reflections

Not a Pretty Picture: Pinup Slaughter

I love pinup, and I love when women celebrate one another’s beauty by dressing up in vintage styles for creative photoshoots.

I do not love animal slaughter, not even a little bit. I do not love that the real-life Portland area “humane” chicken slaughtering operation Marion Acres invites women in pinup over once a year for their “Ladies’ Chicken Harvest” as if the brutality of slaughter could be masked by the presence of a few attractive women in dresses and red lipstick. “Harvest” meant something along the lines of “gathering crops,” not ending the lives of sentient ambulatory beings, last time I checked.

Picture pilfered from the Modern Farmer article.

Some of the women talked about knowing where their food comes from as if that knowledge is mutually incompatible with learning, harvesting and eating vegetables. I would like to remind them kind treatment of chickens during life (and how kindly were they treated, anyway?) does not justify raising them for food at all, or make their deaths any kinder.

My veganism is deeply, deeply, connected to my feminism, and my feminism is grounded in the belief that all beings, human or nonhuman, should be able to live lives free from violence and full of joy shared with their loved ones. How could I call for my liberation, as a queer person, a female-assigned nonbinary person and a person of color, while simultaneously sanctioning the imprisonment and eventual slaughter of other critters? How could I defend my choice not to reproduce but manipulate other beings’ reproduction in order to feed myself? I find it disappointing that these women would uncritically and proudly adopt violent practices in an attempt to gain some of the power of masculinity. I wonder what it would look like for women/feminine people/queers to reject the most problematic aspects of patriarchy and violent masculinity to form a resilient, independent way of providing for ourselves and our families? I would love to see us providing for one another in a way that didn’t harm anyone, and to see partners to equitably share responsibilities of nourishing and caring for families and one another.

P.S. One thing that I am still grappling with, by the way, is how my unwavering support of spay-neuter programs fits in with a reproductive justice, anti-speciesist and anti-oppression framework. I think that it has to do with the fact that spay-neuter is a key part of a no-kill advocacy framework, which I believe fits in very well with a vegan ethic. No-cost and low-cost spay/neuter programs reduce the number of animals entering the shelter system, allowing more resources to be allocated toward saving lives. In the human realm, I believe that affordable and accessible and voluntary birth control and abortion are critical to ensuring reproductive justice for all: “when all people have the social, political and economic power and resources to make healthy decisions about our gender, bodies, sexuality, and families.” Of course, there is a long and ugly history of compulsory sterilization in marginalized communities, particularly with transgender people and people of color, but the obvious difference between human and non-human animals is that humans can consent to or refuse procedures, so they should always be given that choice. I’m still thinking about this, though!

P.P.S. (ETA) Originally I had use the world “femme” to describe the feminine women who participated in this slaughter and the associated photoshoot. I write this from a queer femme perspective, but the women who came to the so-called harvest were heterosexual cisgender women and so using femme (a term specific to LGBTQ community) to describe them was inaccurate and appropriative, so apologies about that. For more about how femininity and women are used to sell meat, check out The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams. 

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2 thoughts on “Not a Pretty Picture: Pinup Slaughter

  1. I also wince at this event and the weird psychology behind its development. I clicked on your link to read about it, and saw this line in the description: “We couldn’t think of a better way to knock em’ dead!” Wince. There is definitely a tone of humor where perhaps humor does not belong, at least if you ask someone who thinks it is wrong to kill animals unnecessarily (which you did, and I know that because your website says “Leave a Reply).

    There is also a strange keeping-up-with-men vibe going on. The images of the event seem to convey, “Look, we’re ladies, but we can slaughter animals too!” Is it good that women want to emulate the ambivalence toward violence that is often ascribed to men? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s good that men try to live up to that either.

    If people are going to consume animals, it’s good that they know where it comes from. But there’s a deliberate anti-animal rights movement cropping up in which people think that knowing – or witnessing, or participating in – the process of killing animals and making them into food, is a justification for doing it. Being a part of the process does not remove a person’s responsibility to think about the necessity or morality of the process.

    /ramble

    It’s been a hard week. Thanks for typing your thoughts into your computer machine and making it travel to mine.

    • “Let’s deconstruct gender by performing the most gross and violent parts of masculinity.” Nope. I’m all for everyone (women, femmes, men, etc.) being self-reliant and strong and independent. In my ideal world, one’s gender does not influence one’s ability to fix automobiles or open jars. But we can take those good, useful things and leave the b.s., know what I mean? I think you are spot on in naming a deliberate anti-AR movement. What a bummer.

      Thanks for commenting, my cis(-?)hetero friend!

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