Women – Nature – Animals: Making Connections

Here’s this week’s show!

(If you appreciate this programming, don’t miss this AV show:
Women’s Day: Speaking Up for Sister Species and Mother Nature)

To start the show, Alison cooks lunch for us from the new cookbook — Spork-fed: Super Fun and Flavorful Vegan Recipes from the Sisters of Spork Foods. The team offers our impressions and Alison gives us her insights into the book that she’s been cooking from for the last few months.

Today, we have special programming in honour of November 25th — the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

First, we have the pleasure of speaking with Lori Gruen about the life and legacy of Marti Kheel, prominent scholar, author, ecofeminist, and outspoken ethical vegan. Most notably, she authored a book called Nature Ethics: An Ecofeminist Perspective (based on her doctoral dissertation called An Eco-feminist Critique of Holist Nature Ethics: Attending to Non-Human Animals) and 1982 she co-founded Feminists for Animal Rights.

To mark a year since her passing a gathering was organized earlier this month at Wesleyan University in Connecticut entitled Finding a Niche for All Animals: A Conference Honoring the Ecofeminist Work of Marti Kheel.

To learn about Marti Kheel read the obituary co-written by Josephine Donovan, Batya Bauman, Lori Gruen, and Carol Adams:

Marti Kheel: A Collective Tribute

“Her compassionate life, like her work, was fully engaged; she didn’t just theorize about non-violence and care, but she lived and died by those values.”

Lori Gruen, PhD, a dear friend and colleague of Marti Kheel, is a Professor of Philosophy, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University. She  co-cordinates the  Animal Studies department there and and Directs the Ethics in Society Project.  She is also author of the book Ethics and Animals: An Introduction, published last year.


The Link: Domestic Violence & Animal Abuse

From the National Link Coalition website:
Domestic violence and child abusers may kill, harm or threaten animals to exert dominance and power over their victims and to show them what could happen to them. In this way, animal abuse silences domestic violence and sexual abuse victims, and prevents them from leaving violent relationships. Killing a family pet eliminates a source of comfort and support for the victim.

Phil Arkow is the coordinator and co-founder of the National Link Coalition and a consultant for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animals & Society Institute. He also chairs the Latham Foundation’s Animal Abuse and Family Violence Prevention Project.

He trains internationally on a variety of topics for animal shelters, child protection agencies, domestic violence programs, adult protective services, law enforcement, judges, and veterinarians. He also teaches Certificate courses in Animal-Assisted Therapy.

To learn more about The Link coalition in Vancouver check out BCSPCA: The Violence Link

Further to interpersonal violence in the home, here is one interesting study which looks at the horrible consequences of the desensitization involved with the extreme animal cruelty of the animal agriculture industry. It shows clearly that slaughterhouse employment is significantly related to higher arrests and crime reports of violent crimes, rape and other sex offenses.

Liberation Songs

As part of our special programming, here’s the excellent song featured at the end of the show!

4 comments for “Women – Nature – Animals: Making Connections

  1. marv
    November 25, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Dear Animal Voices,

    I want to express my appreciation for your timely and consciousness raising episode on the interrelationship between aggression against women and animals. To me it was your best programme to date. You are definitely on the right track; don’t let anyone derail you. Send them to me if they try.

    I have a few additional comments to make about your outstanding show. Lori commented that men have dominated as the authorities in the animal rights movement (and others) which frequently takes a strategically masculine, heroic approach to animal issues. As you implied this is changing. Women are taking on more leadership roles. The Animal Voices radio programme is a terrific example. Nonetheless, the solution isn’t simply increasing the numbers of women in a social movement. Because of our patriarchal way of organizing society, women are designated as the primary nurturers of human and nonhuman animals. Women barely hold the world together by their care and compassion for others while male social forms rule it. Men have built the institutions of society: the state, capitalism, classes, races, the military, religions, sex roles, animal industries, etc. Women assimilate to these hierarchical structures as do lower class men. Even if women actually supplanted men’s control with women’s power we would still have these vertical constructs. What we really need are horizontal configurations not a different gender at the top. So the correction to patriarchy (male created hierarchies) is not role reversal – a strong mother instead of a strong father- but egalitarianism at the system level. Systemic causation can never be rectified by inverting it or changing hearts one person at a time.

    On the topic of wolf culls, I thought it would have been useful to point out that hunting is fundamentally a male preoccupation. Hunting is a particularly male supremacist way of abusing animals. This does not apply to people who are forced to live a subsistence lifestyle, e.g. aboriginal people in remote areas. However I do appreciate your sentiment that societal images of wolves as vicious threats to other animals and humans is propaganda. It does not portray the real lives of wolves who only kill to survive like indigenous people. As a comparison to our misguided perception of wolves, I would say that pornography and prostitution are also degrading depictions of women . It is widely known that porn models and prostitutes are faking their pleasure both for money and to appease the male desire to sexually objectify them. This is a survival subsistence strategy too. Beauty contests also function (not necessarily consciously) to keep women identifying as ornaments for men rather than as threats to male power.

    Lastly (I’m sure you’re relieved) I kind of cringed at Phil’s implicit remarks on immigrants being more prone to abusing animals than non-immigrants because of cultural differences. I know he didn’t intend it, but this is a racist statement. To claim that “other” cultures are “not that pet friendly to begin with” is unfair. It glosses over the fact that all human cultures engage in the domestication of animals for one purpose or another by coercion, not by animals’ choice. Human supremacy under male dominance is the rule everywhere. Western nations have no legitimate grounds to prove their superior ethical treatment of animals on the whole. Many tribal peoples are horrified by zoos, aquariums, rodeos and leashing animals for instance.

    Overall you deserve a round of applause for your insights and interviewing skills.

    marv wheale

  2. December 4, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Absolutely fantastic and illuminating episode! Bravo!

  3. Alexandra
    June 3, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    I wanted to find out more about the “Violence Link” project mentioned in the latter interview, and one of the first things that came up was this rather disturbing article (link follows), posted by someone who tested out the BCSPCA’s program in which they supposedly help women leave domestic abuse situations by ensuring that their pets are safe during the transition. The activist discovered, after repeated phone calls to the BCSPCA, that the only “service” they seemed to offer at the time was to allow women to surrender their pets, or in some cases to pay for them to be boarded at an SPCA shelter. Granted, this investigation took place in 2004 and the BCSPCA may have improved their services for domestic violence victims since that time, but I have to say I was shocked to read this and it has shaken any faith I may have had in the BCSPCA.


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