Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Dairy Council Is Wrong: Let me tell you the ways

Let's begin with the obvious: A new campaign for cow's milk is misogynistic, as it pictures an unfortunate, beleaguered, cowering white man holding milk. Since the brand isn't given we could imagine it was soy milk or hemp milk, but clearly the dairy industry wants us to believe this poor guy is holding cow's milk.

Why is he cowering? Why is he beleaguered? Because a woman has PMS.

The website that accompanies this p.r. campaign reinforces the misogyny, implying that all men share this need to defend themselves from the moods women experience because of raging hormones.

All this to promote a product that actually helps deplete calcium from women's bones rather than strengthening them. And contributes to the ongoing medicalization of women's lives. If you want calcium, you'd be better off turning to kale and other leafy greens.

Perhaps, the Dairy Council is getting desperate. As more and more people learn through books like Whitewash just how cow's milk is obtained, learn of the terrible lives cows endure to produce what I have called "feminized protein," they are rejecting cow's milk. The Dairy Council must know at this point that with so many wonderful alternatives in local grocery stores, more people are asking, "why are we still enslaving female animals to be our wet nurses?" Mercy for Animals shows us what cows endure for a product we don't need:

http://www.mercyforanimals.org/calves/

The question is "Got Soy Milk?" "Got Almond Milk?"

Dairy Industry--I am listening to what you are saying and what you are meaning. Yours is a dangerous campaign, built on stereotypes about women, requiring the imprisonment and suffering of other animals, offering misleading information about sources of calcium, and promoting a product that many women of color can not digest because of lactose intolerance.

You'll probably say my response shows I don't have a sense of humor. That's another way you're wrong; I just don't have your sense of humor.

19 comments:

  1. While PMS may be a cultural fiction, some of those "symptoms" are realities that many women face. I strongly doubt cows' milk would have any positive benefits with regard to these (or anything else), but I have heard some anecdotal evidence that a vegan diet does have some beneficial effects with regard to menstrual discomforts and amount of bleeding. Have there been any studies on the effects of such dietary choices in this area that could support or undercut any of these claims?

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  2. I have long heard that a general reduction of fat intake and overall lower body weight reduces PMS. Not that all vegans are skinny, but most people lose some weight when switching diets. PCRM did a study that appears to have the same finding: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/15/health/vital-signs-nutrition-for-some-vegan-diet-relieves-pms.html

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  3. WOW! Carol, did you go to the WEBSITE they built for this campaign?! Prepare to have your mind blown at the misogyny: http://everythingidoiswrong.org/#/

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  4. Carol, I think you're an intelligent person, a talented writer, and a powerful voice not only for feminists but for vegans everywhere. That being said: I disagree with your assessment.

    Oh sure, this is a terrible ad and is most likely designed for shock value rather than an actual targeted marketing strategy. Truthfully, it was completely irresposible to print this ad or anything similar.

    I do have to disagree about enslaving animals for milk. I come from a line of farmers and yes some of us raised livestock. Truth is, whether we use it or not, cows need to be milked regularly. Dairy cows of today are far removed from their wild cousins. If a dairy cow of today goes too long without being milked they experience extreme swelling and sensitivity which usually causes them to become violent toward the herd.

    If I may interject a bit of wisdom I've learned through the years: Whenever you take up a cause remember not to overcompensate your point. If you fight for civil rights and equality make sure you're not committing racist or prejudiced acts. The same can be said with feminism and even veganism. I find people are very open to new ideas and analyzing their own behavior, but accusations just make people defensive.

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  5. The only reason a cow would need to be milked is if her calf were taken away from her, and therefore could not nurse. i.e. Dairy farms where cows are artificially inseminated, their calves stolen and their milk taken to make unhealthy products for human consumption, hence "enslaving female animals to be our wet nurses".

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  6. James,

    I must respectfully disagree with your comments. Implying that dairy cows of today need to be milked regularly for their own good is a spurious argument to use in defending milk production.

    Because we have bred cows to be supreme milking machines they probably do produce more milk than is comfortable for them even were they allowed to suckle their calves. That is not an excuse for the continuation of the dairy industry.

    If we really thought this way and accepted this type of argument we would still be sending children down mines and up chimneys (the argument then was probably, "Well what will families do for money if we end child labour and send them to school?")

    At the end of the day, you either consider something to be moral or immoral. YOu can argue about the morality if you like, lots of peopld do, but once you accept the morality (or immorality) of something you have to act on it, it's as simple as that.

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  7. Actually, there is some evidence that very good quality milk (i.e. non-homogenized organic milk) contains higher levels of essential fatty acids (EFAs) that can be beneficial to some women with hormonal imbalances, as well as the the benefits of EFAs in general. The issue is for me about the quality of milk that is mass produced in an unsustainable and unhealthy way.

    I do find the advert hugely offensive though; especially as thank to an autoimmune disorder my hormones are entirely out of sink. For that to be portrayed as something which is offensive to men is an incredibly retrograde step for our understanding of woman.

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  8. The whole problem with the ad campaign is that giving a woman cow's milk for her PMS is like throwing gasoline on a fire; dairy is a hormonal-delivery system designed for the developing calf, not humans.

    On a personal note, my PMS symptoms have receded greatly since quitting dairy, and even though I'm now peri-menopausal, I've been having no symptoms whatsoever of that. The dairy industry is not only misogynistic, they're lying to women.

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  9. 1. I oppose sexism.
    2. I happily drink soy milk.

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  10. Wow, I feel like compiling a list of peer reviewed journal articles and sending it to this council, showing that milk exacerbates PMS symptoms and crappy periods in women. I noticed this way before I ever considered veganism. When I was an omnivore, I always noticed that dairy products would make me feel horrible the week before my period. If I was on my period and had just a little dairy, my womb did not like it.

    There are plenty of nutritional related healing books out there for women who want to combat fibroids, PMS, PCOS, etc and an increase in milk is rarely if ever recommended (whether it's a pro-vegan book or not).

    Ridiculous ad on so many levels.

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  11. i agree with this article but i'm curious if people here are talking about conventional milk, organic, grass fed...or all cow's milk. i know that in conventional you'll find all kinds of chemicals like hormones, painkillers, and antibiotics.

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  12. Anonymous: all cow milk production involve enslaving and confining the cow, violating its body and taking its life through violence. Animals have their own lives to live, their own interests and their own children. Their lives are not ours to take or enslave.

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  13. What a self-righteous and arrogant posture this Carol J. Adams has.

    I have no dispute regarding the awful treatment of animals. The video at http://www.meat.org/ will turn your stomach against any food made from the slaughter or abuse of animals.

    What I find particularly disturbing is the need of this Carol J. Adams to specify a sex in animal abuse and cruelty. Questions/statements like "why are we still enslaving female animals to be our wet nurses?" and "....the terrible lives cows endure to produce what I have called "feminized protein", are revealing glimpses into the chronic sickness of rabid gender preference.

    ALL animals are suffering, Carol J. Adams. From female dairy cattle to young steers having their balls snipped off.

    Your seemingly venomous hostility towards human males seems to be of such chronic scale that it includes animal males. It's disgusting.

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  14. Randy Morris: Why do you write with so much hostility? If you have a good argument then there's no need for outbursts, so stay calm. That said I'm not convinced by your reasoning. Where does Adams deny that all animals are suffering? That is a straw man (see what I did there?) on your part. I'm a human male and I very much oppose the patriarchal aspects of our society. There are interesting links between male domination and animal oppression and C.J. Adams have helped map them. Those general links
    are compatible with there being individual women that do injustice to animals too. The patriarchy is more of a general tendency that shape and influence much action, thinking and many relations in society, but some more than others. I also don't see critique of patriarchy as hostile towards men in any way. On the contrary men are also suffocating from machismo laden gender norms that our society is stuffing us with. I welcome liberation from those norms.

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  15. Thank you to all who posted. Not sure why Randy leans toward misreading, but thank you Anonymous for helping to put my comments into a context. Great project, Sistahvegan when you have time! In the meantime, see the Mercy for Animals response at http://www.mfablog.org/2011/07/got-ethics-new-mfa-anti-milk-parody-ad-takes-on-dairy-industrys-sexist-pms-marketing-campaign.html

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  16. I am a cow and enjoy being milked. What I do not enjoy is being fed weird food with lots of medicine to help me avoid problems induced by the weird food. Better than no food at all, however. I eat better than many humans.

    If we extend the argument about my assumed misery to the existence of humans, we'd have to note the misery of most human lives and prevent their births. I'm not opposed to that idea, but let's be philosophically consistent in ending all misery.

    On my milk farm, we have auto-milkers so that I can get milked when I feel like it. Granted, I have been turned into a machine, just as have half the world's population of child/slave labor. Then again, I have the brain of a June bug, so aspire to nothing. If I was not delivering milk, I would not exist.

    All I know is that I get fed, milked, watered, and occasionally forced to give birth...like many humans. Don't anthropomorphize me. Like billions of humans, I'm just a piece of meat.

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  17. Sorry Rod, beg to disagree. This is not anthropomorphizing. "milking" should not be something done to a cow but by a cow.

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  18. well I respectfully agreed with you in many of the points you expossed here, but I don't see what is the big deal with drink milk, in all these years I drinked milk and never I suffered from something, in fact I like to drink bith milks, cow milk and soy milk

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  19. Milk causes hormonal disorder, in fact. It is bad for every single gland in human body.

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