Sunday, January 21, 2007

Pg 152: "But Hitler's vegetarianism was related to the natural health movement not to the protest literature and tradition as described in this book"

Wherein that's the REAL problem with Hitler--he ate vegetables for all the wrong reasons. Why, if he'd embraced the animal rights movement and not have been so concerned with being healthy, he'd never have invaded all those countries and killed millions of people

Doing some cleaning in the basement I opened a box to find a book I thought I'd lost. And it's a great book, possibly the funniest book I own. I love to just open to a random page, read a random sentence, and start chuckling. Who is this comic genius? It's none other than Carol J. Adams and her classic overstated tome, The Sexual Politics of Meat, A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory.

I think we all know that whenever the words "critical theory" appear comedy gold is sure to follow. Let's take a look at how the Award Advisory Committee for the Continuum Women's Studies Award describes it: Adams's compelling thesis is that women and animals are linked as 'absent referents' in the 'texts' of patriarchal society, and that therefore feminist critical theory must be informed by vegetarianism. I just sat through a hour of Saturday Night Live and they didn't have anything that sounded that entertaining. Adams's comedic style is a wily one. Occasionally she seems on the verge of making an interesting point or discussing a serious matter, then like all great satirists, she buries it under a blizzard of buzzwords or a string unconnected random thoughts or--my favorite--begins with a rational thought then carries it far past the point of sane comprehension. I wouldn't be surprised to find that Mike Myers was a student of this book. His Austin Powers movies are a graduate seminar in this book's rhetorical art of to tell a joke once is funny; tell it five times it's no longer funny; tell it another ten times and it's funny again.

Enough from me, time to throw out some quotes so you can laugh along.

Page 16:
Just as feminist theory needs to be informed by vegetarian insights, animal rights theory requires an incorporation of feminist principles. Meat is a symbol for what is not seen but is always there--patriarchal control of animals

Page 34, where she quotes Marty Feldman. Yes, that Marty Feldman. Interestingly, he died of a heart attack as a result of shellfish food poisoning and Mel Brooks comments on his unhealthy lifestyle.
Men who decide to eschew meat eating are deemed effeminate; failure of men to eat meat announces that they are not masculine. Nutritionist Jean Mayer suggested that "the more men sit at their desks all day, the more they want to be reassured about their maleness in eating those large slabs of bleeding meat which are the last symbol of machismo." The late Marty Feldman observed, "It has to do with the function of the male within our society. Football players drink beer because it's a man's drink, and eat steak because it's a man's meal. The emphasis is on 'man-sized portions,' 'hero' sandwiches; the whole terminology of meat-eating reflects this masculine bias." Meat-and-potatoes men are our stereotypical strong and hearty, rough and ready, able males. hearty beef stews are named "Manhandlers." Chicago Bears' head football coach, Mike Ditka, operates a restaurant that features "he-man food" such as steaks and chops.

One's maleness is reassured by the food one eats.

Page 169:
The patriarchal structure of the absent referent that renders women and animals absent as subjects, collapses referent points, and results in overlapping opression, requires a combined challenge by feminism and vegetarianism. Yet, this oppression of women and animals, though unified by the structure of the absent referent, is experienced separately and differently by women and animals. Thus, it is an oppressive structure that, when perceived, is often perceived in fragments and attacked in fragmented wass, i.e., some women work for their liberation, other women and men challenge the oppression of animals.

Page 184:
Can it be that literary consciousness is paradigmatic for vegeratian consciousness? A phenomenology of vegetarianism recapitulates the phenomenology of writing: of seizing language, of identifying gaps and silences. This vegetarian phenomenology includes identification with animals or animals' fate; questions of articulation, of when to speak up or accept silence of control of food choices; and of dissenting to patriarchal myths that approve of meat eating. As opposed to the brokenness and violence characteristic of the fall into patriarchal culture, vegetarianism in women's writings signifies a different way of relating to the world. We are told that there is something metaphorically instructive about our relationship to animals. Feminist use of story telling often conveys the importance of this metaphorical relationship. This story telling suggests that as we consider the power for nuclear annihilation or for interpersonal cruelty based on rigid social mores, vegetarianism may point to a reordering of the patriarchal moral order.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh-oh, I think I ate a symbol in a taco shell tonight ...

1/21/2007 03:48:00 AM  

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