About that Meat Dress....

Nina Powers writes about Lady Gaga's meat dress and the 20th anniversary edition of Carol Adams's book The Sexual Politics of Meat.  Women (and sometimes men) are sexually objectified.  Animals that become food are objectified too, in some sense.  Is it helpful or illuminating to look for commonalities?  Adams says yes and Powers agrees.  The commenters go wild.  All very interesting. H/T (as they say):  AT


Anonymous said...

I read The Pornography of Meat over the summer and felt it was a nice hand-holding exercise that aided in pointing out how ubiquitous this practice is and (obviously) how it's naturalised: no one minds because most people consume both nonhuman animals and women nonchalantly.

At the same time, however, I felt like she was too quick with the theoretical underpinnings in The Pornography of Meat -- it was far too cute (if not also perverse) to offer them as formulae! I understand why she did this, however, as the point of this book was not to present a feminist-vegetarian critical theory in detail. (I did have The Sexual Politics of Meat out from the library concurrently, but never got around to reading it, annoyingly. That's the one I should have read!)

You know all this, of course. My point is that as I was reading about this elsewhere -- primarily on various feminist blogs -- it was not mentioned even indirectly. (Perhaps it was in the comments and not the main posts, I don't know.) I suppose this should not be surprising though, considering these two movements [feminism and vegetarianism] are individually marginalised well enough, so to pair them together seems like it would be simply asking to be ignored outright by the public at large (not to mention that activists of their movement do not often notice the intersections involved, as Adams notes herself obviously). Alas!

amos said...

This seems like a subject that could be studied with more profit by sociologists with questionaires than from an armchair.

Do people who objectify women tend to objectify animals and vice versa? A great subject for sociological research.

amos said...

The last time I noticed, social scientists had developped fairly sophisticated techniques about asking questions, which allow them to penetrate people's rationalizations, attitudes of denial, hypocrisy, self-righteousness and outright lies about themselves.

If you've ever been interviewed by a good research psychologist or sociologist (or police investigator), you'll notice that they tend not to accept your
first explanation at face value
and through indirect questioning, repeating the same question in different manners,
looking for basal attitudes, watching for contradictions between professed values and basal values, have a fairly good record at finding out what people think or believe or have witnessed.

Paul said...

Lady Gaga makes me Gaggag ! She is a Madonna wannabein my opinion...

Mel said...

I've read that male ducks "gang rape" female ducks (for lack of a better term). Is this what Carol Adams is talking about when she dicusses "the rape of animals"? Vegans and vegetarians are often in the habit of romanticizing animals. Maybe because it makes us feel good.

Humans are animals too (duh). Some are prone to violence, some to extreme sadistic violence, and others gentle and compassionate. There are humans who are more intelligent, less intelligent, so on and so forth. Humans have appetites and fleshly desires -- including of course sexual appetites -- and they have innumerable (and sometimes bizarre) ways of satiating themselves. Some deviant, most not (we hope).

But it seems it's all about the "absent referrant" with Adams. But one must ask, why *would* the typical/normal omnivorous person dwell on the past life and possible suffering of the chicken on his or her plate? And why would the average man or woman dwell on the conditions that may or may not have led the Penthouse centerfold into the sex industry? I would imagine that thinking about the centerfolds' drug addictions, STDs, low self-esteem, troubled childhoods - would no doubt spoil one's appetite, so to speak -- which would explain why porn aficionados avoid thinking about such things.

Thus, is it any wonder why when dining human omnivores avoid dwelling on the suffering of factory-farmed animals? Isn't this the psyche's way of protecting/preserving itself, some form of coping mechanism? I just do not think meat-eating is altogether as political, or violent and/or sadistic for the average person as Carol Adams argues in her books. Of course the more intelligent, thoughtful, and compassionate among us would consider the plight of the unfortuante teenage centerfold as well as the millions of factory farmed chickens. There is no absent referrant in these cases, is there?

When Lady Ga Ga dons a dress made of flesh I think she is exploiting carnal desire - the public's animal instincts. (Though she twists it into some hackneyed political statement.) By describing herself as meat, she's saying, I'm treated as "less than"; that is, lower on the food chain/social hierarchy not an enviable position -- a feeling that resonates with so many in her audience. There's the feminist-vegetarian connection.

And yet here's a woman who makes a career out of transforming herself into an object of desire for the purposes of consumption -- so in the end, it's just a silly publicity stunt not a political statement. She's no absent referrant.

Jean Kazez said...

For anyone interested in getting a taste--