Archive for September, 2009

The never-ending problem

September 23, 2009

The ole Logical Fallacies or Ad-hominem attacks.

As a vegan and a radical feminist – I’m ALWAYS confronted with this issue of logical fallacies. 

The ones I always get in response to the argument that porn and prostitution harms women…

1. Not all women are harmed in porn and prostitution… 

This is a logical fallacy because the fact that some women choose to do porn or prostitute does not change the fact that many don’t.

2. You can’t tell women what to do with their bodies!

For one – pointing out that pornography and prostitution harms women is not the same as telling women what to do.  I never accused my parents of telling me what to do when they pointed out that alcohol is harmful to the human body (why is that always implied in the context of sex-work? And really – I don’t care what people tell me – having sex with strange guys who clearly don’t respect women is not healthy – mentally or physically). I have NEVER heard a radical feminist tell other women what to do with their bodies. So bringing that point out is a clear logical fallacy because I haven’t met a feminist yet, that believed in dictatorship. And besides – my opinions on what women should or shouldn’t do with their bodies has NOTHING to do with whether women are being harmed in pornography and prostitution or not.

3. You are a prude or anti-sex.

Another logical fallacy. Being a prude or hating sex has NOTHING to do with whether or not women are harmed in the making of pornography or in prostitution. When people bring this up – usually it’s because they have been backed into a corner.  That would be like a pro-porn freminist backing me into a corner and me being like, “But you are a whore.”  I’d like to see the reaction feminists would have to a response like that because I certainly can’t stand being called a prude when I know that I am anything but. Not to mention – how is it they don’t realize with the word “prude” they are perpetuating the Madonna/Whore complex? (Which is why I used that specific example).  

4. Some women LIKE being degraded sexually.

I really REALLY hate this argument because you know what? Just because there are some women that actually like that treatment, doesn’t change the fact that most of us really hate it (and even still – we should STILL examine why some women LIKE being degraded). Many MANY women in abusive relationships tell people that they love their abuser. If THAT is possible – than it is definitely possible for women to claim that they love doing porn – even if they don’t love the abuses that probably come with it.

5. Not all porn is degrading to women, what about gay porn or lesbian porn?

For one – does this fact change the fact that most porn IS degrading to women? Does it change the fact that every guy I have ever dated viewed the most sexist, degrading, female-hating  cheap crap?  Does it change the fact that every guy I have talked to said they liked porn because of the degrading things women were willing to do? I even had a guy tell me that he watched porn for the degrading shit women did in it because he thought that it would make me feel better because he wasn’t watching it because those women are sexier or whatever (way to go! another asshole assuming some of us hate porn because we are jealous).  I have NEVER dated a guy and found feminist porn stashed away somewhere or in the history of their computer. It’s always the stuff that says things like, “Tits and Sluts” “Big gaping cunts” and things of that nature.  If I didn’t find the degrading crap I have ALWAYS found in bf’s and father’s stashes – than I probably wouldn’t be a radical feminist.

I think that the funniest thing about logical fallacies is that when people whip em out – it’s a clear sign that you have already won the debate. That you already proved your point.  If you read between the lines – those who love ad hominem attacks – are saying, “You are right about that point but here’s some other things to consider.”  By totally changing the subject, they get to do two great things 1. ignore that they lost the debate and gloss over it 2. trick people into going into a different debate that they know they can win.

Can’t we agree on one thing?

 Most men view degrading porn and like porn because it is degrading to women. Notice – I mention MOST because I wouldn’t write all guys off as jerks. But most straight guys watch porn because they like to watch women being degraded.  It must be true because I wouldn’t have found the degrading stuff all the time if it weren’t.  I wouldn’t have dated guys who would pester me to have anal sex or have sex with one of their buddies.  If men were watching pro-woman porn – than I wouldn’t have had to tell EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, that they NEED to return the favor – that I’m not just in existence to pleasure them.

And whether or not some women like to have anal sex or lick their own shit off of mens’ dicks – can’t we agree that MOST women have ZERO desire to do such things? Can’t we agree that these things send the wrong messages to men about female sexuality? Can’t we agree that porn teaches men to be selfish when it comes to sex? Can’t we?

Unfortunately – probably not.

Investigating Animal Abuse

September 22, 2009

Today on “The Story” they interviewed “James” (not his real name) who was the guy who filmed the video circulating on facebook about male chicks being ground up alive. 

I have to say – this guy has a lot of strength to do what he does. I can’t even imagine.

After you begin to wake up to just how intelligent non-human animals are, it is very hard to imagine abusing or killing animals for any kind of job… THAT is a form of true altruism if I haven’t seen one… Once you’ve begun down the path of animal rights, it is a true sacrifice to go against those principals and knowingly work for companies and kill animals to expose those companies. The most insane thing for me to think about, is watching people do these things to animals and not being able to do something about it. That involves a lot of restraint.  I feel like I really love but also hate this guy James. I love him for exposing this industry but it’s impossible for me to not feel a tinge of hate because he is sitting in these facilities going along with it and killing animals right along side with them. As a vegan, it’s hard for me to imagine finding it in my conscience to do such things, even knowing how the exposure of these companies would do more good than the harm I personally caused by “going along”.  Someone’s gotta do it though, right?

But then I was thinking – being vegan alone involves a lot of restraint. I think that it was harder for me when I was first vegan, because you get use to things eventually. When I first went vegan, the happiness I felt towards it and the new-found power I felt because of it was something I wanted to spread and share with everyone. I wanted (though I restrained myself, of course) to preach to everyone about the “born-again” type feeling that I was experiencing. It only takes a few situations where you try to get people to see “the light” before you realize how pointless it is (that is, unless the person you are conversing with seems  interested in it or is asking).

I totally could relate to what James was saying on the program. No one wants to hear it… I deal with this and my own boyfriend sometimes. He’s not vegan, nor vegetarian (but he does eat more vegetarian now than when we met).  Even though he eats meat – he does feel the same way I do about many things concerning animals. If he watches a film documenting animal abuse – he often cries but when we start getting into heavy discussions about animal abuse – he often silences me.  He’ll say something like, “I already know how you feel about this.” or “Lets not talk about something depressing before work.”

Maybe I am depressing, I don’t know but I feel that I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I can face a lot of these things HEAD ON without feeling depressed. I’m not sure if I’m desensitized to it, or if I simply have gotten past that denial, freak-out phase that many milk drinking vegetarians face.  Many of the horrors that go on, still make me cry.  If I happen to a video showing a calf being beaten – I will still cry but watching these videos compared to discussing them seems very different to me.  I don’t feel the emotional connection when I don’t have to see it and I’m just discussing it.

It’s dawned on me recently that I think people get emotional because they never think about it, they completely avoid thinking about it.  Anytime we begin to come out of denial about anything, I think the reaction is an emotional one. Connecting the dots sort of broadens the context and people are forced to deal with the very real fact that many of the things they eat have come from conditions similar to the ones I’m discussing or the ones we are watching.

A lot of meat eaters get royally pissed off when a vegan asserts their feelings that they are living in denial and it is true for sure, that not all meat eaters are in denial but I’m willing to bet that for a great deal of meat eaters – they are.  Why do I think that?

Well, I’ve been called a vegan-nazi, a belief-pusher, self-righteous, holier than thou etc by many meat eaters for feeling rage about how animals are treated for food and other huge enterprises.  All of those same people have the same reaction I feel about animal enterprises towards Michael Vick.  I think that this is very telling. 

If they are enraged about a man promoting dog fights – they are no different from any vegan in terms of how they TRUELY feel about animals.

They may have convinced themselves that cows and chickens are stupid (and yes, I’ve gotten this excuse from many meat eaters) – which is a ridiculous argument because not all dogs are smart and most of the time – they are only as smart as those they coexist with.  Would the meat eaters enraged at Michael Vick be okay with dog fights, so long as the dogs used in dog fights are stupid? Or should ALL dogs be protected from dog fighting?  So the stupid argument is just not cool at all. Which is why MOST meat eaters stick to “needing” meat… Because if meat is necessary – than they don’t have to feel guilty for supporting the same kind of treatment Michael Vick supported. Which is why so many meat eaters actually go as far as HATING vegans.  We are proof that meat is not necessary and I’m one of those really pain in the ass vegans that has proved that you can live vegan, even when you live in poverty.

As a vegan, it is VERY hard to not get pissed off at every meat eater that points a finger at Michael Vick because in our eyes – eating meat is JUST AS frivolous as dog fighting in most situations. It’s not necessary, at least not if you live in the US and aren’t homeless or depending on parents. I realize that certain situations are different and meat is probably necessary (Which is why I don’t think that making meat illegal is a good idea) due to geographical reasons.

Seriously – what right do all of these meat eaters have to condemn Michael Vick? Especially since every meat eater I personally know (with the exception of my bf) eats waaaaaaaaay more meat and dairy than is even considered healthy.  I don’t think meat eating would bother me as much if people who ate it, didn’t have to have it with every meal or even every single day. In my opinion – it is much more frivolous than dog fighting (not that I’m trying to justify dog fighting). 

And then I think of things like how animal enterprises are run. How mothers have their babies ripped away from them. Even if you buy your milk at a local store – this STILL happens. Maybe that mother gets to roam freely in a field with fences but it’s still kidnapping in my opinion. This is why I consider being vegan and caring about animal rights very much a feminist issue. If we were taking human beings’ babies away, people would be in an outrage about it.

Defeatism

September 22, 2009

One of my biggest pet peeves is the defeatism argument.

You all must know what I’m talking about, right?

Here’s how it goes…

You start pointing out some horror in the world – it doesn’t matter what it is, but it’s something specific that you identify with and have passion for… You start talking about it with someone and the ways in which you try to do your part. Sometimes it means blogging, sometimes it’s going to conferences, or demos, walks, or even by boycotting…

The defeatism response always one of the following:

1. They’ll mention other horrors that go on in the world as a way minimize your concern.  As if one bad situation erases another?

2. They mention that other people don’t care, so why should they?

3. They make the point that one person can’t change the world.

I really REALLY hate these arguments. Should people stop worrying about the harms of pornography just because there are homeless people in the world? 

It’s the worst theory. It’s the worst argument and it’s really just a logical fallacy or an ad hominem attack.  When people use the old defeatism trick, all they are trying to do is re-route the conversation, derail the debate… And usually it’s because they are guilty of not caring and it bothers them that other people care about the things they can’t be bothered to care about and as a way to dismantle them or “level” them, they try to make their cause, passion or concern seem like it’s not important.

It annoys the hell out of me. There have been more situations than I can count of people telling me that animal rights doesn’t matter because human beings are suffering. It gets me all riled up because 1. human beings ARE in fact animals, which means I DO care about their rights and welfare. 2. Why the heck can’t I care about more than one horror? Because I care about one, I automatically can’t care about others? Can’t I care about the animals in slaughter houses, AND care about the homeless person who wound up there because of a mental illness?

When people use that argument, they are essentially pushing their own life philosophy on other people and I absolutely hate that – especially because that type of life philosophy seems so outside of human intelligence, I don’t understand why anyone would promote it.  Apply that same philosophy to any other point in life…

Why watch movies when there is a good chance the one you are paying for will suck?

Why live now, you are going to die someday?

And the people who use that train of thought to avoid ever really thinking, are the type of people who don’t realize that many of our passions have resulted from feedback that personally affects us in society.  I didn’t just up and wake up one morning and think to myself – you know what? Today I’m going to pick on pornography cuz a lot of people like it and I want to destroy their fun!!!  I actually have had personal experiences that led me to be passionately against it (at least the hetero mainstream crap – which is the only porn I’ve ever seen around me).  THAT is why I care, not because I just feel like caring about everything and anything.

When you see videos, 2 dimensional videos almost destroy your family and countless relationships and when you’ve seen it even affect your friends negatively, you stop thinking of it as harmless fun and you wake up to the REALITY that this may not be peachy pie, harmless or fun.

Sometimes you wake up to your cat licking your face and when she follows you around, you begin to realize how social these animals actually are. As you feel all of their bones and muscles – you start to realize how similar they are to you.

Am I delusioned into thinking that me being vegan will end all animal suffering? Heck no. But it takes a seed to grow a plant, and a few plants to grow an orchard.  Every movement has to start SOMEWHERE and I sure as hell know that it didn’t even start with me.

The same people who use the defeatism argument are the same people that take for granted everything that they have and the blood and sweat someone else shed to get them to that point. You think women would be voting now if people used the defeatism argument? Would women still be considered property by the majority of men with that theory?  Would people be thrown in jail for abusing children with that attitude?

Unfortunately – progress isn’t something that is markedly visible.  It isn’t a contrast, it is a flow. There are those goals and until those goals are met, progress is virtually invisible.  On the way to those goals is probably the hardest thing to see but you know what? Just cuz you don’t see progress, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

From that first moment I became anti-porn, I have seen the movement begin to grow. It was basically invisible when I was searching for resources to understand the things that were affecting my life personally and there were basically none (except for the conservative websites, which just didn’t offer the support I was looking for or the understanding that I felt was honest). Now I see more bloggers posing the question, I’ve met more people unwilling to ignore it… Maybe it’s coincidence but I go on with the hope that it’s progress. Maybe progress isn’t good enough but it has to be in some situations – especially situations that affect our culture and attitudes.

Not all states have legalized gay marriage or civil unions but SOME do and compared to 10 years ago – THAT is progress. It may not be the ultimate goal (of it being legal everywhere) but it is progress and all of that progress woulda been non-existent if people took the defeatism argument seriously.

Meat

September 15, 2009

It always strikes me as so odd, that despite increasing information about health and diet, people still argue that meat is necessary… But is it?  It’s hard to believe people when they say this. I’m a prime example that people can exist without animal protein (and I’m only one, there are MANY MANY others). I often hear people say that they tried to go vegetarian but the became “weak” and their strength returned after they began eating meat. I wonder how many of these people went into the diet a pessimist. Oh! The power of our thoughts.

I remember when I first went vegetarian – everyone was worried about my health. My doctor even accused me of being anorexic (I think she assumed I was one of those girls with an ED that was trying to cover it up with a fad diet).  If she actually knew me and my past, she would have realized how incredibly embarrassed of being skinny I have been all my life…

See, I’ve always been extremely thin – I got these genes from my dad, clearly. Our legs are shaped EXACTLY the same – only his are longer and bigger because he’s tall and I’m not.  Everyone was telling me that I must definitely be the type of person that NEEDS meat because if I didn’t eat meat, for sure I would waste away. It’s such a double standard – am I really suppose to believe that only people with extra weight should go vegetarian? Aren’t we all of the same species?

I admit – I lost weight when I first went vegetarian but it wasn’t because there was a lack of things for me to eat in the world or that my body type couldn’t handle it. It was because my parents resisted my desire to give up meat. They bought very few things that would help be stay vegetarian (which just made me not eat, rather than get me to eat meat) and my boyfriend at the time, lived with his mom who stocked the shelves with little debbies (if anything is going to cause me to lose weight, it would be sugar – I already have a surplus of energy all the time) and the occasional vegetarian Pizza. I lost weight because of the resistence people had towards my diet and because it was too much for them to help me do it right.  I don’t think I would have lost that weight if people had been supportive, rather than trying to get me to conform to their ideologies in passive aggressive ways. I also wonder if a lot of people who tried to go vegetarian had similar experiences with their parents, friends, significant others’ etc.

It wasn’t until I went to college (3 – 4 years after going vegetarian) – I turned vegan, that I actually put some of that weight back on (and everyone was SURE that I would waste away THIS time).  But I did my research –  AFTER I decided to go vegan.  When I went into it – I really didn’t care if I died or not. In many ways, I still have that attitude because I’m not going to hold myself back because of “what ifs” – and as most “what ifs”, those fears are based on assumptions that mostly hold no water.  I had NO idea that this diet could be healthy and in fact, went into it  on the fence – not really trusting it. Which is why I started doing my own research because there was SOME concern to me but not enough to hold me back.

It goes to show how irrational many of our fears are. The fear that without meat, we will die. I mean – look at it this way – we are omnivores. Omnivores are typically opportunistic eaters  and can live on just about anything.  They don’t necessarily NEED meat, but they don’t necessarily die with it – ya know? If I had a dollar for every time someone came up to me and said, “But we are omnivores, we need meat!”  I wonder how many of those people actually know the definition of Omnivore. Technically – most primates are omnivores and guess what? 95% of their diet is raw vegan with the inclusion of insects.  

If those omnivores (our closest relatives on this planet) can live on a vegan diet, with hardly enough animal food to make a difference, certainly humans can.  And when you REALLY look at our biology, we are definitely made to eat more like a vegan, than the typical westerner.

And then you look at dogs (which are actually more “omnivore” than humans) – which most believe eat mostly meat. The thing is – type “vegan dogs” into your search engine and you’ll quickly find that some of the oldest dogs to live were vegan. Yep, VEGAN.

If dogs, whom look more like carnivores than human beings and actually have teeth for tearing flesh can thrive on a vegan diet – why would any human being claim that we can’t make it on a vegan diet?  And no, I’m not saying dogs and humans have the same digestive tracts but what I am saying is that if a dog – which has the gut, pH and teeth more suitable for eating flesh – can survive well on a vegan diet, there is no reason at all to believe human beings can’t.

I’ll mention reasons why I think people should be moving towards animal free diets in future posts.