Sometimes, the animal rights world seems to exist in a bubble. Advocates are so focused on speaking up for those without a voice, that it can be easy not to see the other issues around us, or not to see how they intersect.
We’ve seen a growing movement over the past few months of those who have been harassed or assaulted. The MeToo movement shows us that there are countless stories of men and women being victimized by those in power. I’ve watched with dismay as each new name comes to the forefront, as each story is told.
I was surprised to see MeToo make its way into animal rights when leaders of well-known organizations were accused of sexual harassment. This is nothing new – Carol J. Adams has been writing about the sexual politics of meant for years (and published a book with the same title), so why would it be surprising? I had perhaps naively expected a movement built on not exploiting others to include people who did not exploit others. Unfortunately, exploitation runs deep within our human nature.
In recent weeks, we’ve all watched in horror as another school shooting took the lives of seventeen students and teachers. The difference this time is the young leaders who watched their friends die. They are standing up. They are speaking out. They are, as one of them said at a CNN town hall last week, speaking up for those with no voice. These are the leaders we need in all of our intersecting movements. And they are already making change, as companies end their business relationships with the NRA and supporters donate to their cause as marches and walkouts are planned. Many of them will be able to vote in the next elections. Voting is power.
I know that it’s controversial to compare animal rights to human issues. Slavery, the Holocaust – they are horrible marks on our history. There is a common thread whether we compare them or not. Exploiting another – human or non-human – is a violent act. Harassment and assault, as experienced by those with a MeToo story, is violence. The gun debate pivots on whether guns are necessary and whether they should be easily accessible to people. Guns are by their very nature violent – they exist to do harm. Hunters use guns with one goal in mind – killing their target.
Of course animal rights doesn’t exist in a bubble. It’s just one piece of a prism of violence that exists because we do. But there’s an awakening happening right now, and if the tide will turn for some pieces, then maybe the others will follow.
Feature Photo: Will Montague
Stop Sign Photo: Mikko Kapenan