An email I received: "I am a vegan but I have to confess that I like to look at porn. I read something where you said that porn was a form of violence. But if I don't hurt anyone or do anything wrong, what's the harm and why is it violence?"
My reply: I assume you are a vegan because you have recognized that it's morally wrong to consume nonhumans. Well, pornography is nothing more than the consumption of other humans; personhood is erased or ignored and only body parts are present. Pornography commodifies others. This is especially a problem with porn involving women because it's a patriarchal society that encourages men to think about women as commodities anyway.
I still remember that when, in 1984, I made this analogy (consuming animals and consuming women) to my students, many thought it was really far out. (And some feminists, notably Marti Kheel, were already talking about these issues back then and she must have really gotten criticized for being out there!) Many still think that the analogy does not work but I disagree. Our thinking of other humans as non-persons, as things, starts, as you might guess, in our heads. And I simply cannot believe that consuming pornography does not lead to thinking of others as things and that thinking of others as things does not lead to treating them as things even if you don't actually assault them. Remember, all physical violence starts in the mind.
Please understand that I am not in favor of government censorship. Governments always do a bad job when they start trying to determine what we can read or view. My point is that if we care about equality and nonviolence, we should not consume pornography. It's a moral point, not a legal one.
Deborah Garland Mr. F., I'm pleased that you are addressing this so clearly & consistently. There is no level playing field in patriarchy ~ the game is rigged, the deck is stacked, the dice are loaded. Those sentient beings with less voice socially & economically suffer greatly. Vegan abolitionism appears to be a very effective tool for creating needful social change, so that all beings have the opportunity to live free of suffering, free of being the property of another. This is not Pollyanna, & it is possible. Thank you for standing up & sharing this patiently, politely, & clearly on your Facebook Page. I appreciate it very much!
Gary L. Francione: The Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights Caitlin Ahrens: First, women without economic dependence on men are the exception and not even they have the same sort of choice that most men have. Second, nothing is "innate" about patriarchy. We were gathers before we were hunters. We know about patriarchies and not matriarchies because men write histories. Third, poverty is a problem for everyone. But women who are poor have poverty and sex to deal with, unless they are women of color, in which case they have that too.
Gary L. Francione: The Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights Here's an article about Gail Dines' work that explores why porn threatens our relationships: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/02/gail-dines-pornography
Gary L. Francione: The Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights Lavender Blue: Yes, I agree with the Adams quote you post. I liked "The Sexual Politics of Meat" in many respects. But as I say, the eating animals/consuming women idea was certainly not new with that book and at least several of us (female and male) were talking about this much earlier. Also, and this is not to lay the blame at Adams' door, but Feminists for Animal Rights was pretty late to the party in terms of stepping up and criticizing the sexism in the movement that was starting in the late 1980s. I am not saying that they could have stopped that trend if they had joined those of us who were taking positions against sexism right from the outset, but we may have a better chance. In any event, sexism is a feature of the "movement" these days and it is vile, reactionary nonsense not befitting a movement for social justice. But, in reality, the animal "movement" as it presently stands has nothing to do with social justice. Nothing whatsoever.