Guest Post: My favorite masculine vegan has a pussy »
As of late, conversations about masculinity and meat eating have re-emerged, partially in response to John Joseph’s book, Meat Is for Pussies, and also from a segment on NPR about masculinity and veganism. But this conversation has left a lot to be desired from many vegans, especially feminists.
It’s great to see traditional assumptions about masculinity challenged by veganism, but we can do better. I date a butch lesbian vegan who is training for a marathon, lifts weights, is masculine, and has a pussy. Below are five of the most frustrating aspects of the conversation.
1. Hardcore veganism is feminist
The idea that there is a real man or that one type of man is a “pussy”* and another is more masculine is a) homophobic and b) misogynist. There is nothing hardcore about reclaiming traditional patriarchal language and behavior in the name of an ethical movement. And remember: If you aren’t sure how to do better please ask a vegan feminist. We would love to help!
2. Ethical veganism is not a diet or about controlling your body
All people who are vegan eat a plant-based diet and strive to live a compassionate life towards human and non-human animals alike. This extends to varying degrees into all consumer products, as well as different practices one supports. There’s plenty of debate about how veganism extends beyond the plate.
One thing that is not up for debate, however, is that ethical veganism is not about restricting food as a diet or about controlling your body. With the emphasis on proving vegan diets can also provide for the nutritional needs of those who run ultra marathons and body-build, the conversation seems to have become confused. As the NPR segment argues, men are generally the face of this misconception.
3. Veganism doesn’t need to be saved from feminity
A lot of this conversation about masculinity and veganism is people reacting to being bullied for being too feminine or behaving like a girl (or a “pussy”) for being a vegan. The basic premise that this is something to tolerate or build a defense against is offensive in its own right.
Eating plants is not an inherently feminine behavior, nor is eating meat an inherently masculine behavior. Anything that encourages either side of this argument is essentialist and tired. This is not to say that being treated as an outcast or ostracized for making an ethical choice many people consider weird is not difficult, just that it’s part of the patriarchy, man. Making ethical vegan choices is something to be proud of for no reason other than the inherent virtue of making the right ethical decision, which has nothing to do with your gender.
4. Veganism shouldn’t need a mainstream male stamp of approval to be taken seriously
If you’re going to get media attention for being male and vegan, please say something feminist and mention some of the inspiring feminist vegans who you know and love!
5. Where are my male feminist allies?
It’s very annoying to see instances of misogynistic language promoting veganism get the seal of approval by prominent male vegans. Those in the position to hold the microphone with the most amplification have a responsibility to say something and push our movement to be less homophobic, and more feminist. And if you aren’t sure how, please pass that microphone on to a #feministvegan who does.
*Similar to queer, the word pussy has been reclaimed by some feminists, probably most notably the feminist Russian punk band Pussy Riot. Read more about that here.
Jamie J. Hagen is a Boston-based writer who writes about feminism, feminist security studies, and LGBTQ politics for such publications as Rolling Stone, Autostraddle and RH Reality Check. She tweets @jamiejhagen and you can visit jamiejhagen.com for more of her work.
Photo via The Animal Blog
Happy International vegan Women’s Day! »
It’s International Women’s Day! Huzzah! I’m a woman, she’s a woman, wouldn’t you like to be a woman too? You see pals, your friend Megan Rascal was born a feminist. From jumping off the couch in a cape declaring, “Woman Man!” to hanging out at my mom’s all-female socialist print shop, I was living in it from day one. That’s why I am very excited to celebrate International Women’s Day with you! Being a woman and a vegan rules. In lots of other movements, women get pushed to the side! But not in veganism! Basically, we run shit. So let’s talk about some great female vegans!Coretta Scott King: Vegan in the last 10 years of her life, Coretta Scott King carried on her husband’s message of tolerance. She spoke out for civil rights, whether it was against the apartheid or in favor of LGBT equality. Basically, she ruled.
Ellen Degeneres: Ellen is the new American Sweetheart. It’s impossible not to like her. And now that she’s vegan? Please. I’m in love. I remember when Ellen came out on her sitcom, everyone was like, “oh no! Her career is over!” Ha! All those people can suck it now because she’s the biggest thing since Oprah.
Ingrid Newkirk: Say what you will about Peta but it’s a force to be reckoned with. As founder and president, Newkirk is super-active in her organization and one of the most well-known animal activists in the country. Even if you oppose their methods, Peta is quite a success story. They are one of the most efficiently run nonprofits I’ve ever heard of (nonprofits are my people) and have more than 2 million members and supporters.
Breeze Harper: With her blog and book Sistah Vegan, up-and-comer Harper challenges race, feminist and food politics. Dang! That’s a lot of work! And she’s not slowing down—I love the cover of the not-yet-released Sistah Species.
Isa Chandra Moskowitz: Moskowitz is top of the pops when it comes to vegan cookbooks. From NYC punk to best-selling author, Moskowitz typifies the fun, food-enthusiast attitude of the young modern vegan. Plus, her book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World really did take over the world!
So, who is on your female vegan list? Let’s celebrate some plant-loving women!
[Poster from my mom’s old print shop, Omega Press]
An open letter to Shiri Appleby »
Dear Ms. Appleby:
I am quite certain that you will come across this letter, as there is no doubt in my mind that you Google yourself regularly in order to ascertain whether you still are/ever were a relevant figure in current pop culture. It is unfortunate, then, that the words you are about to read do not contain sentiments of “Gee, I wonder what that one girl who had a bit part in The Other Sister is doing, she was excellent in that!” but instead carry the following message: “What the fuck is wrong with you?”
Listen, Shiri Appleby, I know it’s hard. It sucks that your popularity on IMDB is down 7 percent this week and the few messages left on your board are mainly about what a bad actress you are—which is not untrue. You are an attractive young woman, and I am sure you are charming in person, but that just doesn’t carry on the TV. You’re like an older, shriekier Lea Michele. And even Lea Michele is too much Lea Michele, you know? It’s just going to get worse, because instead of praising you for your work on Roswell, I am going to castigate you for abandoning veganism to find love. Especially creepy, douchey love.
You were a vegan as recently as February of 2010, Shiri Appleby. Blogs were giving you accolades for being so awesome and conscious, and you yourself were pretty vocal about being vegan. That’s one of my biggest issues: you weren’t just a quiet vegan who was all, “Well, I’m going to do this and not make a big deal about it;” instead you actually gave quotes about why you went vegan. Here’s what you said: “I was sitting here eating my plate of chicken salad, and suddenly I looked down and saw all the meat on my plate and just wasn’t hungry anymore. So I’ve decided I’m not going to eat meat.” I don’t know the exact date of this quote, but it’s pretty awesome and got you quoted all over the internet and put you on some “sexy vegetarian” lists, which is why it is so disappointing that you completely abandoned it because, “What guy wants to date someone who’s vegan?" There is so much wrong with that statement that I do not even know where to start.
Seriously, Shiri Appleby, “What guy wants to date a vegan?” Give dudes a little credit. There are plenty of guys who would date someone who is vegan and who might actually prefer that you didn’t have a mound of rotting flesh in your stomach at any given time/gave a shit about something. Also, how is it that chicken is so disgusting to you, but you’ll dump your values and beliefs in a second to get a date? Is this really the message you want to send to the young girls who I’m sure you believe are looking up to you? It is not! The message you are sending is both gross and incredibly unfeminist.
You may be wondering why I am addressing the issue of feminism considering that this is not a blog necessarily focused on feminism, and the fact that I am a male telling you what I consider feminist does not escape me, but my issue is this: If you had decided to abandon veganism due to the fact that you felt it no longer jibed with your lifestyle, I would be unhappy and probably post my thoughts on that. And I do confess those thoughts would still include colorful language expressing my displeasure with you and your complete and utter failure as an actress even though people are still paying you to do television movies (when Jennifer Love Hewitt/Melissa Joan Hart are doing something else). Instead, I am also upset with the fact that you abandoned veganism to PLEASE A MAN—a man that did not yet exist, but that you knew would not date a vegan—because you didn’t feel that your personal qualities were good enough for him to overlook your dietary choices. Remember those hypothetical girls who look up to you? What is this going to look like to them? What are you telling them, that they should give up their ideals in order to get a man and then allow the man to say the following about them?
Jon Shook, an owner of Animal, the meat- and fat-centric restaurant in Los Angeles, becomes effusive when he talks about coaxing his girlfriend, Shiri Appleby, a television actress and a former vegan, into eating his fried pork chops. “She’s like 110 pounds, maybe, in wet clothes, and when she’s with me, we eat everything and anything,” he said on the phone. “On our first date, I was like, ‘Hey, why’d you stop being a vegan?’ And she was like, ‘What kind of guy’s going to date a vegan?’ And I was like, ‘You’re awesome.’”
Really, Shiri Appleby? This is the image you want people to have of you? That some guy can convince you to eat pork chops who then grows “effusive” when he talks about how much you weigh and how awesome you are to give up your values (and dare I say agency)? I scoured the internet hoping that you had reprimanded him, that you had your publicist release a statement saying either that “Jon Shook and Shiri Appleby have never met and his quote to the New York Times is a delusion that should be treated by a trained clinician. We wish him the best of luck!” or, “Shiri Appleby apologizes for the comment made by her boyfriend Jon Shook who made crass and untrue statements about and on behalf of Ms. Appleby to the New York Times. Ms. Appleby hopes you support her during this difficult time.” I found neither! Does that mean that Jon Shook’s statements were not only true but that you had no problem with them? Did you sit in your living room with him and giggle together about how this article makes you sound? Were you just excited to be mentioned? Did the way you were talked about not fill you with several drops of irritation or shame, if not outright anger? And if not, why? Because I am angry for you, Shiri Appleby, I am angry for you and with you!
I don’t know what we do at this point, Shiri Appleby. I will certainly no longer garner as much enjoyment from the Hallmark Channel movies you star in as I once did, and I will not be giving Life Unexpected another chance like I had planned to when I had more time to watch the DVDs. And that makes me sad, Shiri Appleby, because I don’t know if you can afford to alienate your vegan/feminist/people-with-common-sense viewership in your desperate attempt to cling to America’s consciousness. It’s a sheer cliff, Shiri Appleby, and your acting skills and personal beliefs aren’t helping you scale it; they’re only bringing us all down.
[Thanks to reader Adrienne for sending me the link to the New York Times article. This open-letter business is quite fun, actually, so if anyone has any other people for me to get incredibly angry at/praise, let me know. It’s much cheaper than going to therapy!]
BEEF!: nicht für Frauen—unless your Mann gives it to you »
We’ve discussed this idiocy before, how eating meat should make you a real big man, with manly muscles and a manly penis and all those other attributes that make the ladies and lady-dudes just swoon. Worse, as painful as it is to consider our grandparents having to suffer that bullshit in the ’50s, it looks like we’re being subjected to it again. To wit: not only is everybody eating meat, raw meat, but according to some Hamburghers,* beef in particular is a Man’s Food and should be revered as such, in its own magazine with fancy title-punctuation: BEEF! for Men with Taste. Oh Germany, how clever you are. The Double X blog has a tidy little dissection, as it were,** but which doesn’t go far enough—roll your eyes at the disgusting-in-all-senses-of-the-word articles, shake your fist with rage at the “men are chefs, women are cooks” stereotypes, because even when dudes take on kitchen responsibilities it is all fun and games and aren’t they creative with their amaaaazing dinners and photos and knife collections! Ladies, leftovers casserole again? Boring, gross, make me a sandwich and/or pie, bitch! GOD, variations on this joke will never get old.
All of which is, yes, obnoxious in the extreme. Even when everyone’s wearing an apron, someone’s taking His more seriously than Hers—especially when His is covered with aromatic, erotic, freshly butchered lamb’s blood,*** and Hers is caked with rapidly cementing flour-and-dishwater paste. The Editor in Chief of BEEF! says so himself (sample quote: “Women cook because they have to. For the kids who come home hungry at lunch, or in the evening for their partner. Men cook because they want to. Because it’s their hobby, their passion.”) It’s hard in there for a grrrrl.
It’s also hard out there for a dude who doesn’t want to eat meat. He’s not a man’s man, you see; how can he be, if he’s not willing to hunt and kill a meal for you, or at least craft supper out of the murdered remains of a less powerful animal? First you eat your meat to grow up big and strong, and once you are big and strong, you eat meat to prove you’re still at the “top” of the “food chain” (do we think about any other “chains” in terms of “tops” and “bottoms,” by the way?). That’s logic—manly logic! BEEF! logic!! The kind that comes to you after your brain has melted from BSE. Possibly the same that assumes anyone believes any of this anymore. Our favorite ways to insult a vegetable-eater’s looks—“anemic,” “anorexic,” “pale”—are all synonymous with weakness, frailty, the physical opposite of the macho man with his heroic penis and big creative brain. I mean, what do we eat, salads? Not even real food! Certainly not food worth using “Knives to Die For” on!
BUT: What’s the point? BEEF! isn’t really a magazine, in the sense that issues are published with any regularity (the first is dated October 2009; the second is due in May 2010) or that it’s supposed to do anything besides idolize a lifestyle that only ever existed between the pages of Playboy. Maybe with the rise of power German ladies, unemployed German dudes needed to carve out some space for themselves—the world being divided into G.R.O.S.S. members and everyone else—or maybe I shouldn’t have written this response at all, because manufacturing trends is stupid, this magazine’s premise is silly, and meat is fucking disgusting. Given the choice, I’d much rather kiss a man who doesn’t eat meat—ethics are hot, they imply you have a brain.
[For further reading on meat and gender roles, do please visit the Sociological Images blog.]
*SEE WHAT I DID THERE?
**ON FIRE with the wit today. I’m so sorry.
***BARF OK kill me now.