Animal Rights Activists - Philosophical and Legal Approaches - Feminism and Animal Rights

Feminism and Animal Rights

Further information: Women and animal advocacy, Ethics of care, and Feminist ethics

Women have played a central role in animal advocacy since the 19th century. The anti-vivisection movement in the 19th and early 20th century in England and the United States was largely run by women, including Francis Power Cobbe, Anna Kingsford, Lizzy Lind af Hageby and Caroline Earle White (1833–1916). Garner writes that 70 per cent of the membership of the Victoria Street Society (one of the anti-vivisection groups founded by Cobbe) were women, as were 70 per cent of the membership of the British RSPCA in 1900.

The modern animal advocacy movement has a similar representation of women, though Garner (2005) writes that they are not invariably in leadership positions: during the March for Animals in Washington, D.C., in 1990—the largest animal rights demonstration held until then in the United States—most of the participants were women, but most of the platform speakers were men. Nevertheless, several influential animal advocacy groups have been founded by women, including the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection by Cobbe in London in 1898; the Animal Welfare Board of India by Rukmini Devi Arundale in 1962; and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, co-founded by Ingrid Newkirk in 1980. In the Netherlands, Marianne Thieme and Esther Ouwehand were elected to parliament in 2006 representing the Party for Animals.

The preponderance of women in the movement has led to a body of academic literature exploring feminism and animal rights; feminism and vegetarianism or veganism; the oppression of women and animals; and the male association of women and animals with nature and emotion, rather than reason—an association that several feminist writers have embraced. Lori Gruen writes that women and animals serve the same symbolic function in a patriarchal society: both are "the used," the dominated, submissive "Other." When the British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797) published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Thomas Taylor (1758–1835), a Cambridge philosopher, responded with an anonymous parody, A Vindication of the Rights of Brutes (1792), showing that Wollstonecraft's arguments for women's rights could be applied equally to animals, a position he intended as an reductio ad absurdum.

Read more about this topic:  Animal Rights Activists, Philosophical and Legal Approaches

Famous quotes containing the words rights, feminism and/or animal:

    My dream is that as the years go by and the world knows more and more of America, it ... will turn to America for those moral inspirations that lie at the basis of all freedom ... that America will come into the full light of the day when all shall know that she puts human rights above all other rights, and that her flag is the flag not only of America but of humanity.
    Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924)

    ... feminism is a political term and it must be recognized as such: it is political in women’s terms. What are these terms? Essentially it means making connections: between personal power and economic power, between domestic oppression and labor exploitation, between plants and chemicals, feelings and theories; it means making connections between our inside worlds and the outside world.
    Anica Vesel Mander, U.S. author and feminist, and Anne Kent Rush (b. 1945)

    Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.
    William Hazlitt (1778–1830)