Dehumanisation:

‘Using’ The Species Barrier.

 

 

He yelled, ‘You murdering, Irish SCUM,

you’re an ANIMAL.  What did I say?

A murdering Irish ANIMAL’

Gerry Conlon: Proved Innocent, emphasis in the original.

 

We need to question why we become concerned about the juxtaposition between humans and animals.  The worry is always that those humans are then being relegated to an inferior, and biologically driven, category.

                                                    Lynda Birke, Feminism, Animals and Science.

 

 

Meanings associated with the notion of the ‘species barrier’ are resources which, historically, have provided an immensely effectual means of oppressing individuals, groups, communities, and entire ‘races’ of human beings.  Taken as a central resource in processes of dehumanisation, the ‘vast gulf’ thesis - the notion of a ‘bridgeless chasm’ between human beings and all the other animal categories - can be evidently full of meaning if efficiently and effectively constructed in particular ways.  For, as soon as human beings are successfully constituted as ‘animals’, individual persons or entire groups are immediately rendered as ‘moral inferiors’; who behave ‘just like animals’, or behave like ‘misfits’; which is the least we expect, for example, of those we regard as ‘criminal’ and incarcerate in prison cages, where they can remain invisibly hidden in their inhumanity (Gordon 1976). 

 

          It perhaps should be stressed again that it appears not to matter that, biologically,[1] humans are animals: we understand, as Dess & Chapman (1998) indicated in the previous chapter, that the label ‘animal’ is not automatically associated with homo sapiens - a genus of primates.  Human beings are hominids - along with chimpanzees, gorillas and bonobos.  More generally, with orang-utans and gibbons, ‘we’ all are apes (Hall 2001).  Clearly, extra work needs to be done for many people to comfortably recognise and calmly acknowledge their animality or apeness.[2] 

 

          Given that human beings in general do not apparently appreciate being called ‘animals’ (Clark 1990), the undoubted effectiveness of dehumanisation processes, indicated by frequency of usage, should not be underestimated since even genocide can arise as a result of its skilful application (Bauman 1989).[3]  The successful conceptualising of other human beings as occupants of the ‘other’ (read: ‘wrong’) side of the species barrier is unlikely to be sufficient, on its own, to create all social conditions necessary for genocide.  Other associated notions such as ‘distance’ and ‘indifference’, and some sort of possibly lengthy ‘process’, as implied above, may be required also (Bauman 1989; Reynoldson 1991; Tester 1997).  Nevertheless, both Bauman and Tester provide a good deal of evidence which suggests quite convincingly that the employment of attitudes and sentiments associated with the meanings attached to the idea of the species barrier can play an important - and perhaps the most important - role in processes of dehumanisation.[4] 

 

          In turn, processes of dehumanisation are evidently an important – possibly a vital - dimension in the ‘lead-up’ to genocide.  With respect to the dehumanisation of whole populations, such as the dehumanisation of the Jews in the early twentieth century, Bauman (1989) shows how rational, organised, bureaucratic state mechanisms can effectively institute, over months and years if necessary, a dehumanisation process which results in groups of humans being regarded as sub- or semi-human creatures, or perceived as not being human at all.  In addition to the common physical separation of the ‘victims’ of dehumanisation from the general population (for example, when the Nazis ghettoised the Jews), a programme of propaganda dissemination about and also against the victim group in question is essential (Reynoldson 1991; Bourke 1999).

 

It may be that ‘postmodern’ and poststructural thought is supposed to be posited on challenging oppositional and dualistic constructions - and, according to Steve Baker (1996), recent academic nonhuman advocacy has continued and furthered criticism of Cartesian dualism, especially those of mind versus body, human versus animal, and reason versus emotion.  Presently, in the ‘postmodern’ age, rather than denying difference, the idea is to celebrate it.  This is all very well, yet Marti Kheel is among ecofeminist authors to point out the continuing dualistic nature of society (quoted in Hall 2001).  Analyses such as Bauman’s investigation of the Nazi holocaust – and the more recent experience of Kosovo and Bosnia (see Mestrovic 1994; Robins 1994; Tester 1997) - seems to serve to point out that the use of social power - deliberately based on dualistic thought - is still an important empirical factor which must inform even our ‘postmodern’ thoughts: given its prevailing utility, there seems little doubt that the human-nonhuman dualism is still alive and kicking as well as largely unquestioned.

 

Attempts have been made to underscore this idea by the use of words such as ‘successful’ in relation to dehumanisation processes: indeed, discussing sometimes lengthy social processes also implies that the utilisation of social power is an essential ingredient of the overall picture.  Thus, although postmodern deconstructionism may be regarded as a valuable analytical tool - and some would argue an element of positive advocacy[5] - it surely needs to be recognised that persons who hold institutionalised power, and have a high status in the hierarchy of credibility, enjoy an increased ability to construct, use and maintain any successfully constituted oppositional and dualistic attitudes and practices.

 

          With this in mind, this section of the thesis details many of the instances in which a process of dehumanisation has indeed appeared to be ‘successful’ - and with deadly effect.  In other words, these are examples when human individuals or groups have been effectively pitched into nonhuman categories - thus casting them ‘over’ the species barrier and into risky ‘animal’ categories.  It is suggested that it will be emphatically clear throughout this section that dehumanisation processes could not have their continuing value if sociopolitical, economically-influenced socialised moral attitudes about humans and other animals were generally not so firmly fixed.  The following also appears to give support to Bauman’s (1989) critical assertion (in contrast to, say, Durkheimian notions that human society is a ‘morality-producing entity’) that modern, rational, and the most bureaucratic social systems, are especially well placed to employ dualistic thought and dehumanisation processes for brutal political and ideological ends. 

 

          Missing from the majority of accounts of dehumanisation processes is a recognition that the harm that may be caused to dehumanised humans can logically only come about because nonhumans have already been cast into ‘harmable’ categories.[6]  Nonhuman animals are, a priori, ‘already in’ that necessary category.  In other words, these categories have moral and practical importance which powerful social agents - including those who ‘exercise political dominion’ (Duffy 1984: 14) - can use against their ‘enemies’ who they wish to dominate, exploit and kill.  As mighty as the barrier that separated King Kong from ‘human civilisation’, modern societies have been led to believe in the moral implications that philosophy, religion and culture has taught about this putative division between all humans and all other animals.  As seen above, many influential philosophical, scientific and religious voices have constructed the species barrier as a meaningful representation of ‘us’ and ‘them’ categories, with the suggestion, according to feminist biologist Lynda Birke, that (certainly male) human beings belong to ‘culture’ as other animals belong to ‘nature’ (see Birke 1994). 

 

          This section, then, is primarily concerned with detailing what powerful social actors have done with these influential constructions of ‘species’ divisions.

 

 

The Universe of Obligation.

 

 

As suggested earlier, and as Bauman (1989: 26) has explained, what are under discussion are attitudes and practices associated to the notion of the universe of obligation, first conceptualised in 1979 by Helen Fein.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, and utterly logically for those who argue that rights and duties cannot but go hand in hand,[7] this universe is usually seen as exclusively comprised of human beings with bonds and obligations to protect one another.  Inside this universe, moral questions seem to ‘make sense’, outside of it they are regarded as ‘meaningless’.  As suggested before, in one sense this point is put rather too strongly in that animal welfare ideology results in limited moral considerations extending, selectively - and tentacle-like - into ‘outside’ zones - or ‘through’ the species barrier, as it were.  In the case of nonhuman animals, to use Thomas’ (1983) term, some get to become morally ‘privileged’: it appears, then, that insiders to the universe of moral obligations have the ability to co-op some categories of outsiders who are thereby afforded some little protection from harm.

 

In terms of the alleged inevitable connection between rights and duties (or obligations), duties are routinely removed from rights formulation seen applicable to the case of very young human children, or the very elderly (often on the basis that they may be seen as ‘potential’ or ‘past members’ of the moral in-group).   Such individuals and the categories they form may not be seen as fully ‘active’ members of the moral universe, yet they remain members of it.  In other words, at certain times of their lives, human beings may not necessarily understand requirements for reciprocal duties, yet it is understood that they themselves nevertheless still require others to respect at least some of their basic protective or negative rights.  At times, then, full human rights do not always apply to all human beings – nevertheless, their continuing status as sentient beings maintain some of their rights, those, obviously, that are related and relevant to their sentiency.  However the actual details are worked out, and despite the frequency in which rights-duties obligations are waived, it remains the case that society appears to understand that the benefits of the universe of obligation are applicable to ‘insiders’ alone; and that generally means mostly or only humans.  Therefore, as Bauman (1989: 27) explains: ‘To render the humanity of victims invisible, one needs merely to evict them from the universe of obligation’. 

 

          Making the humanity of the German Jews ‘invisible’ was something the Nazis excelled at, Bauman claims.  Thus, they were evidently extremely skilful, not to mention ruthless, ‘evictors’: but no such eviction from the universe of obligation would make much sense without precise and fixed ethical understandings about what it means to be on this or that side of the species barrier.  Not only is it rather useful to be able to limit the ‘social territory’ of this universe to groups of insiders and outsiders, it must be extremely gratifying for those with the power to have an ‘outside’ territory into which troublesome insiders may be evicted.

 

 

Process.

 

 

When investigating Nazi propaganda in the second ‘world war’, Reynoldson (1991) suggests that dehumanisation requires the frequent repetition of central ideological themes.  Adolf Hitler apparently knew and appreciated this, claiming in Mein Kampf that only constant repetition will succeed in ‘imprinting’ an idea on ‘the memory of the crowd’ (in ibid.: 5).  Goebbels had the task of activating Hitler’s eventual plan to destroy all Jews.  This, according to Reynoldson, involved making German feelings ‘run high’ against Jews, which was the principal aim of the production of a whole series of anti-Jewish posters and films (ibid.: 25).  What fun and intrigue Hitler and Goebbels may have had with access to the modern ‘worldwide web’ can only be imagined.  If overtly negative propaganda in posters and films can be thought of as rather obvious strategies in a process of dehumanisation, Bauman (1989) outlines many of the more subtle levels on which the process may rely if it is to ultimately succeed.  Physically removing Jewish people into ghettos, as Hitler’s followers did, is not subtle at all, of course, but before they brought this about, the Nazis carefully sought to transform the ‘decent’, ‘nice’, ‘normal’, ‘Jew next door’ into a serious and frightening threat to the then rapidly expanding ideological notion of ‘Germanhood’. 

 

          In 1933, German civil servants were employed in the task of defining what ‘non-Aryan’ should be taken to mean: this, argues Bauman, effectively sealed the fate of European Jewry (ibid.: 27).  The Nazis required an ‘active hostility’ to the Jews - inaction and indifference alone would not do in this case: ‘putting Jews in their place’ needed the applause of the masses, Bauman states (ibid.: 55).  Jews were demonstrably non-Aryan and their ‘Germanhood’ was questioned again and again.  However, with the application of the powerfully suggestive ‘Jews = lice’ formulation, Bauman claims that ‘the Jewish question’ was successfully, if slowly, transformed ‘from the context of racial self-defence into the linguistic universe of ‘self-cleansing’ and ‘political hygiene’’.  With typhus-warning posters on the walls of the ghettos (representing one step further in scare propaganda: Jews = lice = typhus), the chemicals for the ‘last act’ were symbolically commissioned from the ‘Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpung - the German Fumigation Company’ (ibid.: 27).        

 

          The process of dehumanising Jews in Germany took many years to fully achieve.  Deadly anti-Semitism developed through boundary drawing, and the process needed enough time to meaningfully sediment in society and become institutionally codified (ibid.: 34-5).  Bauman remarks that in this modern reincarnation of Jew-hatred - perhaps only in this modern, bureaucratic, reincarnation - the victim population had been ‘charged with an ineradicable vice, with an immanent flaw which cannot be separated from its carriers’ (ibid.: 72).  Among a whole range of their real, created or assumed flaws and vices, the Jews were expressively charged with being nonhuman, as though that alone were reason enough - or at least understandable justification - for killing them.[8] 

 

          Given what is ostensibly ‘known’ of the plight of Jews conceptualised as nonhuman animals, what hope, then, have ‘real’ nonhumans? - for the genocide perpetrated on the Jews in the Second World War was the mass murder of beings only claimed to be, and socially described as, nonhuman or subhuman.  They were propagandised as ‘not human’ but were not actually nonhuman.  One may have thought that the most superficial inquiry would have given the lie to this social construction, this blatant social fiction; but no, filthy verminous ‘animals’ the Jews became, thus ‘killable’ they became, because that is what ‘animals’ were - as they still are.  This particular element of influential social constructionism is returned to later in the thesis in a consideration of interaction in the school playground. 

 

          There is another strand to Bauman’s ‘holocaust thesis’ which deserves recognition here.  Much of what has been examined to this point has rightly emphasised the dehumanisation of German Jewry.  However, what of those who had to be convinced to directly and indirectly engage in the genocidal processes?  Bauman (ibid.: 24) stresses that some form of the dehumanisation of the perpetrators of holocaust is just as necessary as the dehumanisation of victims of genocide.  Thus, to understand what happened to these people, he suggests, it is essential to uncover and understand the social mechanisms that can overcome humanity’s innate ‘animal pity’, and recognise that conduct contrary to inborn human moral inhibitions can be socially produced.[9]  As with the production of what Bauman calls ‘moral sleeping pills’, these social processes must be capable ‘of transforming individuals who are not ‘moral degenerates’ in any of the ‘normal’ senses, into murderers or conscious collaborators in the murdering process’ (ibid).  ‘Moral blindness’ was required in equal measure and was evidently successfully achieved.  It may perhaps be understandable that those involved in mass murder benefit from a little ‘moral distance’ from genocide, just as modern nonhuman enslavers, and butchers and flesh consumers appear to benefit from some such distance from the abattoir. 

 

          The Nazis shrewdly achieved the necessary separation within the socially constructed context of ‘political hygiene’.  Thus, ‘the invention of first the mobile, then the stationary gas chambers; the latter...reduced the role of the killer to that of the ‘sanitation officer’ asked to empty a sackful of ‘disinfecting chemicals’ through an aperture in the roof of a building the interior of which he was not prompted to visit’ (ibid.: 26).  Using themes similar to moral blindness, overcoming pity, and desensitisation, medical historian Hans Ruesch (1979) devotes a chapter of his antivivisectionist book, Slaughter of the Innocent, to what he called a process of dehumanisation in the case of animal experimenters. In this instance, degrees of dehumanisation are seen chiefly as a product of two factors: laboratory routine and specialist socialisation. 

 

          More recently, in 1991, Roger Ulrich, psychologist at Western Michigan University and former animal experimentalist, warned that continued support for animal vivisection procedures may incorporate a refusal to acknowledge the growing number of scientists who criticise animal experimentation on scientific grounds (Ulrich 1991: 198).  However, he also cites Michael Giannelli’s contribution to a 1985 collection on ‘advances in animal welfare science’ in which Giannelli claims that the most useful data to emerge from animal experimentation relates to what happens to the humans in the process.  For example, Giannelli claims that:

 

We have learned that otherwise compassionate people can become remarkably desensitised and detached from the suffering they inflict on animals.  We have learned that highly intelligent people can be engaged in the most trivial or eccentric research, yet convince themselves that their work is important (cited in ibid). 

 

 

 

In the context of this chapter, this apparent human ability to self-convince, or be convinced by others, is more than a little frightening and surely underlines the value of on-going, honest, and thorough commitment to reflexivity.

 

 

Impersonal Killing.

 

 

Keith Tester (1997) describes similar processes of dehumanisation that can integrate ‘normal’ and ‘ordinary’ people into killing operations.  Tester follows Peter Berger’s (1979) lead and concentrates on the so-called ‘Manson Family’s’ Tate/LaBianca killings, and the U.S. Army’s involvement in Vietnam, in particular the latter’s involvement in the infamous My Lai massacre.  Tester notes Berger’s assertion that, generally, North Americans are statistically most likely to kill members of their close family, or perhaps their friends and neighbours, than they are to kill complete strangers.  Generally, it is necessary for people to receive training in order for them to kill people whom they do not personally know.[10] 

 

          Tester comments wryly that he is unsure whether he is comforted by such facts or not.  Either way, it turns out that the killing of some human beings is harder than the killing of others.  Since neither Charles Manson nor the US Army could rely on their charges having convenient ‘family rows’ with all their future and many victims, detailed and prolonged ‘instruction’ was essential to transform ‘normal’ people into the killers of strangers.  Dehumanisation is absolutely central to such training.

 

          Berger is absolutely clear that, in this training, ‘the victims must be dehumanised and the killers deprived of individuality (Berger 1979: 122, emphasis in the original, cited in Tester 1997: 87).  Berger was sure, says Tester, that what he termed the ‘essential continuity’ from My Lai to Manson was that ‘both crimes consisted of impersonal killings’ (Berger, 1979: 118, original emphasis, cited in Tester, 1997: 86).  Thus, the alleged foundations of the mechanism for killing human strangers are identified:  (1.) deprive victims of their humanity, which (2.) makes it hard for killers to identify with their victims, and (3.) provides killers with a way of proclaiming their own innocence on the basis that they were following orders from some superior authority (such as the charismatic Charles Manson or within the structured disciplined hierarchy of the army). 

 

          The dehumanisation of victims, incorporating the strategy of, and tendency toward, their impersonalisation, appears to make it much easier for them to be killed.  Thus, William Laws Calley, the lieutenant in charge of the platoon which did the most killing at My Lai, is reported to have not regarded his particular victims as human beings.[11]  Instead, they were simply ‘the enemy’, a construction involving negative racist slurs (Tester 1997: 86) and names such as ‘gooks’.  A Vietnam veteran, using the pseudonym ‘Harry O’Connor’, says that the ‘gook syndrome’, which led to the Viet Cong being called ‘dinks’ and ‘zipperheads’ as well as ‘gooks’, was prevalent in Vietnam.[12]  The result: ‘I’ve seen men bat around people, hit them on the head with rifles, act like gods, do anything they want with human beings’ (quoted in Bourke 1999: 232).  According to Joanna Bourke, a common military tactic involves encouraging soldiers to believe a fiction that enemies were not really human.  Instead, they were animals such as baboons or rats; they are vermin or wild beasts.[13]  Similarly, Manson’s ‘Family’ also said they did not believe they were killing human beings.  They apparently believed that they were out to take the lives of ‘pigs’ (Tester 1997: 86), although it is not made clear whether this meant that they understood these victims as police officers, often labelled ‘pigs’ in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  However, by ‘classification’, both sets of victims had their humanity successfully - if only conceptually - taken away from them.

 

          An important central issue may be raised once more, one that Tester fails to address despite previously having written a book about animal protectionism, nonhuman rights advocacy and animal rights philosophy (Tester 1992): why should ‘successful’ dehumanisation appear to be so effective?  What is it that makes the deprivation of ‘humanity’ status such a destructively calamitous eventuality?  Why is perceiving a human being as nonhuman seemingly ‘enough’ to allow every vile and cruel misfortune to come her or his way, be it discrimination, abuse, torture, and/or elimination and collective eradication?  What is so useful about the ability to conceptually cast a human being over the species barrier?  What is so wrong; so terribly, terribly unforgiving; so horrendous and incredibly dangerous about being on the nonhuman side of it?

 

 

The Dehumanisation Effect in War.

 

 

One method of dehumanising enemies is to say that they behave ‘like animals’ and therefore this allows that the target person or population can be treated as such.  As ever, linguistic classification is crucial here, and language is again revealed as a powerful social institution in the construction of culturally transmitted attitudes.  For example, Bourke (1999: 229) relates the story of the 1939-45 radio broadcasts made by Sir Robert Vansittart.  Apparently Vansittart suggested to his wartime listeners that the German public were undergoing a dramatic process of ‘reverse evolution’ which emphasised three alleged traits of the German psyche: envy, self-pity and cruelty.  German nationals were characterised as ‘butcher birds’ who ‘felt no compunction about committing the most vile atrocities’ (ibid).  Oddly, it was also claimed by Vansittart that German soldiers liked to machine-gun children to death and, if they could not find children, they would turn their machine guns onto cows.

 

          In the Vietnamese war in the 1960’s, the alleged war activities of the Viet Cong perhaps appeared even more shocking due to advances in photography and the production of catalogues of ‘atrocities’ which were distributed to the press by the South Vietnamese Embassy.  It was clearly and regularly suggested that the Viet Cong soldiers of North Vietnam behaved ‘no better than animals’, with pictures of them killing, torturing and mutilating large numbers of South Vietnamese people.  Bourke describes photographs that depicted ‘beheaded women, men hacked to death with machetes, a baby whose body was ‘riddled’ with submachine-gunfire; the bodies of priests... breasts sliced off a nurse; the corpse of a tortured teacher; and a dead mother complete with nursing baby’ (ibid). 

 

          Bourke found that combat soldiers who took part in several different conflicts had their ‘eagerness to fight’ heightened by such stories and clearly many came to believe that they were dealing with sub or nonhuman enemies.  One soldier, appalled by one of the earliest uses of gas on the Western Front, said he grew ‘black with a deadlier hate’ which made him want to ‘kill and kill and kill’. After that, he said, he ‘butchered savagely’ (ibid.: 230).  For another soldier, all Germans became ‘monsters’ when he learned of the concentration camps.  Scott Camil, a soldier in Vietnam, said that a feeling of terror ran through the troops when they were told of the atrocities of their enemy.  In these circumstances, he said, ‘all laws of civilisation were suspended’.  Therefore, because the Vietnamese did not act like human beings, ‘then they did not have to be treated as such...And when you shot someone you didn’t think you were shooting a human’ (quoted in ibid.: 230-31).  Another veteran said he told himself he was just killing ‘commies’.  He goes on: ‘Oh, maybe the first time I saw a dead North Vietnamese I flinched a bit but after that they just became dead animals.  It was either he’d shoot me or I’d shoot him and I wasn’t shooting at a person’ (Simon Cole, in ibid.: 232).

 

          Further ways of justifying killing ‘the enemy’ was to characterise what was happening as socially accepted forms of ‘hunting’.  This could be ‘big game’ hunting or foxhunting, or through seeing oneself as ‘a poacher’, and viewing dead enemy soldiers as part of the sporting ‘bag’ or the booty.  Tank warfare was similarly equated with hunting animals and, ironically, given the size and noise of these machines of war, tracking people in a tank was sometimes regarded as a form of ‘stalking’.  Even warfare at sea was characterised at times as hunting ‘prey’ and as catching the ‘quarry’ (ibid.: 233-34). 

 

 

The Meatgrinder.

 

 

Tester (1997: 88) asserts that due to their strategies of war, the North American army in Vietnam became ‘little more than a giant killing machine’.  If one were to claim that, in many senses, a modern-day slaughterhouse is nothing less than this, a killing machine, critical responses stating that the two case are ‘entirely separate’ could well be expected, just as analogies between nonhuman slaughter and genocide are often heavily criticised.  Yet, the US army in Vietnam had a specific organised strategy to encourage the killing of more enemy soldiers than could be replaced from North Vietnam.  This strategy was known as ‘the meatgrinder’ and, according to the Pentagon Papers of 1971, it was the idea of General Westmoreland.  Tester explains that, ‘The goal of the meatgrinder was the maximisation of the body count of the number of Vietcong killed during a mission’ (ibid).  As a calculated ‘index of success’, practical rewards and powerful incentives such as increased leave became attached to the increasingly brutal practice of ‘meatgrinding’, resulting in large numbers of Vietnamese civilians being deliberately counted as enemy soldiers to increase kill statistics.  In language reminiscent of that in Gail Eisnitz’s (1997) ethnographic investigation of slaughterhouses in the USA, Westmoreland’s ‘meatgrinder strategy’ became involved in calculating its ‘kills’, ‘the production of corpses’, ‘body counts’ and ‘kill rates’. 

 

          In 1987, Colonel David H. Hackworth co-wrote a book about his wartime experiences.  The most decorated officer in the US army at the time of his retirement in 1971, Hackworth candidly described battle as being like ‘working in a slaughterhouse’.[14]  Again analogous with sections of Eisnitz’s account of nonhuman slaughter regimes, Hackworth states: ‘At first the blood, the gore, gets to you.  But after a while you don’t see it, you don’t smell it, you don’t feel it’ (quoted in Bourke 1999: 355).  Similarly, in a book written much earlier in 1943, soldier Richard Tregaskis said there is eventually ‘no horror’ in seeing death.  Whereas the first corpse may be shocking, the rest becomes mere ‘repetition’ (quoted in ibid). 

 

          As stated above, an element present even in such repetitious killing is the understanding that it could be ‘you’ rather than ‘them’ to be killed.  It is perhaps not immediately obvious that an extremely similar cognisance is also present in animal slaughterhouses.  For example, according to Eisnitz’s (1997) interviewees, processing speed means that many nonhuman animals on slaughter lines are frequently not stunned adequately - or not rendered unconscious at all due to error or sloppy practice - and this leaves them terrified.  Many animals are often in pain from repeated attempts to stun them, they thrash about as they hang by their legs on a moving shackle line as they are propelled toward ‘operatives’ whose job is to kill them (by ‘bleeding them out’) with a knife.  They then move on to other workers who must cut various body parts off or remove skin.[15]  In these often chaotic circumstances injuries to the human operatives, some serious and even life-threatening, may occur.  Slaughter staff are constantly wary of the dangers around them and often have weapons, such as baseball bats, to hand in case the larger animals fall from the slaughter line.  As a consequence of all of this, as with many soldiers, a defensive ‘get them before they get us’ mentality can emerge. 

 

          As Bourke shows in the detail of human warfare, it appears to be the case that, when any form of killing becomes regarded as routine activity, the act itself can become almost forgotten.  In such circumstances, other objectives, such as simply ‘getting the job done quickly’, may emerge as the chief priority.  For example, a slaughterer called Tice told Eisnitz that what ‘pisses [him] off’ were cases in which animals would not ‘accept’ that they were ‘due’ to be killed.  Tice believes a pig should accept that ‘it is in the stick pit’ and ‘you are going to kill it’ (quoted in Eisnitz 1997: 93, emphasis in original).  Without such ‘co-operative acceptance’ - or in actual nonhuman escape attempts judged to break the routine and thereby threaten throughput and thus wages - individual pigs may be regarded simply as ‘troublemakers’ (for resisting their own deaths) and may be severely punished for it. 

 

          Tice, whose job was to ‘stick’ pigs says he once was left with a ‘live hog’ running around his work area because she had fallen off the shackle line.  As one of these uncooperative ‘troublemakers’, thus an ‘enemy’ of smooth operational efficiency, the unfortunate pig, like all enemies in the battlefield, found herself due no sympathy: ‘It would be just looking up at me and I’d be sticking, and I would just take my knife and -errk- cut its eye out while it was just sitting there.  And this hog would just scream’.  He goes on:

 

One time I took my knife - it’s sharp enough - and sliced off the end of a hog’s nose, just like a piece of bologna.  The hog went crazy for a few seconds.  Then it just sat there looking kind of stupid.  So I took a handful of salt brine and ground it into his nose.  Now the hog really went nuts, pushing its nose all over the place.  I still had a bunch of salt left on my hand - I was wearing rubber gloves - and I stuck the salt right up the hog’s ass.  The poor hog didn’t know whether to shit or go blind (ibid).

 

 

Several studies, in disciplines such as sociology, history and psychology, have attempted to make estimations of the ‘brutalisation’ effect of involvement in harm causing.  For example, in the sociology of crime, many studies have investigated whether the experience of military service revealed itself at some later point in, say, crime or suicide statistics (see Bourke 1999: 356-59, 495).[16]  Similarly, as noted at the outset, there has been a good deal of recent research conducted to evaluate the assumed causal link between nonhuman abuse and the later abuse of human beings (see Arluke et al 1999; Ascione 1993; 1998; 1999; Boat 1995; 1999; Felthous & Kellert 1986; Kellert & Felthous 1985; Lacroix 1999; Lockwood 1999; Nibert 1994; Rigdon & Tapia 1977). 

 

          To some extent, these latter endeavours are again based on the Kantian notion of ‘indirect duties’ already discussed; that is, there should be a prohibition against overt cruelty to animals due to its effect on the people doing it and on human society in general.  Thus Kant said: ‘He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealing with men’.  On the other hand, ‘tender feelings towards dumb animals develop humane feelings towards mankind’ (Immanuel Kant, quoted in Regan 2001: 12). 

 

          Interestingly, it may be argued that one of the main justifications for institutionalised animal welfarism is based on such an idea.  After all, animal welfarism does not prevent the human instrumental use of other animals.  Neither does it necessarily save nonhuman lives.  Yet it does apparently serve to convince whole populations that such exploitation can be seen as entirely justified, largely unproblematic and effectively policed and regulated.      

 

 

Pornography.

 

 

Several of the contributors to Cathrin Itzin’s (1992) collection, Pornography: Women, Violence and Civil Liberties, detail the frequent violent dehumanisation of - mainly but not exclusively - women in pornography.  There is evidence that the phenomenon of dehumanisation is common and widespread in the production of some pornography. 

 

          It is suggested that many contributions to Itzin’s book provides substance to later assertions in this work that socialisation processes are powerful social forces which can lead to fundamental social values which in turn can validate and justify the commissioning of harmful acts.  In particular, just as Itzin and her co-writers propose that what pornography ‘teaches’ people about sex is often sexualised and eroticised violence, portrayed as if ‘this is sex’, the argument to follow states that early normative lessons in primary socialisation, and the on-going values generated and perpetuated by secondary and adult socialisation, go a long way in explaining human attitudes to nonhuman animals.  For many in the animal protection movement, general socialised attitudes ‘about’ other animals – for example, when socialisation processes assists in the construction of human beliefs about what humans and animals are; and even produce societal beliefs about what nonhuman animals ‘are for’ - can be seen as one of the obstacles that their movement must overcome in trying to explain new ideas about nonhuman-human relations.

 

In relation to campaigning strategy, Steve Baker (1998) seems entirely correct to suggest that nonhuman advocacy has significantly benefited from feminist writing, particularly in the 1990’s.  Although ‘ecofeminism’ has causes some controversy in feminist philosophy,[17] the following perspectives on pornography appear to benefit from being viewed through Karen Warren’s (1990; 1994) ecological feminist conception of ‘the logic of domination’.[18]  Indeed, a general ecofeminist lens is useful it seems, since writers such as Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva (1993) see pornography as a form of ‘dissection’ because, the argument goes, many rational modern machine-men have difficulty dealing with ‘real’ and/or ‘complete’ women.  Therefore, such men prefer pornography and perhaps sex tourism based on the exploitation, commodification and the reduction to their sexual parts of exceptionally marginalised and generally powerless women.[19] 

 

A strength in the ecological feminist approach, it seems, like the earlier ‘humanitarian’ stance of animal rightist Henry Salt, is its insistence on seeing various forms of subjugation as firmly linked to and interwoven with other modes of oppression.[20]  While it perhaps should be stated that many ‘eco-feminists’ would likely be reluctant to use a rights formulation (although Regan [2001: 22] cites Josephine Donovan’s claim that natural rights theory ‘presents impressive and useful arguments for the ethical treatment of animals’), the attraction in the present work to ecofeminist theory is precisely due to this explicit acknowledgement of interlocking oppressions, rather than seeing eco-feminism per se as the equivalent of animal rights thought.

 

          It seems evident from a perspective such as Warren’s that an instance of violent pornography (as distinct from ‘erotica’ involving consenting participants) is an example of a logic of domination, defined as a patriarchal prerequisite that has sustained and justified the twin domination of women and ‘nature’ (Warren, cited in Crittenden 1998: 249).  In a great many examples of pornography, it appears that (at least) sexism, racism and speciesism merge and blend within a single act of ideological domination with often excessive culturally symbolic subordination set and represented within acts of extreme cruelty, persecution and, indeed, rights violations.  For example, Forna (1992: 105) alludes to interlocking strands when she states that pornography sustains an entrenched belief that sex with a black women or a black man is ‘different’ - and certainly more ‘savage’ - than sex with a white person.  More particularly, while sex with black people is seen as ‘more physical’ than sex with white people, it is at the same time less emotional, less spiritual and, of course, ultimately less human:

 

Black women are represented in porn as synonymous with deep carnality, animal desires and uncontrolled lust... ‘Naturally’ less civilised than her white counterpart, she exists solely for sex... The words and adjectives which caption pictures of naked black women are the same words used over and over again.  The black woman is described as being ‘panther-like’, possessing ‘animal grace’.  She is photographed caged, chained and naked.  Hers is a savage, wild and primitive, exotic sexuality: a less than human sexuality (ibid.: 104).

 

 

In relation to black men:

 

            They are super-sexualised studs, members of a lower caste without the natural inhibitions of civilised whites.  Sex between two blacks is a steamy, savage affair (ibid).

 

 

Citing research conducted in 1980 and 1981 by Teish and Leidholdt, Mayall and Russell (1993: 167) also make the claim that black women are regularly associated with nonhuman animals in pornography.[21]  Teish notes that the lucrative pornography industry exploits black and white women in different ways: she argues that white women are often portrayed as ‘soft’, while black women are frequently shown as ‘ugly, sadistic, and animalistic, undeserving of human affection’.  Similarly, Leidholdt reports that while Asian women are often portrayed as ‘dolls’, Latin women are depicted as sexually submissive but voracious and, in arguably the most negative portrayal, Black women are shown as ‘dangerous and contemptible sexual animals’.[22]

 

          Recalling the point about dissection, Itzin herself (1992: 43) says that pornographic accounts often reduce women to ‘just’ their genital organs, while their assumed animality is never very far away.  Thus women are sometimes regarded as:

 

holes, slots, sluts, pieces of meat.  Men can walk the streets looking for ‘slots’, look at their wives as ‘slots’.  And indeed letters from male readers [to porn-ographic publications] describe their wives in such dehumanised and derogatory terms: as ‘groaning and moaning like a stuck pig’, with ‘gushing fannies’ and ‘sopping cunts’.

 

 

Itzin notes that much pornography shows women ‘enjoying’ being ‘used as animals’ (seemingly assuming that animals like to be ‘used as animals’) (ibid.: 49).  It is also remarkable the number of times hunting associations and butchers’ knives find their way into pornographic narratives (as they find their way into narratives of warfare).  For example, Itzin describes scenes from a ‘snuff movie’ thus:

 

[A]fter a rather brutal rape, a young woman was tied to a table, and a hand was amputated with a Black-and-Decker type saw.  Then she was raped again, and in the course of it her guts were spilled out by the rapist using a great butcher’s knife (ibid.:  49-50).

 

 

 

After viewing this particular video (obtained in Dublin), Clodagh Corcoran of the Irish Campaign Against Pornography said, ‘I have lived in fear ever since, knowing that while the rape, degradation and dehumanisation of women is filmed and sold as entertainment, women’s status in society is worthless, and our lives within and outside our homes are also without value’ (in ibid.: 50).  Itzin, along with Labour MP Clare Short, went to the Obscene Publications Branch at Scotland Yard and found several examples of adult and child pornography involving stories such as a pornographic cartoon about Little Red Riding Hood who is gang-raped by several hunters and shown to ‘enjoy’ it; women being penetrated by a dog, a donkey and a pig (while one kisses the pig’s snout); women hung by their breasts from meat hooks and a woman being eviscerated, as if in a slaughterhouse, and sexually murdered (ibid.: 51).

 

          Peter Barker (1992: 134) understands common pornographic themes of representing woman as animals or engaged in sexual acts with animals as a clear expression of utter contempt for women.  Contempt, moreover, that ‘has to be continually reinforced in order for men to believe that their domination of women is justified’.  After all, he says, echoing dimensions of the logic of domination thesis, and the suggestion in the present thesis that non-human animals are socially understood to occupy categories of beings who can legitimately be harmed, it is ‘weaker’, ‘lesser-than’ groups who are candidates for exploitation: ‘there would be no justification for abusing and subordinating a group of people who were seen as being equal and worthy of respect’ (ibid).  ‘Porn’ also makes men feel good, because men in pornography are virtually always ‘sexual athletes’ and ‘studs’ whose ‘performance’ is never less than sufficient to satisfy all the needs and more of their sexual partners.  Barker also claims that pornography teaches men that sex is something men ‘do’ to women.  In porn ‘all men have the means of feeling sexually desirable, sexually proficient, and completely strong and powerful, even if it is just for a few minutes’ (ibid.: 136). 

 

          There is often a fairly conventional division of labour in pornography, even if the sex itself is often unrealistic.  While porn says men ‘do sex’ to women - they also apparently ‘do’ the DIY too!, while women (naturally) do cooking and housework.[23]  Thus, pornographic magazines have advice on how to enlarge penises and how to delay ejaculation; cookery books have advice on how to make the ‘perfect meal’; women’s magazines show women how to ‘keep their men’, how to look ‘sexy’ and how to ‘perform’ in bed and in kitchen.  This is the social construction of what she/he/‘we’ ‘want’.  As men ‘want’ the ‘manly’ meat dish on their plates - a meal, after all, is ‘no good’ without it, many also seemingly ‘want’, expect and demand some culturally constructed ‘meat’ in their bedrooms as well.

 

          Barker is another writer who notes that a great deal of pornography shows women enjoying being abused (ibid.: 140).  This factor seems to warrant some comparison with John Robbin’s (1987: 131) claims (as seen in greater detail in Part Two) that modern culture provides a ‘cotton candy’ version of the lives of animals who are depicted as being delighted ‘offering themselves to children as friendly things to eat’.[24]  No doubt some individual women do obtain some sort of masochistic satisfaction by placing themselves in the position of the abused, yet pornography appears to suggest that this is a common attitude for women to hold or - as in the rape scene in the controversial 1970s film Straw Dogs - something they will eventually appear to accept.  However, it is a fair bet that no nonhuman animal has actually delightedly offered herself up to the slaughterer’s knife or the experimenter’s scalpel.  Therefore, such depiction, in either case, are perhaps best regarded as essentially ideological in nature.

 

          Do these constructions of women in pornography have an empirical effect?  Again, as stated in relation to the ‘link’ between animal harm and subsequent human harm, strict causality is not claimed here - especially any that could be identified by positivistic methodology.  However, it is far easier to be content with a position like Ted Benton’s (1998) who suggests that cultural influences can shape the human individual.  If a societal ‘ambience’ exists, different people will react to it in different ways, but the general point that societies can effectively ‘set the tone’ for the adoption of beliefs and attitudes appears to be a defensible position. 

 

          Some feminist-inspired research does suggest that male attitudes to real women are often influenced by pornographic characterisations, produced and distributed within patriarchal culture.  However, is there also any evidence to support the ecofeminist perspective that men may see both women and animals/nature as objects for exploitation?  The same research does seem to offer evidence in support of that assertion as well. 

 

          For example, Russell cites Shere Hite’s research in the 1980’s which was based on asking male respondents to account for their declared wish to rape women.  One interviewee said this:

 

Why do I want to rape women?  Because I am basically, as a male, a predator and all women look to men like prey.  I fantasise about the expression on a woman’s face when I ‘capture’ her and she realises she cannot escape.  It’s like I won, I own her (quoted in Russell 1993: 120).

 

 

Here ‘man-the-hunter’ is revealed, the ‘predator’ after his ‘prey’ - or perhaps ‘man-the-pet-owner’, who ‘wins’ his women like one may win goldfishes at travelling fairgrounds.  Russell was also soon to find further evidence of ‘man-the-dissector’, as it appears that some rapists may not see their victims as whole human beings, rather they see them simply as a collection of body parts.  Russell says that to many men, women ‘are tits, cunts, and asses.  This makes it easier to rape them.  ‘It was difficult for me to admit that I was dealing with a human being when I was talking to a women,’ one rapist reported’ (ibid.: 135).  And, look out, here comes a-hunting the butcher man once more (reported to Zillmann and Bryant in 1984): ‘A man should find them, fool them, fuck them, and forget them’; with, ‘If they are old enough to bleed, they are old enough to butcher’ (cited in ibid.: 139). 

 

          MacKinnon (1992: 503) also notes that in Merced, California, a man named Victor Burnham was convicted of spousal rape for forcing his wife to have sex with 68 neighbours and/or strangers while he took photographs, no doubt for later pornographic use.  His wife says she was also forced by him to have sex with a dog.  Finally, and quite shockingly in terms of the logic of domination thesis, she further testified to ‘episodes of torture with a battery-charged cattle prod’.

 

 

In the Sexist Playground.

 

 

Feminist writers have understandably been interested in children’s’ sex role socialisation and the effects of pornographic representations.  Research with school students suggests that, on a personal and peer group interactive level, naming young women as certain types of animal can serve to restrict, alter and constrain their social behaviour.  For example, in the early 1980’s, Sue Lees and Sue Sharpe interviewed around 100 15- and 16-year old females about a variety of their views and interests.  It soon emerged that one of their foremost concerns involved the social construction of their sexual reputation and the steps they took to avoid being called hurtful names (Lees & Sharpe 1984). 

 

          It became evident that many of the respondents believed that they were being forced to tread a fine line between acting in ways that may result in their teenage boyfriends, male acquaintances and female friends calling them names such as ‘tight bitch’ (because they resisted sexual advances) on the one hand, and ‘slag’ or ‘easy lay’ (because they too readily gave in to sexual advances) on the other.[25]  Lees and Sharpe also found a range of animalistic labels such as ‘old dog’, ‘cow’, and ‘blind dog’ used in a derogatory manner. 

 

          Recalling a point made above in the section on dehumanisation, one interviewee said she would rather be called a cow or a dog than a ‘slag’ on the basis that others can clearly see that she is not an actual four-legged bovine or canine creature.  Both the authors of this piece and this particular respondent think that the animalistic slurs mentioned lie somewhere between the terms ‘tight bitch’ and ‘slag’.  Lees and Sharpe say of the women, ‘they mustn’t end up being called a slag’ (ibid.: 18).  ‘Slag’ appears to rank with names such as ‘slut’, ‘tart’ and ‘scrubber’.  In this sense, still engaged in the business of dehumanisation, there seems to be some labels even worse than being named as a type of nonhuman animal.  In fact, this latter point appears to be true in some pornography as well.  For example there is a particularly disgusting anti-Semitic book entitled Sluts of the S.S. (cited in Mayall & Russell 1993: 175) in which Jewish women are described with ‘standard’ derogatory insults such as ‘whore’, ‘slut’, ‘dog’ and ‘swine’.[26]  In one violent encounter a woman is called a ‘filthy Jewish slut’.  However, as a final insult - the move to absolute ‘thing-like’ categories with no possibility of moral status - she is called a ‘human toilet’ in scenes of oral rape.

 

 

 


[1]   As said, of all the ‘pro-use industries’, the animal experimentation business is the least able to make the ‘vast gulf’ claim because of the constant need to stress the existence of sufficient similarities between nonhuman animals and humans if the results of animal vivisection are to be characterised as beneficial to humans (see Ruesch 1979: 331-32).

[2]   It is difficult to find definitions relating to words about animals that do not contain pejorative meanings.  For example, according to the 1999 (tenth edition) Concise Oxford Dictionary, one meaning of ‘animal’ is ‘a very cruel, violent or savage person’, while ‘animality’ has the arguably positive definition: ‘behaviour or nature characteristic of animals’ with the utterly negative addition: ‘especially in being physical and instinctive’.  As we shall discover, these meanings have particular import when associated with pornographic representations.

[3]   ‘I am a baby Aryan, not Jewish or sectarian.  I have no plans to marry an ape or Rastafarian’.  A ‘ditty’ holocaust denier David Irving taught to his daughter (Anti Nazi League 2000: 11).

[4]   It perhaps should be noted that these authors themselves do not refer to the species barrier as such.  Thus, in talk about processes of depersonalisation and dehumanisation, they will not characterise what occurs as human beings being cast towards the ‘other’ or ‘wrong’ side of the species barrier.  Since this appears to be the reality of such processes, it may be thought significant that the process is not expressed in this way.  Could it be that ‘we’ so firmly ‘know’ that animals other than humans are exploitable that it hardly needs to be said?  Equally, could it be that we just ‘know’ the devastating consequences of being thought of as nonhuman?

[5]   Baker writes (http://www.psyeta.org/sa4.1/baker.html) that theorists such as Foucault and Derrida ‘would want to insist on the scope for using their work as a basis for constructing ethically responsible positions, and not just - more fashionably - for ‘deconstructing’ them’.

[6]   In a lecture in 1985, cited in Serpell (1986: 152), Miriam Rothchild rather put the point the other way around, saying that, ‘just as we have to depersonalise human opponents in wartime in order to kill them with indifference, so we have to create a void between ourselves and the animals on which we inflict pain and misery for profit’.

[7]   Clark (1984: 15) first cites D.G. Richie’s Natural Rights (1916) as an exemplar of this view.  Regan (2001: 66-84) states that modern philosopher, Carl Cohen, provides animal rights theorists with important criticisms, incorporating this view, that deserve to be taken seriously rather than summarily dismissed.  Scruton (2000) insists that rights must be attached to duties, meaning that animal rights is a non-starter.

[8]   According to Patterson (2002: 95-6), North American eugenicists ‘were the strongest foreign supporters of Nazi race policies’.  Some were particularly impressed by the power of film and Patterson notes that many Nazi propaganda films were about “hereditarily ill’ people’, who were described on screen as ‘creatures’, ‘beings’ ‘existences’, ‘life unworthy of life’ and ‘travesties of human form and spirit’.

[9]   The concept of ‘animal pity’ will be explored in Part Two of this thesis.

[10]   If one were to take naming nonhuman animals as indicative of ‘personally knowing’ them, there are some parallels here.  For example, when Richard Guy and Gilly Metherell began the ‘Real Meat Company’, they commonsensically recognised that naming animals they intended to eat may create difficulties.  However, rather than not naming them at all, Guy says he deliberately called ‘his’ first pig Boorman ‘so we wouldn’t mind eating it’ (my emphasis, quoted in the Independent, 3 Nov., 1999).

[11]   Calley talked about how the military defined and understood ‘enemy’ (in Tester 1997: 87): ‘They didn’t give it a race, they didn’t give it a sex, they didn’t give it an age’.  In common with much talk about animals other than ‘pets’, ‘thing-like’ status is emphasised with the word ‘it’ (see footnote 7).

[12]   The assumption of the potency in dehumanising training appears to have registered at least with one North American jury.  In 1977, a US veteran was accused of raping and murdering a Vietnamese woman.  His counsel told the jury that the ex-Marine was highly trained: trained to kill such women as the victim in the case, thus ‘what’s so difficult about doing this again...kill one more Vietnamese girl?’  The defendant was acquitted because it was judged that he could not sufficiently see the wrongfulness of his act, leading Jacqueline Lawson to write a paper entitled, ‘She’s a Pretty Woman...For a Gook’ (see Bourke 1999: 354-55, 495).

[13]   Bourke (1999:456-57) cites the following references here: John T. MacCurdy, War Neuroses (Cambridge 1918), p. 35; William A. Bacher (ed.), The Treasure Star Parade (New York 1942), p. 359; James J. Fahey, Pacific War Diary 1942-1945 (Boston 1963), p. 178; John J. Floherty, The Courage and the Glory (Philadelphia 1942), p. 94; Henry (‘Jo’) Gullett, Not as a Duty Only. An Infantryman’s War (Melbourne 1976), p. 127; John Hersey, Into the Valley. A Skirmish of the Marines (London 1943), pp. 39-40; George P. Hunt, Coral Comes High (New York 1946), pp. 59 and 82; Neville Jason, ‘Letters’, letter to his sister Roz from Vietnam, 11 December 1965, AWM; George H. Johnson, The Toughest Fighting in the World (New York 1944), p. 207; Pen Pictures of the war by Men at the Front. Vol. 1. The Campaign in Natal to the Battle of Colenso (London 1900), p. 60; Colonel R.G. Pollard, ‘6th. Aust. Div. Training Instruction, No.1. Jungle Warfare’, 27 March 1943, p. 1, in Lieutenant-General Sir F.H. Berryman, ‘Papers’, AWM; Frederick Treves, The Tale of a Field Hospital (London 1901), p. 12; Wade Williams, Infantry Attack (Sydney 1955), pp. 52 and 93-5.    

[14]   According to Bourke (1999: 153-54), the British Army experimented in ‘hate-training’ in 1941 and 1942.  Apart from having to run while a loudspeaker chanted ‘Kill the Hun.  Kill the Hun’, part of the ‘training’ involved recruits being sprayed with sheep’s blood and being taken to animal slaughterhouses.

[15]   The British animal rights organisation VIVA! produced a video in 2000 entitled ‘Sentenced To Death’ which revealed similar stunning failures in British slaughterhouses (Arcnews 2000: 18).

[16]   Bourke (1999: 356) cites Richard A. Kulka et al., Trauma and the Vietnam War Generation.  Report of Findings from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (New York 1990), p. 180-86; David Lester, ‘The Association Between Involvement in War and Rates of Suicide and Homicide’, The Journal of Social Psychology, 131(6) (1991), pp. 893-95; David Lester, ‘War and Personal Violence’, in G. Ausenda (ed.). Effects of War on Society (San Marino 1992), p. 213;  Colonel John J. Marren, ‘Psychiatric Problems in Troops in Korea During and Following Combat’, U.S. Armed Forces Medical Journal, vii.5 (May 1956), pp. 725-26; Jeffrey Streimer & Christopher Tennant, ‘Psychiatric Aspects of the Vietnam War.  The Effect on Cambatants’, in K. Maddock & B. Wright (eds.), War. Australia and Vietnam (Sydney 1987), pp. 230-61; James Webb... quoted in Timothy J. Lomperis, ‘Reading the Wind’. The Literature of the Vietnam War.  An Interpretative Critique (Durham, N. Carolina 1987), p. 17.   

[17]   On the one hand, ‘mainstream’ feminists (and I immediately acknowledge the problematics of using such terms) suggest that ecofeminism ‘essentialises’ women as ‘close to nature’ beings, while Carol Adams (1994: 87-88), who has labelled herself a ‘feminist-vegetarian critical theorist’, criticises ecofeminism for not recognising that animal domination is absolutely central to nature domination.  This appears similar to Jim Mason’s (1993) ‘agri-cultural’ perspective.

[18]   The notion of the ‘logic of domination’ has proved to be controversial in ecological philosophy, with writers criticising and defending its conceptual validity.  See, for example,  Dixon’s (1996) attack and Crittenden’s (1998) defence.  The first articulation of a logic of domination I am aware of appears in Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man, first published in 1964.

[19]   see http://www.earthisland.org/eijournal/win98/fe_win98womentrade.html for an account from Earth Island Journal of the global trade in women and children.  Like nonhuman animals, this article notes, ‘Throughout history, patriarchy has valued women not as persons but as things, pieces of property to be bought and sold’.

[20]  Some feminist writers do not seem to share this perspective.  For example, White (1993: 106) in a chapter entitled, ‘Pornography and Pride’, apparently does not see women characterised as animals as harmful due to men seeing both as exploitable but because she is offended that men make the comparison and ‘lower’ women to animal status.  She writes: ‘[In the history of slavery, Black women were] at the bottom of the pile, treated like animals instead of human beings.  As I listened to these victims of pornography, I heard young people describe how they felt about seeing other women in pornography, how they felt about the way women’s genitals and breasts were displayed and women’s bodies are shown in compromising positions.  I thought about the time of slavery, when Black women had their bodies invaded, their teeth and limbs examined, their bodies checked out for breeding, checked out as you would an animal, and I said to myself, We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?’ (bold type added).

[21]  Porn titles comprising racism or speciesism, or racism and speciesism: ‘Animal Sex Among Black Women,’ ‘Black Bitch,’ ‘Black Girl’s Animal Love,’ ‘Bitch’s Black Stud,’ ‘Gang Banged by Blacks, ‘ ‘Geisha Girls,’ ‘Oriental Sadist’s Pet.’ ‘Raped by Arab Terrorists,’ ‘Bound Harem Girl.’

[22] Collins, P. H. (1993: 101), in ‘Pornography and Black Women’s Bodies’, note that, ‘Certain ‘races’ of people have been defined as being more body-like, more animal-like, and less godlike than others’.  Biological notions of race and gender prevalent in the early nineteenth century which fostered the animalistic icon of Black female sexuality were joined by the appearance of a racist biology incorporating the concept of degeneracy (Foucault, 1980).  While the sexual and racial dimensions of being treated like an animal are important, the economic foundation underlying this treatment is critical.  Animals can be economically exploited, worked, sold, killed, and consumed.  As “mules”, African-American women become susceptible to such treatment.  [these views reinforced by pornographic images of Black women].  Publicly exhibiting Black women may have been central to objectifying Black women as animals and to creating the icon of Black women as animals (Collins 1993: 101-02)          

[23]   A recent advertisement for lager was constructed in this fashion: the potential (and in pornography inevitable) sexual couplet involved a ‘housewive’ and an electrician who ostensibly arrives to ‘service’ her refrigerator.

[24]   We may recall reactions to the scene in Douglas Adams’ Restaurant At the End of the Galaxy when a pig enthusiastically offers himself up as food, even suggesting the body parts he felt to be the most tender.

[25]   Lees and Sharpe (1984: 19) recognise that there are derogatory names for young men too, such as ‘wanker’ and ‘prick’ - interestingly, no animal names are used to depict men, at least in this study, while the authors claim that there is a far bigger choice of hurtful names to aim at females rather than males.

[26]   The Anti Nazi League (2000: 11) cites Holocaust denier David Irvin who says of Hungarian Jews being shipped to Auschwitz in 1944: ‘You are talking about 45,000 tonnes of meat’.