- Are we making a huge strategic error?
- Who are our “best” audience(s)?
- Why are we so obsessed with what we perceive to be the “mainstream”?
- Do we alienate our “natural allies” by going after the mainstream?
I built on a short clip from a talk given by pattrice jones in 2012 entitled “Commonalities of Oppression.” This talk is about intersectionality and jones’ frustration that the animal movement were not getting it back then.
This is the clip I showed
The “best” people – meaning those most receptive to an argument based on justice and rights – are not to be found in the mainstream in significant numbers – but the good news on that is that the mainstream is not the majority. When we say the word “mainstream,” it seems to imply “the most.” However, as pattrice jones suggests, the majority are all those peoples found outside of the mainstream. More good news: these peoples are already politicised and fighting for change on a wide variety of issues.
The “mainstream,” conversely, are probably the hardest people for us to reach with our radical vegan animal rights message. Indeed, it is from among the mainstream that the UKIP and Trump supporters arise. There are deeply conservative elements in the mainstream.
This begs a huge question for the animal advocacy movement – why the heck do we target the hardest people to reach? To make matter worse, however, is the fact that, by targeting the mainstream, and by getting behind reducetarian vegetarians like Tobias Leenaert, who says his position is “all about mainstreamness,” we alienate those people in other social justice movements, or who are oppressed by the prevailing system.
Why would we do this?
My next slides contained a content warning – for they featured the sexism, racism, and ableism in the animal movement, especially but not exclusively by the likes of PeTA.
Here are some of those slides.
That talk took place on the 4th of December. Imagine my shock and disappointment that, on the 6th of December, PeTA repeated a publicity stunt in Dublin city centre featuring an almost nude, slim, white, female-presenting person laid on a large plate on the pavement. In other words, a classic devoid of imagination PeTA stunt involving the sexual commodification of females.
Not surprising, the mass media and social media coverage has been generally bad to appalling. If PeTA think that this sexist rubbish is an educational tool, they are more deluded than ever. It is counterproductive, counter-revolutionary, and anti-intersectional.
The sooner national group dinosaurs like PeTA are closed the better - certainly all the better for the grassroots. Grassroots groups such as the Vegan Information Project, Vegan Education on the Go, Earthlings Experience Dublin, and the National Animal Rights Association, who are out on the street regularly, will probably have to field the backlash from this juvenile sexist stunt.
As ever, this is yet another nail in the coffin of making meaning connections and alliances with other social justice movements - those who already share many of our values and yet we alienate them at every turn.
* there seems to be different estimate of the numbers needed to forge real change but all the estimates are well below 50%.