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Violence against women and animal rights: the highly unpopular connection

Slide-200Advocates working to stop violence against women and those in the animal rights movement need each other as neither will reach their goals in isolation. It’s time to get over being offended by these comparisons and work together to end all gendered violence, says Ashley Maier.

18 March, 2014

Key points:

  • Going beyond limited links between violence against women and animals, such as the fact that pets are often victims of domestic violence, is very unpopular yet essential.
  • Animal products such as eggs and dairy represent gendered violence. Once we know what lies behind their production, the connection cannot be denied.

  • Animal exploitation and consumption promotes rape culture and the very norms that those who work against violence against women hope to change.

  • The violence against women movement champions countless concepts that fall short of realization when non-human animals are excluded: intersectionality, consent, bodily autonomy, comprehensive prevention, and many more.

  • Like many movements, the animal rights movement has a violence against women problem and, in not addressing, ignoring or defending it, pushes away some of its most likely allies.

  • While focusing on different subjects, both movements are working to prevent gendered violence. To move forward, those who make the connections must do so with intentionality, make their messages accessible, build from connections already being made (like health equity and food justice, or the sexism inherent in selling animal products), and more.

This presentation is part of the online conference Neither Man Nor Beast: Patriarchy, Speciesism and Oppression, organised by Animal Liberation Ontario (ALO). View more presentations including those from Carol Adams, Breeze Harper, Ruby Hamad, Sunara Taylor and more on ALO’s Youtube channel.

Ashley Maier has worked in the movement to end gendered violence for well over a decade.  She is currently employed at a state sexual assault coalition where she primarily conducts national sexual and domestic violence prevention work. 

A preventionist at heart, Ashley has also managed a state’s Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) program and grantees, coordinated pediatric residency training programs in community health and family violence, served as an advocate and support group therapist for women experiencing domestic and sexual violence, worked as Psychology faculty, and more. 

Ashley holds an MSW from Washington University in St Louis with an individualized concentration in violence against women and will obtain an MPA this May. 

She is a contributing author to Defiant Daughters: 21 Women on Art, Activism, Animals, and The Sexual Politics of Meat and co-authored Links between sisters’ sexual and dating victimization: The roles of neighborhood crime and parental controls in the Journal of Family Psychology. 

Visit her website to learn more about her work and making connections between human, animal, and environmental well-being. 

Ashley's views in this presentation are her own and not representative of any organisation she works for or is involved with.


+7 #5 Soli 2014-03-20 04:06
This is exactly what my art is about..thank you so much for making this video...

Its hard for some people to get their head around this topic but they need to put aside the appearance of animals...femal e is female.

I hope this brings a new change!
-15 #4 M Durham 2014-03-20 03:13
Wow, Laura, while I agree about women's struggle against the patriarchal bias in our *human society*, the other stuff, including sticking up for PeTA, is way extreme. Force female animals to become pregnant? Hardly. Nature hardwires the imperative to reproduce in all creatures. Society was constructed by humans for humans, and that includes rules which (at least in the U.S.) are against rape of non-consenting human females. Animals have no such societal construct---and in fact, the reproductive drive is strong for survival, and so long as environmental conditions are good, they will strive to reproduce. Animal husbandry like bestiality? Hardly, but I bet you absolutely hate the TV show "Dr. Pol" because it shows reality. It probably looks like "bestiality" to you because of your viewpoint (which is NOT shared by most people).
+11 #3 Laura Slitt 2014-03-20 00:53
Insult to women. NO! Ignoring the connection between abuse of power against ANY being that is incapable of defense or protecting themselves is indefensible.
The sickness of mind and heart that enabled to Holocaust on my ancestors, is the VERY same sickness of mind and heart that allows people to keep the slaughterhouses busy taking chain saws to trembling, terrified, screaming, sentient, helpless animals by the millions every day. The only insult to women is that a male dominated society feels it can take over the reproductive organs of farmed animals, neatly called, "animal husbandry" ( more like beastiality ) force female animals to become pregnant, abduct their young , a sacreligious perversion of the most sacred bond on earth, that of mother and infant, which requires major moral and ethical desensitization .....PETA gets it correct! THe holocausts on any species come from the same sick mind and abuse of power to cause harm!
+6 #2 Catherine Trestini 2014-03-20 00:38
Excellent work!
-14 #1 M Durham 2014-03-19 23:52
'Gendered violence'? What an insult to women! Almost as bad an argument as PeTA's 'Holocaust on a Plate'.

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