Pippa Evans on The Now Show gives some good advice - don't touch people who don't wanna be touched, even if you wanna touch them.
CW - talk of sexual assault, groping, and rape.
Newsjack is a satirical show on BBC Radio 4 based on the weekly news. Here's comedian and the show's host, Angela Barnes, talking about the recent sexual assault scandal and male reaction to it.
More than half of women say they have been sexually harassed at work and most admit to not reporting it, new research by the TUC suggests.
Content Warning. Discussion and examples of sexual violence. Examples of repulsive language describing women.
It’s remarkably odd, isn’t it, that even those things that one already know, or are widely known generally, once they are confirmed – or perhaps just reaffirmed – can hit you for six. This has happened to me twice recently, and one example is the “metoo” hashtag on social media.
Many people seem to have been shocked by this thing that we all already knew – that women and persons presenting as female, feminine, or trans, and gender queer, are subject to a great deal of unwanted sexual attention and forms of violence, sexual and otherwise. Certainly anyone who has studied, even at basic level, criminology and/or feminism “knew” this already, just as they “know” that large percentages of these violent incidences do not figure in official statistics.
This social media phenomenon is associated with an actress called Alyssa Milano, although Milano has acknowledged an “earlier #MeToo movement” began by black activist Tarana Burke. This latter movement, assuming that they are separate, went viral on social media in October 2017 to denounce sexual assault and harassment, in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein.
According to Slate, Milano tweeted “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Since then, I’ve seen many of my Facebook friends post about their experience of sexual abuse and harassment. Many have also spoken about their shock at the apparent prevalence of the issues that have arisen: rape, molestation, attacks, unwanted touching, being subject to aggressive sexual insults, etc.
Whether we really “knew” before, we sure know now. As a heterosexual man, I can think of several examples that had underlined my “knowing” of such issues. Apart from academia, studying and then teaching subjects such as feminism and critical criminology, the following places immediate jump to mind.
In Kirby, I was initially shocked to find that many men would call their female partners, “me tart.” One woman, Ruth, put up with tremendous amounts of verbal abuse – not just banter, real nasty stuff – from her partner. One day I asked her why and she said that, when they were alone, her partner was nice and caring but she thought he felt the need to present a very masculine self in public. Indeed, I was also told that girls and young women are told to learn how to walk in a “hard” manner to reduce the possibility of being attacked on the street. As we’ll see below, verbal abuse is one means by which sex workers’ self-esteem is severely damaged.
I was the Chief projectionist in Kirby, and I had a “number two” who I’ll call Bill. I distinctly remember that whenever we walked together through the shopping centre that was attached to the J&A entertainment centre where we worked, he would regularly point at women and say, “I’d f*** that, and I’d f*** that, and I’d f*** that.” I told him this was unacceptable but I don’t remember him stopping – I think I may have just stopped walking with him. To this day, I’m sensitive about language issues, not least in relation to human relations with other sentient beings.
I can group British Steel and Fords together, although the following was worse in the Dagenham car plant as I recall. There were plenty of “pin-ups” on the car assembly line, and some in the canteen areas of the steelworks. Both were overwhelmingly male environments, and both involved shift work. When we did see female staff, it would be canteen cleaners, or those working in administration. They were subject to sexualised calls from some of the men and, if young, whistling. More than that, though, I got my first taste at what some men will say to other men about females when in a group. Some say absolutely horrendous things. Violent sexualised language pours out of some men. What they want to do to any given woman, and what they assume “she wanted” or else “would get anyway.”
Prison was also “very male,” with even more reason, as far as both the staff and “inmates” appeared to believe, to be and act “manly.” Female staff were seen less frequently here. However, some women worked in the education department and one person, who I got to know quite well, would address the “induction wing” about the delights of the prison’s Education Department. After she had gone, the same old, same old, happened: what they were going to do to her, and what they thought “she wanted.” One nasty character could not stop talking about the assumed size of her “piss flaps.”
There’s more “pin-ups” in these prison locations – but much, much, more graphic pictured pornography too. In Armley jail in Leeds, I remember seeing one cell which was literally covered wall-to-wall with pornographic pictures. More than that, the guy in the cell had so many pages from porn magazines that some had to be overlapped over others. Except for scenes of oral sex, he chose to cover the heads of the women, resulting in picture after picture of headless female body parts in a variety of explicit sexualised poses.
I’ve included the case of “chris” below and she is one of those people who were deliberately bred by sex rings to be exploited as babies onwards. As part of her “training,” she says that she was taught how to adopt these stereotypical “porno” poses as a child.
Finally, I was getting on a bit when I was playing football in Wales. Being one of the guys with a car, I got the job of picking up three or four other players for away games. I sat through their tales of sexual conquests of the night before in Bangor’s only “nightclub” called the Octagon. The locals called it the “meat market” and the way the lads talked about women was frightening.
Around the same time, I was teaching in Wales and finishing my PhD. In one chapter, entitled ““Dehumanisation: "Using" the Species Barrier,” I looked at the issue of pornography as part of dehumanisation and depersonalisation processes – or “othering.” In part, I looked at male attitudes, and some of it can be a difficult read, so please take care of yourself… I began,
And a final extract,
So, all that is why I started this blog entry in terms of what I already “knew.” Some men, when they talk about women in particular, say the most vile, awful, vicious things.
I spent a couple of hours preparing material that was unfamiliar to me for this blog entry. What did I find? Predictably, more disturbing news.
For example, in Mother Daughter Revolution (1994), Elizabeth Debold writes
Writing in the Washington Post in 2016, Gail Dines said
All of these studies were published in peer-reviewed journals.
In the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, Michelle Oberman writes
In the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Bennett and Fineran write,
According to a couple of those sites about slang language, some men use terms such as “drilling,” “blasting,” hammering,” “beasting,” “riding,” “boning,” “doing the nasty,” “slapping uglies,” “kicking it,” “giving her the bone,” “whoring,” “hot beef injecting,” “porking,” “beating,” “cowgirling,” “pounding the duck,” and “smashing the bitch,” to describe “doing” sex.
There is a huge male demand for paid sexual services. Brothels can be found in most towns and certainly cities – several in many cases. Each contains a number of sex workers, “servicing” several “customers.” Then there are the “street walkers," and the independent sex workers who work without pimps, at least “official pimps.” Their friends and partners may do that job at times.
As we might imagine, the language is the same, or worse, when it comes to men describing or talking to sex workers. The things men say to them during sex, and how they talk about them afterwards, is very, very, nasty. Research suggests that men feel a sense of entitlement when buying sex. They get to tell the sex worker what to do, and how to be, even though some data suggests that some men buying sexual services are timid and even shy. It appears to be the “habitual buyers” of sex who are the worst problem in terms of their attitudes and behaviour towards others. This group is likely to want violent sex but all men seem to want sorts of sex from dehumanised sex workers that they cannot obtain from “a real human being” like their own wives. Data suggests most sex worker users are married men. Many tend to see sex workers as little more – or nothing more in some cases – than objects and receptacles.
Sex workers seem always in severe danger of being violently attacked and raped. Not just sex workers, but female academics too. In a paper entitled, “Intersections of Sex and Power in Research on Prostitution: A Female Researcher Interviewing Male Heterosexual Clients,” researcher Sabine Grenz had to take precautions because she was propositioned by respondents and even had to be “less friendly” to interviewees than is usually recommended:
For sex workers themselves, they get lots of advice in the hope of keeping them safer. One piece of advice being, don’t have a pillow in your room because it could be used to smother you.
A hospital that treats sex workers said this in 2004,
New Zealand issued a 100-page guide for sex workers in 2004 which included information on repetitive strain wrist injuries from masturbation of the customer by the prostitute, warnings to carry a flashlight to inspect customers for STDs, and instructions for setting up a brothel.
Does it seem realistic for a sex worker to get to check for sexually transmitted diseases? Other advice is about the installation of “panic buttons.” However, one sex worker testified to the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that she was forcibly restrained from pressing a panic button while a “customer” raped her in what she described as one of her “paid rapes.”
There are some, including feminists, who forcefully argue that sex work can be fulfilling, satisfying, and even empowering for those who do it, although personally I find it hard to see how. If there are such cases, surely they represent an infinitesimal number in terms of the total of sex workers that there are? One suggestion is that indoor sex work is much safer than outdoor sex work – which does sound like common sense.
However, according to Farley, et al., criticising Weitzer’s position, “What is wrong with prostitution cannot be fixed by moving it indoors. The same harms are there whether she is in a trick’s house, a back alley, his car, or a room at a hotel. And the same physical violence occurs whether it is in a pimp’s massage parlour, the private booth of a pimp’s strip club, a pimp’s legal brothel, or on a pimp’s street turf.
On interviewing 100 women, Farley, et al., 2005, found an extremely high prevalence of lifetime violence, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 82% of respondents reported a history of childhood sexual abuse, by an average of four perpetrators. This statistic (those assaulted by an average of four perpetrators) did not include those who responded to the question, “If there was unwanted sexual touching or sexual contact between you and an adult, how many people in all?” with “tons,” or “I can’t count that high,” or “I was too young to remember.”
72% reported childhood physical abuse, 90% had been physically assaulted in prostitution. Of those who reported physical assault, 82% of the perpetrators were their “customers,” and 78% had been raped in prostitution, with 67% of those raped having been raped by “customers” more than ﬁve times.
89% had been physically threatened while in prostitution, and 67% had been physically threatened with a weapon. 72% met the criteria for PTSD, while 95% said that they wanted to leave prostitution. 86% reported current or past homelessness with housing as one of their most urgent needs. 82% expressed a need for treatment for drug or alcohol addictions.
In studies by Silbert and Pines in 1981 and 1982, 70% of women surveyed said that they had suffered rape in prostitution, with 65% having been physically assaulted by “customers.” One survivor described prostitution as a ‘harrowing metamorphosis’ that included frequent physical assaults and which ultimately resulted in a “neutralization of the body” or “somatic dissociation.” Dissociation refers to a compartmentalisation of experience: elements of the experience are not integrated into a unitary whole, but are stored in memory as isolated fragments…The continued use of dissociation as a way of coping with stress interferes with the capacity to fully attend to life’s ongoing challenges.
67% of Farley, et al’s., interviewees reported that pornography was made of them in prostitution; and 64% had been upset by an attempt to force them to perform an act that customers had seen in pornography. Again, how any of this is supposed to be “empowering” escapes me. With camera technology not only so good but everywhere – on virtually any phone – the sex workers who are filmed do absolutely no favours to other persons who may be in even worse circumstances than they are, such as those who are trafficked. How does adding to the huge weight of internet porn – much of it violent and non-consensual I expect - do anything but bolster and support the ideology of patriarchy which does so much damage to women’s (indeed, everyone’s) interests?
Many sex worker respondents who reported physical violence cited stabbings and beatings, concussions, and broken bones (such as broken jaws, ribs, collar bones, ﬁngers, spinal injuries, and a fractured skull), as well as cuts, black eyes, and “fat lips.” 50% of these women had head injuries resulting from violent assaults with, for example, baseball bats and crowbars. Many had their heads slammed against walls and against car dashboards. Sex buyers regularly subjected them to extreme violence when they refused to perform a speciﬁc sex act.
Farley, et al., found that a fear of men was pervasive. One woman told them that being hit and bruised were "just your common aggressiveness from men."
The verbal abuse in prostitution is socially invisible just as other sexual harassment in prostitution is normalized and invisible. Yet it is pervasive: 88% of research respondents described verbal abuse as intrinsic to prostitution.
Baldwin argues that the verbal abuse against prostituted women is seemingly reﬂected in the names that all women are called by violent men during sexual assaults. The epithets seem intended “to humiliate, to eroticize, and to satisfy an urge for self-justiﬁcation.” Readers won’t be surprised to discover that the names sex workers are called include “whore,” “slut,” “cunt” “bitch” “motherfucker,” and “pig.” These are names often verbalised during sex acts, as well as instructions like, “get on your knees,” “spread your legs,” “open your mouth,” “swallow everything you bitch,” and “suck it now.”
On motives for seeking sex workers, police arrested “clients” were asked by researchers to agree or disagree with 13 statements designed to reflect popular and scholarly understandings of the reasons men seek out prostitutes. Many conventional understandings were supported by the results.
Respondents said that it was easier to have sex with sex workers without the use of condoms than it was with their wives.
The idea that johns think of sex workers as objects is obvious. But it’s also important to note that “customers” believe that the bodies of sex workers are available for their use in any way they choose.
Some academics have suggested that the ability to treat women as objects is part - or perhaps even all - of some sex worker users’ real interest in prostitution. It is a grossly unequal power relation in which one is apparently allowed to say the most vile things to the other while suggesting degrading sexual things to do.
Academics talk about “habitual buyers,” and these seem to tend to have psychological problems and possibly sexual addictions such that they can only relate to women in sexualized or extremely violent and degrading ways. Some men have such a distorted view of those they buy sex from that they need to attend an educational programme before they can even begin to realise that sex workers “have feelings, too, like everyone else.” However, one study revealed that 76% of “habitual buyers” (the ones who are most likely to be sexually violent) said they would continue buying sex even after attending a so-called “john school.”
In Off Our Backs: A Women’s Newsjournal (2002), chris grussendorf and jill leighton tell of their personal experiences. jill says,
Jill was held captive for three years until Bruce was arrested. Chris says,
chris was told that she was a “good fucker” by “prostitute ring men,” and concludes: “I was a sexual commodity, groomed, seasoned and taught how to be raped and how to be a sexy plaything for men. This was my childhood. It was my life and, because I cannot escape the memories of it now, it is still my life.”
Traffickers routinely beat, rape, starve, confine, torture, and psychologically and emotionally abuse others, usually women. The buyers, too, are sometimes violent and often force sex workers to engage in degrading or abusive sexual acts. If victims attempt to escape, they bear a high risk of being caught and severely beaten or even killed by their traffickers.
Some buyers of trafficked sex workers like violent or sadistic sexual acts, including slashing, burning, or whipping the women.
#MeToo has merely reminded us of what we already know. Capitalist patriarchy, or patriarchal capitalism, is very dangerous for female identified persons. I wait to see how any of the above can be described as “empowering.”
Pro-intersectional vegans should be at the forefront of exposing and denouncing this massive tide of suffering, abuse, and rights violations.
 When one thinks about it, the cleanliness of “customers” must be an issue for sex workers.
I don’t know whether there would be a possibility to do something about a “dirty client.” Certainly, it seems unlikely that those sex workers in the least advantageous circumstances would have the opportunity – or facilities – to wash their “customers,” especially if there is a group of them. In the course of preparing this blog entry, I did something that was ill-advised (and twice). Because of my interest in language, I thought I would see what sort of titles there are in modern pornographic films. I thought of some key words and googled, “Irish amateur xxx.” Several sites came up. I want to make it crystal clear that I did not watch any of the, apparently, hundreds of films that are on every site – I just jotted down a number of titles.
Whether the films actually correspond to the titles, I cannot confirm. Some sites had static “galleries” of the various film clips on offer (they all appeared to be free) but one was set up so if a computer cursor was hovering over a picture, then a slide show of about 4 pictures would begin. Assuming they are stills from the film itself, then, for this site at least, the titles seemed “accurate.”
The sites themselves included titles and “blurb” such as, “Irish amateur sex tube, free porn videos,” “Irish amateur xxx movies. Irish amateur xxx movies is a new word in the world of high-quality free Irish Amateur porn. Only here can you find hundreds of exclusive…” [I could not see the rest because that would have required clicking on the link], “Search Irish – XXX Amateur porn – Amateur XXX girls Amateur girls porn, Start your filthy adventure,” “Free amateur Irish Creampie Fuck clips and hard amateur creampie sex films!”
In relation to the point, one film was entitled, “Irish ex sucks smelly cock.”
Other titles included, “Irish slut rough reverse cowgirl,” “Finger ruby pussy,” “Teen fucking,” “Irish teen masturbation,” “Hottest collection of Oral St. Patrick’s Day and Readhead porn movie scenes,” “Frotting and cumming,” “Irish girlfriend sucks and rides,” “Irish Pawg,” “Dildo fucking,” “Pregnant Irish redhead,” “Irish wife sunday afternoon,” “Irish slut face fucked,” “Irish wife hotel sex.” “Irish fuck slut big pussy,” “Irish slut from behind,” “Irish car sex,” “Blonde Irish girl sucks,” “Bound and fucked,” “Irish bird sucks dick,” and “Having anal.”
The reason I looked again is that I vaguely remembered the reference to the unclean penis but wasn’t sure. I was shocked to discover that this film clip now took a scroll to find, whereas it was prominent as a first film the first time I looked. I’m not sure whether this means that the films load randomly each time, or this indicates the daily rate of uploads (there was a day between visits). If the latter, that is deeply worrying to me, and suggests that sex workers who are filmed when “performing” sex acts must find themselves online regularly. Indeed, chris says, “When I pull up pornographic websites on my computer I find the first twenty-odd years of my life on display, splayed, trussed, raped, bruised, and chained. I see myself in the faces and poses of the women and girls for sale on my computer screen. I see myself when I was a sex slave, a girl child bred to be a prostitute, bred to make money for men” (in grussendorf and leighton, 2002: 36)
Baldwin, M. A. (1992). “Split at the root: Prostitution and Feminist Discourses of Law Reform.” Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, 5, 47–120.
Bennett, Larry, and Susan Fineran (1998.) “Sexual and severe physical violence among high school students: Power beliefs, gender, and relationship.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Vol. 68, Iss 4, (Oct): 645-652.
Farley, Melissa. (2005) “Prostitution Harms Women Even if Indoors. Reply to Weitzer.” Violence Against Women, Vol. 11, 7: pp. 950-964.
Farley, Melissa, Jacqueline Lynne, and Ann J. Cotton. (2005.) “Prostitution in Vancouver: Violence and the Colonization of First Nations Women.” Transcultural Psychiatry, Vol. 42, 2: pp. 242-271.
Grenz, Sabine (2005.) “Intersections of Sex and Power in Research on Prostitution: A Female Researcher Interviewing Male Heterosexual Clients.” Signs, Vol. 30, No. 4, New Feminist Approaches to Social Science Methodologies Special Issue, Editors: Sandra Harding and Kathryn Norberg (Summer), pp.2091-2113
grussendorf, christine and jill leighton. (2002) “reader discretion advised: Stripping as a System of Prostitution.” Off Our Backs, Vol. 32, No. 1/2 (January-February), pp. 34-40
Martin A. (1999.) “Focusing on the Clients of Street Prostitutes: A Creative Approach to Reducing Violence Against Women.” Monto Ph.D. Document No.: 182859. Date received: October 30, 1999
Oberman, Michelle. (1994) “Turning Girls into Women: Re-Evaluating Modern Statutory Rape Law.” J. Crim. L. & Criminology 15.
Whowell, Mary. (2010) “Male Sex Work: Exploring Regulation in England and Wales.” Journal of Law and Society. Vol. 37, No. 1, Regulating Sex/Work: From Crime Control to Neo-liberalism? (Mar.), pp. 125-144.
Yen, Iris. (2008.) “Of Vice and Men: A New Approach to Eradicating Sex Trafficking by Reducing Male Demand through Educational Programs and Abolitionist Legislation.” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. Volume 98. Issue 2 (Winter), Article 6.
I decided to dip my toes into this You-Tubey thing and make some short videos.
Part of that is a developing series I'm calling "Tales from an Activist's Past." I think it's important that people know the history of their movement to give some context to what they are doing and, more importantly, learn the core values of the movement that they have joined.
Those values are contested and changing of course, as we'd expect. However, vegan animal rights means something and there are far too many trying to water down or even radically redefine what veganism is. Some think that veganism should include the eating of other animals which they fail to recognise as rights violations.
Anyway - I've done three of these "Tales" videos now - enjoy!!
Nick Pendergrast was featured on a recent podcast from The Species Barrier Radio Show. Dr. Pendergrast was asked about his PhD thesis on the animal movement, (with contributions from his podcast co-host, Katie.)
In this disturbing and revealing interview, Dr. Pendergrast explains why the main groups in the "animal rights movement" do not have a clear vegan message.
The reason - you've guessed it - MONEY.
It's always a great honour to be invited onto The Species Barrier Radio Show & Podcast. On this occasion, it was to talk about the Simon Amstell Film, Carnage, and What the Health.
Marcus, Ruth and I chew the cud on other issues too - like reducetarianism (grrrrr!)
Play the first media player to hear just my part, and the second to hear the whole show (which is well worth it). Ruth & Marcus also interview Katie and Nick from Progressive Podcast Australia.
On the 21st February 2017, Anna Charlton, Gary Francione, and Bob Linden spoke on Go Vegan Radio about the late Tom Regan who had died a few days earlier. It can be regarded as a critical tribute. Click the player above.
By and large, it was a fond and sympathetic remembrance of the time when Francione was working with PeTA, and it seemed for a while that rights-based animal rights may have become a force in the animal advocacy movement. Essentially, the corporate welfare movement strangled animal rights at birth to the extent that there is no animal rights movement now.
Of course, the phrase “animal rights” is heard often enough but used by virtually all animal advocates rhetorically as a label only. I don’t see any of the emergent You Tubers of the movement – and none in the national group structure – showing much evidence that they are at all familiar with rights-based theory on human relations with other sentient beings.
Charlton notes that Regan was frustrated by the lack of philosophical foundation to the animal movement. Newkirk and Pacheco, co-founders of PeTA, had read Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation but Regan’s The Case for Animal Rights was neglected and ultimately rejected by PeTA and the rest of the animal movement which was sliding into (or back into) animal welfarism during the 1990s. To this day, the only philosophy book PeTA sell is Singer’s which they mistakenly describe as an animal rights text.
Francione notes that he and Regan wanted to figure out how to bring a rights-based foundation into the animal movement. So, in terms of timescale, we are talking about the mid to late 1980s to 1996.
The story that emerges in this tribute of sorts to Tom Regan is of the birth and then the death of the North American animal rights movement. Francione admits that Britain was ahead of the States on this but, again, there is no rights-based animal rights movement in Britain at present either. That Regan was becoming a force in Europe was demonstrated in the lead he took in the 1989 BBC Arena animal rights debate. Regan’s opening and summing up of this survives on YT.
Francione claims that his own break with Regan occurred between two “marches for the animals.” The first was in 1990 and the second 1996. Francione suggests that, between those years, animal welfarists organised to marginalise animal rightists.
In 1992, Animals’ Agenda published a “Point/Counterpoint” article in which Regan & Francione argued for abolitionism, stating that a movement’s means creates its ends, and vice versa, while Ingrid Newkirk of PeTA argued for new welfarism. “Going into bat for animal welfarists,” Newkirk trots out the language we now hear all the time: “steps in the right direction” – “purists” – “all or nothing.” Interesting that Newkirk even offers up a reduced view of veganism in 1992, saying that some “vegans” support animal experimentation. No wonder that the original radicalism of veganism is in danger of being destroyed.
Regan and Francione, it seems, recognised that the rights-based surge that emerged in 1990 in North America was to be deliberately put down by welfarist corporations, and that the 1996 event was designed to re-establish the dominance of animal welfarism in the “animal rights” movement.
Francione says he writes about all this in his 1996 book, Rain Without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement (RWT), in the postscript. Regan and Francione called for a boycott of the 1996 march, seeing what was going on in the politics of the movement as a whole, but Francione claims that Regan eventually caved in to welfarist pressure and “nastiness,” and decided to support the second march in 1996. Francione suggest that, at this point, Regan fully embraces new welfare methodology but I think that a different interpretation is possible.
1996 is also the year in which the first embers of the Francione countermovement began to glow – dimly at first. Francione split with PeTA and began to evolve what we now know as the Francione Abolitionist Approach. However, in the RWT postscript, Francione suggests that the difference between himself and Regan may be that he begins to see himself as utterly outside of the existing movement (hence seeing his “approach” now as a “countermovement” to the animal advocacy movement). On the other hand, Regan, naively perhaps, seems to have thought that he could work within the prevailing movement and bring it into line – or more into line - with rights-based animal rights.
Francione’s own account in RWT shows that Regan had not fully embraced new welfarism. Francione reports that Regan, after agreeing to talk at the 1996 march, nevertheless said critically that he thought it was a “welfarist event” while accepting that animal welfare “does some good.” Regan also criticised PeTA for its move into sexist campaigning, which is still a strong feature of PeTA’s current stance, along with racist and ableist campaigns.
Maybe if Regan and Francione had stayed within the animal movement as strong rights-based voices, things would be different now. Instead, Francione bailed out. Francione prefers the interpretation that Regan fell into welfarism, rather than he abandoned the movement, leaving Regan’s position much weaker.
As ever, Charlton provides a more nuanced analysis of events. For example, both Charlton and Francione believe that Regan struggled to deal with the bullying and hatred that quickly came from the welfare camp when Regan and Francione called for a boycott of the 1996 march, but Charlton keeps the stress on education and said that this was Regan’s strongest suit. In terms of Francione’s allegation that Regan collapsed into welfare, Charlton’s view suggests an alternative, that Regan thought he could operate as an educator within the movement rather than deliberately placing himself increasingly as an outsider, a status that Francione seems to welcome rather than seeing being an outsider as a block to him having any influence at all within the movement.
It is hard to imagine that, either way, the welfarists would not win out. I think Francione is right if he’s implying that education inside the movement would be very hard. Probably impossible before the internet age, given the gatekeeping powers that the national corporations had back then, and still do in terms of access to conferences. The internet improves things hugely in terms of maverick voices having the opportunity to be heard. The internet brings its own problems, however, not least the sheer amount of information available on virtually any topic.
So, even though there are rights-based voices that no longer can be silenced, they still can be marginalised it seems – and that’s even if animal advocates go to the trouble of investigating what animal rights means. We only have to look at what the “largest animal rights conference in the world” offers up as “animal rights” to see that welfarism is presented as animal rights but devoid of the theoretical foundation.
I would dearly love to see the new You Tubers adopting a rights-based position and reflecting it in their language which currently is stuck in the welfarist paradigm of talking about issues of animal cruelty.
Francione has criticised Regan’s theoretical position in recent years – he rightly is critical of the subject-of-a-life criteria, and has unfairly attacked Regan on the one million dogs lifeboat scenario - but says that there were other disagreements too. At one point in the broadcast, Francione suggests that Regan, like Singer, would eat dairy cheese if a restaurant got a request wrong. As ever with Francione, we are receiving a version, because it is also the case that, although claiming to have become vegan in 1982, Francione writes 14 years later in 1996 that he’s a vegetarian – so maybe he wouldn’t have objected to a bit of misplaced cheese then either for all we know. Francione says that, for a time, they had tried to cling on to the term “vegetarian” and wanted to “rehabilitate” it. He says that they were “basically” talking about veganism in those days.
So, would the present movement be different if Regan and Francione had stuck together? It is an intriguing prospect but it is clear that, later in life, Regan’s health wasn’t good. I think that’s why Regan didn’t respond to the recent attacks on his position, not least from Francione himself. I think it may also be possible that Regan recognised that he didn't have the time to start a new social movement from scratch, one that would always be in the shadow - and confused with - the existing animal movement. As said, we may ask pointedly whether rights-based animal rights would not be virtually forgotten in the “animal rights movement” as it is now had Francione not abandoned animal rights as the basis of his claims-making. He did this on the grounds that animal rights as a term has been appropriated by the welfarists. Of course it has – they’ll use anything that may make a buck. They are now calling themselves abolitionist when it suits them, which Francione has acknowledged and complained about. He should have stayed in the fight for animal rights.
We don’t get anywhere by running away. Ideas like animal rights and veganism have to be fought for or they will be devalued and redefined into something else.
This broadcast really does reveal that Francione’s critique of single-issues is totally stuck in the 1980s. He is completely out-of-date on this, and still refers to events in the 1980s in every criticism of single-issues as if they are still relevant. He alleges that Regan “went back” to single issue campaigns. I reject that, at least in the sense that Francione means; the way single-issue campaigns were back in the 1980s.
I think that Regan would recognise that the people doing single-issues in the 21st century correspond to how Francione thinks that single-issues can work. In other words, if single issues are part of an overarching vegan campaign, Francione believes that they are acceptable. He fails to recognise that this is what’s happened. To maintain his dated attack on single-issues, he cannot look at what’s actually happening in the movement, certainly in the grassroots, but drop back to what was happening in the last century.
Bob Linden, to his credit, reveals that, for many years and in terms of many campaigns, he simply “followed the leaders,” and thus got involved in lots of welfare and single-issue campaigning. He does say that, although people were all vegans in those days (something Francione disputes in relation to the prime movers of the movement), the campaigns were not focused on veganism. This is more evidence against the position of Matt Ball who, in an appalling recent video, claimed that vegan education had been going on “for decades” and has failed.
Below is the 2006 Go Vegan Radio show mentioned by Bob Linden
There is a lot of debate about the meaning of veganism in social media spaces.
I find it frustrating that everyone immediately turns to their sources about the definitions(s) of vegan and veganism during these conversations. The 1979 Vegan Society definition is often wrongly credited to Donald Watson who wasn't exactly on the ball when it came to defining veganism.
Look at any definition of a very big idea and the definition tends to fail to fully capture everything about it. Check out, for example, definitions of Marxism and/or quantum mechanics. Expecting a single definition to explain a complex idea is to expect way too much. Indeed, modern internet definitions of such ideas tend to contain numerous hyperlinks to aspects of the subject not adequately captured in the stark initial definition.
Considering that Donald Watson described veganism as the "greatest cause on earth," it is not surprising that definitions of this big idea tend to be very limited. Watson is obviously a very important person in the history of the vegan social movement, being a prime mover in the formation of The Vegan Society in 1944.
Some overblown statements are made about Watson, though, not least that he was "the father of veganism," or that he "invented veganism." As noted above, the 1979 vegan definition - the one about "as far as is possible and practicable" - is often said to have been written in 1944 by Watson. In 1979, The Vegan Society became a charity and needed to update its memorandum and articles of association. It was at this time that this vegan definition was written
In October 2015, in a blog entitled, Compassionate Spirit, Keith Akers wrote a "quick history" about the definition of veganism. Akers notes that,
According to VeggieVision and Collectively Free, the repeated mistake that Donald Watson wrote the 1979 definition of veganism in the 1940s has tended to make more invisible the role of women in the formation of the vegan social movement. Akers claims that the word "vegan" was coined by Donald Watson and Dorothy Watson, while Collectively Free suggest that Watson and Elsie Shrigley* coined it.
I often tell my sociology students that sociologists are the products of their time, as we all are - even early vegan movement pioneers. There are current claims that veganism is all about, or only about, diet, or only about other animals. Neither claim is true but that is not to say that a lot of what the philosophy of veganism is about is what vegans eat and the avoidance of animal products. The focus of veganism is the relations between human beings and other animals - but that is not the scope of veganism.
However, because the founders of the vegan social movement wrote in a non-polemic style, the wider scope of veganism is not expressed in ways that slap readers around the face, although it's always there, bubbling under, if you like.
This applies to the writings of Donald Watson as much as Leslie Cross, Eva Batt, Kathleen Jannaway, and Arthur Ling. It is quite clear, however, that Donald Watson in particular was virtually forced to concentrate on issues of health in the early years of The Vegan Society.
Writing "The Early History of The Vegan Society" in the 21st birthday edition of The Vegan (Autumn 1965), Watson spells out the situation. Let's mark the radicalism of the vegan pioneers right away. He writes that the first five issues of The Vegan News establishes that veganism was becoming seen as "a philosophy of life" and a "movement is born which in its general application could revolutionise [humanity]."** However, these are the final words in Watson's article - this is not the tub-thumping, headline grabbing, style we are used to in the 21st century.
Watson notes that, long before 1944, some vegetarians had suggested the possibility of living without the consumption of any animal produce, only to be met by charges from within the vegetarian movement that they were "extremists" (yes, there is nothing original about the position of the so-called Vegan Strategist).
According to Watson, even the great Henry Salt said that the position of those later to be called vegans was based on "cock and bull" arguments. In the 1930s, there were claims that human children are better off brought up without consuming calf food, and even some dietitions were considering whether plant protein should be considered superior to animal protein. So, the founders of the vegan social movement settled on something of a single-issue - to establishing a "non-dairy section" in the British Vegetarian Society. They were turned down flat, leading to the meeting in 1944 in London's Attic Club that founded The Vegan Society. By 1945, the vegan movement pioneers declare opposition to the consumption of all animal produce, not just cow milk.
As Akers notes, the American Vegan Society (AVS) came up with arguably a better definition of veganism in 1960, years before the limp British effort of 1979.
What's missing from this are these lines from the AVS definition, again pointing towards greater things
We should remember that the early vegan pioneers were told by virtually everyone - including doctors - that they would die if they did not eat animal produce. In the early years, then, Donald Watson felt the need to focus on health and, as said, rather neglected the formal definition of veganism. Eventually, in the 1950s, Leslie Cross stepped in to point out that a definition should be sorted out.
When Cross talks about veganism, its expansive vision is less submerged. For example, in the 10th anniversary edition of The Vegan (Winter, 1954), the editorial was written by John Heron. The overall piece is a bit hippy trippy but he does state this: veganism is "the doctrine that [humanity] should live without exploiting [other] animals." Cross, in the next article in the edition, entitled "The Surge for Freedom," seeks to elaborate on this idea. It is clear that he's talking about freedom across the board - and even makes a statement we may balk at now - that Britain is composed of "freedom-loving islands."
He states that the grand vision of veganism involves not exploiting other animals and that would be a great benefit to human animals too. He poses a question - why did the doctrine that humans should live without exploiting other animals come into being - and provides the answer
The early vegan social movement pioneers pointed out fairly regularly that they believed that veganism would lead to the moral evolution of humanity. Cross further outlines a vision of a vegan future - including deliveries of vegan milk!
Focus and Scope
There are many modern-day vegans who want to reduce the meaning of veganism. The reducetarians, vegan and not, seem to think that they need to attack, denigrate, and mock vegans and veganism in order to ask people to eat a few less other animals. There are also people who are wary of pro-intersectionality, so any idea that the founders of their social movement held views that we would probably call intersectional now, scares them.
Some animal advocates want veganism to be only about other animals, full stop, and they are furious when they find out this is not the case. Their only recourse is denial and to keep saying it over and over in the hope that one day it will be true. For example, a YouTubber angrily states
Unfortunately for such people, wanting something so bad does not make it so. Recently, in a fb exchange, I tried to explain to a "veganism is ONLY about [other] animals!" person that, if he felt that way, fine, so long as he understood that he's out of step with the people who founded the vegan social movement. His response was: "F*ck your founders."
The position Cross outlines above existed in the vegan movement at least four years previously. For example, in the Spring 1951 The Vegan magazine, Cross reported on new rules that were agreed in November 1950 at a special general meeting of The Vegan Society.
Cross said that, apart from the technicalities of being rules and the constitution of the society, they were designed to "enshrine and safeguard our ideals." Essentially, they were a statement of vegan goals, set out in two parts. The first part dealt with the general doctrine of veganism, that humans should not exploit other animals. The aim here to make it clear that this is not just about "food issues" involving the use of other animals, but issues such as vivisection, hunting (in the British sense, hunting is generally not about providing food for humans), and "working" other animals.
Foreseeing developments in the animal movement in decades to come, Cross notes that The Vegan Society of 1950 was declaring itself animal liberators, not welfarists; that the aim wasn't to make animal use more tolerable but to abolish it (yes, folks, there is not much that's original in the position of the Francione countermovement).
The second aim is about the consequent liberation of humans
There may be misgivings about the mention of slavery here - it was part of vegan claims-making right from the beginning of the society, in 1944. There may also be disagreement with the point that it is the exploiters rather than the exploited who suffer the most. I'm not comfortable with that but the general trust of this passage is to do with the fact that they saw that veganism, and the liberation of other animals brought about by the abolition of animal use, would aid the moral development of humanity as a whole.
I hope that this blog entry goes some way to assist those who engage in "what is veganism?" debates, and I want to underline one final time that a definition cannot capture the big picture of a big idea; that there is an important understanding that we must never forget: yes, veganism has a focus, the relationship between humans and other animals, but the vegan social movement founders never stopped at that limited place - veganism's scope is wider and, indeed, it is true, veganism is about humans too.
* Sometimes known as Sally Shrigley and also Elsie Salling.
** As a product of his time, Watson wrote "mankind" not "humanity."
CW - speciesist language.
The Bob Linden/Gary Francione countermovement provide an interesting analysis of the animal movement, looking at Matt Ball's new video inciting people to eat cows rather than chickens, Brian Kateman's mocking of vegans, and an "animal rights conference" having all the reducetarians as guests.
These audio extracts are from Go Vegan Radio (June 12th, 2017).
The rise of the reducetarian movement seems to be an interesting challenge to the vegan movement, especially since it seems that in order to promote their position, reducetarians apparently feel a need to attack, or mock, vegans (as purists and extreme) and veganism (as too radical). Some of them use ableist rhetoric to emphasise the point, stating that consistent vegans are "crazies."
There are lots of animal advocates, of course, who subscribe to - or at least understand - the notion of different strokes for different folks. However, it is not acceptable if the reducetarian movement somehow requires the denigration of vegans and veganism.
So, what have we seen so far in this regard? I think we could pull out from the reducetarian crowd a number of examples of them mocking vegans and veganism. Brian Kateman, president and co-founder of the Reducetarian Foundation and editor of The Reducetarian Solution does it in a TED talk, Matthew Ball, who works for One Step for Animals and, until very recently, Farm Sanctuary does it in a video suggesting that many vegans are rude and fanatical, and "rightly" seen as akin to Hezbollah; Sebastian Joy, who runs the German Vegetarian Society, does it in talks at animal rights conferences, and "the 'vegan' strategist," Tobias Leenaert does it whenever possible.
I'll just concentrate on one: Matt Ball. His position is based on distortion. In a recent video inciting people to eat the flesh of cows rather than that of chickens, he cites Peter Singer's Animal Liberation as a main reason for the abject failure of vegan education. Why? Singer isn't a vegan, and writes in Animal Liberation: "I do not, on balance, object to free-range egg production." Singer, like Ball, is a supporter of the reducetarian movement. To cite Animal Liberation in this context is nothing more than propaganda.
Ball then cites PeTA! Seriously, a useless sexist, racist, and ableist organisation that gives awards to slaughterhouse designers ain't doing it for the vegan cause? Big surprise there.
The truth is, vegan education has only just begun. In THIS CENTURY only has the animal movement begun to see veganism as the moral baseline, to the extent that it has of course. There is push back from careerists in the movement to seeing veganism as the moral baseline. Melanie Joy is not keen, for example, but then she writes in her famous book: "it's possible to procure eggs and dairy products without violence."
Do vegans actually read these books before they pronounce that their authors stand for veganism?
So, vegan education has only just begun - check out this audio clip from Ronnie Lee, the co-founder of the Animal Liberation Front who went vegan in 1971. Ronnie has effectively "seen it all," and he certainly knows that vegan education is, historically, brand new.
Think about this - did you know that "Mr. Vegan Education," Gary Francione was still writing about himself as "still very much a vegetarian" in 1996, even though he says he went vegan in 1982? Moreover, in the index of his 2000 book, Introduction to Animal Rights, "vegan" is not mentioned once in the index but "vegetarianism" is at least 8 times, along with this little line from page 17: "The suggestion that taking animal interests seriously requires that we become vegetarians may seem radical."
That's only 17 years ago. Repeat after me: VEGAN EDUCATION HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN. Listen to Ronnie!!!
If you are an animal advocate doing street work for veganism, take heart. This aspect of animal campaigning has only just begun and I bet you have seen a great deal of progress in just the last 5 years, right?
Finally, I, along with the ARZone team, interviewed Matthew Ball in 2011. Then, he suggested that they regretted having "vegan" in the Vegan Outreach title. Doesn't bring in the donations, apparently. Ball was asked: "Matt, if you had to do it all over again, would you still call it Vegan Outreach?" to which he replied: "Good question. We actually had a serious question about this about six years ago. For a variety of reasons, we didn’t change the name. But I know having "vegan" in our name hurts us in different ways, most clearly on fundraising."
Repeat after me: BEWARE OF CAREERISTS! and VEGAN EDUCATION HAS JUST BEGUN!!
Dr. Roger Yates is a rights advocate and sociologist