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What’s The Official Story? Cultural Change for a Connectionist World

20 Oct

Dr. Will Tuttle wrote a fabulous article for One Green Planet in which he discusses the fact that the Occupy Wall Street movement has included industrial animal abuse in their list of concerns.  While we wrote about that exciting phenomenon in a recent post, we want to highlight his article for another reason – culture.

In this article, Dr. Tuttle talks about the fundamental cultural change that needs to take place in order for us to create a truly peaceful and just world.  He focuses on the plight of cows in industrial agribusiness and connects that with the pharmaceutical-medical complex in what he calls, and what truly is, a poignant riddle.  

We love this article because it focuses on cultural change and asks what is it about our culture that perpetuates violence, abuse, and exploitation?  We at CtD believe that we need to fundamentally change culture to promote the health and well-being of ALL.  We believe that we need to challenge norms, or standards of behavior, that fuel violence and exploitation.  We need to replace these norms with new, healthy, positive norms.  Dr. Tuttle promotes this when he states:

We can free ourselves when we awaken from the cultural food trance and its official story line—that meat and dairy are natural for us to eat—and switch to a plant-based way of eating that frees the animals, ecosystems, and people enslaved by this official story.

What stories have we been told?  What stories do we buy into?  And who profits?

Connectionists Take On Occupy Wall Street

16 Oct

We’ve seen a lot in the online world lately using a connectionist perspective on the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement.  While some literally use the OWS message to represent the plight of non-human animals:

…others write about why the movement should include issues beyond a human-exclusive focus.  This article on One Green Planet, for instance, delineates a 4 clear arguments why food policy should be a part of the OWS movement:

  1. The food industry is a monopoly
  2. The food industry mistreats farmers, its own employees, and the environment
  3. Wall Street leaves millions to starve
  4. Politicians are in bed with agribusiness

Please read and share the article for an explanation of these points as well as several relevant links.

Here at CtD, we hope to encourage, support, and build capacity  to advocate for more connections in movements like these.  Regardless of the strategy, we are thrilled to see a push for a connectionist approach to a very, very popular human-focused social justice movement.  It is through efforts to be inclusive to ALL that we will truly attain a peaceful and just world.

Because I Can: Another Rationalization for Exploitation (Plus a Great Response)

15 Sep

It seems fitting that yet another (misguided) feminist justification for exploiting vulnerable beings would come out while we are attending the National Sexual Assault Conference this week.  We put so much effort and energy into supporting the very norms that perpetuate the exploitation of women and all oppressed humans just so we can justify our own pleasure-seeking and power-over  behaviors.  Read this  response from Carol J. Adams to yet another of these justifications attempts.

We want to share your writings!

31 Aug

Have you written articles, essays, blog posts, or more from a connectionist perspective?  If so, send us a link!  We are going to be building a list of articles and other readings for our resources page.  So if you’ve written about connections between human, animal, and/or environmental concerns and well-being, let us know!

PETA Plans a Porn Site

29 Aug

I think the feminist vegan world is over it.  First, is this really a surprise?  Second, do we really  need to talk about this some more?  I’ve noticed a distinct lack of outrage articles regarding PETA’s newest fabulously well-thought-out move.  I think we’re all just tired.  So, so tired.  YAWN.

Here are some articles  read instead:

Sexaul Politics of Meat

Ending Rape Culture is a Vegan Issue

Moving Beyond Sexism and Speciesism

Think Like a Chicken: Farm Animals and the Feminist Connection
ARE YOU OVER IT?

Sistah Vegan Blog Post: Intersections: Black female slave vivisection, non-human animal experimentation, and the foundation of Western gynecology

3 Apr

It’s no secret that we are huge fans of A. Breeze Harper’s work (see the Sistah Vegan Project).  Her latest video is simply perfect in describing (what we have been referring to as) a connectionist perspective.

“So when you start talking about people of color, and when you start talking about the mistreatment of animals, within the context of how ‘the other’ has been constructed, within the perception of the white, male, formally educated, class privileged, property owner, you begin to see how othering, distancing, cutting off your capacity to empathize and sympathize, is incredibly important when you want to create a world based on imperialism and capitalism. When you want to objectify, when you want to colonize, and you want to dominate ‘the other’ as resources, as commodities, so you can continue to benefit in that particular position of power.”

Breeze ends the video with a very important, poignant question.  Please watch the video and answer the question on the Sistah Vegan blog post.

Bystander Intervention: Not Just for Humans Anymore

17 Mar

UCSD's Bystander Campaign: http://ucsdsarc.blogspot.com/

I recently spent a week training on bystander intervention.  This is a strategy for the prevention of violence against humans (gendered violence, in this case, and most often) that focuses on creating a culture in which bystanders speak out against and prevent acts of violence.  The thinking is that a community in which all of its members hold each other accountable for violent actions and the attitudes and beliefs that lead to them will ultimately become a community in which violence cannot thrive.  If we all speak out when we see violence occurring, about to occur, or supported in attitudes and beliefs, then individuals will hesitate to perpetrate acts of violence because they know community members will not tolerate such actions.  Moreover, the culture of the community will change to one that supports positive behaviors and simply doesn’t allow violence to occur.

This strategy ultimately counters bystander apathy – the tendency for bystanders to simply stand by, failing to act when something necessitating a response, in this case violent acts, occur in their presence.   Years of psychological research have demonstrated the power and existence of this phenomenon, as well as hypothesized reasons for its occurrence.

During the training, as I listened to and watched examples of bystander apathy, learning strategies for engaging individuals in the opposite, bystander action, I thought of the ways we are all bystanders to violence every day.  Bystander intervention strategies, in my experience, focus only on preventing violence against humans.  They focus on very obvious violence – assaults, crimes, statements, etc.  How would the world change if we attended to the less obvious ways in which we are bystanders to violence every day?

Violence against non-human animals is absolutely engrained in our culture.  It’s so inherent that we don’t even see it.  We literally create entire industries that profit off of forced pregnancy, killing, and other terrifying treatment of nonhuman animals.  We make commodities out of living beings, out of bodies.  All of which contribute to the very violence we are trying to prevent with strategies such as bystander intervention.  Why don’t we see that?

I was a bystander to violence every time I sat next to my fellow training participants during lunch.  I was witnessing the final act of violence in a long, horrifying path that a living, feeling, thinking nonhuman animal was forced into that ended with pieces of its body and secretions from its reproductive organs laying on a plate, stirred into coffee, for another’s pleasure.  I listened to, and as a vegan was the topic of, conversations that replicated a hierarchy of worthiness, and justified the idea that some have a right to power, violent power, over others.

How would our world look if I had had the courage to speak up when the above occurred?  How would things be different if I had been in an environment that was supportive of bystander action in those cases?  What if we all could take many steps back, before the body ended up on the plate, before the forced pregnancy, and could prevent these abuses of power before they occurred?

I simply hope for a world that is peaceful and just for all, not a select few who are deemed worthy.  We have good, viable strategies to create that world; all we need to do now is open our eyes a little wider.