Archive | June, 2010

Surprise! We are not alone.

26 Jun

Do you ever feel alone?  The lone vegan working in your human rights organization?  The lone feminist in your animal rights organization?   The lone animal welfare advocate in your environmental justice organization?

Well, you’re not alone my friend.  There are tons of us out there!  We just need to find each other.

I’ve spent the last 5 years (at least) searching for people who understand the connection between all forms of violence and oppression – against humans, animals, and the environment.  I consider myself incredibly fortunately to have found Stacia, my friend and partner on this project, a few years ago.  I knew some animal rights folks who cared about human rights and the environment, but finding her was something I had never experienced before.  Here was someone who worked in my movement!  Not just human rights, she literally worked in the movement to end gendered violence…in the same city!  Believe it or not, up to that point, I had found not one other vegan who worked in my movement…in two different urban cities.  With my introduction to Stacia, everything suddenly changed.  I could talk to my new friend about how uncomfortable it felt to listen to conference speakers lecture about violence against women while the audience ate nonconsenting bodies on their plates.  We could lament about feeling distressed when coworkers complained that there are more animal shelters than shelters for humans, as if it is an either/or choice.  We could connect the dots, without fear.

Once I met Stacia, I became braver.  Knowing I was not alone helped me let down my guard.  I knew there must be others out there.  I began asking about and meeting one or two fellow vegans at national women’s rights conferences.  I started to read works of feminist vegans like Carol J. Adams and Marti Kheel.  I kept meeting one or two people here and there who expressed the same fear of “outing” themselves as vegans and relief at finding someone else who “got it” too.

With this new sense of hope, I’m able to find more and more organizations, authors, bloggers, and activists out there who make the connections.  One of the first and most impactful organizations I found was the Institute for Humane Education.   I highly encourage you to attend their trainings, talks, institutes, and/or online courses!  A few others I have discovered include Living Opposed to Violence and Exploitation; Nonviolence, Inc., and Animal Rights and AntiOppression.   And there are more.  We truly, truly are not alone.

I don’t care if you call yourself a connectionist.  I don’t care if the movement is called a connectionist movement.  Those are simply words.  What I do care about is that we build a movement.  We find each other.  We can use different terms, we can choose different strategies.  Let’s just make sure WE stay connected.

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“Raising Boys To Not Be Jerks”

3 Jun

I (Ashley) recently received an unexpected Facebook message from an old friend that simply made my day.  I thought the message was so remarkably thoughtful, well-written, caring, and engaging that I asked him if I could share it on this blog.  I felt that posting it in a public forum would not only allow for a wide range of input from others but would also highlight an example of a remarkably caring father who is committed to raising healthy boys:

Hi, Ashley. Do you know of any good books on raising boys to not be jerks? I’ve talked to so many parents who are nervous about raising their girls in a society so plagued with damaging stereotypes, awful role models, oppressive attitudes, etc., totally valid concerns for sure, but I’m surprised at the lack of concern of many parents of boys who seem to take the attitude of “I don’t have to worry about that kind of stuff, because I don’t have a girl”. I think that is absolute BS and a great way to ensure that their boys grow up to help perpetuate these kinds of problems.

I’m doing my best to raise my boys to be confident, caring, empathetic, forward thinking, etc., and would love to hear some parenting strategies on: teaching about and preventing violence, the troubles with masculinity stereotypes and pressures, sensitivity to gender issues, dealing with racism, classism, how to develop healthy relationships, you know, all the good stuff. Any suggestions?

I look into my past and see so many of the awful ways that I’ve treated people, the ridiculous notions that I’ve bought into, the pressures I’ve succumbed to, and naturally I want things to be better for my boys. I think it is important that they have the tools early in life to empower them to be ready for the choices and challenges that will be presented to them as they grow up.

If this is an example of the fathers in my life, then I am very hopeful indeed.

Please post your suggestions, comments, etc. below.