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October 24, 2002 Feminist speaker links sexism, carnivorism and pornography



Carol J. Adams poses in front of her slide presentation.

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

by Sara Collin

“Feminists do not see different things than other people. They see the same things differently.” With that disclaimer out of the way, Carol J. Adams began her unusual slide show, in which she made connections between meat, pornography and violence against women.

Close to 100 people showed up to hear Adams speak on March 7 in the D.B. Clark Theatre in honour of International Women’s Day. The event was presented by the Simone de Beavoir Institute and co-sponsored by the Religion Department.

Simone de Beauvoir Institute Principal Lillian S. Robinson introduced Adams. “I wish I could wish you a happy International Women’s Day,” she said to the audience, “but it’s not that kind of holiday.” Rather, Robinson said March 8 is an opportunity to reflect on women’s issues, to celebrate being together as women and to celebrate the women’s movement.

Celebrating the 10th anniversary edition of her first book, The Sexual Politics of Meat‚ Adams tried to convey the “positive, liberating experience of veganism and feminism” in her presentation. She warned the audience that some of the images they were about to see might be disturbing, as they were soon to find out.

Some of the most shocking slides Adams used showed the carcasses of dead cows. Watching their decapitated heads lined up in a slaughter house made most of the audience grimace in disgust. But such images are rarely seen by the public, Adams explained. She contends that the meat industry works at protecting us from thinking about eating dead animals.

Though Adams said she has always considered herself a feminist, she was not always a vegan. Her decision to stop eating meat came one day after returning home from college. As she was unpacking her bags, someone told her that her pony, Jimmy, had been killed that day. Adams was still thinking of the dead carcass of her once-beloved pony as she stared down at a hamburger later that day.

“That night, I bit into a hamburger,” she said. “I thought, I am eating a dead cow. And I made the connection between what I was eating and a living, breathing animal.” After that night, Adams stopped eating meat forever. Soon after, she began connecting her feminism with her refusal to eat meat.

“All women live in sexual objectification like fish live in water,” Adams said. “The pornography of meat makes inequality sexy. When animals are sexualized, they can get away with [the image] because it denies harm.”

Some slides depicting sexualized animals included the cover of Playboar magazine, an ad featuring a female-gendered pig masturbating, and a cow with a sexy bra and underwear on.

While Adams has previously focused on the connection between meat eating and violence against women, her newest book, The Pornography of Meat‚ will further outline the connection she makes between society’s treatment of animals and pornography.

In the discussion which followed her presentation, however, Adams’ anti-pornography stance proved to be contentious among students. After the presentation, Concordia student Alison Tim-mons said she “failed to recognize the multiplicity of sexual roles. The positive and empowering aspects of S&M and pornography were neglected.”

Other students disagreed with Adams’ unwavering anti-meat stance. Steve Riffe said, “The speaker disregarded the cultural and economic necessity meat consumption has in indigenous populations in the Canadian North.”

However, Adams ended by saying, “Just as we have a [negative] universal dictum about cannibalism, I think it should be the same for carnivorism.”