Indeed many organisations have popularised this approach, beginning with PETA. A type of advocacy which certainly looks to be at a personal benefit to the women involved as well as the animals.
Here in Australia, this would not be the first time female bodies are used.
Animal Liberation Victoria regularly employed the tactic of female bodies used to simulate graphic scenes of violence. So is this normal and acceptable tactic for non human animal liberation efforts ineffectual?
When critiquing the discussions around why this approach should be used, the resounding consensus is that the individual activists should have the right to express themselves however way in which they feel comfortable and safe. True!
If we want to argue that the animal space should be safe for women to practice power and agency in discussions of our bodies, we have to
a) equally prioritise the accountability of all who maintain the invisibility of sexual abuse against woman, within this movement AND address the invisibility of women living with disabilities and/or marginalisation.
b) critically look at whom exactly this activism caters to. the animals? The activists? women? All of the above?
In answer to a) still waiting.
In answer to b) let’s unpack..
So yes, the jury has spoken and the use of women’s body’s in advocacy for animals has been identified as individuality. This approach is undeniably a post feminism agenda. While Animal exploitation might just be inadvertently a vehicle for such in the process. Be it right or wrong? You decide📚 But what’s key here is that we examine our privilege now that we’ve established the action itself is distinctive to the subject of individuality.
So let’s ask now, if even with the cooperation of women in self objectivity,
Is it merely a celebration of agency for only some; and the aggravation of structural oppression for others? The answer is always yes when we look back at question a) with still no answers.
This advocacy is employed to refer to a class of people who inherently share something specific by way of privilege experience, as it forgets that sexual liberation and safety and agency is unequally distributed at the roots.
These pseudo solidarity performances can never cater to all identities when individualised and employed using privilege thought to be empowering for woman and animals, but clearly ignoring the tendency for this practice to aggravate a culture of oppression for others. How? Individualism obscures the very structural inequality it aims to bring to light.
Other woman who do not identify with this overwhelmingly white presenting advocacy; BIPOC, women with disabilities, queer woman, and trans woman remain facing the far less-than-glamorous reality of sexual exploitation, objectification, violence and visibility.
Women of colour and disadvantaged women are disproportionately affected by sexual assault and violence around the world and are thus more affronted by a movement that rejects solidarity and repackages patriarchal domination as female liberation, personal choice and consumption.
This form of activism associated with the women’s “freedom” to express herself sexually, is in of itself a facade of liberation that serves to benefit the patriarchy which now gets to enjoy a generation of heteronormative women who have been convinced that taking charge of their own exploitation is a feminist act.
Yes, the movement must liberate its women. We are it’s greatest source of people power to date. The popularity of “choice” feminism details feminism goals that are still very much relevant if we are to escape the irrationality of the patriarchy and become full citizens both in society and social movements.
And lastly the general attitude of indifference to feminism concerns in the AR movement reflects normalised attitudes of sexism in larger society which is simply hesitation for the movement to acknowledge its weaknesses.
Regardless of individual women’s choices, activists should always be concerned about the larger implications for women as a demographic.