Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fraternity Culture, Misogyny, and Pig Roast = Sexual Politics of Meat

Here's one of the more recent examples of the sexual politics of meat.

This was produced for an Amherst College fraternity last spring. For the story from an Amherst feminist perspective see here: http://acvoice.com/2012/10/08/amherst-college-roasting-fat-ones-since-1847/

Fraternities gravitate to pig roasts as they inscribe masculinity through the consumption of a dead animal.  As feminist bloggers note this t-shirt is misogynist, celebrating violence against women.

But it is not only that. That this t-shirt exists in 2012 and that its roots in the sexual politics of meat go unremarked reveals how truly nested in our culture is the connection between masculinity, male bonding, and meat eating.

So here's Sexual Politics of Meat 101

1) Meat is a vehicle for women's disempowerment.  The presence of meat symbolizes the empowerment of men and the disempowerment of women. Dead animals are one of the primary means for male bonding, especially in American culture.

2) The interchangeability of dead bodies/live bodies/objectified bodes/consumable bodies shows the presence of the structure of the absent referent. The absent referent is that which disappears as having meaning to him or herself and becomes representative or metaphor for something else. The dead pig being roasted is clearly the referent, the treatment of a woman is layered over the knowledge of what actually happens to dead pigs. The woman is substituted for the dead pig, and with that, another aspect of the sexual politics of meat is inscribed.

3) The interesting aspect of this t-shirt is showing the male pig as participant in the roasting of a woman; this too is functioning of the absent referent; he has become the representation of the power of the visual, the look that the t-shirt is inscribing, the look of the fraternity members, who themselves know they are insulated from actually ever being roasted because they are human. So, in reversals that reveal: the white pig stands for the human, and the white woman stands for the consumable animal. The t-shirt proclaims human superiority as male-identified and the consumable non-human animal as woman-identified.

In the transformation of the explicit woman-hating of this t-shirt we find this, an adult bacon costume, as it is labelled. Having women celebrate this consumability becomes popular culture's way of hiding the misogyny within sexuality and fun. Lady Gaga didn't start this trend, but certainly lifted it to a new height. Now Halloween prepararations deliver it back to us.

Here is a recent example from Germany:

Popular culture keeps the sexual politics of meat in representation alive because the sexual politics of meat in practice still flourishes. The roll-back in terms of women's rights, the fact that women's issues weren't raised at all during the first Presidential debate--these exist in and are nurtured by a culture of the sexual politics of meat, in which men represent human, and women, well, we aren't there yet, because animals are feminized and women are animalized. That's the sexual politics of meat.


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  4. Ugh, that shirt is utterly horrifying.

  5. Thanks for this truthful assessment of social life.

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  6. With respect, I think you are off the mark in regard to the Lady Gaga dress...considering that LG's dress was fabricated out of actual flesh, I believe in wearing it LG challenged the culture's relationship with animal flesh and women objectified by the male gaze. By appropriating the animal flesh to use as a garment she repulses rather than titilates and does so by conflating two things--meat for eating and her young sexualized body--that if offered to the male appetite separately would strongly attract male desires. Pretty clever. And very confrontational toward traditional expectations of fashion and food.

  7. Here's yet another example in the strolling parade of misogyny, absent referents, and intersections of animal and female exploitation:

    The company who produced one of the guns used in the Newtown, Connecticut massacre, Bushmaster, put out a campaign for "Man Cards" which allotted and denied manly status to its prospective customers according to how well they assimilated to a series of tropes. "Unmanly" behaviors, such as doing Pilates, liking kittens and small dogs, or substituting tofu for meat was reason for one player to "revoke a Man Card" of another player. One of Bushmaster's reasons for revoking a Man Card included "avoids eye contact with tough looking 5th graders".

    The human filth who penned Bushmaster's Man Card social media campaign should have replaced "5th graders" with "kindergarteners" just to make his point clear, as once a certain threshold has been reached, there is no usefulness in withholding truth in advertising. Bushmaster, in exactly the unmanly and cowardly manner one would expect, recently pulled the Man Card campaign. In light of how their guns tend to be used -- in gangbanger drive-bys and episodic mowing-downs of the innocent and unarmed in public places -- the geniuses at Bushmaster may have figured out that their ad would negatively impact gun sales.



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