. Regardless of how nutty people think PETA is, Feminism is nuttier. If you’re all about the animal rights, you don’t have to stop doing anything really intrinsic to your identity. Most people don’t base their entire character on their leather jacket and their beef-eating. However, most people do base their entire sense of self on what’s between their legs. Feminism is rightly out to destroy the market for most forms of media that objectify women. For all the men that think of themselves only in terms of the women they’ve had, and the women who think of themselves only in terms of how much they please men, Feminism is much more threatening than petting fluffy rabbits and wearing pleather.

  17. michael
    michael March 31, 2008 at 9:42 pm |

    “For all the men that think of themselves only in terms of the women they’ve had … Feminism is much more threatening than petting fluffy rabbits and wearing pleather.”

    Well, yes and no. (I’m only going to discuss the men angle, since thats where I’m coming from)

    I’m a man. Sex matters to me. I’m an omnivore who chooses to eat meat and wear leather. I’m a person. Attempting to live in an ethical way matters to me.

    Feminism is an ethical challenge to me. Some of the answers are simple and easy. Some of the answers are complex. When I chose to act on my belief that men and women are equal, that sexism is wrong, that misogyny is wrong, there is still a broad range of nuanced actions and policies I can take or support. When it comes to animal rights, the options are more limited, and stricter. I can be vegetarian, vegan, ignorant of animal suffering, or attempt to be an ethical carnivore. And I can hold myself to these values, or be evangelistic about them. The choices are simpler, but stricter. Veganism, and vegetarianism have far less wiggle room, mainly because animal rights is not complicated by the holders of those rights being able to debate what the movement means. There are no cows able to say “I don’t mind being farmed for my milk, so long as they keep this hay coming and give me a nice place to sleep at night.”

    To sum up this confused mess, my scale of threateningness, from least to most, runs something like this. current half arsed attempt at being an ethical omnivore + attempt to regard women as equals and consider feminist views in major decisions (current situation) < vegetarianism (ban on eating meat only, most other animal exploitation OKed) < Vocal advocacy of mainstream feminism in marginal situations < veganism < adoption and advocacy of extreme RadFem viewpoints

    I don’t know if this is skewed by my pre-existing positions. Anecdote is not the singular of data.

  18. batgirl
    batgirl March 31, 2008 at 9:46 pm |

    So the solution is to tell the women who VOLUNTEER for PETA (and men, by the way, too) that they shouldn’t use their bodies they way THEY want to? Yes, of course women can be sexist and engage in sexist activities. But sex does not equal sexism. What IS sexist though is telling women (like those who work for PETA and do much, much more than simply take their clothes off), “I’m sorry, I don’t agree with you, so you should do what I say with your body.” Hmm.

    Except that PETA is an institution that actively encourages women to take their clothes off in the name of animal rights. It’s not anti-feminist to give a big “fuck you” to Ingrid Newkirk for being such a patriarchal tool. Criticizing the “women in cages” aspect of PETA isn’t insulting to the women who pose in cages because it isn’t their problem; it’s the problem PETA for supporting and encouraging sexist marketing schemes.

  19. Selling Out? : Elaine Vigneault
    Selling Out? : Elaine Vigneault March 31, 2008 at 10:33 pm |

    […] Jill thinks my quote in the NY Times where I said, “I think it’s really important that when reviewing and analyzing images of women, we take into account their perspective of what they’re trying to say,” means that I “don’t get it” and that I’m “totally willing to sell women out in order to promote animal rights.” […]

  20. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne March 31, 2008 at 10:43 pm |

    (/rant. Sorry. I live on the west coast and I’ve met kazillions of guys just like this.)

    Yep — I’m in Los Angeles and it’s full of the kind of vegans you want to kick in the crotch. That tends to shade my view of veganism as a whole just a teeny bit.

  21. mythago
    mythago April 1, 2008 at 12:00 am |

    You know, it’s probably not the greatest idea to protest the exploitation of animals with the objectification of women.

    There’s a segment of the animal-rights movement–and Newkirk is a poster child–that prefers animals in part because they don’t like people very much. You wouldn’t expect somebody with that mentality to give a shit about women’s issues. Women are humans, and humans are eeevil things that kill cows and take up bird habitats.

  22. Hugo
    Hugo April 1, 2008 at 12:15 am |

    Not to thread drift, but Newkirk does very little to create PETA’s ad campaigns, though if she objected, they would probably change their drift. She also helped found Physicans Committee for Responsible Medicine, to which I am far more devoted than PETA — and an organization that doesn’t use sexually-exploitative advertising.

  23. mythago
    mythago April 1, 2008 at 12:21 am |

    Hugo, you’re not a very persuasive apologist.

  24. Hugo
    Hugo April 1, 2008 at 12:26 am |

    Hugo, you’re not a very persuasive apologist.

    So you, very persuasively, have been telling me for the last few years.

  25. emfole
    emfole April 1, 2008 at 9:44 am |

    Hi- I am vegan and feminist- these are one in the same. In a feminist society, would we find it ok to rape a cow so that she will become pregnant and produce milk then attach metal sucking things onto her nipples to pull the milk (pus and blood) out of her body? Or to use a chicken’s female body to produce eggs?? I really don’t understand why this is not obvious- be the person a cow, human or chicken; her body is hers and it is not ok to use and abuse it for the gains of the privileged classes. sigh…suffering is suffering

  26. Cymbal
    Cymbal April 1, 2008 at 11:27 am |

    I’m with you there, emfole. I think that humans are omnivores, but we don’t have to abuse and brutalize animals before we eat them (as we currently do).

    Why is it okay? Yeah, same reason it’s okay for a man to use or abuse a woman. Because the dominator paradigm says that one exists for the use of the other. Animals were put on earth to be used by humans (for anything). Women were put on earth to be used by men (for anything). Bleh. PETA still doesn’t do itself any favors by exploiting women to protest the exploitation of animals.

  27. Feministe » Oprah stands up for the little (furry) guy

    […] But animal rights activism rarely gets the attention it deserves (unless it’s obnoxious, sexist, racist, anti-Semitic or some combination of the above), and so I think it’s important to […]

  28. Enviormentalism vs Feminism (Round One) « Dirty Rotten Feminist

    […] in order to convert them to the cause. I have no problem with people pushing their agenda. I do have a problem with people pushing their agendas by using oppressive tools. If the SB authors really want to convert folks to veganism, couldn’t they use their same […]

  29. valerievx
    valerievx October 8, 2008 at 6:26 pm |

    Ok, so I’ve been hearing a lot of people saying that they’re vegans and feminists, and that’s great, but I haven’t heard anything from the actual women who work at the vegan strip club in question. I’m a vegan and a feminist and a stripper, and I don’t feel explioted by my job at all. I find it empowering and, sadly, a better pay scale and work environment then the vegetarian restaurants where I used to work as a cook. I have always thought that PETA sensationalizes issues rather than intelligently arguing for them, which is why I don’t think very highly of them. While I am not familiar with the aformentioned campaigns, they seem to be standard PETA fare. Needless to say, I am not a PETA supporter.
    As for the club going through hard times, a vegan strip club seems like a terrible business venture; on the menu at my club, the parsley on top of the steak is basically the only salad we serve, and from what strip club patrons I’ve met over the years, I can’t imagine them being excited by vegan food. I do, however, like to tell them about my lifestyle, and part of that is breaking down stereotypes about feminists, vegans, and queer culture, through conversation. So don’t imply that strippers are not feminists or that they are misguided victims, because it’s just not true. As for the feminist theory, Jill, I think you’re a wave behind.

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