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Carol J Adams, 'The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory'

Polity Press 1990; ISBN 0 74560 834 5; 256pp

I stumbled across this book in the early nineties after listening to the track of the same name, on Consolidated's album Friendly Fascism, in which Adams reads passages from her book.

Having lived in a women-only non-meat-eating community, the ideas expressed in this book - linking the objectification of women and non-human animals - were not exactly news, however the uncompromising delivery, the musical collaboration, and the use of historical literature through which to explore the issues were.

Stark messages such as: "Meat eating is the re-inscription of male power at every meal. The patriarchal gaze sees not the fragmented flesh of dead animals but appetising food. Vegetarian activities counter patriarchal consumption and challenge the consumption of death. Feminist vegetarian activity declares that an alternative world view exists, one which celebrates life rather than consuming death, one which does not rely on resurrected animals but empowered people. If meat is a symbol of male dominance, then the presence of meat proclaims the disempowering of women" (phew!) mix with rather simple suggestions for how to destabilise patriarchal consumption - "eat rice, have faith in women".

While I did (and still do) appreciate the links and messages Adams makes and conveys in this book, I did find the quasi-academic language pretty hard going at times. But whatever the challenges of getting to the end, this book remains important in the development of feminist-vegetarian theory and perspectives.

And if you want to try a "lighterbite", check out Ruth L Ozeki's My Year of Meat.

Topics: Women | Food