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First published in 1990, The Sexual Politics of Meat is a landmark text in the ongoing debates about animal rights. In the two decades since, the book has inspired controversy and heated debate. Praise for The Sexual Politics of Meat: First published in 1990, The Sexual Politics of Meat is a landmark text in the ongoing debates about animal rights. In the two decades since, the book has inspired controversy and heated debate. Praise for The Sexual Politics of Meat: CAROL J. ADAMS i s the author of The Pornography of Meat (Continuum, 2004), and co-author of Beyond Animal Rights (Continuum, 2000), and The Bedside, Bathtub, and Armchair Companion to Jane Austen (Continuum, 2008). She has toured as a speaker throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. More information can be found at her website: http://www.triroc.com/caroladams


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First published in 1990, The Sexual Politics of Meat is a landmark text in the ongoing debates about animal rights. In the two decades since, the book has inspired controversy and heated debate. Praise for The Sexual Politics of Meat: First published in 1990, The Sexual Politics of Meat is a landmark text in the ongoing debates about animal rights. In the two decades since, the book has inspired controversy and heated debate. Praise for The Sexual Politics of Meat: CAROL J. ADAMS i s the author of The Pornography of Meat (Continuum, 2004), and co-author of Beyond Animal Rights (Continuum, 2000), and The Bedside, Bathtub, and Armchair Companion to Jane Austen (Continuum, 2008). She has toured as a speaker throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. More information can be found at her website: http://www.triroc.com/caroladams

30 review for The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    “If the body becomes a special focus for women's struggle for freedom then what is ingested is a logical initial locus for announcing one's independence. Refusing the male order in food, women practiced the theory of feminism through their bodies and their choice of vegetarianism.” This book questions the nature of feminism; it questions its purpose, it’s incompleteness and its prejudices within the world at large. Now that an odd thing to say isn’t it? Prejudices, in a movement that argues for “If the body becomes a special focus for women's struggle for freedom then what is ingested is a logical initial locus for announcing one's independence. Refusing the male order in food, women practiced the theory of feminism through their bodies and their choice of vegetarianism.” This book questions the nature of feminism; it questions its purpose, it’s incompleteness and its prejudices within the world at large. Now that an odd thing to say isn’t it? Prejudices, in a movement that argues for equality between the sexes? Now let me explain. Feminism is about the protection of the female body; it’s about the fruition of equal rights for women in society: it’s about breaking the stupid misogynistic rules set by the dominating patriarchy that cause differences. Feminism argues that we all deserve choice, the basic right to make our own decisions and exist on the same level as everyone else. It’s not a big ask, freedom and equality should belong to all regardless of sex, gender or race. “Dominance functions best in a culture of disconnections and fragmentation. Feminism recognizes connections. Imagine.” However, Carol J. Adams extends this idea to the non-human. The questions she raises are very pertinent. On a basic level, she asks feminists to consider what they are arguing for. As advocates of female rights and motherhood they would naturally be opposed to sexual exploitation and the forced separation between a mother and a child (which occurs in all forms of animal agriculture.) Adams suggests that in the very act of eating meat, feminists are defeating their own objectives. She argues that one cannot call themselves a feminist if they partake in such things. In a way, they are destroying the female body by consuming it. And it’s a very interesting point. Rather than offering criticism, she suggests all feminists need to be vegetarian in order to be stronger feminists. Now lets rewind, this isn’t an effort to reduce the achievements of feminist or what they do. There have been many great feminists who achieved wonders for women, regardless of what they happened to eat. What Adams is suggesting, through cold hard logic and fact, that in order to be a better feminist, a more complete feminist, one should be a vegetarian or a vegan. By avoiding meat, it is a direct challenge to the patriarchy and the norms that set a slaughtered female body on our plates and call it dinner. “In some respects we all acknowledge the sexual politics of meat. When we think that men, especially male athletes, need meat, or when wives report that they could give up meat but they fix it for their husbands, the overt association between meat eating and virile maleness is enacted. It is the covert associations that are more elusive to pinpoint as they are so deeply embedded within our culture. Toxic masculinity is also an issue. Adams brings to the fray the idea that men need meat. It’s associated with masculinity, and vegans and vegetarians who don’t partake are often represented as weak or womanly. This is of course false within society. Vegans and vegetarian can be world leading athletes; yet, this label remains. Adams addresses some of the propaganda and societal conditioning that creates this sense of unease for men. Disproportionately, there is a much larger percentage of women who don’t eat meat than there are men who do not. Food for thought, I think. This is a very important book in the realms of animal studies and ecocriticism. And, from a personal point of view, it has influenced me greatly as both a vegan and a student of literature. I urge people to read it, even if it is just to see a perspective different to their own. This was written 30 years ago now, and when considering the recent surge in green movements, animal rights advocacy and veganism, it’s more relevant now than ever. These ideas are gaining more credence and authority as time goes on. ___________________________________ You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree __________________________________

  2. 4 out of 5

    Zanna

    Recently my adult English class were studying the topic of 'nature' which had a section on 'animals'. One of the opinions on the page was something along the lines of 'the world would be a healthier and happier place if everyone went vegetarian and it would be good for the environment too'. After giving time for students to discuss this and other ideas, I asked if they agreed with it and was answered by a chorus of heartfelt 'no!'s. Why not, I wanted to hear, and the students vehemently insisted Recently my adult English class were studying the topic of 'nature' which had a section on 'animals'. One of the opinions on the page was something along the lines of 'the world would be a healthier and happier place if everyone went vegetarian and it would be good for the environment too'. After giving time for students to discuss this and other ideas, I asked if they agreed with it and was answered by a chorus of heartfelt 'no!'s. Why not, I wanted to hear, and the students vehemently insisted that eating meat was essential to survival and health. You have to eat meat they said, using the strongest form for expressing obligation available to them. Since I've mentioned that I'm a vegan before, my students were arguing against the evidence standing in front of them, and perhaps I should have demanded an explanation as to how I had somehow survived for the past 16 years during which I haven't eaten meat, but I focussed on dismissing The Protein Myth, which has folks believing that essential amino acids are missing from vegetable foods, or that the amino acids in such foods are not the same as the ones we need to make proteins in our bodies. I wanted to squash the bad science quickly and move the class on to ethical arguments. I was unprepared for this wall of resistance and strength of conviction in the necessity of meat. I don't know why I was so surprised, since I had been reading Carol Adams' book 'The Sexual Politics of Meat', which addresses the mysterious difficulties of vegetarians to be heard over the dominance of 'the texts of meat'. Since these are written into white culture we are heard as aggressive in our very refusal to partake. Plutarch is quoted suggesting vegetarians flip the question everyone asks us and invite the interlocutor to explain why they feel it's alright to eat the dead flesh of animals, but this level of provocation usually backfires. One of the uses of spurious scientific arguments against vegetarianism is obviously to deflect the possibility of an ethical discussion; likewise the hypotheticals wise guys and gals love to bombard us with relating to desert islands and other unlikely situations. 'What would you do if I put a gun to a cow's head and threatened to pull the trigger if you refused to eat a burger?' wondered a classmate of mine recently, surely begging the question 'but... why would you do that?' Anyway, while the terminology seemed a bit out of date to me, much of the analysis was valuable. The idea of meat as a macho food is overt, but Adams seeks to illuminate how deep the parallels run between the status and optics of women and of animals in white Euro-USian culture and society. I was actually most moved by the opening section in which she points out that women everywhere go without food, especially meat, to ensure that men eat well and eat meat. The discussion of rape though, made neither logical nor intuitive sense to me, and I lost the thread of the argument at times. A key topic that does resonate for me is the development of meat consumption. Adams identifies four historical stages, the first being vegetarianism, followed by hunting, followed by subsistence farming, followed by industrialised agri-business. The Euro-USian world is obviously in 'the fourth stage', which is mostly pretty horrific. Adams considers meat-eating on the scale of this cultural group to be enmeshed with white supremacy and to some extent imposed with colonisation around the world. Listening to Radio 4's Farming Today I regularly hear reports on British farmers seeking expanding markets in 'BRIC' countries where animalised and feminised protein (meat, dairy products and eggs in Adams' terminology) are being consumed in increasing quantities. The analysis on the radio never gets beyond 'they want it because they can afford it now', continually reinforcing the food hierarchy with meat at the top. Little attention is paid to the health or environmental implications, or the farmers' intention to create demand. Compassion for 'livestock' is obviously unmentionable. While I appreciate Adams' reflections on meat-eating as white supremacy, and agree with her critique of Pat Parker's poem 'To my Vegetarian Friend', I feel the aspect of intersections between culture and racism and meat industries is underdeveloped. Reading Toni Morrison's Beloved, one of many books that confronts me with the fact that Black slaves in the US were treated far worse even than animals raised for food who, as Adams points out, receive 'the trappings of care' from humans, I am reminded that white veg*ans like myself are regularly guilty of reinflicting, reinscribing or callously ignoring white supremacy and other aspects of kyriarchy. This week I read about vegans of colour protesting the antics of Thug Kitchen. The Sistah Vegan Project and other thoughtful, intersectional work should be required reading for vegan activists! Still, Adams started the ball rolling taking veggies to task for misogyny, not that it's over. Tweeting as my local Green Party branch on the topic of raising the number of women in parliament, I received a response from a white man: "why not focus on helping animals instead? #govegan" presumably, only male animals. Adams makes an intriguing connection between the fragmentation of animal bodies and of texts, specifically, the silencing of women's texts and especially as 'bearers of the vegetarian word'. It is important that Frankenstein, much analysed and admired, has been ignored as a vegetarian text, and also that so many attempts have been made to attribute it to Shelley's husband, since it's inconceivable that a woman can have written something so brilliant. I really enjoyed the literature analysis, and I will add veg*anism to the lenses I try to look through in my reading, as it seems to be all too rarely applied. One of the questions addressed by Adams' analysis is that of why women, and specifically some feminists, have been drawn to vegetarianism. Aside from the clear association of meat and masculinity, to what extent have women embraced plant based diets as a form of protest against patriarchal violence? Because feminism and vegetarianism both tend to be ridiculed and excluded from mainstream discourse, there is a need for loving excavation of vegetarian reflections in woman oriented texts, such as the work of Alice Walker. She mentions an (Victorian?) article about teenage girls who refuse to eat meat, which treats the behaviour as an eating disorder (but, happily, recommends kindness and healthy alternatives, not coercion). This apparently common experience of the body rejecting meat, of meat becoming ineffably wrong was my own at the age of fourteen. Disgust is a strange emotion, and I still cannot say whether mine has its roots in my conscience. I can only say that as I have removed animal products from my diet, I have ceased to see them as food, and increasingly I can't imagine how I ever ate them. I was led to vegetarianism by disgust, and ethical conviction followed; perhaps then, I act, and afterwards find my action good! Going vegan though, I was led by concern for hungry people and warming planet, and compassion for other animals, and disgust came after. It is not possible for me to separate them - when asked why I am vegan, I say 'all the reasons', so I note that this journey out of eating animals is very personal and full of obstacles. I have to thank countless people for clearing my way, including Adams, but I also have to acknowledge many privileges that have enabled me, such as money, time, whiteness, education, and living in a place with an active and creative vegan community where veganism has some recognition. I am publishing this review in celebration of the start of World Vegan Month and the 70th birthday of the Vegan Society! I invite all my readers to get involved in some delicious way - you definitely don't have to be vegan to <3 vegan ice cream, for example ; )

  3. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    let me preface this review by saying that carol adams is a true pioneer in the field of eco/vegetarian-feminist critical theory. she sheds light on how systems of oppression intersect with one another and how capitalism, patriarchy, racism and classism converge and are expressed in the oppression and exploitation of animals. i think this is a seminal work in the field and warrants thoughtful reading. it provides an alternative critique of capitalist and patriarchal systems of oppression and is a let me preface this review by saying that carol adams is a true pioneer in the field of eco/vegetarian-feminist critical theory. she sheds light on how systems of oppression intersect with one another and how capitalism, patriarchy, racism and classism converge and are expressed in the oppression and exploitation of animals. i think this is a seminal work in the field and warrants thoughtful reading. it provides an alternative critique of capitalist and patriarchal systems of oppression and is a good starting point for feminists interested in furthering this area. that being said, i felt that this work lacked a basis in existing theory and research. this weakened some of adams' claims and arguments. it would have been helpful for adams to painstakingly trace the lineage of her arguements for the reader, especially for those who do not have a background in feminist critical theory or animal liberation. without this, she seemed to leave gaps in many of her claims and conclusions -- which could lead the reader to question the validity of her arguments. i would recommend this book to anyone who is involved in animal liberation or ecofeminism. it is controversial and stimulating.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amy Laurens

    How could I resist a title like this? This is supposed to be a classic, whatever that means. And I really came at this book wanting to like it, being a vegetarian feminist that's long wished for ANY critical theory that I don't consider to be a massive inward-looking circle jerk. But unfortunately it is quite bonkers. There are some basic points I was on board with. There are some interesting ways that women and meat are connected by "da patriarchy": meat eating is associated with strength and v How could I resist a title like this? This is supposed to be a classic, whatever that means. And I really came at this book wanting to like it, being a vegetarian feminist that's long wished for ANY critical theory that I don't consider to be a massive inward-looking circle jerk. But unfortunately it is quite bonkers. There are some basic points I was on board with. There are some interesting ways that women and meat are connected by "da patriarchy": meat eating is associated with strength and virility and was reserved for men in many cultures through history or if food was scarce. Sexism and eating meat both involve the reduction of women/animals to body parts for consumption, and as a result necessitate a certain denial of the existence of women/animals as conscious beings (Adams calls this phenomenon the "absent referent" which is probably the best concept in here). Thus there's some very early 90s feminist linguistics examining phrases like leg man/breast man and associating this with the names we have for meat and the fact they're usually different from what we call the animals themselves. This is all thought provoking but she's stretching these associations to the point of borderline insanity by arguing that women and animals are in the same boat with regards to "patriarchal oppression". This is as insulting to farm animals as it is to women. I mean, I may have been groped in a club but I've never had to live in a cage so small I can't even turn around in it have I? Men let us live in their own houses with them! Like pet dogs! Lucky us! Thank god I'm not a lit theory student any more. How is this sort of wooly thinking supposed to solve actual problems? There is nothing here that will help us achieve global access to education for women. Or close the pay gap. Or achieve higher standards of welfare for animals on farms while still supporting farmers. Or solve the conundrum that, in fact, the best way to protect a rare breed is to vote with your feet and eat it. Or to even consider that, due to industrial farming, it's impossible to even eat vegetables without decimating the lives and natural habitat of all sorts of animals. I could go on. No, the only thing books like this are good for is to make the already converted feel insufferably pleased with themselves. It utterly fails to be persuasive. This is the sort of raving pseudo-intellectualism that gives us feminist vegetarians a bad name.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shel

    The New York Times runs an essay contest on the ethics of meat eating. The judges are animal rights advocates and plant-based nutrition gurus. They are all men. Carol J. Adams wrote "The Sexual Politics of Ethics" and questioned the choice of an all male panel. Why wasn't a single female included (Karen Davis, Pattrice Jones, Lauren Ornelas, Erica Meier, Josephine Donovan, Greta Gaard, Lori Gruen, Marla Rose, Laura Wright, Kim Socha, Breeze Harper, Jasmin Singer or Mariann Sullivan for exampl The New York Times runs an essay contest on the ethics of meat eating. The judges are animal rights advocates and plant-based nutrition gurus. They are all men. Carol J. Adams wrote "The Sexual Politics of Ethics" and questioned the choice of an all male panel. Why wasn't a single female included (Karen Davis, Pattrice Jones, Lauren Ornelas, Erica Meier, Josephine Donovan, Greta Gaard, Lori Gruen, Marla Rose, Laura Wright, Kim Socha, Breeze Harper, Jasmin Singer or Mariann Sullivan for example)? Why not Carol J. Adams? I looked up from the article. A lot of my own animal rights and plant-based diet role models and heroes are men. Wait, all men. And I hadn't heard of most of these women. Uh oh. There are some thoughtful ideas about "What’s Wrong with Only White Men Judging a Contest Defending Meat-Eating?" But the source of my "uh oh" was discomfiting de ja vu — when I'm not reading the women I'm missing out. I bought the 20th Anniversary Edition of The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory and started reading. There are three prefaces — to the original book (1990), to the 10th anniversary edition, and to the 20th edition — and a foreword before the actual book begins. The book describes the intersection between feminism, pacifism and vegetarianism (conversely male dominance, war, and meat-eating). The early chapters such as, "The Rape of Animals, the Butchering of Women," link the consumption of animals and women. They are painful reading. Adams draws attention to gut-churning abuses that mirror modern news headlines i.e. Georgia Republican Compares Women to Cows, Pigs, And Chickens (His thinking: Pigs must carry dead fetuses to term and so must women. Sad, but that's life. Abortion is unethical). It's reading a book about an atrocity during the atrocity — reading about the dystopia you inhabit. When I read news like this I think, "We shouldn't treat animals like that either." and "If we raised the bar for how we treat animals, we'd treat ourselves better." This idea of including animals "within the moral circle of consideration" is part of a vegetarian body of thought and literature. Vegetarians have been expressing this idea before the word vegetarian was coined in 1847 (They were called Pythagoreans before. The followers of Pythagoras had religious and ethical beliefs including metempsychosis, the transmigration of souls into the bodies of other animals, which excluded the eating of animals). Adams dives into this discussion in the middle of the book and the chapter "The Word Made Flesh" where she talks about how, "Meat eating is a story applied to animals, it gives meaning to animals' existence." and the alternate vegetarian narrative. Instead of a hero's journey, she describes a "vegetarian quest" wherein dietary choices conflict with the dominant culture. By the final chapters, I was wildly adding to my to-read list. In the last chapter, "Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory," Adams lists numerous works of fiction with feminist-vegetarian themes. The book ends on a utopian note, "Feminist-vegetarian activity declares that an alternative worldview exists, one which celebrates life rather than consuming death; one which does not rely on resurrected animals but empowered people." and with a call for the "creation of vegetarian rituals that celebrate the grace of eating plants" and help counter patriarchal consumption. Of note, some feminist science fiction and utopian connections: the chapter "Frankenstein's Vegetarian Monster" explores the Creature's vegetarianism and notes other works by Romantic vegetarians including Percy Shelley's Queen Mab (arguably the first feminist, vegetarian, pacifist Utopia, Adams says) Fact: the average American eats 43 pigs, three lambs, 11 cows, four calves, 2,555 chickens and turkeys and 861 fishes in a lifetime Pairs well with: Upton Sinclair's The Jungle; Percy Shelley's Queen Mab; Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; "Eat Rice Have Faith in Women," Fran Winart Quotes: "It's a difficult task, o citizens, to make speeches to the belly which has no ears." — Cato "The men were better hunters than the women, but only because the women had found that they could live quite well on foods other than meats. — Alice Walker, The Temple of My Familiar "[The slaughterhouse] carries out its business in secret and decides what you will see, hides from you what it chooses." — Richard Selzer "If the words which tell the truth about meat as food are unfit for our ears, the meat itself is not fit for our mouths." — Emarel Freshel "As long as man kills the lower races for food or sport, he will be ready to kill his own race for enmity. It is not this bloodshed or that bloodshed, that must cease, but all needless bloodshed — all wanton infliction of pain or death upon our fellow beings." — Henry Salt "May the fairies be vegetarian!" — Judy Grahn, "The Queen of Swords"

  6. 4 out of 5

    michelle

    Look, this book was OK. The things that make me not consider it to be a better work, was the cissexism and transphobia throughout the piece. It turns out Adams' mentor was Mary Daly, notorious for not just her radical feminism, but her extreme transphobia. The most blatant (and simple) demonstration of Adams' prejudice was her treatment of Doctor James Barry. When Dr. Barry died, it was discovered that he was apparently born female. Once she reveals this of Barry, Adams proceeds to repeatedly ref Look, this book was OK. The things that make me not consider it to be a better work, was the cissexism and transphobia throughout the piece. It turns out Adams' mentor was Mary Daly, notorious for not just her radical feminism, but her extreme transphobia. The most blatant (and simple) demonstration of Adams' prejudice was her treatment of Doctor James Barry. When Dr. Barry died, it was discovered that he was apparently born female. Once she reveals this of Barry, Adams proceeds to repeatedly refer to him as "her", just so she can further her arguments about women and an alleged "natural" preference for vegetarianism. The threads of her bigotry wove through the entire text, popping up now and again to be a bit more obvious (such as with Barry), and distracted from her overall point. I cannot recommend this as a good feminist text.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Cohan

    It’s hard not to feel ambivalent – strongly ambivalent – about this book. Unless you’re a student, or teacher, of feminist literature, it is somewhat of a slog to get through this book. “The Sexual Politics of Meat” is mainly an analysis of feminist literature and most of the works to which Adams refers will seem obscure to the average reader. On the other hand, this book is considered a classic in the veg*n genre and for good reason. Adams artfully conveys a number of important ideas, chief among It’s hard not to feel ambivalent – strongly ambivalent – about this book. Unless you’re a student, or teacher, of feminist literature, it is somewhat of a slog to get through this book. “The Sexual Politics of Meat” is mainly an analysis of feminist literature and most of the works to which Adams refers will seem obscure to the average reader. On the other hand, this book is considered a classic in the veg*n genre and for good reason. Adams artfully conveys a number of important ideas, chief among them that meat-eating is strongly interrelated to other forms of oppression. As she puts it, “Meat eating is to animals what white racism is to people of color, anti-Semitism is to Jewish people, homophobia is to gay men and lesbians, and woman hating is to women. All are oppressed by a culture that does not want to assimilate them fully on their grounds and with rights.” Amen to that. As a Jew, it is upsetting to me that most of my co-religionists do not see the obvious parallels between the oppression and exploitation of animals, which is inherent in meat-eating, and the oppression and exploitation of Jews throughout almost all of our history. And although I’m a male, I’m disappointed that the feminist movement largely ignores the exploitation of female organs in the dairy and egg industries. Adams gives voice to these concerns, particularly the latter one.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joel

    This book opened my eyes to a fundamental concept that I feel is lacking in most of discussions of most of the subjects we discuss, societally speaking: the absent referent. Sure, this book draws parallels between culture's attitude and treatment of animals and its treatment and attitude toward women, but it goes further with regard to the former. It posits that the reason it's so easy for us to abuse, misuse, mistreat, and [whatever] animals the way we do, is that, linguistically, we strip our This book opened my eyes to a fundamental concept that I feel is lacking in most of discussions of most of the subjects we discuss, societally speaking: the absent referent. Sure, this book draws parallels between culture's attitude and treatment of animals and its treatment and attitude toward women, but it goes further with regard to the former. It posits that the reason it's so easy for us to abuse, misuse, mistreat, and [whatever] animals the way we do, is that, linguistically, we strip our conversations of any actual events that directly reference the animal. Like, if we had to talk about what happens to food-animals in realistic, non-euphemistic or non-indirect ways, we would, perhaps, be less inclined to (1) eat them or (2) treat them the terrible ways. Regardless of what you think of her central thesis (which I find compelling), this book, and the idea of the absent referent, really opened my eyes to not only the kinds of conversations we have as a society, but the way we have them and what we talk about (or don't talk about) when we're in them.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jacquelyn

    **THIS IS A LONG REVIEW. So you know where I'm coming from, I'm first going to explain what made me decide to be vegan. If you don't care, the book review will commence after some asterisks. But not these ones -->** One warm autumn night in Los Angeles, I had a dream. I was on a lunch date with my mom and an old friend at a nice Chinese restaurant I’ve never been to before. The walls and décor were dark, red, paper lanterns and dragons on the walls. It was busy, and we could barely hear the news **THIS IS A LONG REVIEW. So you know where I'm coming from, I'm first going to explain what made me decide to be vegan. If you don't care, the book review will commence after some asterisks. But not these ones -->** One warm autumn night in Los Angeles, I had a dream. I was on a lunch date with my mom and an old friend at a nice Chinese restaurant I’ve never been to before. The walls and décor were dark, red, paper lanterns and dragons on the walls. It was busy, and we could barely hear the newscast on the television in the corner, but we weren’t really paying attention anyway. After lunch, we were going to go shopping for a bit. As we paid the bill, the news cut to an unexpected press conference at the White House. The restaurant quieted, wanting to hear. The President stepped out and greeted the viewers. He explained that for the past two days, he had been meeting with other world leaders, discussing an unexpected event—an event that the world needed to know about. But they wanted as much information as possible first, so everyone would be well-informed and not start a mass panic. He took a deep breath and said that an extraterrestrial craft had landed in Russia, with extraterrestrial beings aboard, alive, and able to communicate with humans. They had actually come in peace, wanting to learn about their space-companions on Earth, wanting to help improve our lives. They had no political agenda. One of their attributes was being able to change their appearance, and so, to help humanity deal with their presence, they decided to appear as human. He introduced a woman with black hair, in a white skirt suit and a bright smile. One of the aliens. Other aliens were with other world leaders, being introduced to other countries at their simultaneous press conferences. Our alien looked and sounded human, and she calmed our fears. The interview went on for hours; she was very patient about our questions. Needless to say, I did not go shopping after lunch. For the next few months, human life improved. More ships arrived. The aliens taught us technological and medical advances that—were humanity to continue for millennia—I can’t say we would have figured out on our own. Life was safe and exciting. There were some problems, though. Sometimes people went missing. Rumors started that the aliens were taking people for their own experiments on their ships, that they often changed their human appearances, that they were lulling us into submission. Despite these rumors, nobody could deny the gifts they had brought us. Some humans even said that a few missing people here and there was a small price to pay for the advancement of our species. A year after the aliens arrived on Earth, I tripped on a street curb and tore up my knee and forearm. While I’m usually pretty careful about where I walk, I was distracted by some new alien-human collaboration on a gorgeous building, and of course, nobody, alien or human, could stop pure accidents. My injuries looked pretty bad, but I could walk, so I walked to the hospital just down the street. No one was waiting in the reception area, and the nurse at the desk greeted me as soon as I walked in. Our voices echoed. She took me to an actual room just down the hall and asked me to wait while she got a doctor. A few minutes went by. Nobody came to my room, nobody walked by the door; there were no sounds at all besides the white noise of the air conditioning. I was already wearing a dressing gown, but the curious silence unnerved me. I limped to the door, holding my elbow, and looked down the hallway. Nobody. I started walking down the hall, away from the reception area. Half the ceiling lights were off, and every room was dark, the doors closed. I found a stairwell and went downstairs. I thought there might be answers in the morgue, which is usually in basements of hospitals, according to movies. The hallway at the bottom of the stairs was well lit. I didn’t see anyone, but I could hear a woman yelling, and walked toward the sound. It must have been the wrong part of the hospital for the morgue; there were only more rooms like the ones upstairs, still closed and dark, though the hallway was bright. Her yelling became screaming, as I approached an open door, and several voices talked quietly. I peeked around the doorway and saw a young woman in labor. An older male doctor and two younger female nurses were standing around her, looking at a clipboard. “It’s time,” the doctor said. “My baby,” said the woman in labor. And all three of them fell upon her, tearing her belly apart with their teeth, their jaws changing shape as they ripped her flesh, exposing and eating the child, too. The woman screamed, then fell silent, limp. My heel bumped a cart behind me, and the doctor’s head snapped up, his black eyes boring into me. He was beside me before I could move, grasping my arm with talons, pulling me close to his face. Blood dripped from his chin. He exhaled, and bits of flesh stuck between his teeth shivered. “Why?” I whispered. He laughed, spraying me with blood. “Because you humans taste so damn good,” he said. “Do you need to?” “Obviously not. We’ve survived this long without you. Like I said, you’re just delicious. Pregnant women are our favorite.” “Monster.” “You first.” He opened his mouth, and the darkness blinded me. I woke up in a cold sweat, panting, fumbling for the bedside lamp. And even though I was drunk with sleep-grogginess, my first thought was, “I need to be vegan.” Somehow I knew that was the moral of the dream, and the terror I felt was so vivid, I vowed that I would never put another living being in that situation, either by my own hand or through my inaction. I haven’t eaten animals since. Until I read The Sexual Politics of Meat, I had never connected the outcome of the dream--needing to save animals from slaughter--to the actual imagery of a pregnant woman being devoured. Now, I like to think that having a degree in gender studies prompted my subconscious to make the connection between the two. Suddenly, things make more sense. I’m just upset with myself that my conscious mind couldn't figure it out on its own. ************ If you’ve studied gender and/or race issues or have some familiarity with critical theories and how they’re presented, you should have no problem following the logic here. If you’re a feminist/equalist and/or vegan without much experience with critical papers, it may seem dense and repetitive. I’ve read other reviews criticizing Adams’s repetition: In critical theory, you have to not only provide evidence supporting your hypothesis, but also connect the conclusions in chapter 3 or 5 or 10 with what you said in previous chapters. That way, everything ties together, and the book is cohesive. If she had been re-hashing previous ideas using the same references, that would be repetitive. Fortunately, each chapter’s theories are used as either segue or support of subsequent theories, and the references are fresh each time. It’s dangerous to assume that her conclusion is that all men subscribe to an animal- and woman-oppressed society, but it’s just as dangerous to assume that she’s full of crap. I just read on the BBC that studies show 30% of women worldwide have suffered from physical and/or sexual abuse. THIRTY PERCENT. If you know two other ladies, the odds are that one of you has been victimized. But despite the overwhelming evidence presented in this book, Adams doesn’t hate men. In fact, she calls out “feminism” as a word that ultimately undermines its own validity: it’s a movement promoting equality between the sexes, yet it’s named after only one of them. Another dangerous response that I’ve seen is ladies saying, “If that’s oppression, it’s all right with me! In that case, I like being oppressed.” Yeah. Then you don’t know what oppression is. Adams also addresses this point in the book, when a wife asks defensively, “Do I look oppressed?” It’s a defense response, made by people who don’t want to look at the world as it is, or don’t want to believe it, despite overwhelming evidence, facts, observations. But because they don’t want to appear stupid, naïve, or obstinate, they try to make feminists/vegetarians feel bad for NOT subscribing to the socially acceptable (read: oppressive) mindset. I can’t tell you how many people have tried to start fights with me about being vegan. Who does that? At a restaurant, at Thanksgiving dinner, whenever, I quietly get my meal, trying to avoid attention. Because I know, I KNOW, some d-bag will try to start something. This is something I just can’t fathom. I don’t have any say over what other people eat, I don’t try to “convert” anyone, but somehow, people think the lack of meat on my plate makes it acceptable for them to comment on my diet. It don’t. And it’s one thing if someone wants to engage in an enlightened conversation based in fact, but that is never the case. Without provocation, they want to make me feel bad or inadequate, over-sensitive, bleeding-heart, naïve, less-than, etc. etc. Whenever someone sees the lack of meat, they immediately become nutrition experts based on what they’ve seen on McDonald’s commercials. When I told my husband how much it bothered me, he was able to shed some light on the problem: Even though he knows that I make food decisions for myself, and only myself, and that I’m an adult who is able to do that, and that I don’t make those decisions to make other people feel bad (obviously, I’m just trying to eat my lunch or whatever), other people see what I’m eating and feel bad about themselves. They look at my plate and realize that I’m actually doing something in practice that they feel guilty about NOT being able to do. And instead of acting like a mature adult and blaming themselves for not being able to commit to something that would rid them of that guilt, they blame me for putting them in a situation where they have to think about how they don’t like themselves. Is that my fault? Nope. Is it fair? Absolutely not. It’s unfortunate that meat-eaters feel threatened by my vegan diet, but my relationship with food is not their business. And after reading this book, I feel empowered again. I feel like I’ve been given the tools I need to navigate the harsh world of being judged by people “for eating decently”, as Shaw says. Even before finishing the book, I was seeing examples of sexualized animals and animalized women everywhere: television shows, commercials, billboards, even at work. The newest movement is to stop bullying, but this has to extend to women of all ages (not just school-aged boys), and animals. Need some facts and tools to help you act? Read this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Vegan

    I don’t know whether it was the style or some other nebulous reason, but I found this book difficult to read. It was well worth the effort, though, because the author presents an important hypothesis about the correlation between the ways women and animals are treated and regarded in society. I found this book to be unique, as some of the information and ideas it presents I’ve found in no other books.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mark Robison

    Amazing book. This academic text read like a thriller for me, as each page turned up new insights. It looks at how patriarchal society treats women and nonhuman animals as objects and how if one wants to overturn patriarchy, one must give up meat because it is part of patriarchal power.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vegantrav

    “Our dietary choices reflect and reinforce our cosmology, our politics.” This sentence, the third-to-last sentence in The Sexual Politics of Meat, nicely summarizes Carol Adams’s basic thesis in this book wherein she ties together her feminist critique of patriarchy with her vegetarian critique of patriarchy. These two social critiques, argues Adams, are not merely related but are part of an organic whole: to live fully the feminist protest against the heterosexual male oppressiveness of patriarc “Our dietary choices reflect and reinforce our cosmology, our politics.” This sentence, the third-to-last sentence in The Sexual Politics of Meat, nicely summarizes Carol Adams’s basic thesis in this book wherein she ties together her feminist critique of patriarchy with her vegetarian critique of patriarchy. These two social critiques, argues Adams, are not merely related but are part of an organic whole: to live fully the feminist protest against the heterosexual male oppressiveness of patriarchy, one must recognize the kinship that women’s oppression shares with non-humans animals and act accordingly. Patriarchy objectifies women: within the patriarchal system, women are not beings for themselves; rather, they are instruments to serve men: they serve men as mothers, as marital servants, as food preparers, as bodies for sating male sexual desires, etc. In these roles, women are no longer subjects with a first-person perspective but are dehumanized and objectified; they are “fragmented” in Adams’s terms: they are broken down into parts: in the dominant patriarchal narrative, any particular role that a woman has is viewed in terms of that particular role in serving the interests and desires of men. Thus, a woman takes her objectified identity from her various positions in relation to the male power structure and loses her subjective identity as a person for her own self. In similar fashion, non-human animals are fragmented and objectified: the corpses humans eat are literally fragmented when they are chopped into pieces, and the non-human animal becomes not a free, living, sentient being pursuing its own goals in nature as a subject with its own perspective but becomes merely an object: food for humans. This is especially evident in the way that language attempts to remove from our minds the fact that the corpses that are eaten were once living subjects themselves: humans eat meat, not corpses; humans eat beef and hamburgers and steak, not cows; humans eat pork and bacon and ham, not pigs; humans eat chicken or turkey (notice the missing indefinite articles), not a chicken or a turkey; humans eat mutton, not a sheep. The fragmentation and objectification of non-human animals, Adams argues, is carried out largely by the patriarchal power structures: men are the hunters, the butchers, the killers, and women are forced to comply with this system in preparing meat and in eating it, too. Thus, in preparing meat and eating meat, women are acting against their own interests in being subjects for themselves by helping to objectify non-human animals just as men objectify women. Adams argues for this thesis drawing on history, anthropology, biology, myth, and literature. She makes her argument skillfully and in the manner of academic feminists and Marxists, of literary deconstructionists, and of post-structuralist social critics, but she does so with a clarity and precision that is often missing in academia. Her arguments are not rigorously deductive arguments but proceed in a classical inductive fashion, adding detail upon detail, example upon example, to support her thesis. And Adams also points out (though the scope of this book does not really grant her the opportunity to argue this point in much detail) that not only are feminism and vegetarianism necessarily linked in opposition to patriarchy, but this opposition is also shared by critiques of patriarchal racism and homophobia and militarism; thus, just as feminists, if they are truly to practice an authentic critique of patriarchy, must be vegetarians, so too must feminist-vegetarians rise up against racism, homophobia, and war as must those in the civil rights community (both ethnic minorities and the LGBT community) and the pacifist community make common cause with the feminist-vegetarians. As an aside, I should mention that Adams wrote this book in 1989, when the term vegan was not much used; had she written this book in this decade, she probably would have used the term vegan in lieu of vegetarian as Adams herself is not merely a vegetarian but also a vegan. Perhaps the best summation of this book is to be found in this paragraph in Adams’s last chapter: “Eating animals acts as mirror and representation of patriarchal values. Meat eating is the re-inscription of male power at every meal. The patriarchal gaze sees not the fragmented flesh of dead animals but appetizing food. If our appetites re-inscribe patriarchy, our actions regarding eating animals will either reify or challenge this received culture. If meat is a symbol of male dominance, then the presence of meat proclaims the disempowering of women.”

  13. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    it has a tendency to be a tad one note... in truth the author really has two main points to get across to the reader... but she milks (ha ha! food analogy!) the material well. of interest are her sections on language and animal metaphors as they are employed to describe meat dishes (hero sandwiches, etc) as well as in how victims of sexual violence describe themselves ("i was a piece of meat")... the author navigates the theoretical aspects of this discussion reasonably well. thus far my only rea it has a tendency to be a tad one note... in truth the author really has two main points to get across to the reader... but she milks (ha ha! food analogy!) the material well. of interest are her sections on language and animal metaphors as they are employed to describe meat dishes (hero sandwiches, etc) as well as in how victims of sexual violence describe themselves ("i was a piece of meat")... the author navigates the theoretical aspects of this discussion reasonably well. thus far my only real complaints are that she makes reference in passing to Zeus raping and eating Metis as an example of the collapsing of sexual violence and meat eating... but she really doesn't get back into it much, save a chapter/section heading later on down the road. my other complaint is when she describes the violence against animals that comes with butchering them and/or hunting and the killing of family pets where men are presumed to be acting out an aggression that would otherwise be directed against their wives and children. sad and a little freaky... but i guess part of the package. but, overall, i'd say it's worth a skim!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I'm conflicted. On the one hand, I feel like the arguments are sometimes circular, the writing isn't fabulous, and I had a hard time getting through such a theoretical book. I admit that I skimmed the last half because I had already discussed it at book group and I was getting a bit bogged down in the repetition. But. This book has probably given me more pause than anything I've read in a while, simply because she makes some interesting arguments that, while not the main thesis of the book, are r I'm conflicted. On the one hand, I feel like the arguments are sometimes circular, the writing isn't fabulous, and I had a hard time getting through such a theoretical book. I admit that I skimmed the last half because I had already discussed it at book group and I was getting a bit bogged down in the repetition. But. This book has probably given me more pause than anything I've read in a while, simply because she makes some interesting arguments that, while not the main thesis of the book, are related to her main point and have changed the way I think about so many things. For example - she points out that we refer to meat by its parts (a chicken thigh, rather than a chicken's thigh, for example) so that we can create enough distance from the living, breathing creature to justify our decision to kill it and eat it. Similarly, the over-sexualization and degradation of women happens the same way (hello, ads focusing only on boobs and headless naked women dancing in rap videos). When you just see a gyrating torso, you don't think about a woman as somebody's daughter/sister/mother, you think of it as an attractive piece of a body. When you see a boneless, skinless chicken breast, you think of it as dinner, not as the quirky chicken who always roosted on the left side of the coop and who was scared of leaves blowing through the yard. It's easier to treat something disrespectfully (or violently, even) if you only see it as a piece of itself - a set of boobs, a uterus, a thigh, whatever. 3.5 stars. I liked it, it's interesting, and it's definitely a fun one to have sitting on my shelf when people come over.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bart

    "[T]he phrase 'humane slaughter' confers a certain benignity on the term 'slaughter.' [Mary] Daly would call this process of 'simple inversion': 'the usage of terms and phrases to label ... activites as the opposite of what they are.' [...] Just as all rapes are forcible, all slaughter of animals for food is inhumane regardless of what it is called" (69-70). Most compelling are Carol J. Adams' deconstructions of language. Adams' literary examinations of vegetarianism and feminism are least intere "[T]he phrase 'humane slaughter' confers a certain benignity on the term 'slaughter.' [Mary] Daly would call this process of 'simple inversion': 'the usage of terms and phrases to label ... activites as the opposite of what they are.' [...] Just as all rapes are forcible, all slaughter of animals for food is inhumane regardless of what it is called" (69-70). Most compelling are Carol J. Adams' deconstructions of language. Adams' literary examinations of vegetarianism and feminism are least interesting, as many references are not meaningful if one has not read the original text. Unfortunately, this least interesting aspect of the book is half of the book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Macklin R

    3.5 stars. It's amazing how relevant Adams' politics are still. I could have done without the chapters that were purely devoted to literary criticism, as I was far more interested in the historical / social / political analysis of the intersection of feminism and vegetarianism/veganism. I was pleasantly surprised that Adams used intersectional feminism as a lens many times throughout this work. Overall, an interesting, if overly long book

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jean Grace

    This was the first book I bought the week I decided to be a vegetarian. I found it in a new agey store in Sedona, Arizona. It's an important book. It helped me understand omnivore aggression toward vegetarians at the table, which can be a baffling experience. This is good read for new vegetarians with an academic bent. It is actually a little painfully graphic to me now.

  18. 4 out of 5

    honeybean

    This book is incredibly good, and still relevant even though it was first published in 1990. From showing the paradox of Shelley's Frankenstein being considered a monster despite its vegetarian diet and higher constructs of thinking, to showing the struggles of women compared/shown through the rape and oppression of animals, this book highlighted ideologies and challenged me to be more intentional in my thinking and eating habits. I can't wait to read Adams new book (published this year!)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    In this book, Carol Adams argues the intersection of feminist and vegetarian theory. She successfully demonstrates a connect between meat and power. There is also an interesting discussion of the use of language surrounding meat and vegetables ("beef up," "feel like a piece of meat," "a vegetative state"). I found her most compelling argument to be that people who claim to oppose war/are non-violent should also espouse that behavior in their food choices. Near the end of the book Adams raises so In this book, Carol Adams argues the intersection of feminist and vegetarian theory. She successfully demonstrates a connect between meat and power. There is also an interesting discussion of the use of language surrounding meat and vegetables ("beef up," "feel like a piece of meat," "a vegetative state"). I found her most compelling argument to be that people who claim to oppose war/are non-violent should also espouse that behavior in their food choices. Near the end of the book Adams raises some interesting topics that could have been further developed--the connection between the vegetarian movement and women's liberation from the kitchen, why early vegetarian leaders were also proponents of birth control. As a very veg-friendly meat eater, I thought this book might be the one to finally push me to fully commit to vegetarianism. It did not. However, it reinforced that voice in my head that tells me I should embrace life as a vegetarian, transcendentalist teetotaler.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Martin Smrek

    I was looking forward to reading this for years. But I was mostly disappointed. There are couple of valid points stated in few chapters of the book, that were worth reading it and worth spreading too. But large swaths of the book were filled with dull interpretations of fictional books, from which a lot of far-fetched points were made. Occasional references to alternative medicine, including mention of vegetarianism curing small-pox, also did not help very much. However, considering the time it I was looking forward to reading this for years. But I was mostly disappointed. There are couple of valid points stated in few chapters of the book, that were worth reading it and worth spreading too. But large swaths of the book were filled with dull interpretations of fictional books, from which a lot of far-fetched points were made. Occasional references to alternative medicine, including mention of vegetarianism curing small-pox, also did not help very much. However, considering the time it was written (70's-90's), it is an interesting probe into the state of the both movements at the time. And it could still provide some interesting parallels for feminists who were still not exposed to the reality of factory farming.

  21. 5 out of 5

    John

    I'd read part of this for a previous class; read the whole thing this time, and am glad I did. It's both wonderful and awful. First the bad: bad use of theory, bad readings of literature, writing that lacks nuance, extremely polemical. But, at certain points the key argument really sings through, namely that feminism and vegetarianism both are anti-patriarchal and are inherently tied to one another. She also tries to re-establish a feminist-vegetarian literary and cultural history, which is admi I'd read part of this for a previous class; read the whole thing this time, and am glad I did. It's both wonderful and awful. First the bad: bad use of theory, bad readings of literature, writing that lacks nuance, extremely polemical. But, at certain points the key argument really sings through, namely that feminism and vegetarianism both are anti-patriarchal and are inherently tied to one another. She also tries to re-establish a feminist-vegetarian literary and cultural history, which is admirable. Kudos to my prof for forcing us to deal with this.

  22. 4 out of 5

    missy jean

    Different than I expected, but still so interesting. Adams links up the oppression of women and the oppression of animals, and explores the way that women's and animal's bodies have been dismembered and consumed by patriarchal systems. This book gave me a lot to chew on (ha! pun!), and I'm still digesting the ideas (ha! ha!)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Philip

    This is one of the most amazing books written about how our society, through the culture and nature of patriarchy chews up and spits out women and animals. It's a brilliant book and one every animal rights advocate and feminist should read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    Updated review from 2nd reading. We read this for our book group. This is my second time reading this book, and while I finally figured out why Adams sticks to literary examples of vegetarianism at work in women’s lives (at least I think I know: because it is otherwise difficult to find information of one’s personal life from earlier than about 100 years ago, and even 1920 media would be difficult to find proof in, so we’re really looking at perhaps the last 50-80 years or so), I have to admit t Updated review from 2nd reading. We read this for our book group. This is my second time reading this book, and while I finally figured out why Adams sticks to literary examples of vegetarianism at work in women’s lives (at least I think I know: because it is otherwise difficult to find information of one’s personal life from earlier than about 100 years ago, and even 1920 media would be difficult to find proof in, so we’re really looking at perhaps the last 50-80 years or so), I have to admit that it still seems like a very narrow focus. Within the constraints that Adams sets for herself, her theories are pretty convincing. (Of course, I’ve been vegetarian since 1990 and vegan since 2006, so I am easy to convince of the rightness of this. And I’ve been a feminist for a long time as well.) I also understand better in my second reading what Adams means by the “texts of meat” – that both the written word and women’s bodies are open to interpretation by the reader/consumer, and where, in cases of vegetarianism or veganism appearing in works by and about women is ignored, so too are the whole of women’s bodies ignored in the gluttony of sexual objectification: our breasts, asses, legs, and so forth. Nevertheless, in proving and backing up her point, Adams spends too much time on works that are not even vegan (Frankenstein) and authors who aren’t female (Joseph Ritson). I don’t know whether it’s a language barrier, or the need to keep the book under thousands of pages, but Adams also focuses very very narrowly on literature of the British Isles and United States (there may be an Australian in there, but I can’t remember at this point). For example, a vegetarian restaurantThis is my second time reading this book, and while I finally figured out why Adams sticks to literary examples of vegetarianism at work in women’s lives (at least I think I know: because it is otherwise difficult to find proof of one’s personal life from earlier than about 100 years ago, and even 1920 media would be difficult to find proof in, so we’re really looking at perhaps the last 50-80 years or so), I have to admit that it still seems like a very narrow focus. Within the constraints that Adams sets for herself, her theories are pretty convincing. (Of course, I’ve been vegetarian since 1990 and vegan since 2006, so I am easy to convince of the rightness of this. And I’ve been a feminist for a long time as well.) I also understand better in my second reading what Adams means by the “texts of meat” – that both the written word and women’s bodies are open to interpretation by the reader/consumer, and where, in cases of vegetarianism or veganism appearing in works by and about women is ignored, so too are the whole of women’s bodies ignored in the gluttony of sexual objectification: our breasts, asses, legs, and so forth. Nevertheless, in proving and backing up her point, Adams spends too much time, particularly on works that are not even vegan (Frankenstein) and authors who aren’t female (Joseph Ritson). I don’t know whether it’s a language barrier, or the need to keep the book under thousands of pages, but Adams also focuses very very narrowly on literature of the British Isles and United States (there may be an Australian in there, but I can’t remember at this point). A vegetarian restaurant, for example, opened as early as 1870 in Berlin; and on page 140, where Adams brings up that old idea that people use to convince themselves that being vegetarian is bad because Hitler “was” one, she could have reinforced that by mentioning that under Nazi rule, vegetarian social clubs were made illegal. This points to the fact that those did exist by the 1930s, and, presumably, earlier. (Also of note is that she uses Gandhi as a proof of good people being vegan in response to the claim that Hitler was; but even in the updated version does not mention how it’s come to light in the west that Gandhi was racist and misogynistic.) For me, the first part of the book is slow; I read a lot but I am not well-versed in British literature of the 18th or 19th centuries (other members of our reading group had this same problem). The book starts to gain interest for me only in chapter 8, where Adams does more to connect the world outside books to the issues of veganism (for the purposes of this review, I will use this term from now on) and feminism, yet she ends up still relying heavily on literature throughout even this section. (Also of note, Adams states that Dorothy Watson coined the term “vegan,” while I have always heard that Donald Watson did. I actually don’t know which is true – whether this is a case of a man receiving credit for something his wife did or not. To be honest, I haven’t cared enough to look it up at this point.) I think she makes a good case, however, for “[t]he silencing of women’s vegetarianism is a critical theoretical act because as feminist-vegetarian texts and history are lost to us, so are our foundations for new insights.” (pp142-143). She continues: “[O]ur historical record is inadequate…[o]ne way to delegitmate a reform movement is by calling it a fad. A historical cliché which pervades books is that vegetarianism is faddish. But can something be a fad – something that enjoys brief popularity – if it recurs throughout recorded history?” And adds to this: “The silencing of vegetarianism is related to the larger silences concerning women and are of interest for what they reveal of how dominant cultures enforce that dominance.” I think of a podcast, Vegetarianism: A History So Far, that I’ve listened to on and off over the past few years, and how it attempts to trace vegetarianism/veganism back as far as possible, from ancient India and Greece up into the modern day. And while the host, Ian MacDonald, interviews women as well as men (professors, mostly), it is men he mostly speaks with, and men’s works that are mostly cited. This doesn’t discredit that concern for animals (or in some cases, one’s soul, a kind of stupid crappy reason to not harm animals, but at least you’re not exploiting them) has a much longer history that people would like to believe, but because, as Adams mentions, women are traditionally silenced in most cultures; and because we don’t actually have much writing or artwork from those times, interpretation from a meat-centric point of view can leave out this longer history of concern for animals (and for women). When you assume that humanity has started out as hunter-gatherers, with an emphasis on hunting (which more recent research indicates is actually untrue, that our ancestors hunted much less than we’ve been taught); that things have “always been done this way” in terms of killing animals and using their body parts, then this huge bias may lead us to severely misinterpret history and to continue exploiting animals as part of tradition - "we've always done it this way." Huh, when "always' may mean 200 years, that becomes an ineffective argument. In any case, the book is worth a read, but it drags and repeats itself in places, and I still stick to my original opinion that there is too much focus on literature and not enough on the connection between exploiting animals and women in a modern context (how much can be written on women breaking their bones and removing body parts to attain some ideal, in connection with animal experimentation and the male gaze?) I think the focus on literature actually weakens the argument of the connection between the exploitation of animals and women. End 2nd review Parts of this book shine, and Adams really hits the nail on the head when she explains why veg*ns can get so offended by omnivores who call themselves vegetarians. However, I think the title is misleading. Adams starts out with much promise, showing the links between advertising meat and women for consumption, but quickly falls into literary critiques and leaves a lot of the politics and sociology behind. This book is much better suited to viewing literature, rather than life, from a feminist and vegetarian standpoint. I only wanted more linking and connection not related to literature, because I am certain Adams is onto something here and it doesn't have to do with literature.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Liisa

    ’Theory’ is a word that is written in large font in the cover The Sexual Politics of Meat yet I still wasn’t prepared to how theoretical the book would be. Longwinded examples and deep analyzes of even the weak connections made this slightly tedious to read, even though I found the main message, the connection between vegetarism and feminism, fascinating. It’s a connection that I now understand much better than before but I wish I could have gotten the same knowledge through a different form. My ’Theory’ is a word that is written in large font in the cover The Sexual Politics of Meat yet I still wasn’t prepared to how theoretical the book would be. Longwinded examples and deep analyzes of even the weak connections made this slightly tedious to read, even though I found the main message, the connection between vegetarism and feminism, fascinating. It’s a connection that I now understand much better than before but I wish I could have gotten the same knowledge through a different form. My field is in natural sciences; I’m not used to reading theories like this. ”Everywhere animals are in chains, but we imagine them as free. This denial is very strong. To convey this sense of the animals’ freedom, patriarchal-cultural images draw upon cues about another supposed freedom: the consumption of women’s sexuality. Thus animals and women are not only depicted as free, though they are not, but as sexually free. The result is the sexual politics of meat.”

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emily Vause

    Adams has an interesting outlook on the relationship between the treatment of women and the meat industry and, while I’m all about improving the lives of both, I think I’ll need to read more around the subject to be completely convinced by her ideas. Nevertheless this was an interesting and enlightening read about the horrors of both.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melissa (YA Book Shelf)

    I initially read the intro chapter to this book back in 2003 when I was taking an EcoFeminism class at university. I was a new vegetarian, and many of the things that Carol J Adams mentioned in that chapter stayed with me over the years to the point when I saw her tweet something about the book, I decided that I had to go back to this text. It's been years, and now I'm a vegan and it's still just as - if not more - relevant to me. Adams does several things with this book. She makes you really re I initially read the intro chapter to this book back in 2003 when I was taking an EcoFeminism class at university. I was a new vegetarian, and many of the things that Carol J Adams mentioned in that chapter stayed with me over the years to the point when I saw her tweet something about the book, I decided that I had to go back to this text. It's been years, and now I'm a vegan and it's still just as - if not more - relevant to me. Adams does several things with this book. She makes you really rethink the language you use on a daily basis, making common insults that people bandy about such as "pig" or swear words like "son of a b*%#!" take on new meaning. She draws attention to what she calls the "absent referent," or the ways in which animals, women, meat, and violence against both animals and women figure into our language or are hidden by our language. For example, when women are raped, they often describe feeling like a piece of meat, which refers back to animals and the violence that is enacted upon them to make the meat "we" eat. These aspects, especially, the absent referent, come up again and again in this ground-breaking book through her analysis of historical vegetarianism/veganism, analysis of advertisements that blend sexism and speciesism, and literary analysis of several books, including Frankenstein, in which vegetarianism figures prominently. This book will cause you to rethink your version of feminism and your entire life. Must read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    April

    I agree that there are links between vegetarianism and feminism, but Adams' books is only a decent beginning into exploring their connection. Her entire book presupposes there is only one reason for going vegetarian - that it is inhumane and immoral to consume animals. Period. Try sticking any other sort of reasoning, and her argument falls apart. I think she fails to see the shades of gray when it comes to vegetarianism. What seriously turned me off was her implied disgust for feminists who eat m I agree that there are links between vegetarianism and feminism, but Adams' books is only a decent beginning into exploring their connection. Her entire book presupposes there is only one reason for going vegetarian - that it is inhumane and immoral to consume animals. Period. Try sticking any other sort of reasoning, and her argument falls apart. I think she fails to see the shades of gray when it comes to vegetarianism. What seriously turned me off was her implied disgust for feminists who eat meat. All of chapter 2 was a veiled criticism of omnivorous feminists - apparently eating meat puts you right along with the rest of patriarchy. I think this alliance of feminist and vegetarian theories should be further explored, but not by Adams.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Monika

    A very interesting, slightly weird philosophy of how the meat industry and the opression of women are linked. Discusses the history of food, and how the vocabulary of meat is also used as nicknames for women. Slightly crazy, but very interesting and highly recommended if you are open minded.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This book was a cornerstone in my growth as a woman,a vegetarian and as a social liberal. Carol Adams' thorough examination of how these issues are linked is fascinating and compelling.

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