I have been hearing from many people recently about their experience reading The Sexual Politics of Meat and other books of mine.
From Texas, a young woman wrote: "I'm re-reading The Sexual Politics of Meat for a class and every time I read it I am reminded of how inspiring you are and how important my choices are. You are the reason I have been able to stay strong and be vegetarian for over a year. Thank You!!
Via email, I learned about "Prey and Predator Day": "Thought you might find this interesting, if you haven't see it already. I just got finished reading your book."
The link was to information about a high school that was going to have "Prey and Predator Day" for homecoming. As we learn here, "The news release stated that the event will have 'guys dress in their camouflage and other hunting apparel while girls will show off their animal print.'" On Friday, after some protests, the day was changed simply to "Camo Day."
While Jezebel rightly criticized it, they failed to point out how this reifies The Sexual Politics of Meat. Not just that the high school young men are the hunters and the high school young women are the hunted; but that the men therefore represent both the hunters and humankind, and the young women, the other animals.
This reminds me of my argument in Neither Man nor Beast that gender is imposed on species and species distinctions are imposed on gender. So, for instance, rodeos that feature a competition that involves putting lace underpants on a calf, and a high school that features girls dressing up as hunted animals.
Tomorrow, the National Museum of Women in the Arts opens the traveling exhibit of "Women Who Rock" which will include Lady Gaga's "Meat Dress" (aka dead animal flesh dress). This is just one in a long tradition of women wearing dead flesh. At least one reader of The Sexual Politics of Meat was rightly concerned, and points out: "Nothing is a better example of why we live in a world of oppression, violence and unfairness that this 'dress.' Far from taking a stand against these things, Lady Gaga is further cementing in our collective consciousness that the end justifies the means, violence is o.k."
Also in my inbox was a beautiful letter from a young academic who was reading both The Inner Art of Vegetarnianism and Living Among Meat Eaters. She wrote, "I am so grateful for the compassion I am learning from you and putting into practice because of your beautiful and tangible example. As you mention in your book, Living Among Meat Eaters, it took you many years to become the person who could write that book - I similarly feel that you have helped me embark on a journey of new understanding and embodiment of feminism that is helping me become the feminist person I claim and hope to be. I am learning to create the space within myself that is opens me to be reborn anew and allows me to extend that life to the world. And yes, I am in the process of living into the fullness of vegetarianism and you are my inspiration. Thank you."