The Species Barrier - ‘Maintenance’.

                       

 

                                    ‘Where do sausages come from?’ asked my

                                    five-year-old son, recently.  ‘Pigs’, I replied. 

                                    ‘Yes’, he said, a little impatiently, ‘but where

                                    do the pigs get them from?’

                                          Judy Rumbold, The Guardian, 28.2.2001.

 

 How do we justify our treatment of nonhumans?  We lie - to ourselves and to each other, about our species and about others.  Deceptive language perpetuates speciesism...  Like sexism or racism...speciesism can’t survive without lies.

Joan Dunayer, Animal Equality: language and liberation.

 

 

 This thesis has thus far suggested that many individuals hold fundamentally important socially-produced notions about meaning(s) associated with the idea of the ‘species barrier’; and precise meanings about human beings and about ‘animals’ which have found expression in long-standing philosophical thought, religious belief and many traditional and modern social practices and rituals.  It has been noted that ‘species differences’ are not claimed by many animal rightists to be an ontological mistake (see Hayward 1997), or that all animal species could be treated in exactly the same way (Midgley 1983; chap 9) physically and perhaps even ethically.  However, the animal rights case rests on the argument that species membership alone should not be sufficient to exclude many nonhuman individuals from basic moral consideration beyond that provided by traditional animal welfarism.

 

          Whilst no animal rights philosopher expects exactly equal treatment between ‘species’, advocates tend to argue strongly that the preferences or interests of nonhumans should not be systematically and arbitrarily denied simply because they are not human beings (Regan 1985, 2000; Francione 1996a, 1996b, 1998).  It has been seen that animals other than human are routinely, and by law, afforded some moral status.  It is true that nonhuman animals may be ‘things’ in law (Midgley 1985; Francione 1996a, 1996b; Wise 2000), but they are at least recognised as sentient things who can be harmed both physically and psychologically and thus, humans widely accept a ‘duty of care’ toward nonhuman welfare (Scruton 2000).  As a conesquence of this societal orientation, human beings are prevented from doing to animals absolutely anything that they might want to do to them.  However, this does not prevent human beings from annually breeding billions of other animals in artificially high numbers, rearing and confining them in intensive ‘factory’ conditions, transporting them long distances to places of execution, and serving up their dead bodies as food.  This ‘duty of care’ does not prevent human beings from breeding other animals in remarkably controlled conditions to create, for example, ‘pathogen-free’ nonhuman ‘models’ for use in vivisection experiments.  Further, it does not prevent humans from hunting them down in acts of ‘pest control’, or simply in ‘sporting’ rituals, or in both at the same time; and it does not prevent many people regarding certain types of nonhuman animals as disposable toys, as presents, as part of collections, or for petting.

 

          Animal rights scholar advocates such as Tom Regan and Gary Francione argue that the ‘duty of care’ - bound up as it is in animal welfare ideology - means that humans feel they are morally justified in routinely overriding the greatest interests of other animals in order to satisfy relatively trivial human desires (Francione 1998; Regan 2001).  From his non-rights utilitarian stance, Peter Singer (1983: 232) notes that, when ‘interests’ clash - ‘even a clash between the life of a nonhuman and the gastronomic preferences of a human being’ - then it is usual for the human’s interest to win out. 

 

          It is surely a stark reflection of the low moral status of nonhumans that their very existence as individuals can be placed against human gastronomic choices.  Furthermore, it is worth noting that few humans living outside ice-flows and particular desert environments need to treat other animals as if they were food; neither, given the existence, and the further potential development, of ‘non-animal methodology’, would all medical or toxicological research end without the use of nonhuman animals; indeed, some argue that human health would likely benefit without animal testing (Ruesch 1979; Sharpe 1988; Page 1997).  Human beings are presumably imaginative enough to find other sporting endeavours with which to replace hunting nonhuman animals to their deaths; and they can also find alternative toys, presents and even pets. 

 

          It could be admitted that so-called ‘pest control’ represents something of a dilemma for animal rights advocates when compared with other forms of direct nonhuman harm at the hands (or knives and forks) of human beings.  Former environmental journalist, Richard North, claimed recently[1] that a widespread adoption of animal rights principles would result in entire cities being overrun by ‘sewer rats’, a situation which humans would simply be ‘forced to accept’ because they believe ‘animals have rights’.  Similarly, a member of the audience during a televised animal rights debate asked panellists whether animal rights beliefs would prevent them striking a mosquito sucking blood from their arms.[2] 

 

          However, as said, animal rightist have always accepted that some rights are likely to conflict with others of fellow rights bearers.  Few animal rights advocates would therefore deny that individuals, groups and communities are justified in defending themselves from attack, including defending their food (or blood!) supplies.  However, animal rights philosophy would rule out the automatic privileging of all human interests and rights above all nonhuman ones.  For all the arguments and assertions about the ‘fanatical radicalism’ of animal rights views, many campaigners merely advocate placing some nonhumans ‘in the moral mix’ with other rightholders.

 

          As indicated, current human-nonhuman relations, notwithstanding an orientation towards a duty of care for animals and an acceptance of animal welfare ideology, results in serious nonhuman interests being negated for the flimsiest of human ones.  As suggested also, this may be seen, in part, as a ‘product’ of phenomenological understandings of ‘species membership’ and an acceptance that human beings unerringly sit at the top of a conceptual ‘natural order’ or ‘ladder’.  Like Rousseau,[3] all human beings are habitually encouraged to look downwards from a lofty ‘next to God’ vantage position on a ‘ladder of being’, and regularly defiantly declare: ‘What...shall I compare myself to the brutes?’ (quoted in Rosenberg 1955). 

         

*****

 

Having considered the construction of social beliefs with regard to human-nonhuman relationships and, in the last section, detailed how the perception of a barrier between human and other animals can be used to dehumanise human victims of oppression, the following section will focus on what might be regarded as some of the most influential social practices and social forces that maintain the ideology of the species barrier.  This section not only focuses on the importance of human socialisation processes but on what Jim Mason (1993) terms ‘rituals of dominionism’ which occur daily in Western cultures within the precepts of an ‘agri-culturalist’ orientation towards nature.  However, before consideration of these concepts, and prior to detailing animal rights thought in general, it will be beneficial to review perspectives on what it means to be born into modern societies that systematically exploit other animals for a variety of human ends.

 

 

Growing Up as Animal-Harming Animal Lovers.

 

 

Professor of psycholinguistics, Stanley Sapon (1998), investigates the culture of North America.  He is interested in the cultural transmission of social values in general and, in particular, what humans tell each other and their children about the moral status of the nonhuman animals.  Sapon outlines how and why cultural norms and values are transmitted within and throughout human societies, focusing on processes of socialisation or acculturation processes.  He compiled a description of ‘American culture’ derived from travel agent guide books and brochures, school textbooks and publications from organisations such as Chambers of Commerce.  From this variety of sources, Sapon finds that the culture of North America is generally characterised as being ‘loving, caring and nurturing of its children, protecttive of its disabled citizens and its fragile seniors, generous to its needy members, and holds high moral standards’ (ibid). 

 

          What is more: ‘Although America has been a ‘melting pot’ of many different cultures, its people are united by their commitment to peace, gentleness, and the rejection of violence.  Its educational system is concerned with more than just academics, it places great stress on teaching and modelling moral values’.  Furthermore, ‘Although there is no ‘state religion’, most of its citizens consider themselves to have in common a deep respect for the ethical principles embodied in the Ten Commandments’. 

 

          Finally: ‘American children are taught - in the home, in school and from the pulpit - to be kind to one another, to be kind to animals, to abhor cruelty of any sort, that violence is not the way to resolve conflicts, and that taking of life is wrong’ (ibid).  In this ‘wonderful’ and ‘glowing’ self-appreciation of the culture of the United States of America, Sapon states that it is possible to clearly identify an ‘acculturation syllabus’ which the majority of North American children are exposed to.  He sees a neatly packaged syllabus of general norms and values destined to ‘be passed on to the next generation’.  However, he goes on to explore the ‘psychological consequences’ for people whose eventual empirical reality bears little resemblance to this normative syllabus.  In his studies he finds a social reality ‘glaringly different’ from the cultural stereotype.  He discovers social behaviour that denies, contradicts and ‘mindlessly violates’ the claimed ethical principles.  Indeed, he argues that it the violations of the syllabus that are frequently relished and admired.  This ‘profound discordance’ cannot be psychologically beneficial, Sapon suggests.  How potentially confusing, he asks, is such a ‘two-tier value system’?

 

          Sapon argues that dealing with these contradictions requires living in an ‘atmosphere of scrupulously maintained denial and deception’, in which adults deceive themselves, each other, and their children.  ‘American culture’, he insists, is based on an ‘internally contradictory system for acculturating the children in our society’.  Turning to how humans and other animals are presented to the young, Sapon says that adults, ‘typically raise children from birth to five or six years in a kind of fantasy-land of ideal behaviour on the part of the world’s inhabitants’.  In this ‘land of goodness and mercy’, other animals are humanity’s friends, and ‘humans are friends to the other animals’.  There are no scenes of bloodshed or any depiction of physical violence in children’s picture or storybooks.  Instead, ‘children talk to cows and the cows talk back’ (ibid). 

 

          For ‘models of right conduct’ parents and children can look toward a range of talking animals - mice, ducks and hens, or ‘wise old bears and the like’.  In scenes that reinforce the ‘safety’ of family life, animal characters are regularly used, typically depicted in scenes of nonhuman mothers looking after their ‘babies’.  There is, of course, no divorce here, no child abuse, no neglect and no violent conflict between parents.  Sapon moves on to develop a point that could perhaps be presumed; the point that, in these early publications, nonhuman animals are never seen being slaughtered for food, hanging upside down on ‘kill lines’, nor often shown in pieces on the dinner plate.  When Paul (1996) considers the representation of other animals in children’s television programmes, a similar pattern emerges.  Two major themes emerge.  First, a ‘hierarchy of suffering’ in any depiction of animals in which cruelty to mammals was explicitly seen as morally wrong, while fishes and invertebrates ‘were largely excluded from moral concern’.  Second, the tendency to avoid discussion - or depiction - of human beings using other animals as meat.  According to Paul, ‘mammal meat’ was rarely consumed on television shows and when it was, its ‘origins were either heavily disguised or exaggerated into a joke’.

 

          If these storybooks and TV programmes have an impact on children’s attitudes toward other animals, helping to shape what children believe animals are, and furthermore helping to set the moral climate when they are very young then, Sapon asks, ‘What happens when they get older?’  He argues that many older children are subjected to ‘a behavioural reconditioning programme’ in order that their perceptions move toward the reality of participation in the ‘denials’ and ‘delusions’ of the adult world (Sapon 1998).

 

          With a nod toward the ethnomethodological concept of ‘indexicality’, which involves understanding based on individuals’ abilities to interpret events and utterances by employing their contextual knowledge (see Heritage 1984: 142-44), Sapon notes that psychologists use the term ‘cognitive map’ in relation to the links between the many things that people learn.  The cognitive map:

 

           

suggests an image of a map that shows what fits with what, what ideas, what labels, what responses are appropriate in what settings, what contexts call for a special set of rules (Sapon 1998).

 

 

Furthermore, the cognitive map also indicates ‘appropriate attitudes and feelings that are linked to other items on the map’.  After initiation into ‘the Garden of Eden map’, Sapon suggests that children hold an ‘utterly beautiful’ picture of the relationship between humans and nonhumans.  Sapon seems to make this claim in relation to all North American children, although many children of ‘livestock farmers’, hunters and even ‘travellers’ would perhaps not be brought up wholly ignorant of the plight of nonhuman animals used instrumentally by humans.  Nevertheless, he argues that around the time of primary school some aspects of ‘the real world’ are brought into all children’s consciousness.  This change is obviously significant, since the ‘real world’ into which children are subsequently thrust is ‘a world where there are people who are mean, hurtful, cruel, deceitful, hostile, violent and murderous’.  Sapon suggests that this is a time when children typically experience some form of ‘serious disillusionment’, when ‘animal friends’ are destroyed by ‘a culturally sanctioned programme of systematic desensitisation’.[4]  Other animals are transformed, he says, from fantasy figures and playmates who behave just like people and have feelings to ‘objects of utility’.  Thus, in the ‘end of innocence’ in relation to the plight of some types of animals at least, children’s cognitive maps are socially rewritten or are at least subject to a process of refinement.  At this point, certain nonhuman animals are ‘sheltered’ by ‘socially acceptable human compassion’.  Those species, those Thomas (1983) calls the ‘privileged’ ones, are now cognitively and ethically separated into those within and those without the ‘circle of our compassion’ (Sapon 1998).  Sapon states that there is an unwritten textbook entitled, ‘The Manual for Desensitising Children to

Cruelty and Adapting Them to Live in the Real World’ which perhaps can be regarded as an introduction to the inconsistencies in the ‘adult way’ of regarding other animals.

     

Sapon also suggests the social construction of ‘the good list’ for other animals.  Notwithstanding that only a limited range of nonhumans (say, those often classified as ‘vermin’) are entirely placed almost completely outside of the general welfarist principle of ‘be kind to animals’, inclusion on the ‘good list’ is absolutely necessary to avoid the slaughterhouse, the dinner table, the laboratory or the ‘sporting arena’.  Unsurprisingly, first on the list are ‘pet’ animals, ‘whom our culture describes as cute, loveable, cuddly, loyal, affectionate or noble’.  These are not only dogs, cats and horses, but ‘gerbils, guinea pigs, ferrets, iguanas, parrots or other exotic animals’.  Sapon also includes what he calls ‘performance animals’ on the ‘good list’, meaning animals such as race horses, homing pigeons, circus elephants and various others found in travelling circuses and zoos (ibid). 

 

          One of Sapon’s central points appears to mean attempting to understand how other animals are useful resources in the general cultural definition of acceptable and unacceptable compassionate behaviour.  Even though there is a stark ‘rowing back’ from the ‘Garden of Eden map’, the treatment of certain types of nonhuman animals may still tell human beings many things about who and what they are.  According to Sapon, this ‘retreat from Eden’ involves a ‘cognitive map adjustment’ - a child’s ‘ethical map’ is re-ordered: where once she was ‘rigorously and insistently taught - as a rule’ - that killing is wrong, she later finds that real life is not that simple, nor is it so pure or ethically consistent. 

 

          The construction of some animals as ‘pets’ - the elevated ‘select club of animal species’ (Cazaux, 1999: 105) - assists in showing that other species can be ‘sifted’, ‘sorted’ and ‘graded’ from once universal ‘friends’ into variously valued and useful categories; and sometimes into ‘useless’ and even ‘evil’ types.  On the privileged ‘good list’ an animal is afforded the benefit of individuality, frequently given a name and commonly regarded, socially if not legally, as a ‘someone’ or a ‘somebody’ rather than a ‘something’. 

 

          As a psycholinguist, Sapon is interested in how language can be utilised in what he says is the necessary ending of children’s innocence about the world in general and human-nonhuman relationships in particular.  On a general level, as children grow up in a culture ‘grossly conflicted about all forms of violence’ (1998, emphasis in the original), they realise and are told that the universal script based on ‘nobody gets killed’ is actually an illusion.  Thus, the adult world has a ‘cultural formula’ to deal with this shift in perception and cognisance.  Typically, the formula begins with human animals being placed at some centre or ‘core’, while other people are judged by their apparent moral distance from ‘humans like us’.  Thus, killing ‘humans like us’ is called ‘murder’, whereas some human beings in some places may be killed if they are ‘criminals’.  This killing is not ‘murder’, it is ‘execution’.  Dread ‘enemies of the nation’ – (collateral) citizens as well as soldiers - may be killed in times of war. 

 

          Now that there has been a perceptual shift far away from the ‘nobody gets killed’ mythology, this type of killing is actively applauded and is labelled ‘heroic’; a good and vital ‘service’ to one’s country, or even the wider world; and, of course, an essential ‘service’ to some putative (and inevitably ‘decent’) value system.  Aware of the connection between language and power (see Fairclough, 1989), Sapon states that words are not just words, they represent susceptibilities.  The names we use - and, ideologically, the uses to which words are directed (Squires, 1990) - show the extent of our susceptibility, even as adults, to ‘the constraints on our ethical perceptions, and on our behaviour’.

 

          When it comes to what adults ‘do’ to their children in socialisation, Sapon (1998) states that they are consciously aware - awfully aware he says - of the requirement to ‘reshape children’s perspectives’ in order that they can become ‘guilt-free carnivores’.  Francione (1996a) suggests that our present attitudes to other animals are ‘hopelessly confused’ and Sapon seems to give some indication why this is the case.  When it comes to acculturation about other animals, it appears that the typical process contains the strands of its own internal conflicts.  For cultural, certainly economic, and for ‘indirect’ moral reasons, human societies do not teach utter ruthlessness toward other animals.  For whatever reason society seem reluctant to teach its children that they need have absolutely no regard for nonhuman animals at all.  But more than that, using other animals as cultural resources to teach children moral values appears to make it more difficult to subsequently justify exploiting them in the many and varied ways in which they are exploited.  How modern human societies deal with issues such as killing other animals in order to eat them is to ultimately fudge the issue. 

 

          Liable to rely on the ability of animal welfare legislation to get them off some ‘moral hook’, humans build a ‘wall of carefully maintained ignorance’ to block any substantial return to what Sapon terms ‘old chords of compassion’ based on early socialisation.  Building such a wall involves the avoidance of Freud’s ‘unpleasure’ (explored a little more fully in Part Two of the thesis), commonly requiring an increase in moral distance and a denial of ethically-relevant proximity.  For example, total empathy for ‘meat animals’ must be suppressed and the empirical realities of the processes in ‘animal farming’ - artificial insemination, mutilations, fattening, transportation, slaughter - must be resisted, obscured and disguised. 

 

          In the end, Sapon states, human beings deliberately mislead each other about ‘how meat, fish, poultry, eggs and milk are actually produced for the market’.  From a psychoanalytical standpoint, lying to oneself is as understandable as it is common.  And why not?  After all, the question has some value.  While Foucault enlarged on Nietzsche’s knowledge = power thesis, the types of knowledge dealt with here represent power, certainly, but also pain.  Sapon shows that the realities about what happens - the ‘what we do’ - to other animals are painful realities - as Adams frequently states,[5] who wants to really know that what they are eating is a dead body?  Thus, what makes more sense than to block out and deny such knowledge?[6]

 

          The illogicalities and inconsistencies which result from apparently contradictory socialisation processes have been a source of comment by many of the philosophers and campaigners involved in animal advocacy.  Sapon does not doubt that, when the grown-up children of meat eaters adopt a vegetarian diet, this may be seen as representing the ‘ironic triumph’ of primary socialisation which inculcates empathetic respect for other animals in children.  He emphatically states that, ‘It can be taken to mean to the parents that their children have ultimately accepted the validity of those early lessons’.  Similarly, as emphasised earlier, in line with Wrong’s (1961) warning not to overemphasise value internalisation, and recognise that many taught values can be resisted and rejected, Sapon states that, ‘It also means that subsequent parental and societal efforts to re-educate this child, to re-write his or her ethical map, have failed’ (Sapon 1998).  It is interesting to speculate, in the light of this, whether vegetarian and vegan adults have ‘reasserted’ primary socialisation values over secondary ones, or have negated the latter values based on the re-mapping Sapon discusses without ‘returning’ to primary values.  Indeed, such points may go some way to understand the many animal rights advocates who cling to some degree or other to sentimental views of animals rather than – or, often confusingly, in addition to - developing their opposition to animal abuse purely as a matter of justice or, say, the logic of rights theory. 

 

          Paul (1996) concludes that ‘adult society’ suffers a painful discomfiture surrounding the ‘paradox’ of advocating kindness to other animals generally (and especially to other mammals), while excusing and justifying killing animals - or placing them harmful situations - for human use.  It seems that the experience of author Maureen Duffy bears some resemblance to Sapon’s and Paul’s perspectives in that she struggled with paradoxes about attitudes to other animals and also found it possible to reject ideological socialisation about meat eating, a first step in her ‘journey’ towards animal advocacy.      

 

          The first section of the introduction to Duffy’s book, Men and Beasts (1984: 3) expresses the experiential reality of most modern British people when she says: ‘I grew up in a meat-eating world’.  As social anthropologist Nick Fiddes (1991) has shown, there have been several ‘meatologies’ about the assumed goodness and even the biological ‘necessity’ of meat-eating.  However, meat-eating is often regarded as much more than an assumed human requirement.  Duffy says she was brought up to believe that meat was ‘goodness itself’ and consequently a meal without meat did not have ‘a bit of goodness in it’ (1984: 3, emphasis in original).  For the young Maureen Duffy, meat was something everyone she knew wanted to eat, although some could not afford it.  If people sometimes chose not to eat meat, she could only imagine that they were of a different social class, whose ‘elegant restraint’ from meat was to give them, apparently through a form of inverted logic, some additional social standing or, more practically, a variation from the large amount of roast game they usually consumed. 

 

          Whereas some staples such as white bread were understood as bulky stomach-filling foods, it was known that ‘flesh foods’ were absolutely necessary for growth and health ‘as if by eating a dead animal its strength and powers were transferred to you’ (ibid).  This latter point is something of a remarkable throwback to accounts of cannibalistic thought (see Leakey & Lewin 1979).[7]  Once Duffy experienced overseas travel and observed the gradual availability in England of what she had been brought up to regard as ‘messed-up foreign food’, she increasingly found that she needed ‘some explanation of the world which included meat eating’ (1984: 4) - clearly, any ethical ‘re-writing’ she experienced did not quite have its intended effect. 

 

Yet, she quite readily found several conventional animal-harming explanations open to her, including most of the religious and philosophical views that have been encountered earlier in this thesis and, she notes, she probably adopted all of them one after the other.  Such accounts as Duffy’s seems to provide some evidence of the importance of the processes Sapon describes, as well as reaffirming the error of overly generalising sociological data and the determining effect of social processes.  On the other hand, the effects of social processes such as primary and secondary socialisation are not to be ignored if one wishes to get some valid understanding of sociological patterns of behaviour and the grounding of long-influential social views and widely-held attitudes and orientations.

 

The following parts of this chapter of the thesis attempts to underscore some of the social/social psychological consequences of this growing up in Duffy’s ‘meat-eating world’ - or more generally, of growing up in a world in which people harm and kill animals, or have animals harmed or killed on their behalf for a variety of reasons.  Subsequent chapters investigate how important and complex ‘social lessons’ may fundamentally colour societal views, and be a rich and valuable resource when evaluating the messages emanating from the relatively new animal advocacy movement. 

 

Sociologists and others appreciate that processes of socialisation never end: that it starts virtually the moment humans are born[8] and goes on until the day they die.  The assumed social influence of these processes can be gleaned from other terms which have be used interchangeably with ‘socialisation’, such as ‘acculturation’, meaning the process ‘by which persons acquire knowledge of the culture in which they live’[9] and the anthropological concept of cultural transmission employed by Sapon: ‘enculturation’.  In sociology, students learn that primary socialisation is extremely important as it represents foundational social knowledge which human beings draw upon to navigate their way in the social world.

 

          Building on - and attempting to develop - the fairly general outline presented earlier, it seems clear that individuals’ long and intense experience of processes of socialisation are tremendously important in understanding how human beings relate to other animals in the ways that they do.  Described below is some of the content of the social knowledge offered to children (and parents) about nonhuman animals via early-reading books, magazines, games and through television programmes.  It seems almost certainly true to claim that people’s early and continuing cultural views and general social attitudes - for example, used when individuals play their part in the construction of ‘nature’ and other animals - are greatly dependant on the knowledge they gained through complex processes such as those detailed by theorists like Sapon. 

 

          Many social scientists will emphatically suggest that early socialisation is extremely important in a person’s ‘life career’ in society, and Bauman (1990: 24) noted and underlined that ‘the group’ helps to make the person.  Concentrating on language and social interaction as Sapon does, Habermas (1976: 43) states that ‘the process of socialisation takes place within structures of linguistic intersubjectivity’.  In early primary socialisation, a child’s group consists primarily of his or her parents.  Parents represent a baby’s earliest ‘linguistic interactionists’ and the first influential ‘tutors’ in the generational transmission of social norms and values.  While regularly giving recognition to views that some accounts may suggest the ‘oversocialised’ view of ‘passive humanity’, the claim that the socialisation process has a powerful impact on individuals nevertheless appears justified.  Earlier, Bauman’s claim that the ‘utmost exertion’ is required of those wanting to change what they have been ‘made’ into was cited.  Therefore, a wish to change and resist involves effort, self-sacrifice, determination and endurance: it is far easier to live ‘placidly and obediently in conformity’ (ibid.: 24-5). 

 

          Given this apparent all-encompassing - but not all-determining - influence claimed for socialisation, it is of little surprise that resistance to it may be regarded as rather difficult.  On the other hand, it seems sensible to assume that some elements of social knowledge and learning will be far easier to deny than others.  It may be that the ‘depth’ of Bauman’s notion of sedimentation may be of great importance here.  Moreover, individuals may well differ in terms of accepting or actively resisting their ‘lessons of socialisation’, a point emphasised in the previous section on dehumanisation in relation to reactions to pornography.  This subject is re-examined a little later in this section. 

 

          It appears necessary and entirely appropriate to adopt a social psychological approach to the issue of socialisation in order to appreciate both its institutionalised and internalised dimensions.  For example, while Piaget notes the important part socialisation plays in cognitive development, and Freud claims that a family setting leads to the acquisition of a solid moral and personal identity, sociologist Mead suggests the simultaneous acquisition of the concept of self and of social identity.  Similarly, Durkheim suggests that socialisation processes involve the internalisation of general group values and moral categories, and the anomic results of not doing so.  Bernstein, like Habermas, concentrates on social skill development through interaction and linguistic communication (see Jary and Jary 1995: 613).  Given such standard social scientific claims, Bauman’s statement that individuals are greatly dependent on the group which ‘holds’ them appears entirely plausible.  Furthermore, recall that David DeGrazia (1996: 44), speaking about human attitudes to other animals, also argues that resisting dominant values and ideas takes a great effort and an extraordinary independence of mind.  Bauman’s (1990) perspective suggests we should not underestimate this point. 

 

          Since part of the ‘power of common sense over the way we understand the world and ourselves (the immunity of common sense to questioning, its capacity for self-confirmation) depends on the apparently self-evident character of its precepts’ (1990: 14), the reaction to new knowledge that succeeds in supplanting existing attitudes may lead to a feeling of humiliation.  For ‘what is known’, often ‘known’ with an element of pride, ‘has now been devalued, perhaps even shown worthless and ridiculed’ (ibid).  Thus, the suggested influence of socialisation processes in the construction of human culture means that it represents an important factor in explaining how people may approach, understand and react individually and/or collectively to pro-animal claims making. 

 

Furthermore, given the relative lack of controversy in traditional welfarist-inspired views of human-nonhuman relationships, the general response to recent animal rights views are inevitably informed by such long-held attitudes that are consciously and unconsciously sedimented by processes of socialisation, themselves apparently fundamentally informed by the long-standing, influential and pervasive ideology of animal welfarism.  Moreover, since welfarist attitudes about human-nonhuman relationships tend to be largely regarded as both ‘mainstream’ and ‘reasonable’, these are the views on the human treatment of other animals most easily seen as relatively unproblematic, historical and normative (Singer 1985; Garner 1993; Gold 1998; Kean 1998; Regan 2001).  Therefore, any ‘systemic problems’ which may arise every now and then in relation to the human use of animals as resources are generally seen as, and loudly proclaimed to be, resolvable through existing (or still required) animal welfare regulatory mechanisms by means of additions to the numerous acts of legislation which have derived from widespread societal commitments to the ideology of animal welfarism.[10] 

 

The apparent social loyalty to animal welfarism means that if ‘problems’ are perceived in existing practice and/or legislation (and Wise [2000: 181] states that every jurisdiction he is aware of has enacted ‘anticruelty’ legislation), then it assumed that the remedy lies in simply ‘strengthening’ existing legal measures, or closing perceived loop holes, rather than ‘unnecessarily’ engaging in fundamental reviews of the ethics of using other animals for human ends in the first place.  For example, the officially declared rationale put forward by the British government for the introduction of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act in 1986 (legislation on the licensing and regulation of animal experiments) was predicated on the notion that it would update and thus significantly ‘improve’ the provisions of its predecessor, the antiquated and outmoded 1886 Cruelty to Animals Act.[11]  Thus, legislation was allegedly introduced to further ‘protect’ experimental animals through stricter licensing procedures, a factor trumpeted ever since by animal experimenters and British Home Office officials in response to anti-vivisectionist and animal rights claims.  Likewise, members of parliament in the 1990’s who were sympathetic to the aspirations of the single-issue pressure group the League Against Cruel Sports, attempted to introduce what they regarded as progressive legislation (for example, the 1992 Wild Animals (Protection) Bill and the 1995 Wild Mammals (Protection) Bill) to protect a number of wild animal species as various welfare concerns arose about the absence or inadequacy of existing protection (on such incremental animal legislation see Gold 1995: 4-7). 

 

          Animal welfarism - and the legal provision inspired by it - seductively suggests that no root and branch changes are necessary or desirable in human-nonhuman relations, society merely needs to observe a certain extra vigilance to ensure that regulatory and control mechanisms are sufficient to meet all the requirements embedded in the notion of ‘non-cruel’ animal exploitation.  It is not difficult to imagine why this orientation can appear seductive to so many, since, echoing similar pressures on once radical sociologists to become ‘realist’ in attitude, animal welfarism seems so reasonable and even pluralistically responsive to the interests of all parties involved, apart, quite naturally, from those who make ‘unrealistic’ demands.  By the same token, Hans Ruesch (1979: 333-35) notes that many in the modern anti-vivisection movement have tend to adopt ‘controllists’ and ‘abolitionists’ orientations, with the former being defined as inclined toward welfarism in the belief that animal experiments can be sufficiently regulated to the extent that ethical concerns are largely ameliorated.  Of course - and as discussed in Part Two - such orientations become the stuff of much inter- and intra-movement strategising in often intense and potentially devisive tactical debates which social movement theorists Kuechler and Dalton (1990) see as common tensions that arise among considerations of long term social movement fundamentals versus daily campaigning pragmatics.

 

 

Socialised Lessons About Other Animals:

Welfarism all the Way.

 

 

Building on Sapon’s (1998) points above, what kinds of attitudes are likely to influence young children in terms of their social learning about human-nonhuman relations?  As part of their normal, everyday, social interaction, in what forms are children presented with information about such relations?  Moreover, what are children customarily told about the meanings applied to ‘human’ and ‘animal’ categories?  Accepting that the vast majority of socialised attitudes about the human treatment of animals are infused with animal welfare ideology, the treatment of animals seen as ‘below’ the standards demanded by animal welfarism are regularly criticised in books and other ‘educational’ publications (in the latter case, in publications often funded and/or published by ‘pro-use’ industries and often available from veterinarian surgeries) about the care of ‘pet’ animals (see, as an example, Watson 1994).

 

          Hilda Kean (1998: 44-7) notes that throughout the 1800’s in Britain, a great deal of printed information about the ‘proper treatment of animals’ became increasingly available for both adults and children.  While adults were informed by the Zoological Society’s gazetteer, the formation of the London Mechanics’ Institution, and the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge’s weekly Penny Magazine, a growing number of publications became intentionally aimed at pet-keeping children.  By the 1970’s, there were hundreds of titles such as Domestic Pets: Their Habits and Management (ibid.: 47).

 

          Along with the predictable stress on the welfarist doctrine of ‘caring’ for animals, many writers reinforce a ‘humans on top’ dominionist message.  For example, Mary Wollstonecraft’s Original Stories (full of advice for children and servants) contained the following: ‘Let your superior endowments ward off the evils they [animals] cannot foresee’ (quoted in ibid.: 46).  An investigation of current messages about humans and nonhumans in cultural products aimed at children reveals that little has changed.

 

 

Baa Baa Lambs, Talking Cows and Wise Old Bears.

 

 

Apart from having pet animals around the house, much of children’s early information about nonhuman animals derives from the representations of them in books designed to be read by - or with - parents.  Of course, it might be expected that an increasing amount of even very young children’s access to information in the West takes other forms, such as via the TV and now perhaps more and more, the internet.  In terms of the actual face-to-face interaction between parents and children, the latter are effectively subjected to parental interpretations during explanations of topics they read about or see together.  Therefore, in the light of Sapon’s thesis, if parents do interact with children using books about other animals, and if they explain to their children events in television programmes, they may inevitably become the influential primary definers of the situations in question.  Perhaps anticipated from the preceding discussion, it might be expected that the early experience of knowledge about animals is regularly populated by cute ‘baa-baa lambs’, and often by Sapon’s ‘talking cows’ and ‘wise old bears’ (Sapon 1998).

 

         Singer (1983: 239) has complained that youngsters often learn more factual knowledge of the lives of the wild animals in far away lands, such as cheetahs and sharks, than of the ‘farm animals’ who may exist just around the corner or in the very next town or village.[12]  One response to Singer’s point may be to note how modern children can often get direct experience of farmed animals in so-called ‘city farms’, ‘show farms’ or the children’s corners of zoos and some public parks.  However, such places are relatively few in number and, perhaps of greater importance, are extraordinarily unrepresentative of the average ‘working’ farm.  For example, often due to public safety considerations, city farms contain a large number of small and young farm animals for children to stroke and touch.  Thus, piglets rather than adult pigs may be present, many more small lambs than full-grown sheep, and so on.  More unrealistically, such animals are often mixed in these settings with other types of nonhuman animal, such as various ‘breeds’ of rabbits, who would hardly be the most welcome visitors on ‘real’ or ‘working’ farms. 

 

          A recent consequence of continuing rural economic decline has been the establishment of so-called ‘farm parks’ or ‘genuine working farms’ open to the public where, typically, children are invited to ‘meet the animals’.  This commonly involves the thrill of bottle feeding goats, calves and lambs.  Featuring a cartoon of a smiling pig called ‘Boris’, one advertising leaflet for a ‘working farm’ declares that its has ‘loads of animals, both big and small to see, touch, feed, stroke, cuddle, hear, smell - and even ride!’  Being a ‘genuine working farm’, there is likely to be far more of the larger animals absent from smaller city farms, and thus, ‘you may be able to watch the farmer shear the sheep and plough and harvest, and help him collect the eggs and round up the sheep’.  Rather unsurprisingly, other ‘routine animal farming practices’, such as removing piglets’ teeth and tails with pliers, the so-called ‘de-beaking’ of chickens[13] and sending animals to the slaughterhouse are not advertised on the leaflet as of potential interest of children - or indeed, their parents or guardians either.  However, it is possible to eat at the farm picnic area, ‘whilst watching the animals in the surrounding paddocks’.

 

 

Television, Books & Games.

 

 

If one never visited a ‘genuine working farm’ and therefore relied solely on television programmes for information about the lives of ‘farm animals’, then Singer’s complaint appears to be fairly well founded.  For example, ‘animal documentaries’ on television are overwhelmingly concerned with wild and undomesticated animals, or with pet animals in shows such as Rolf Harris’ welfarist-orientated, RSPCA-advertising, Animal Hospital.  The lives and deaths of many hundreds of millions of farmed animals are apparently largely unseen by television audiences who physically digest their body parts, which may go some way to explain the horrified public reaction to the unusually extensive daily news coverage of visible animal deaths in the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak in Britain. 

 

          Singer’s point is perhaps underlined by looking at a randomly-chosen week of programmes on the cable TV channel, Animal Planet (June 2-8, 2001).  The channel featured in seven days more than 200 showings of programmes entitled ‘Monkey Business’, ‘Croc Files’, ‘Pet Rescue’, ‘Zoo Chronicles’, ‘Wild Treasures of Europe’, ‘Emergency Vets’, ‘Crocodile Hunter’, ‘Postcards From the Wild’, ‘Animal Emergency’, ‘Hyena: Savannah Superhunter’ and so on.  Only one programme in the entire week, called ‘Country Vets’, appeared to have any potential to feature farmed animals as its substantive subject matter. 

 

          If ‘farm animals’ are largely absent from television coverage of animals in general, the same general comment certainly cannot be said of children’s ‘early-reading books’.  Here, it is quite conventional to find the depiction of farms with typical ‘stock’ animals such as cows, sheep, pigs, cart horses and chickens, as well as sheepdogs and the farm ‘mouser’.  In many books the entire narrative concerns events on farms apparently containing nonhuman animals but no humans at all.  Quite often, such stories seem to lack any direct evidence of human habitation, or their interest in the farm business, or in any of the events and adventures that take place.  Often, entire societies of various nonhuman animals populate these places, with an apparent emphasis on the decision-making autonomy of the animals concerned and little suggestion, especially in books designed for the younger child, that any current or future human utilisation of animal ‘resources’ takes place.  For example, if cows are to be milked in stories which actually feature human ‘farmers’, it is implied or openly stated that the milk is for the benefit of all the other animals on the farm. 

 

          Quite obviously, and in line with Sapon’s thesis, any suggestion of animal harm in such publications is generally out of the question until the near-teen market is taken into consideration.  The remarkable aspect about books featuring nonhumans, then, is not the absence of farmed animals but the virtual absence of reality about their lives.[14]  Of course, as said, there are publications showing farms ‘complete’ with (male) animal enslavers (and their smiling wives!).  These present a slightly more realistic view of ‘farm life’.  From an animal welfare point of view, these particular children’s stories rarely show anything other than an ideal-typical depiction of nonhuman animals and the peaceful and joyful relationships that they have with kindly humans.  While television documentaries about wild animals - and to a much lesser extent, the pet shows - attempt to portray the ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ experience of some animals (with an apparent on-going fascination with nonhumans’ sex lives), the depiction of the genuine life experiences of farmed animals is systematically sanitised (Robbins 1987) in many children’s books. 

 

          For example, the picture book, Stories from Mudpuddle Farm (Morpurgo and Rayner 1994), written for children ‘who are just beginning to enjoy reading’, introduces readers to Jigger, the ‘almost-always-sensible’ sheepdog, Mossop the cat, Captain the horse, Frederick the cockerel, Farmer Rafferty, Penelope the hen, Upside and Down the ducks, and Auntie Grace and Primrose the dairy cows.  Farmer Rafferty himself is described as ‘usually a kind man with smiling eyes’ (ibid.: 11) who evidently enjoys a friendly social contract and a constructive working relationship with all the other animals.  In Mudpuddle Farm, each and everyone has a job to do and old-smiley Rafferty tells the various animals: ‘You look after me, and I’ll look after you’ (ibid).  Many of the nonhumans are shown living happily in their family groups, looking after their offspring, another common theme in such publications.

 

          The cosy consensus is maintained as the entirely free-range hens agree to lay eggs for the farmer, while the ever-smiling cows ‘let down their milk for him’ (ibid.: 13).[15]  However, if readers were in any doubt, a few pages on they learn that the human animal is actually a little more equal than the others when Farmer Rafferty loses his temper after finding mice on the farm.  He asks after the whereabouts of the cat in ‘a nasty raspy voice’ he kept for ‘special occasions’ (ibid.: 20).

 

          The simplest books about animals, such as the Ladybird ‘toddler talkabout’ series, often appear designed to encourage children to count and make approximate noises of different types of nonhuman animal.  In I Like Farm Animals (Ladybird 1998) a farm is depicted complete with the seemingly obligatory smiling animal enslaver and the happily grinning animals.  All the various animals are pictured together, often with their young; with not a single cage in sight.[16]  In fact, readers are told that the different animals have their own ‘homes’ in which they live.  Of course, few would ever expect to see a single battery hen cage, or a veal crate for calves, or a pig farrowing crate in these publications for the very young, yet to talk of such animals having ‘homes’ is nothing less than highly misleading.

 

          Books for slightly older children predictably have more complicated narratives.  For example, in Nubbins and the Tractor (Sinnickson 1980), the horse in the story is presented as human property, which correspondents with the actual status of most horses.  Indeed, when the animal is threatened with being replaced by a newly-purchased tractor, his salvation is based on the possible transfer of his ‘ownership’ from farmer to son.  The boy learns that his father is intent on selling the newly-redundant horse and appeals to him: ‘Don’t sell Old Nubbins!’  Although the boy declares that he and Nubbins are ‘friends’, he demands ownership of the horse: ‘Give him to me, and he and I will help you with the work’.  When the new tractor breaks down, Nubbins is shown to be quite over the moon at the prospect of being strapped back into his old harness and he blissfully sets off for a day of ‘hard work’.  Eventually the boy gets the official ownership of the horse and the book ends with both owner and owned pictured apparently deliriously happy about their master-slave relationship.[17]

 

          If parents want a break from book reading, they can purchase children’s videos such as ‘Fourways Farm’, made in 1997 for Channel 4 Television and narrated by popular actor and radio personality Martin Jarvis.  Here, in several stories written for children up to seven years of age, another community of co-operative animals are to be found.  All co-operative with the exception of three ‘bad rats’ who are stereotypically depicted as scheming ‘gangsters’ who ideologically declare: ‘We don’t do nice things, we’re rats’.  However, all the other residents are demonstrably ‘nice’; the cow, the horse, the duck, the dog, the cat and (another stereotype and slightly less than nice) the typically ‘greedy pig’.  All the animals, the title song tells viewers, ‘say hello to the morning sun’, and they all have ‘food to eat’.  In Fourways Farm, there is no human cruelty to nonhuman animals and no actual ‘farming’ seems to takes place at all: in fact, no humans are ever seen in the video or interfere in the happy-ending adventures of the nonhuman characters.

 

          Once children have digested the message that farms are idyllic places for nonhumans and, although animals are legal property who may be bought, sold or passed from one generation to another, they understand that this status tends to somehow benefit the nonhuman individuals in question.  They are perhaps now ready and prepared to play the 1984 Fisher-Price distributed board game for 5-10 year olds, Market Day, which (according to the box) is ‘a fun-filled game for young children, collecting horses, cows, pigs and sheep from the market’:

 

Each farmer races around the board collecting voucher cards for the animals he needs to complete his farm.  When he has enough for a horse, a cow, a pig or a sheep he can buy that animal next time he goes to the market.

 

 

However, and with a little justification, the game is described to be just like ‘real farming’ and therefore ‘things can go wrong’ for the market-bound farmers.  However, there is unsurprisingly no mention of BSE, nor swine fever, nor foot and mouth disease in the context of the players’ potential animal farming ‘problems’.  Rather, the difficulties encountered are somewhat less serious: tractors fail to work, pigs sometimes escape and naughty sheep jump over farm fences.  What might be the ‘end product’ of such animal farms, or the ‘final destination’ (final solution?) of the animals collected by each ‘farmer’ is not explained or explored.  Animal welfarism hardly ceases in proclaiming, as it was daily reaffirmed in the 2001 foot and mouth ‘tragedy’, that farming nonhuman animals is ultimately about ‘caring’ for them on farms.

 

When animal enslavers cannot carry out their ‘caring’ vocation and, even worse, when they see ‘their’ animals killed and burnt, they weep buckets full of tears (when television cameras are recording), presumably never ever having bothered to take a look inside any abattoir they deliver to or even an oven containing their Sunday roast.  If Market Day holds to any remnant of reality, it too downplays the fact that nonhumans end up dead at the hands of human beings.

 

          For pre- and just-teen girls, a brightly-coloured monthly magazine, Animals and You, is available from D.C. Thomson publishers.  In the manner of a bright and bubbly ‘pop’ music publication, the December 2000 edition of Animals and You (No. 75) features cute ‘pet pin-ups’, games and puzzles, and articles about television programmes such as Animal Hospital and organisations such as the National Canine Defence League.  Apart from the emphasis on pet animals such as domesticated cats and dogs, wild animals such as polar bears, snow monkeys and Arctic foxes are featured in the magazine.  In the 38 pages of Animals and You, only one oblique reference appeared in relation to farmed animals in a quiz article entitled, ‘How much do you love Christmas?’ (p. 24).  However, the feature cannot be described as concerning farm animal care, let alone any notion of animal rights: in a multi-choice question about ‘your perfect Christmas dinner’, readers are asked to tick one of the following boxes:

 

            a).  Chocolate, sweeties and more chocolate!;

b).  It’s got to be turkey and stuffing, and a cosy snuggle with your pet for afters!; or

            c).  Party food - mini-sausage rolls, pizza - yum!

 

 

For reasons discussed above, the ideology of animal welfarism suggests that there is no fundamental contradiction in a publication about ‘caring’ for domesticated animals, while being ‘interested’ in wild ones, and assuming that pigs and turkeys are ‘for’ eating (this is the December issue after all, what greater justification could be required?)  In relation to the human treatment of pigs, the hit Hollywood feature film ‘Babe’, based on the children’s story by Dick King-Smith (King-Smith 1985), is often credited with causing quite a stir from an ‘animal rights’ point of view.  For example, there was much discussion of its actual and potential impact on email networks referred to in the methodology section above, with reports of activist groups organising leafleting outside cinemas (also see discussions of animals on film, especially Disney’s representation of animals, in Baker 1993). 

 

          Babe tells the tale of the pig who grew up to behave and think like a sheep dog.  Although absent from King-Smith’s original book, the film and video versions include a scene in which the talented ‘sheep-pig’ is told in no uncertain terms about what happens to pigs ordinarily (as Animals and You might have it, they could end their days as party food - ‘yum!’), and consequently Babe learns of the plight of his close, dead - and probably eaten - relatives.  The ideological message of the Hollywood rewrite is bluntly revealed when the nonhuman star of the movie, initially extremely so upset that he runs away from the farmer, eventually returns ‘home’ since his loyalty to ‘The Boss’ (i.e. the male nonhuman enslaver) is ultimately seen to outweigh the deadly deed the latter had done to Babe’s entire family.  Since there appears to be no firm evidence that sales in ‘pig meat’ suffered to any serious extent due to the film’s release, perhaps the most enduring legacy of the movie, on an ideological level at the least, will be to reinforce the prevailing human ‘masters on top’ social understanding of human-nonhuman relations. 

 

 

Keeping the “moo” or “cluck” or “baa” away from the meat.[18]

 

 

John Robbins (1987: 125) would recognise that part of what is going on in the types of publications and children’s products under review is not about providing realistic material for children as much as protecting children from hurtful knowledge about what really happens to some nonhuman animals.[19]  He argues that large and powerful commercial concerns that use animals as resources are particularly involved in this ‘protection’ provision.[20]  In fact, Robbins claims that the animal farming industry deliberately engages in what he calls a ‘web of repression’ about modern farming practices (ibid). 

 

         Moreover, he suggests that children are the least repressed of the human population with regard to expressing feelings about other animals, but recognises that they are also perhaps the most impressionable members of society.  Therefore, it is important for commercial interests instrumentally using nonhuman animals to attempt to present to children a ‘sugar-coated picture’ of animal farming as early in their lives as possible.  Thus, in the USA in particular, industry-based ‘information packs’ and ‘educational colouring books’ are sent to schools complete with pencils and books to colour in.  Such publications are thoroughly welfarist in outlook, and none would suggest there is the least problem about human beings breeding other animals in order that they can subsequently eat them. 

 

          Gary Francione (1996: 79) cites the example of the American Animal Welfare Federation which claims that its aim is to promote the ‘humane use’ and the ‘general welfare’ of nonhuman animals.  This campaigning organisation is openly funded by the fur, meat and ‘pet’ industries, hunting interests, and other ‘pro-animal-use individuals and organisations’, and explains that part of its brief to is ‘educate’ the public about the ‘vital difference between animal welfare and animal rights’.  Robbins (1987: 125) cites US National Livestock and Meat Board publications which state that they recognise the need to ‘reach the children of the land at an early age’ in order to ‘prepare them for a lifetime of meat-eating’.  By labelling high school children ‘a special Meat Board audience’, they appear to be hopeful of building on already firmly-held views about other animals accrued from primary socialisation.  Robbins is particularly animated by ‘The Story of Beef’ and ‘The Story of Pork’, distributed as children’s ‘educational material’ by the American Meat Institute.  Calling it ‘a fairy tale’, Robbins says that something fundamentally important is missing from a page entitled the ‘The Story of a Steak’, taken from ‘The Story of Beef’:

 

there is no trace of the animal suffering in any way at any time.  At first the calf is shown romping innocently alongside his happy mother; next we see him looking like the very picture of sunshine and cheer in a feedlot; then we see him being happily shipped to the stockyards; and finally we see him evidently delighted as can be as different companies bid for the right to kill him.  The lucky creature, it would seem, is tickled pink at every stage of the path to the meat counter (ibid.: 126).

 

 

In every picture, on every page, the animals are seen to be smiling, even, as Robbins points out, when pictured sat on a train on the way to the ‘stockyards’.  This particular story does not totally ignore the deaths of the animals used for meat, something entirely absent from many narratives, especially those designed for a very young audience.  However, there is just one fairly unrevealing scene at the slaughterhouse which is described as a ‘packing plant’ where ‘beef crews’ turn ‘beef on the hoof into meat for the store’.  This scene shows ‘dressed’ carcasses hanging on hooks, the previous picture shows a (yes, smiling) cow being bought for slaughter.  There is absolutely no sign of the killing process itself.  This ‘educational’ material entirely neglects the details of what occurs between animals being on trains destined for the slaughterhouse and the period when their dead bodies hang from meat hooks in chill rooms.

 

          If ‘The Story of a Steak’ shows living animals being turned into ‘meat for the store’ - however brief and sketchy the actual details are - Robbins is extremely critical of the promotional approach of the fast food corporation McDonald’s whose advertisements have told their ‘impressionable young audience that hamburgers grow in hamburger patches’ (ibid.: 129).[21]  Indeed, Jeff Juliano, the actor who originally played the promotional clown character ‘Ronald McDonald’, eventually became unwilling to tell such blatant untruths to children.  He ended up openly apologising to the youngsters he had misled and adopted a vegetarian diet (ibid).

 

          Although no-one could claim the few examples described here are representative of all children’s books, TV programmes, games, magazines and advertisements which feature particular orientations and attitudes about other animals, this sample appears to underline how such products could be seen as formative, supportive and influential in the social construction of such attitudes about nonhuman animals farmed for food.  Even this small sample offers some empirical evidence of the normative reality of the experience of being ‘born in a meat-eating world’.  Moreover, although it is clear that a limited number of recent publications for children have begun to reflect animal rights (or at least ‘pro-animal’) thought to some degree, there is no substantial evidence to suggest that the majority are in the process of rejecting traditionally dominant social messages about animals.  As ever, the overwhelming orientation is inevitably directed toward a welfarist ‘duty of care’ view rather than anything like an animal rights approach.  In effect, and this may be regarded in a sense as a ‘finding’ of this thesis: these longstanding social constructions stand between the animal rights movement and its aspirations. 

 

          When members of an animal rights email networks were requested to contribute their experiences of public attitudes to animals, a reply was received in August 1999 from a member of the local animal rights campaign group, London Animal Action (see appendix 1).  This correspondent recounted a time when her information stall was visited by four teenagers.  During the subsequent discussion about the information leaflets on offer, one of the teenagers said she did not eat animals although she was not a vegetarian.  After an investigation of this rather confusing and contradictory statement, it transpired that she did not consider farmed animals to be ‘proper animals’ at all; rather they were ‘just things’, whereas the species of animals she regarded as ‘real animals’ were those such as cats and dogs that people kept as companions. 

 

          Although these views seem distinctly odd, especially articulated in this fashion, they may be more widespread than one may think.  For example, writing in the Guardian (21.8.99), journalist Julie Burchill talks about herself being ‘mad about animals’.  However, to clarify, she adds the following caveat: ‘When I say ‘animals’, I don’t mean the poor brutes bred for food and I don’t mean the wild animals you see on TV... No, what I mean, of course, is pets - dogs and cats, but cats in particular’.  It seems likely that the types of representations of animals discussed here could be regarded as explanatory factors of common social attitudes towards animals and human-nonhuman relations which Francione (2000: xxi) has described as a general ‘moral schizophrenia’ about animal issues.   

 

 

Getting ‘em While They’re Young.

 

                        The central truth that the hunting industry and the wildlife agencies

                        have run up against in their struggle to recruit new hunters: Men and

                        women who do not become hunters by the time they graduate

                        from high school are unlikely ever to become hunters.

                                                     Fund for Animals (1997: 8), emphasis in original.

         

 

As shown above, the North American National Livestock and Meat Board recognise the importance of introducing their pro-meat eating ‘educational’ material to young audiences.  Philosophers and activists who campaign on behalf of animals believe this recognition is extremely important in relation to fully understanding the often firmly held and strongly articulated commitment to flesh foods. 

 

          In Animal Liberation, for example, utilitarian Peter Singer (1983: 236) argues that ‘our attitudes to animals begin to form when we are very young, and they are dominated by the fact that we begin to eat meat at an early age’.  The social psychology here is likely to be very influential, because before members of society really ‘know’ it, they are often deeply ‘involved’ on some level in animal harm, and generally on a daily basis.  Milgram’s (1965; 1974) well known - indeed, infamous - ‘electric shock’ experiments may help in a fuller understanding of this fairly subtle point.  Milgram was interested in the acceptance of authority in experiments in which subjects believed they were increasingly involved in causing more and more harm to another person (who, in reality, was an actor pretending, screaming in pain and complaining about the experimental procedure).  Even though many subjects would express discomfort and even opposition to administering shocks, they continued to press electric shock buttons when ordered to do so by an authority figure.  Part of the analysis of the experiments suggested that many subjects found it difficult to arrive at a point to sensibly stop their involvement.

 

In these experiments subjects had to justify to themselves why they could not administer another harmful punishment when the previous one(s) they gave only seconds earlier were almost as harmful as the one they were being authorised to administer.  Thinking about this in terms of Singer’s point means recognising that before most humans are capable of making autonomous ethical judgements, they, as children, learn the norms and values - and the justifications and excuses - of an overwhelmingly speciesist, nonhuman-harming, world.  Early in their lives they regularly and unwittingly participate in animal harming activities just by sharing a meal with their families.  Moreover, they are likely to unaware that they use ‘animal-tested’ products, such as shampoos and toothpastes.  Given such factors, it may be necessary for those who eventually learn a fuller - or perhaps a ‘truer’ - picture about the lives and deaths of animals used for human benefit to gather the wherewithal to reject common and widely approved-of social practices in which they are still actively participating in - possibly several times every single day.  Thus, if one learns the ‘animal rights news’ at mid-day, it is likely that food choices of that morning - and the choice about to be made - immediately become factors in what now is an intensely personal moral issue. 

 

          The animal rights case, in line with this reasoning, effectively results in people being accused of making, albeit unwittingly, cumulative moral errors every time they participate in an activity which harms another animal.  The ‘directness’ of personal involvement may initially seem to assist animal advocates in promoting change in the individual - it may initially appear much harder, for example, for environmental campaigners to establish such obvious causal links between personal consumerist activity and undesirable environmental effects.  It may seem relatively straightforward that people are to be expected to make the necessary connections between the meals or beauty products that sit before them and suffering or harm done to nonhuman animals in their production.  In short, if someone becomes concerned about animal suffering, they can take immediate steps to drastically reduce their own direct involvement in it.  Yet, on the other hand, the very immediacy of many issues involving human-nonhuman relations – and especially the case of the sometimes troublesome matter of eating other sentient animals – is ultimately likely to constrain people from critically examining their personal activities in any great detail.

 

If a person decides to attempt to cease making the claimed moral errors highlighted and identified by animal rights perspectives, they have to almost publicly - certainly within their family - accept the moral ‘wrongness’ of practices they have actively participated in - and perhaps even stridently defended - thousands of times.  An awareness of the details of animal suffering means being careful about what one puts on (and puts inside) one’s skin!   

 

          The importance of these points underlines the significance of assessing the likely outcome of early socialisation processes.  Most people, after all, do end up ‘innocently’ eating the dead and rotting[22] bodies of other animals – and do so before they know that this is what they are doing.  Before gaining the ability to decide for themselves on issues connected to the treatment of other animals - indeed any ethical issue - the vast majority of children unknowingly take part in routine and widespread exploitation, not only as consumers of various foodstuffs, but also as consumers of products which have been tested in vivisection laboratories; or by wearing parts of dead animals as clothing and by being taken to see animal ‘performers’ in entertainment spectacles such as the circus.  Focusing solely on meat eating, Singer argues that, as youngsters, people are often not able to make:

 

a conscious, informed decision, free from the bias that accompanies any long-established habit, reinforced by all the pressures of social conformity, to eat animal flesh (1983: 236).

 

 

Influential processes of socialisation are obviously implicated in creating the habits Singer speaks of, and matters are unlikely to change much while they function to reinforce conventional norms and values relating to human-nonhuman relations.  Even acknowledging that societies that instrumentally exploit other animals simultaneously encourage its children to be ‘kind’ to (selected) nonhuman animals, for Singer, as for Sapon, it is important to be aware that individuals are able to accommodate – and quite easily it seems - ostensibly contradictory views about how sentient nonhumans should be treated morally. 

 

Singer suggests (1983: 236) that it might be necessary for members of society to carefully ‘segregate’ such contradictions.  Such segregation is suggested in the concepts of instrumental exploitation and sentimental exploitation of nonhuman animals.  Certainly the teenagers who visited the information stall in London could segregate with apparent ease - by simply separating animals into different categories such as (sentimentally) ‘pets’ and (instrumentally) ‘just food’.  Singer goes on to relate (ibid.: 237) the fairly familiar tale that a child’s affection for animals will be directed toward animals not usually eaten, especially cats, dogs and horses.  Indeed, it is perhaps noteworthy that some racist caricatures of human beings can be partly constructed by emphasising the fact that some societies use ‘our’ favourite or favoured animals as sources of meat or fur.[23] 

 

          Singer also argues that urban and suburban children are rarely likely to meet any other kind of animal apart from cats, dogs and horses.  Once they are dismembered and shrink-wrapped on a supermarket shelf, perhaps it is relatively easy to disregard the fact that packaged food products are parts of dead bodies: people certainly do not seem to be encouraged to see ‘sides of beef’ or pieces of ‘pork’ in such a way (also see Broom et al 1981: 401-06 for evidence that dismemberment can eventually overcome the usually strict social taboo of eating human flesh in extreme circumstances).

 

          Much of this theorising serves to avoid viewing ‘animal loving’ and ‘animal eating’ as apparently contradictory activities.  Instead, in relation to ‘using’ animals, it is conceivable that phenomena often characterised as examples of attitudinal contradiction are simply two separate forms of animal exploitation: as Jasper implies, humans eat some of them; humans pet some of them; but we exploit all of them for our own reasons.  In other words, humans have two exploitative orientations in relation to other animals (Jasper 1999: 77).

 

 

Keeping ‘em When They’re Older.

 

Deceptive language helps us deny both the suffering and the cause. Once those who suffer and those who cause the suffering are rendered absent, there is no act of violence, just business as usual.  Speciesist language enables us to disregard the suffering and abuse of nonhuman animals.

 

Carol J. Adams, in the forward of Animal Equality by Joan Dunayer.

 

 

It was suggested earlier in the thesis that the emergence of, and thus the challenge embedded in, animal rights thinking and activism can be held responsible for creating some ‘disturbance’ to conventional, welfarist, views concerning human-nonhuman relations.

 

          As social movement theorists investigate movement-countermovement dialectics (Lilliston & Cummings 1997), often seeing countermovements as so-called ‘wise-use backlash’ mobilisations reponding to social movement activity (Tokar 1995),[24] so Guither (1998) notes a growing organised countermovement to the emergence of animal rights.  Dunayer’s (2001) extensive research indicates that much of the ‘backlash’ against animal rights claims-making has taken the form of advocating language use alterations and, of course, ideologically privileging the legitimacy of animal welfarism over animal rights.

 

          The latter aim is exemplified by Steve Bjerklie (writing on ‘Rights and Welfare’ in the trade journal Meat & Poultry in May 1990, cited in Dunayer 2001: 134) who argues that a continuum can be identified with ‘animal exploitation on one far side, animal welfare in the middle, and animal rights on the other far side’.  This middle ground position (how fond are we of ‘the middle way’?) ideologically places the extremism of animal rights and the illegitimacy of animal exploitation at the margins, whereas welfarism stands as always as the traditional representative of moderation, reasonableness and restraint.  However, partly in response to animal rights claims, contemporary animal enslavers who claim the welfarist designation were quick to realise the utility of some of the existing language they routinely employ and, at the same time, recognised the necessity for change.

 

          Dunayer outlines in detail what she calls ‘the language of vivisection’ (2001: 103-23) which includes a preference for words in scientific papers and reports describing animal ‘discomfort’ rather than ‘pain’ or ‘suffering (ibid.: 106-07) and the ‘verbal dishonesty’ in the use of terms such as ‘sacrifice’ rather than ‘kill’.  However, it is to the instrumental and speciesist language of producers of ‘food animals’ that attention is here turned.  Much of the language of ‘animal agriculture’ is economic and has summoned up the rather negative image of intensive factory production.  While much of the former remains, although in recent years most overtly expressed in ‘how to be a pig farmer’ types of publications rather than media for the general public, in the latter case the ‘food animal’ industry has recently taken steps to moderate and change its language.

 

          When Dunayer (ibid.: 125-47) reviews the pages of publications such as Meat & Poultry, Animal Production, Feedstuffs, Poultry Digest, Commercial Chicken Production Manual, Meat Trades Journal, Pork Industry Handbook, Raising Pigs Successfully, Successful Farming and Sheep Farmer the primary economic status of sentient beings is made perfectly clear.  For example, the owner of a ‘livestock’ auction who states that ‘hogs are just a commodity’ also declares, ‘Our job is to sell merchandise at a profit.  It’s no different from selling paper-clips, or refrigerators’ (cited in ibid.: 143), while a publication aimed at turkey ‘growers’ advises that using certain chemicals can ‘protect poultry profits’ (ibid).  Other animal enslavers and killers speak of regarding nonhumans as ‘crops’ little different to carrots, corn, cabbages and wheat.  Ethically, one slaughterer states, there is as much ‘sin’ in killing animals as in picking apples (ibid).  While the use of ideological notions of nonhuman animals ‘giving themselves’ as human food; or ‘supplying’ items such as pork and ham; and ‘contributing’ items of their bodies to humans may well qualify as examples of ‘verbal dishonesty’, industry insiders make clear in trade publications the dire consequences for nonhumans of the ‘non-production’ of profit.  For example ‘inadequate production’ will and should be punished by death, as is ‘poor performance’ of ‘stock’ resulting in ‘poor specimens’ who are classified as ‘inferior’ and even ‘junk’ (ibid.: 144).   

 

          Terms that the nonhuman enslavement industry has especially attempted to eliminate from its lexicon recently are ‘factory farm’ and ‘livestock industry’.  Dunayer (ibid.: 125) states that the US National Cattlemen’s Association (not seemingly concerned about the sexist nature of their title) have strenuously advocated the use of ‘animal agriculture’ over ‘livestock industry’.  Similarly, in 1992, the same body urged the replacement of the term ‘factory farm’ with ‘family farm’ (the change apparently accruing tax as well as ideological benefits) (ibid).  Dunayer accuses the ‘cow-flesh industry’ and others of deliberately utilising ‘deceptive language...  Understatement, euphemism, positive description of negative realities, and outright lying’ (ibid.: 126).  However, it seems that the animal use industries have responded enthusiastically to appeals to alter language use.  Dunayer reports that terms like ‘stall’ have been replaced by ‘individual accommodation’, ‘crate’ becomes ‘modern maternity unit’ with a ‘nursery’, ‘concrete pens’ are ‘hog parlours’, ‘killing’ becomes ‘euthanasia’, and the British Meat Trades Journal advocated in the 1980s the labels ‘meat plant’ or ‘meat factory’ to replace ‘slaughterhouse’.  Inside the new ‘meat plants’, ‘slaughterers’ become ‘food technologists’, ‘to kill’ becomes ‘process’ and ‘dispatch’ because, as Meat Processing told its audience in 1990, ‘People react negatively to the word slaughtering’, so best to avoid terms that hurt ‘the industry’s image’ (cited in ibid.: 137).  Dunayer argues that there has been a general ‘purging’ of the ‘slaughter’ word, with the industry favouring in recent years ‘process’, ‘harvest’ and ‘going to market’.  In 1992, the journal of the British campaigning organisation Compassion In World Farming, Agscene, reported that a spokesperson for the industry that ‘farms’ trouts states that, ‘‘harvesting’ keeps the public ‘happy’’ (cited in ibid).

 

 

******

 

 

Concluding this section, it may be understood, certainly in the case of children experiencing early or primary socialisation, that the social lessons they learn - or the stories they hear - are usually provided by persons they initially depend on the most (Bauman 1990): immediate parents, grandparents and other close members of their family, who are not likely to say anything entirely contrary to the general institutionalised messages children get from most other sources.  Although wary throughout this thesis about regarding socialisation too deterministically (Wrong, 1961; Garfinkel 1967; Giddens 1976), it does not appeared to overstate the case to any great degree to view socialisation processes as powerful and on-going social experiences; and as wide-ranging processes of social learning which is ‘more than just formal education, for it includes the acquisition of attitudes and values, behaviours habits and skills transmitted not only in school, but through the family, the peer group and the mass media’ (White 1977: 1). 

 

Such wary reactions with regard to overplaying the power of socialisation processes seems entirely understandable - and in sociology there has been a good deal of unease about the way, for example, Parsons (generally) and Bowles and Gintis (in relation to the education system), virtually suggest that socialisation is such an all-embracing and all-powerful social phenomenon that it can hardly be resisted in any meaningful sense.  Others, such as Sewell (1970: 566), accept the powerful potential of the process, but suggest - correctly allowing more human agency and the ability of resistance - that socialisation is, in fact, ‘selectively acquired’.

 

Birenbaum & Sagarin (1973: 68) suggest that human beings are indeed ‘actors’, but note that actors only make limited choices within set parameters.  Most often, dramaturgically, they are expected to ‘follow the script’ - and Bauman (1990) persuasively indicates that this is by far the easiest thing to ‘choose’ to do.  Adding a further dimension, although personally unwilling to evaluate the ‘strength’ of the socialisation process, Barker (1992: 126) makes the important point that socialisation is gendered.  Gendered socialisation processes contribute to the patriarchal values enshrineed and expressed in, say, Jim Mason’s (1993) concept of ‘dominionism’, and in some articulations of ‘ecofeminist’ thought (see Warren 1994).

 

          Discussing the acknowledgement of the interrelationships between the individual and society in the majority of sociological thought, what Derek Layder says appears important in relation to this part of the thesis.  Layder argues that ‘all people must to some degree be affected by the social contexts in which they are raised’ but goes on to say that ‘this does not and cannot mean they are simply reflections of these circumstances’ (1994: 209).  Uncomfortable with what he calls ‘attempts to banish the individual subject as a focus of social analysis’ in, say, Althusser’s and Poulantzas’ structural and Foucault’s poststructural thought, Layder argues that humans display a ‘variety of conformity’ to social norms.  Moreover, individuals ‘are capable of both resisting and embracing the cultural and structural guidelines that surround them’ (ibid), and it seems likely that gender issues will play an important role here too.  Although people possess a unique ‘psycho-biography’ which acts as a ‘storehouse’ and a generator of behaviour, itself constrained by its social context, it acts as an ‘underlying mechanism’ that ‘prompts lines of action, response and reaction to our social circumstances which are not simply reflections of the social conditions themselves’ (ibid).  Layder suggests that a person’s social behaviour is ‘filtered’ through an amalgam of several influences which will ‘intersect with the dynamics of particular situations and the influence of wider social contexts’ (ibid.: 209-10).

 

This perspective appears to allow the necessary human agency required within a truly adequate sociological account of social activity, whilst making it plain that the type of socialising factors discussed above will almost inevitably be influential in forming many central social norms and values about common practices in general terms, and about views and attitudes about human-nonhuman relations.

 

          Finally, in terms of this thesis, there are a number of further brief points to be made and underlined in the light of the discussion above.  First, given the ‘challenge’ animal rights appears to represent in relation to conventional social attitudes about other animals, exploring in detail on-going socialisation processes effectively throws important emphasis on the general development and social transmission of core values and beliefs which this thesis seeks to investigate and explain.  Second, given that the relatively radical concerns of animal rights are a recent historical development, the long-standing influence of animal welfarism essentially means that the ‘stories’ which members of society have hitherto told each other and their children about the human use of animals have, in the main, been fairly non-controversial and largely unquestioned. 

 

In other words, until very recently, remarkably few people have been seriously invited to ethically review their own or their society’s relationships with other animals from anything like an animal rights philosophical standpoint.  If considered at all, ethical questions posed hitherto about these relations have always been overwhelmingly dominated by conventional, non-radical, welfarist orthodoxy. 

 

Regan (2001: 35) argues that, although welfare positions ‘are committed to the view that we are sometimes justified in causing nonhuman animals significant pain in the institutionalised pursuit of valued human interests, animal rightists deny that we are ever justified in doing this’ (ibid).  The true objective for animal rights advocates, Regan suggests, is:

 

not to provide nonhuman animals with larger cages but to empty them.  People who describe themselves as advocates of animal rights are therefore expressing a position importantly different from that of people who base their activism on anticruelty or pro-welfare stances (ibid.: 35-6).

 

 

Discussion of precise differences claimed to exist between animal welfare and animal rights positions feature in detail later in the thesis.  Third, in concurrence with DeGrazia’s point (1996: 44), already outlined, that participating in the exploitation of other animals is so deeply entrenched culturally that it would require a certain strength of mind to move to a lifestyle which involves no or little animal harm, it seems very likely that many of the messages of the new animal protection movement will be initially or utterly resisted by those who have spent all their lives adhering, consciously or not, to conventional views about nonhumans.  The ability to successfully evade such messages will also be discussed in Part Two of the thesis.  Fourthly, both the proponents of animal rights and the defenders of the current exploitation of ‘animals as resources’ provide evidence in their propaganda materials that they assume and believe that early socialisation is a crucial time in human mental, social and ethical development. 

 

Thus, organisations on every sides of the ‘animal debate’ (exemplified in the Fund for Animals quote above) claim that they need to ‘get children’ while they are young (usually meaning during early secondary schooling) if they are to gain advantage in the ‘battle of ideas’ about animal issues and animal rights.  In this sense, to the extent that animal rights philosophy has affected traditional attitudes about human-nonhuman relations, early and secondary socialisation is to all intents and purposes set up as a future battleground for hearts and minds concerning claims about the human treatment of other animals.

 

          This notion of the potential ‘controversialising’ effect of animal rights thought can be sociologically analysed in the light of Parsons’ ‘systems’ model (Parsons 1951).  For example, if we assume that animal welfarism does enjoy the social and political position in society which has been claimed for it through this thesis; i.e., it is the dominant way by which people address and consider human-nonhuman relations, then its influence will be seen throughout the ‘systems’ model.  In Derek Layder’s (1994) discussion of Parsons’ ideas, he notes how the ‘systems’ or ‘levels’ model is usually broken into four analytical categories: the physiological system, the personality system, the social system, and the cultural system.  However, it is important to acknowledge that these systems are separated only for analytical purposes; to really ‘make sense’ and represent an adequate operationalisation of society’s systems, it should be recognised that the levels actually intertwine in manifold ways.

 

Thus, aspects of overwhelming dominant thought can effectively pervade all ‘levels’ of the social system in ways which are resistant to challenge.  In Parsons’ model, both primary and secondary socialisation processes are extremely important elements of the social world.  Especially important, claims Parsons, is the fact that social rules are internalised and institutionalised.  This model of the mechanism of the transmission of dominant values, if adequate, suggests one way of explaining why the ideology of animal welfarism has been able to dominate the way most of society sees human-nonhuman relations.  In addition, it also points toward understanding why some modern animal rights advocates are beginning to identify animal welfarism as a major ‘complicating factor’ as far as their aspirations go in, say, their claims-making about human-nonhuman relations.  Further sections of the thesis attempts to specifically investigate this notion; along with the aim of identifying exactly what ‘animal rights’ means and how it may be differentiated from traditional welfarist views.  Before that, however, the thesis turns toward a focus on the socialisation effects of what Mason (1993) calls ‘rituals of dominionism’; that is, common and frequent social rituals, often involving or including children, that affirm and reaffirm human supremacy and control over nature in general and other animals in particular.

 

 

Rituals of Dominionism.

 

 

In his book, An Unnatural Order, Mason states that he is dedicated to ‘uncovering the roots of our domination of nature and each other’.  To this end, he describes (1993: 242) a bull run, such as those that take place in Pamplona, Spain, and made famous in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.  Mason suggests that social rituals, such as annual bull running, teaches humanity to dominate nature. 

 

These are some of the details.  The bulls have been starved for days.  They are therefore in a ‘frenzy of hunger’.  Then they are driven onto the streets by men wielding whips, knives and clubs.  The bulls are chased through the streets, townsfolk slashing at them, attempting to club them.  Fireballs are thrown; people attack their eyes and try to cut off their tails.  The bulls meet their ends eventually, but the experience has not been quick or humane: ‘Wounded and exhausted after three days of torment, the bulls are finally killed and eaten’ (ibid).

 

          Meanwhile, in another town, men fasten wax and resin balls to the horns of three bulls who are released into the streets once the wax and resin has been lit.  The bulls are nearly blinded by the dripping wax as they run through the crowd-lined streets.  The bulls are now pelted with stones and spiked with sharpened poles.  After four hours of this, these bulls are also taken away to be slaughtered and eaten.  Similar events are being repeated in towns nearby, while ‘in one town, a live female goat is thrown from the church bell tower.  She falls to the plaza below and struggles to get up on her broken legs’ (ibid). 

 

In yet another town, children are socialised into callous attitudes towards other animals as men dressed as clowns ‘entertain’ them by slowly killing some young calves.  Chickens may also be hung by their feet across a street.  The ‘sport’ here takes place on horseback as competitors gallop by attempting to grab the chickens by their necks. 

 

          Mason asks us to consider in what century such things took place: ‘3000 B.C.?’  ‘A.D. 500?’  Maybe 1300? (ibid.: 243).  In fact, these are descriptions of Spanish festivals (‘popular fiestas with acts of blood’) which occur in the present day.[25]  According to Mason, more of these festivals happen now than they did thirty years ago.  Similar festivals take place in Brazil, celebrating Easter Week, New Year’s Day, and even weddings.  According to The Times of July 8th, 1999, hundreds of young Hemingway-inspired American men travel to the annual Spanish bull-runs which they apparently regard as a ‘rite of passage into manhood’ (quoted in Arcnews, 1999: 20).

 

          When it comes to explaining such festivals, Mason rejects biological or psychological theories advanced, for example, by the philosopher Roger Scruton.  Scruton[26] argues that, as a so-called ‘hunter-gatherer species’, humans have hunting as part of our ‘natural proclivities’.  He states that, if we become separated from this nature, we may become damaged, for example, by thinking ‘distorted’ thoughts.  It is vital, Scruton says, that humans should do the things they were ‘built by nature’ to do.  Mason also rejects other theories such as those that advance notions of biological determinism in explanations of human aggression - the Lorenzian version of ‘aggression-in-our-genes’.  Instead, he talks about the cultural and sociological roots of male aggression in ‘rituals of dominionism.’[27]

 

 

Dominionism and Agri-Culture.

 

 

Such rituals, Mason holds, explaining his definition of ‘dominionism’, should be regarded as part of the dominant agrarian Western worldview: the socially-constructed hierarchy of living beings or the ‘ladder of being’ in which humans (mainly male humans) are at the top (1993: 243).  These ‘acts-of-blood’ rituals, incorporated in the practice and ideology of male supremacy, does for women as it does for animals, ‘nature’ and everything that becomes labelled within the dominant patriarchal agri-culture as ‘other.’  The point of these rituals is to demonstrate and practice (usually male) power and domination: ‘We have built such festivals...into our culture over the centuries in much the same way that we have built religious rituals: to remind us that we are on top and in command of the world’ (ibid).  Furthermore:-

 

Rituals, as anthropologists know, serve to express, remind, reaffirm, and perpetuate a society’s worldview and ways of life (ibid).

 

 

Mason argues that in dominionist rituals, which amount to ironic displays of spectacular brutality to demonstrate and celebrate human ‘civilisation’, nonhuman animals perform two ‘chores’ for human beings.  The first consists of the material benefits gained from exploiting animals: the meat, the leather, the muscle-power and so on.  The second is symbolic and ideological and part of on-going socialisation about what the terms ‘human’, ‘animal’, ‘nature’ and ‘other’ may be taken to mean.  Thus, other animals are material and ritual resources, the latter ‘to reaffirm the body of assumptions and myths that make up dominionism’ (ibid.: 244).  A quick tour of several regions of the modern world dramatically illustrates Mason’s point. 

 

 

Bullfighting.

 

 

Mason concentrates on the Spanish corrida and claims that once the bullfight has been stripped of the pretensions of cultural tradition and art form – notions of the ‘sacred sport’, the ‘stylised ballet’, the ‘religious ceremony’.[28] - what remains is a ritual contest demonstrating human (again, predominantly male) dominance over ‘beastly nature’.  Mason contends that, in bullfighting, ‘the deck is stacked’ in favour of the bullfighters to make sure the ritual ‘comes out right in public’ (ibid).  Bullfighting is men, first dominating then, as the ritual ‘comes out right’, vanquishing ‘dark’ and ‘savage’ nature.  Thus, the bull - however meek and mild the actual living individual may be - must categorically be seen as ‘wild’ and ‘dangerous’: thus, all the more heroic is his beating.  In contrast to such ‘wild savagery’ stands the representative of human society: the matador: cool - cold even - but tough and hard and, most importantly, fearless.  The ‘complete macho man’ who looks at death and pain with disdain: ‘his performance defines civilisation as a patriarchal accomplishment - one produced by the male heroics of warriors and strong men’ (ibid.: 245).  So comforting for ‘the ladies’. 

 

          In the bullfight, this is the ‘set-up’: the human master versus animal savagery.  But, precisely because it is important that the spectacle ‘comes out right in public’, little in practice appears to be left to chance.  The bull himself is ‘primed’ for performance; his ‘savagery’ is man-u-factured, if necessary.  Until the actual fight, the bulls are often all kept together in a dark pen beneath the grandstand.  Suddenly an individual animal is thrust forcibly into a bright and noisy arena; isolated from the herd, he is blinded by sunlight, deafened by trumpets and the roar of the crowd.  In this strange and frightening situation, Mason says a bull tends to ‘rant’ about the arena in confused terror, looking every inch like a ‘brave bull’, thus fulfilling all of human expectations (ibid.: 246).

 

However, as said, the odds here are rather stacked.  For behind every fearless matador is a whole team of other people[29] known as his cuadrilla.  There can be five men in this team: two picadors on horseback and three banderilleros.  The latter, along with the matador, are the first to ‘test’ a bull, noting his movements and his ‘ways’.  Then the picadors dominate the arena to ‘work’ the bull, often spearing him in the neck.  The loud trumpets sound again as the banderilleros re-enter the scene for the second phase of the so-called fight.  They jab small barbed spears (‘banderillas’, hence their name) between a bull’s shoulder blades.  This results in the production of a ‘properly enraged’ bull, however, one with painful, weakened, muscles (ibid).

 

          Trumpets sound again as the matador enters to tease the bull with a muleta  - the world famous small red cloth mounted on a short stick.  Skill with the muleta means bringing the bull in close, dangerously close; bringing all that savage nature into striking distance.  Yet, despite such dangerous proximity, the matador stands firm - proud and aloof - in his tight-fitting ‘suit of lights’.  According to Mason, each matador is ‘a picture of male condescension and narcissism’ (ibid).  The matador’s display is designed to be a show of pure (but brave and risky) domination: he is there to personify humanity - or about half of it - in an act of pure dominionism.  As a final touch, some matadors conclude with the displante.  In this act, human mastery and control over nature is theatrically proclaimed, while the nohuman’s utter degradation is emphasised and amplified:

 

With pure macho bravado, the matador shows contempt for beasts by stroking the bull’s horns or nose, usually with an arrogant gesture to the audience that shows his disdain and fearlessness (ibid).

 

 

The actual kill follows in which the matador attempts to thrust his three-foot-long sword into the bull’s heart.[30]  With further gestures of arrogance, ‘the matador may clean his bloody sword by wiping it across the animal’s body’ (ibid).  Mason sums up the bullfight experience with these words:-

 

The entire corrida, then, is a ceremony for the exercise of agrarian society’s values on subduing wild, dangerous nature.  It parades its fine, brave men with their horses and weapons before the entire community.  It displays the fearsome, dangerous bull - the beast of nature.  It enrages the bull to emphasise his wild, evil nature, which symbolises the wildness and evil of the rest of nature.  And into this arena steps the matador, the elaborately dressed, rationally controlled representative of human civilisation. Coolly, fearlessly, he faces the beast (and beastly nature), subdues it, and degrades, dominates, and humiliates it in co-operation with the entire community (ibid.: 247).

 

 

Rodeos.

 

Many of the ritual elements of the bullfight are found in the dominionistic spectacle of the North American rodeo, Mason argues.  Another social spectacle with yet more brave men and their weapons.  Thus, while the rodeo, first and foremost, ‘replays the cowboy’s work out on the range’, it also displays the cowboy’s skills and power over other animals, and his society’s ‘values on fearlessness, violence, strength, domination, and obliviousness to pain’ (ibid.: 248). 

 

          Mason cites Rodeo, a publication of anthropologist Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence, who asserts that the modern rodeo is the result of a long history of ‘herder values and culture’ (in ibid.: 249).  Like the matador, the rodeo cowboy is often viewed as a patriarchal, macho, figure of male sexuality, self-control and bravery in the face of danger.  Rodeo riders display a certain stoicism as part of North American competitive and rugged individualism: these guys do not complain when things gets rough.  Indeed, they personify the slogan, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’.  For example, rodeo performers regularly continue to ride even with broken limbs and strapped-up chests.  And, as part of the image, these guys try to look like they would out-cool Cool Hand Luke every time.[31]

 

          What the rodeo is all about, however, is a socially-constructed dominionist representation of human mastery over nature in general and animals in particular, which emphasises the ‘pioneer’ within the cowboy.  The cowboy must conquer, subdue and vanquish the moral vacuum that is wild nature (Spiegal, 1988: 14-15).  The rodeo’s major theme is the human herder’s literal ‘conquest of nature’ as men actually, physically, wrestle large animals to the ground.[32]  However, as with the case of the bullfight, the decks are loaded in favour of the humans.  For example, several cowboys may work together in teams; they are often on horseback, and have ropes, whips and other weapons.  Furthermore, some of the animals used in rodeos are little more than frightened babies, used, for example, in ‘calf-roping’.[33]  In addition, again just like in the situation of the bullfight, it is sometimes necessary to employ artificial means to provoke naturally docile individuals into the ‘wild broncos’ the public are led to expect to see being ‘tamed’ before their very eyes.  According to investigators from animal protection organisations, electric prods are sometimes used to produce the necessary wild and savage representatives of nature for these shows, along with the employment of caustic ointments and ‘bucking straps’ which are fixed to pinch the animals’ genitals (Arcnews, 1996: 17).   

 

 

Hunting.

 

 

When hunters from different countries talk about ‘hunting’, they are often describing quite separate activities.  The main form of ‘hunting’ which takes place in the USA are those which many European hunters, certainly British ones, would call ‘shooting’.  Therefore, in North America, hunting often means tracking and shooting species such as deer, bears, turkeys and moose with bows and rifles.  According to Spiegal (1988: 57), citing information from the US Committee for Humane Legislation, 81% of North American hunters target deer in what Mason (1993: 251) calls ‘the great seasonal ritual of autumn’. 

 

          In Europe, the term ‘hunting’ is most likely used to refer to fox and deer (or stag) hunting on horseback, and perhaps boar hunting also - in mainland Europe.  Therefore, ‘hunting’ for Europeans tends to mean hunting with hounds (or, in the language of recent attempts to ban the practice in Britain, ‘with dogs’).  ‘Hunting’, furthermore, also describes hare hunting, hare coursing, minkhunting and the minority pursuit of draghunting in which there is no live prey.[34]  For many Europeans, shooting animals and birds is regarded as an activity separate from hunting: thus, British ‘field sports’ supporters will talk of ‘hunting and shooting,’ the latter also referred to as ‘stalking’ in Scotland.

 

          Mason (1993: 250) describes (North American) hunting as ‘the quintessential man-beast contest’.  It is the enactment, he argues, of a ritual which clearly states that humans have supremacy over all the other animals and, importantly, enjoy the right to kill and eat many of them.  Indeed, hunting ideology is intrinsically bound up with philosopher Spinoza’s notion that human ‘civilisation’ itself would be put at risk if it were to attempt to ‘act justly’ towards nature, or the idea that humanity would be somehow weakened if society were to succumb to the superstitious ‘womanish tenderness’ in the objection to killing animals (Spinoza, quoted in Thomas, 1983: 298). 

 

          The hunting ritual, therefore, invokes the notion of ‘Man-the-Predator’, who stands ‘at the top of the food chain.’[35]  Marjorie Spiegal argues that the term hunting can connote often contradictory images: perhaps ‘a carefree day in the woods with ‘the boys’.  Or perhaps ‘a show of skill’ (1988: 55).  However, hunting for her is ultimately a demonstration of absolute power over someone else: a demonstration of the ‘ability to end someone’s life’.  By deliberately using the pronoun ‘someone’ to define other animals, Spiegal emphasises that hunting transforms a life into a thing; it turns ‘a vital, living being with a past and potential future into a corpse’ (ibid).  Indeed, it is noteworthy that wild animals become property once - but not until - they are killed.  A living sentient being transformed to an owned object and thing.  What hunters do, Spiegal suggests, is provide visible proof that they have the power to bring about this transformation.  Hunting, therefore, is an overtly masculine[36] demonstration that ultimate power over life and death can be exerted over someone else (ibid).  All of these strands of thought about hunting, Mason suggests (1993: 251-53), are fundamental ideological constructs based around humanity’s agri-culture.  He argues that the development of agriculture has led to two basic beliefs about the nonhuman world which he describes under the headings, ‘Necessity’ and ‘Nature’. 

 

          All rituals and practices of dominionism, and perhaps especially hunting, are ideologically connected with these two interlinked concepts.  Mason claims that ‘the hunt’ is portrayed as an absolute necessity which therefore acts to eliminate questions of choice and morality.[37]  ‘Necessity beliefs’ are based on notions that hunting performs the vital dual role of people-feeder and nature-controller.  In this view, hunting prevents starvation and, by managing nature, it necessarily helps to keep potentially ‘unruly’ animal populations in check.  Mason asserts that agri-cultural thought means that controlling nature has become second nature for humans, resulting in a popular myth that the natural world - and animal populations in particular - can become ungovernable to the extent that human existence may be threatened.  Without the essential order imposed by human control, nonhuman numbers may ‘explode’, with disease and starvation - of both humans and other animals - a likely consequence.      

 

          Ideologically, the hunter is seemingly constructed as humanity’s ‘protector’ and ‘hero’: in this scenario, humans are pitted ‘against teeming elements of vicious nature’ and must rescue us all from ‘a fate worse than death’ (ibid.: 252).  Western nature beliefs incorporate those basic man-the-predator and ‘survival of the fittest’ ideas mentioned above.  Hobbesian struggle and Herbert Spencer’s evolutionary hierarchy are prominent in this mode of thought in which humans are constantly described as occupying ‘the top’ of a ‘ladder of being’, or simply being the ‘highest level’ of being.  As part of his general views on the importance of man’s domination of nature, Spinoza declared in the seventeenth century that ‘man cannot survive without being a predator’ (Quoted in Thomas, 1983: 298), while a modern deer hunter states:  ‘I know these animals well.  I have spent much time with them in seasons past.  I decide on my target.  I am the predator’.[38] 

 

          Mason says these views see the living world as a competitive ‘meat-hungry, snarling mass of predators’ in which ‘everybody is eating everybody’ to survive in ‘Mother Nature’s basic life plan’ (1993: 252).  These views, therefore, put human beings above all and everyone else, yet abiding by a general myth of some sort of structured ‘grand design’ in which killing is somehow essential for survival.  Thus, the model of ‘humanity-doing-what’s-natural’ within ‘red in tooth and claw’ nature is a fundamental male value, says Mason.  Hunting, along with other rituals of dominionism, becomes symbolically significant as a rite of passage, initiating the young into ‘the patriarchal model of manhood’ (ibid).  The powerful US National Rifle Association, along with hunting clubs and magazines, suggest to parents that hunting is an extremely positive socialisation tool, based on encouraging virtuous notions such as being a strong and healthy ‘outdoorsman’ and ‘sportsman’.

 

          With the use of search engines and links on the internet to locate accounts and depictions of various forms of hunting by hunters themselves, several expressions of cultural values were found, most extremely similar to those conceptualised as ‘dominionistic’ by Mason.  Modern North American whitetail deer hunters, for example, subscribe to a specialist magazine called ‘Buckmasters’, it’s name alone being an example under Mason’s rubric of dominionist values, based on ‘mastering’ parts of the nonhuman world.  The main content of this magazine are hunters’ personal accounts of shooting and killing deer with guns and bows; technical information about hunting weapons; and advertisements for hunting gear, books and videos.  In the latter case, both ‘ACTION BUCKS OF '99, VOLUME I’ and ‘BIG GAME II, VOLUME II’ were available for sale in 1999.[39]  The first offers an hour of ‘hunting action’, specifically ‘bowhunts in Pennsylvania and Montana’, and shotgun and rifle hunting scenes ‘with some incredible bucks harvested in Kansas, Texas and Alberta, Canada’.  The advertising literature on the second video invites the ‘masters of bucks’ to:

 

Enjoy the action-packed big game adventures on 10 exciting hunts from high in the Colorado Rockies to the vast tundra of Alaska; from the heartland of America on the Oklahoma prairie to the Pacific coast of California. Be a part of the action as the world’s record Tule elk is taken with a muzzleloader.

 

 

When people go hunting, apparently they ‘take’ and they ‘harvest’.  Unsurprisingly, dominionist views are embedded in the normal language of hunters.  For example, James Ehlers (1998), a professional fishing and hunting guide, invokes all the manifestations of the caring but rugged patriarch in his account of killing deer.  He ‘loves’, ‘cherishes’ and ‘takes care’ of the countryside and feels ‘connected’ to the earth, often by killing its [Ehlers writes, ‘her’] occupants.  He believes that:

 

a closeness to earth, the bond between true hunters and their game has existed since man has walked the earth, and it is no less stronger today. It is truly timeless (ibid). 

 

 

He apparently delights at the ‘antics’ of the various wild creatures he sees, including his ‘ghost-like’ prey, which he feels he ‘must’ kill in his capacity of ‘predator’.  With conservationist themes he can conceive of killing as caring; his heavy dominionistic responsibility ‘feels as real as the arrow shaft sliding back across the rest as my fingers draw back the string’ (ibid).  He remains motionless and unobserved, carrying out society’s sometimes distasteful (but exciting) task of controlling the nonhuman world; taming the wild; caring while killing:

 

The young buck stands before me. A mere 20 yards or so separates us. Intense excitement mixed with anxiety has been building in my heart, stomach and throat since the animal first appeared.  A quiet beyond quiet rings in my ears.  I let the string slip over my fingers and with it goes as much sorrow as joy.

 

            ...

 

Yes, I have taken its life, and for that I do feel remorse. But, as a human being there is a connection to the earth and her animals that is established only when we take responsibility for the blood ourselves and for this I am grateful (ibid).

                            

 

Here in just a few lines are revealed many strands of Mason’s notion of dominionism.  For example, the hunter’s proclamation that the role of human predator means something fundamentally important; in a Durkheimian sense the hunter’s role is seen as essentially functional, almost separate and apart from the actual individual who performs it.  Furthermore, the notion of nature controlled, and absolutely requiring direct human orderly intervention is clearly identified.  Also seen are ideas that paternalist humanity must sometimes (perhaps like a caring but firm father figure) be ‘cruel to be kind’ in its objective dealings with ‘in-need-of-taming’ nature.  With a potentially painful mixture of sorrow and joy, humanity gallantly takes on board the onerous responsibility of managing and tending - as in Bauman’s ‘gardening’ - the savage earth.  Even when some necessary tasks are bloody and repugnant, humanity does not let ‘Mother Earth’ down because ‘she’ desperately needs his kindly and connected control.  What kind of mad bitch would she be if Mother Earth were not subject to this benevolent ‘ordering’? 

 

          It perhaps should be reasserted that the majority of legislation relating to nonhuman animals contains the central concept of not causing unnecessary suffering (Radford 1999).  The flip side to this conceptualisation appears the notion that human beings also must have within them the strength of character to carry out those necessary tasks which may nevertheless cause harm or suffering.  Therefore, although perhaps utterly distasteful at times, ‘Man’ must rule over nature with what Lasch (1991) has named an easy-going oppression because it is wholly necessary that he does so.  Men demonstrate their caring patriarchal control by ‘taking responsibility for the blood’.  Yes it is true: a man’s really gotta do what a man’s gotta do.  According to the ecofeminist perspective of Maria Mies (in Mies and Shiva, 1993: 156), the Enlightenment thought of men of the industrialised North resulted in a going away from nature, seen as an emancipation from nature.  However, despite this ‘rupture’ from the natural world, modern men return to nature in order to commodify it in a purely consumptionist manner (ibid.: 134).  Within this form of instrumentalism, they act in nature as voyeurs rather than actors, like visitors to cinemas or art galleries.  In the case of hunting, hunters act in nature as ‘sportsmen’ with a romanticised, nostalgic connection to what they see ‘as nature’.

 

From this perspective, those who live full-time in the countryside are engaged in creating nature as a ‘sports arena’ or ‘visitor centre’ for urban consumers, be they the North American deer hunters or the members of the ‘field’[40] on a British fox hunt.  Naturally, the patriarch calls humanity ‘Man’ and insists that his own caring-by-killing relationship with others has existed throughout the history of Homo sapiens.  How much harm has been predicated on ‘tradition’?  Mason notes (1993: 251) that modern hunting acts as a symbolic reassurance that modern human beings are ‘merely’ and ‘naturally’ following the same patterns of behaviour towards other animals which, they tell themselves and their children, humans have followed since ‘the beginning of time’.  However, Mason also contends that archaeological evidence (that is, the interpretation of archaeological findings) supports the view that organised hunting was not common in humans until around 20,000 years ago, and debate continues about how important hunting (for food) has been in human history.  Until this time, the vast majority of the human diet was plant-based, with the small amount of meat coming from scavenging rather than what might be called ‘proper hunting’ (also see Diamond 1991: 163-72 for an interesting account of ‘agriculture’s two-edged sword’ which shows the health and leisure benefits of ‘forager’ lifestyles over modern sedentary agricultural ones).[41] 

 

          It is also perhaps ideologically significant that the lifestyle Mason calls ‘foraging’, most others tend to call ‘hunter-gathering’.  It’s ideological significance is surely further underlined, given the quantitative evidence of such people’s dietary practices, that they are not generally known as ‘gatherer-hunters’ (although to her credit, the evolutionary anthropologist and ex-animal laboratory assistant Susan Sperling [1988: x] does use this term in her book Animal Liberators.  Similarly, Erich Fromm [1963: 353] writes ‘For many thousands of generations man lived by food gathering and hunting’).

 

          Of course, many hunting accounts are far more straightforward and less romantic than the account offered above by Ehlers.  Yet, they still tend to reveal examples of dominionist thought.  For example, the anonymous author of Vermont’s Annual Deer Hunt,[42] relates how the ‘shoot-em-up crowd’ just want to have themselves ‘a good time’.  As this yearly hunt gets underway, the trade in ‘American-made beer in throw-away cans’ is brisk, while ‘the normally serene countryside echoes to the sound of gunfire’.  Sometimes, the disturbance is so great that it sounds as if ‘there is a small war on in ‘them tha hills!’’  In fact, the danger from stray bullets is very real, it is stated.  Another account from the same web site talks about people waiting for that ‘supreme moment’ when prey falls within the sights of their high-powered rifles.  There is talk about the power and deadliness of weapons and ammunition, and also the satisfaction of seeing a magnificent bull stagger to the ground, writhing in a moment of death.

 

          After such brutal honesty, one author feels obliged to offer more considered justifications for the hunt.  ‘It’s part of life and death’, he suggests.  ‘It’s sportsmanship and it’s killing for food which anyone who eats meat must accept’, he tries.  Finally, he settles on: ‘Why should Vermonters have to buy their food (usually riddled with pesticide) from Florida or California when the local environment can supply something less tainted?’  Interestingly, Ehlers (1998) offers a similar justification for shooting a deer: ‘Fast food provides no meaning in my life and I am sceptical that it does for anyone’.  

 

          Someone else being ‘brutally frank’ is Steve Timm, a contributing editor to the Varmint Hunter Magazine.  In 1999, Timm had been assigned to visit a gun manufacturer in somewhere called Nesika Bay but he’s less than pleased that writing the piece may interfere with his regular hunting routine: 

 

To be brutally frank, the assignment couldn’t have come at a worse time.  I had just finished meeting my last deadline and I was set to kill my fall’s ration of big game.  After that, my wife Karen...was scheduled for very major spinal surgery. I was going to be out of commission making meat and tending my bride for about two months... Hunting and family comes first.  And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  After I killed my yearly allotment of critters and got Karen relatively stabilised, I made arrangements for the visit to Nesika Bay (Timm 1999).

 

 

Just one or two patriarchal, dominionistic, values to note here.  Timm does not so much ‘take responsibility for the blood,’ he is out there fearlessly ‘making meat.’  Interesting phrases, ‘making meat’ and ‘tending my bride’, especially perhaps in the very same sentence.  Good ol’ North American family values are seemingly evident here as well, comfortably nestled alongside the accounts of killing sprees, with the explicit ideological suggestion that this is the way it was intended to be. 

 

          According to hunter Jeff Murray, macho values are also commonly seen in hunting with bows as well as with guns.  For example, a bow is sometimes chosen because it is large and therefore looks very impressive; but often such a bow can be too large for the physical drawing strength of the person who intends to use it.  Apparently, insiders in the bow-making industry call bows that are ‘too long’ or ‘cranked up’ beyond a shooter’s natural strength, ‘ego bows’.  The author says he himself was initially attracted to the allure of an ego bow and began with too big a bow; ‘shooting 85 pounds at 29 inches; now I’m down to 75 pounds at 27 inches and have never shot better’.  Clearly aware of the potential of a negative reaction to the macho-man image of bow-hunting - and yet recognising that hunting is a way of affirming or demonstrating your ‘manhood’, Murray warns, ‘don’t let your manhood be measured by your bow’s draw weight’.  However, in case we forget what the whole business of bow-hunting is about, he adds: 

 

 

The fact is that today’s bows set at a modest 60 pounds are fully capable of delivering enough kinetic energy to drive an arrow through the chest of any white-tailed buck (Murray 1998).

 

 

Talking Turkey.

 

 

Turkey hunters tend to talk about their activities in a particularly macho way, perhaps ostensibly to compensate for the type of prey they seek to kill.  As an initial thought, perhaps turkey as prey sounds hardly like a wild and potentially dangerous ‘animal opponent’ like a bear, a moose, or even a fully-grown stag does?  Indeed, possibly for similar reasons, the size of the North American turkey is often carefully emphasised in hunters’ photographs of themselves and ‘their’ bird.  Common iconoclastic poses tend to feature dead turkeys thrown nonchalantly over hunters’ shoulders, the birds’ lifeless heads hanging down limply with large wing feathers cascading below the conquerors’ waists. 

 

          In turkey-hunter talk, male turkeys are ‘gobblers,’ ‘tom turkeys’ and ‘longbeards’, and are the more prized prey, while the smaller females are simply called ‘hens’.[43]  With some unacknowledged irony, turkey hunters speak of the male turkeys being rather macho, almost arrogant; strutting around, scratching at the earth, ‘parading’ around to attract mates (Trout 1999).  Male turkeys ‘gobble’ at other birds; and they walk-the-walk, checking out the competition and the availability of females.  Turkey hunters say they use their considerable knowledge of turkey behaviour against the birds, evolving clever hunting ‘strategies’ to ‘outwit’ the gobblers.  Hunters also often like to emphasise the necessary expertise and skill required to successfully kill wild turkeys, who seem to the hunters capable of forever keeping themselves (the little teasers) just outside ‘killing distance’.  Furthermore, dedication and perseverance are essential qualities for successful turkey killing, for any false move on a hunter’s part will be inevitably seen by the birds’ putative ‘supernatural vision’ (ibid). 

 

          When hunter, John Trout, Jr., describes his own turkey hunts, he portrays a mental and physical struggle between ‘man’ and ‘bird’.  He keenly passes on his long experience of ‘bumping heads’ with ‘afternoon gobblers’; and says that by following his hunting strategies you may ‘double your fun’ in the wild turkey kill.  After establishing the difficulties of battling the allegedly ‘supernatural’ gobblers, the skills of the dominionist hunter are amply demonstrated with accounts of the frequency of their successful kills.  Thus, when a gobbler appears behind Trout Jr., it soon ‘falls victim’ to his ‘trusty Winchester’.  When two turkeys appear out of a huge valley, he wastes no time in ‘taking’ what he expertly identifies as the ‘best’ bird.  By skillfully ‘calling’ to a gobbler in the manner of a female turkey:

 

Almost instantly, three hens and a strutting gobbler appeared on the opposite side of the field, just out of shooting range.  Patiently, I raised the gun while Joe [note: two against one[44]] took over the calling and offered the strutting bird a sweet string of clucks and purrs.  The hens paid little attention, but the gobbler found the calls irresistible.  Slowly he approached, and when he reached the point of no return I squeezed the trigger.  The gun roared and the 4-year-old gobbler toppled (ibid).

 

 

Another strategy of human skill over animality involves targeting the guy- without-a-gal: or the ‘lonesome turkey’. After all, according to Gary Sefton, experienced wildlife shooter, and honoured as ‘turkey calling champion’, any male turkey is more likely to respond to your calls if he has ‘no hens alongside’.  An extra skillful strategy, which to the uninitiated may appear more than a little weird, means being able to ‘scream like a peacock’, apparently designed to cause ‘shock-gobble’.  It seems that there is nothing like a peacock’s call to intrigue even a weary ‘afternoon turkey’ who is ‘desensitised after gobbling at crows and other turkeys all morning’:

 

 

The peacock call is like an extra stimulant that can force a turkey to talk when he has stopped answering the crows and other sounds that made him gobble earlier in the day (ibid).

 

 

Focusing his analysis specifically on North America, Mason argues (1993: 251) that hunting keeps dominionist values ‘alive’ and ‘handy for all of society’.  He notes that a hunter regards himself as the ‘leading’ and also the controlling species on the planet, encroaching on wildlife every day, deciding where and where not wildlife can live,[45] and which to domesticate in order to eat.  Finally, talking specifically about nonhuman animals rather than nature in general, the hunter is aware of the weighty responsibilities of having ‘total power over them’ (quote from a hunter in Greenwich News [Connecticut], in Mason, 1993: 250).

 

          Mason calls hunting ‘human society’s oldest man-over-beast ritual’, further noting that, although only a small percentage of Americans hunt themselves, society in general tacitly supports it, especially the hunting of deer.  For example, the opening day of the deer hunt is described in An Unnatural Order as ‘a secular day of obligation’ (ibid.: 251).  It appears that this North American ritual has a powerful sociological influence in terms of the maintenance of a ‘misotherous’ culture (meaning hatred and/or contempt for animals - explored below in greater detail).  For Mason, misotherous culture is transmitted and maintained through peer group and secondary socialisation processes.  For example, on this significant first day of hunting, ‘schools and factories close, restaurants offer ‘sportsman’s plates’, local media sponsor Big Buck contests, and a standard greeting is, ‘Get your deer yet?’’ (ibid.: 251-52).  Mason further reports that the New York Times has poetically described the annual opening day deer-killing phenomenon ‘the song of the rifle’ in the ‘rite of autumn’ (ibid.: 252). 

 

 

Hunting in Britain.

 

 

If Mason argues that only a few North Americans hunt themselves, it is also the case that only a minority of the British population take an active role in hunting (there are about 350 fox hunts in Britain [Gellatley 2000: 27]).  If one were to include in the term ‘hunting’ fox, deer and harehunting, shooting pheasants, partridges and grouse, shooting deer, hare coursing and angling, the total number of participants would probably number less than four million people (for example, Gellatley [2000: 173] estimates that there are about three million British anglers: angling being by far the most popular form of bloodsport in Britain). 

 

          When thinking about British society’s general attitudes to hunting (hunting and shooting), it may be thought that the British situation differs dramatically to the North American situation just outlined.  In Britain, particularly in England, hunting and shooting have persistently been regarded as traditional ‘upper class’ activities, somewhat distant and alien to ‘the masses’, despite the enthusiastic efforts of pro-hunting organisations such as the British Field Sports Society (BFSS) to suggest otherwise.[46]  However, it is also true that certain hunting rituals have attracted substantial public and media attention and some tacit and overt support at least until very recently.  For example, some particularly ‘traditional’ fox hunt gatherings, such as ‘pony meets’[47] and especially Boxing Day meetings, have often been supported by large numbers of the general public way beyond the number who physically take part in the hunt or spend the day as ‘followers’ in vehicles or on foot. 

 

Typically, the public on such occasions would attend in the late morning when hunters drink the ritual ‘stirrup cup’ and when the hounds and horses were paraded on village greens or in small rural town centres.  In fact, the presence of demonstrators belonging to the League Against Cruel Sports and the disruptive activists of the Hunt Saboteurs Association may explain part of the recent drop in public participation at such events as much as any growth in opposition to bloodsports generally.  Although perhaps of little significance in itself, one can still frequently find hunting scenes in public houses; in pictures on walls and on the beer pumps at the bar.  Furthermore, many British pubs are still called such names as ‘Horse and Hound,’ or ‘The Sportsman’, suggesting that the assumed widespread opposition to most bloodsports does not extend to serious objections to seeing its cultural representation. 

 

          It is also the case that it is only in very recent years that the media have not given generally favourable and widespread coverage to the opening day of grouse shooting (the so-called ‘glorious’ 12th of August).  The media tended to give particular attention given to the annual competition between hotels to be the first to serve grouse on their menu.  The flying by plane of freshly-killed birds (much to the disgust of culinary traditionalists who argue that ‘game’ needs to be hung and be semi-decomposed before it is cooked) to London direct from the grouse moors, and seeing them parachuted in by the ‘Red Devils’ stunt team, used to feature every year in August 12th news bulletins until the 1990s. 

 

With regard to fishing, many more than the estimated three million British anglers appear to be catered for in media programmes and popular publications about this ‘pastime’.  Angling, even with its ritualistic displays of dead fish trophies (see virtually any cover of Angling Times), and possibly due to the relatively large number of active participants, has yet to be considered as controversial as other bloodsport pursuits and still features prominently in local newspapers and other media.  The very same media which would quite likely think twice about covering fox or deer hunting, and perhaps especially hare coursing, to the same degree and in such a positive or unproblematic light. 

 

          The contributions to animal rights email networks suggest that, politically and tactically, angling remains in the 21st century a difficult campaigning issue for the modern anti-bloodsports movement, creating tensions, for example, between mobilisations such as the Hunt Saboteurs Association (which opposes fishing as well as ‘hunting with hounds’) and organisations such as the League Against Cruel Sports (which prefers to differentiate hound sports from other forms of hunting) (for greater detail on this issue, see Yates 1998).[48]        

 

          When it comes to traditional dominionistic rituals in actual hunting practices in Britain, fox hunting is perhaps the most obvious case.  However, modern foxhunters[49] (predominantly male) have in recent years taken fastidious steps to attempt to alter the public perception of their activities.  For example, a contemporary debate concerns the issue of whether hunters’ traditional scarlet red coats damage the public image of the hunt.  The Master of Fox Hounds Association (made up mostly of men) have eagerly promoted their ‘rules’ which restrict or ban what many opponents have regularly latched on to as worst aspects of the hunt, such as the practice of ‘digging the fox out’.  Therefore, ‘terrier men’ (there are few ‘terrier women’[50]), who are often local ‘farm hands’ attached to hunts and used to dig out foxes who ‘go to ground’, have been far more strictly regulated in modern times to reduce the number of incidents when live foxes have been dug out of the ground and thrown directly into the pack of foxhounds, or thrown just in front of the dogs which allows virtually no chance of escape.  A celebrated recent incident (enjoyed most particularly by hunt saboteurs) involved a rescued fox which has come to be known as ‘Copper’ because a police officer covered an earth (fox hole) with his helmet to prevent the fox being dug out. 

 

          The once fairly common practice of releasing ‘bagged’ foxes in front of the hound pack is also now officially frowned upon, as is the historically popular tradition of ‘blooding’ young novice riders.  This latter practice, a prime display of dominionism, which the author witnessed as a hunt saboteur in the 1980’s, involves cutting the tail (known as the ‘brush’) from a dead fox, dipping the brush in the fox’s own blood and smearing the blood on the faces of young newcomers to the hunt.  This practice is particularly thought controversial by the mass media, especially the tabloid press, when it occurs to a young member of the British ‘royal’ family.  Other ritualistic practices in British foxhunting include removing the fox’s face (the ‘mask’) from the dead animal, cutting off feet for ‘souvenirs’ and cutting out the heart (it is the heart of a deer that is the particularly favoured trophy in British deer hunting).  Once these rituals are over, the huntsman, often now covered in mud and blood, may hold the carcass aloft, shaking it to agitate the pack of hounds held at his feet, before giving an extended note on his hunting horn to finally denote ‘the kill’.

 

          The arguments - or justifications and excuses - British hunters have rehearsed over the years are also well within Mason’s concept of dominionism.  For example, foxhunters have typically portrayed foxes as a vicious and verminous predator who prey on innocent lambs and chickens.  Controlling foxes, therefore, falls within the dominionist rubric of controlling nature in general in an attempt to maintain a ‘proper’ balance of creatures in the countryside.  Roger Scruton, known as the ‘fox hunting philosopher’ when he appears on BBC Radio 4’s debating forum on ethical issues, The Moral Maze, complained recently (Scruton and Tyler 2001: 20) that human beings would lose the ability to vitally intervene in the environment if animal rights views ever became widely accepted.  If some hunters see themselves as ‘fox control agents’, they conversely also often regard themselves as ‘guardians’ of the allegedly treasured agricultural and ‘sporting’ lands, being mindful of nature and ‘her’ ways, contrary to their countryside-ignorant urban-based ‘townie’ opponents. 

 

          Therefore, British foxhunters know that when ‘Mother Nature’ louses up[51] and reduces the fox population to a greater degree than is ‘proper’ and ‘balanced’, then her guardians must be ready to immediately and conscientiously step in, now in the role of ‘fox conservationists’ rather than ‘pest controllers’, restoring their version of ‘natural equilibrium’ based on long-standing agri-culturalist values.  British foxhunters, like their North American deer hunting counterparts, argue that they ‘cherish’ and ‘respect’ their prey, provided that fox numbers are carefully monitored and ordered.  Without the foxhunter’s essential caring-through-killing, we risk becoming over-run by pesky verminous foxes.  On the other hand, without this indispensable human ‘intervention’, ‘order’ and ‘care’, we may tragically never see one again.  As one who will repeatedly invoke dominionistic traditionalism in defence of his activities, the apparent ability of the fox population to pretty much regulate itself seems of no import to the fox hunter (see Gellatley 2000: 28-33).

 

 

Gibbet lines.

 

 

Gamekeepers employed by British shooting estates, until barred by the 1992 Animal By-Products Order, would commonly display all the animals which they regard and killed as ‘vermin’ on gibbet lines.  This practice, which can clearly be seen as a dominionist although not so public practice based on the human control and manipulation of nature, involved hanging polecats, mink, blackbirds, thrushes, rabbits, hares, and others, from long strings of rope or wire set in woods and hunt coverts (small woods frequently visited by hunts).  The result is a line of decomposed and decomposing individuals acting as a rather grotesque scarecrow, almost as some kind of signpost or warning signal to animals not wanted for the actual practice of shooting. 

 

          The Hunt Saboteurs Association once produced a post card which depicted a gamekeeper explaining to a ‘sab’ that he shot numerous species of wild birds and other small animals such as stoats and weasels to protect his master’s pheasants and partridges.  So, what happens to the apparently favoured pheasants and the partridges, the saboteur asks.  ‘Ah, the master, he shoots them’, the gamekeeper declares.

 

 

So... ‘Hunter-Gatherer’ or ‘Forager’?

 

 

Mason (1993: 252) argues that hunting is often and falsely depicted as a ‘primal necessity’ of early humanity.  This historical exaggeration of hunting’s role in providing essential human food, he suggests, should be seen as a powerful ideological response to modern guilt and unease about meat eating.  If we actually believe the notion that humans ‘must’ kill and eat animals, that we were indeed ‘meant’ to eat and kill them because humans are ‘natural carnivores’,[52] then animal deaths can be more easily rationalised as absolutely necessary and utterly unavoidable. 

 

Furthermore, if one agrees with Erasmus Darwin’s reported assertion, that the whole of nature is ‘one great slaughterhouse’ (quoted in Thomas, 1983: 299), then humans, like other predators, having no other choice but to take the lives of other animals in order to survive, may as well simply get on with the regrettable, messy and often violent business.[53]  When investigating slaughterhouse practices in North America, Gail Esnitz (1997) found such sentiments when she was bluntly told by an animal slaughterer, ‘someone’s got to do it’.[54]

 

          For Mason (1993) early forms of hunting commonly took place as a part of rituals marking a time when fundamental relationships between men and women, and men and ‘nature’ were changing.  These changes, and their repercussions, form the substantive part of Mason’s (and Karen Warren’s ecofeminist) thesis about human relations with the earth - or ‘nature’ - or everything that we now regularly regard as ‘other’.[55]  Mason suggests that humankind took a giant leap backwards when significant sections of its early population took to sedentary agriculture rather than continuing to forage.  This development which has resulted, for example, in the deliberate planting of crops and the domestication of some types of animals, has been disastrous for the nonhuman world, he claims.  It did not do a great deal of good for a great number of humans either, he maintains, since with agriculture came a whole new competitive worldview based on property, wealth and violent exploitation.  This worldview changed the whole perception of the role of human beings in nature.  Instead of simply being in nature, a part of some notion of ‘the natural rhythm of things’, humankind began to attempt to control nature, to effectively ‘tame’ and order it.  However, ‘humankind’ is a rather misleading term, Mason insists, because the movers and shakers in this transformation of practices, perceptions and attitudes were men.  Men, with their growing and ultimately destructive agri-culturalist mindset, were the principle drivers of this important and far-reaching change, Mason maintains.  Once human beings stopped foraging for food and began to fence in and otherwise control the lives of other animals, men learnt basic reproductive knowledge such as their own role in procreation.  Childbirth had hitherto been regarded as a somewhat incredible, even a magical, event.  Miraculously, it seemed, women autonomously would bring forth new life from out of their own bodies.  Moreover, women’s bodies could feed these children.  In addition, women could apparently do other ostensibly magical feats, like bleeding heavily but not dying.[56] 

 

          However, through watching and then carefully and systematically controlling animal procreation, men learnt the vital male role in the creation of their own offspring.  And now men had fixed ‘property’ in the shape of fenced-off land to pass on to their progeny.[57]  Thus, for the first time in human history, it became important to know who one’s children were.  The resulting male control of women’s lives continues today, guided by a violent patriarchal, or a male-supremacist, cultural mindset.  Mason believes that this process has created major problems for human beings, nonhuman animals and ‘nature’ in general.  He claims that male supremacy has resulted in institutional misogyny, racism and a misotherous speciesism: the male hatred and urge to control anything and everything which is ‘other’.  It would perhaps be an error not to point out that social power, status and class should be recognised as significant factors in this process.  Some individual men, no doubt, gained little benefit from the development that Mason is claiming occurred, just as individual women are claimed as beneficiaries even within patriarchal and misogynous relations. 

 

          It is clear that Mason is seeking to situate human activities such as hunting into his general and much larger schema of things.  Mason is claiming that the history and modern practice of hunting are ideological and ritualistic dimensions of male-dominated, dominionistic, thought.  He states that, if his interpretation of the anthropological, historical and archaeological evidence is correct, hunting is indeed human society’s ‘oldest man-over-beast ritual’ (1993: 251).      

 

 

Circus, Circus: Mastery Over the Wild World.

 

 

Mason traces the beginnings of the modern animal circus to pre-Christian times when the ancient Egyptians kept trained animals in parks.  The Greeks also trained animals such as bears, lions and horses to perform tricks and dances, and were the first to develop the idea of travelling circuses.  However, he suggests that the Romans, whose circus events could last a hundred days and involve the deaths of thousands of animals, were mostly responsible for putting the notion of animal circuses on the ‘West’s cultural map’ (1993: 254). 

 

          Mason notes that man-beast contests in modern circuses do not have to feature violence on a spectacular level which results in animal deaths.  Instead, dominionist rituals in today’s travelling menageries involve the deliberate degradation and humiliation of the nonhuman world (ibid.: 253) dressed up as entertainment and education.  While violent rituals involving killing animals reinforce the idea that humans are required to physically manage, conserve and control their populations, Mason suggests that rituals of humiliation ‘tend to reinforce myths of animal stupidity, inferiority, and the willingness to submit to human dominion’ (ibid).  This perspective suggests that events such as the circus which feature performing animals contain powerful foundational messages about the ‘place’ of human beings and other animals in the world.  When children are taken to the circus, they see the hierarchical ladder of being with a human being - a ringmaster, in charge; when adults go, they are reminded that they stand masterfully on the top rung.  Therefore, ‘going to the animal circus’ may still have a strong effect on children in particular in terms of their socialisation.  As said above, a great many socialised lessons-of-life take place long before children are in the position to hold firm moral positions about what they are being taught and, despite the general decline in circus-going in recent years, it is still not unusual to see even babes-in-arms being taken to ‘the Big Top’ along with their older brothers and sisters. 

 

          One striking image of nonhuman animals painted by the circus - that they are playthings, clowns, objects of human whimsy - may be internalised by audience members[58] before they can make up their minds about the rights and wrongs of the spectacle displayed before them.  When the British tabloid the Sunday People investigated Circo Atlas, ‘in the popular British holiday resort of Albufeira on Portugal’s Algarve’ in 1999, they found lame horses and sick lions being forced to perform (Garston, 1999).  Garston notes how audiences clapped and cheered despite the obvious animal suffering before them.  For example, the audience applauded when three Shetland ponies appeared in the circus ring with apparently frightened baboons chained to the saddles on their backs.  While families, including children aged as young as two continued to clap and cheer, the baboons became more and more terrified, writes Garston, eventually screaming in panic as the horses were induced to canter faster and faster.  From Mason’s perspective, circus shows such as Circo Atlas are exemplars of dominionist misothery, encouraging people to turn a blind eye to the suffering of other animals and socialising the young to regard animals as human playthings and property whose suffering is of relatively little consequence compared to their own enjoyment.    

 

          Performing animals are often forced to act out highly controlled but unnatural[59] behaviours in the circus ring.  Mason suggests that in our laughter in these circumstances, we appear to accept the ‘buffoon status’ of these animals.  Dressed up in showy trappings, we affirm their simplicity, and their instrumental utility, with a dual socialising effect: ‘Their contrived performances teaches children and reminds adults that human beings are masters over the living world’ (ibid., emphasis added).  Of course, part of the attraction of attending circuses, for adults as much as children, is to see at first hand the ‘clever tricks’ of the ‘animal performers’.  When a family ‘goes to the circus’, the experience reinforces the belief in adults that other animals are ‘lesser-than’ humans in a moral value construction, while it introduced children to accept or affirm this dominant ideology. 

 

Circuses, then, in Mason’s view, are like the zoos which developed in the nineteenth century, acting as reinforcement rituals of dominionist values, by recycling ideas of humanity’s ‘mastery’ and ‘victory’ over animals and nature.  They act as another cornerstone of misotherous dominionism (ibid.: 255).

 

 

 

Petting.[60]

 

Who was told what to do by the man.

Who was broken by trained personnel.

Who was fitted with collar and chain.

 

                                                                                                Dogs

                                                                                The Pink Floyd.

                                                                   Animals, Harvest, 1977.

                                                                  

 

How often is it asserted that ‘Britain is a nation of animal lovers’?  However, it is not remarkable that so many million nonhumans can meet their end in a nation of lovers of animals.  Jasper (1999) has explained why ‘loving’ them fails to exclude nonhuman exploitation.  Perhaps this explains why many genuine animal rights advocates despise the ‘animal lover’ label.[61]  Often the phrase ‘animal lover’ is understood to mean that the British in particular maintain a large population of pet animals which are not intended for eating.  It also means that several profitable industries have developed to service ‘pet owners’, although this economic thought may not spring immediately to mind when thinking of ‘animal-loving Britain’.  The term may also invoke thinking about the many modern television shows now dedicated to the care and ownership of nonhuman animals, or perhaps the dotty old man down the road seen each evening struggling with three large dogs while not preventing them fouling the local children’s playing fields. 

 

          When Mason discusses the topic of pet animals he begins with the changing values about the nonhuman world beginning in Britain and North America in Victorian times.  He notes (1993: 255) that this period saw a significant shift in human attitudes to animals and nature in general (also see Thomas 1983; and Kean 1998 on this theme).  Thus, Mason claims, as ‘nature’ was beginning to be seen as an object of beauty and serenity rather than something to be utterly feared for its ‘evil dangerousness’, there was an attendant moderation in dominionist thought.  However, whatever this shift meant (and contrary to the ‘massive transformation’ in human-nonhuman relations thesis in Franklin 1999), it did relatively little to shake the basic foundations of dominionist ideology.  If anything, by way of Jasper’s (1999) perspective, the development of pet ownership provided yet another strand to the central ideas of dominionism, entirely consistent with agri-culturalist thought based on instrumentally ‘shaping’, ‘controlling’ and ‘ordering’, most obviously seen (and celebrated on national TV) in the manufactured lives of ‘pedigree’ nonhumans. 

 

          This development effectively resulted in even more ways in which human beings could demonstrate and practice their ‘loving’ daily control over the lives of other animals.  As Mason writes (1993: 256) following environmental studies Professor Andrew Rowan, the pet is seen as something ‘safe’, ‘captive’, ‘loyal’, and ‘obedient’.  A ‘subservient’ symbol for the ‘appropriate relationship between humankind and the natural world’.

 

Not only do human beings control virtually every aspect of the lives of the nonhuman animals they keep, including having the legal right to chop bits off them, surgically alter them for cosmetic and ‘show’ purposes, and dictate their movements and motions (literally, their motions), the pet breeding industry even attempts to dictate their exact physical shape through selective genetic breeding programmes, even sometimes to the clear detriment of welfare considerations.  Thus, humans control both the form and behaviour of their nonhuman property (ibid).  When author Yi-Fu Tuan wrote his book about the relationship between human and nonhuman animals in 1984 (cited by Mason, ibid.), he entitled it Dominance and Affection: the making of pets.  Since some humans are involved in ‘ordering’ the physical shape of many other animals, dominionist thinking identified by Mason has simply put fresh emphasis on the notion that humans can and should control nature, here viewed as improving beings of nature as well as ‘ordering’ them.  Furthermore, if the display of exotic animals in circuses and zoos has a powerful socialising potential on the young and the old alike, so does the direct ownership of various nonhumans as so-called companion animals.  While such contact is often assumed to be positive, pets nevertheless have the legal status of property, which owners can dispose of largely as they wish.  For example, the RSPCA state that it is perfectly legal for British animal owners to kill their animal property,[62] so long as they do not cause ‘unnecessary suffering’ in the process.  Therefore, ‘a pet is a diminished being’, figuratively and literally, says Yi-Fu Tuan (quoted in ibid.: 257).  A pet is possessed by a possessor whose vanity and pleasure his or her existence serves.[63] 

 

If pets are ‘doted on’ and given ‘lavish treatment’ - and perhaps even viewed as ‘valued members of a family’, that in itself may be seen as a display of generous privilege and wealth on the part of the owner.  Owners can order and control the lives of their playthings, acquiring and disposing of them rather like compact discs and shoes; they can collect them like stamps, trading and swapping them with other ‘collectors’ if they wish, force them to ‘mate’ and arrange for them to be surgically interfered with so they cannot ‘mate’. 

 

          With this much instrumental control over another being, one can certainly privilege and indulge - or humiliate and tease: either way, Mason asserts, ‘you can feel pretty sure of your superiority’ (ibid).  Is it any wonder that Marjorie Spiegal (1998) dares to make the ‘dreaded comparison’ between human and nonhuman slavery? (see also Alice Walker’s suggestion in the preface to Spiegal that this comparison is difficult, and perhaps distasteful, to face).

 

 

Misothery, Pornography and Making a Few Links.

 

Who takes the heart from a stag?

Who gets a hard-on with blood on their hands?

Who strips the wonder of life - though they don’t have the right?

                                                                       

                                    Blood Sports.

                                                                                        Paul Weller,

                                                                                        Abuse, Artists for Animals.

 

 

In the previous chapter on dehumanisation processes, evidence was presented that suggests that racism, sexism and speciesism are often demonstrably present in a single item of pornography.  Given the theme of this section, particularly in the latter part, perhaps a brief attempt to pull a few strands of thought together is in order, especially in the general light of Mason’s provocative concept of ‘misothery’ (see 1993: 158-85) and a male perspective on the cultural effects of pornography (Stoltenberg 1992). 

 

          Mason deliberately coined the term ‘misothery’ (1993: 163) from two Greek words meaning ‘hatred’ or ‘contempt’, and ‘animal’.[64]  Thus, misothery is a hatred or contempt of animals and, since Mason argues that animals are, generally speaking, the active ‘representatives of nature’, misothery can also be used to highlight a hatred of nature as a general category.  When ‘nature’ is described as ‘red in tooth and claw’, through the lens of misotherous thought, it is seen as being characterised negatively for its animal-like predatory bloodthirstiness.  Likewise, assumed competitive natural forces may be said to be based on so-called ‘dog-eat-dog’ principles.  That both nature and animal nature are often seen as ‘vicious, cruel, base, and contemptible’, is a clear reflection of influential misotherous ideas, Mason states.

 

            In these terms, as seen above, Mason also recognises that misotherous thought can sometimes be applied to human beings in certain situations, specific contexts and particular constructions.  Any British tabloid headline may imply that an ‘inhuman person’, a ‘brute’, or a ‘beast-like person’ is one who ‘lets’ his or (more rarely) her animality surface.  An emphasis is on the rise of the ‘physical’ and the ‘carnal’ aspects of humanity rather than a stress on a spiritual or intellectual side (ibid).  Mason notes with irony, following John Rodman, that the characteristics which are suggested to be constituent of ‘animal’ - egoism, insatiable greed and sexuality, cruelty, senseless slaughter - are ‘more frequently observed on the part of man than of beasts’ (Rodman, in Mason 1993: 164). 

 

          Mason, with a nod toward ecofeminism, says he coined the word ‘misothery’ intentionally to bear some direct similarity to the concept of misogyny.  In a similar view to the ecofeminist concept of the ‘logic of domination’, Mason claims that misotherous and misogynous values are based on similar attitudes, ideas and power relations which address the categories ‘nature’, ‘animal’ and ‘woman’ in overtly reductionist ways.  These power structures often elevate the power, status and dignity of human beings generally, but the supremacy ultimately lies in expressions of male power.  The links Mason seeks to establish here appear to be in line with similar theoretical constructions of interwoven oppressions captured and expressed in phrases such as ‘patriarchal capitalism’ or ‘capitalist patriarchy’ (see examples in Scraton 1987). 

 

          In Mason’s thesis, alongside its effects on the natural world, the emergence of human ‘agri-culture’ invented ideas that dramatically ‘reduced’ the standing of women in the world.  The result of the rise of agrarianism was to demolish the alleged early awe that humans had for other animals, as it gave rise to the male hatred and loathing of women in the birth of patriarchal relations.  This is the very emergence of attitudes (humans/men ‘belong to’ culture; women ‘belong to’ nature) that contemporary feminist scholars such as Lynda Birke (1994) still seek to address.

 

          The destructive effects of dehumanisation processes have been discussed in some detail above.  All such processes, to some extent, rely on detachment, concealment, misrepresentation and shifting the blame (Serpell 1986: 151).  Serpell, following an account of human sacrifice by Hyam Maccoby, notes that these are all ‘distancing devices’ or techniques (see ibid.: 150-70 and Mason 1993: 172-77).  Such devices are employed, Mason argues, to achieve the misotherous reduction of those who are ‘marked for oppression’.  For Mason (ibid.: 179-85) as well as other theorists cited in this thesis, ideological misothery and misogyny are often seen to come together in forms of pornography.  If the rituals of dominionism described above are the product of misotherous values and practice, some dimensions of pornography can be regarded as a misogynous ritualising of dominating practices and representations (also see Daly 1986: 143 on ‘rituals of patriarchy’).

 

          Mason, citing Susan Griffin’s book from 1981, Pornography and Silence, notes that she claims that (Western) human culture, including religious constructions, displays a ‘profound distrust’ of the animal or natural world: that is, a distrust of the so-called ‘sensual’, ‘emotional’, ‘irrational’ and ‘physical’ realms.  Not failing to recognise that pornography is presented as ‘playful entertainment’, it is, nevertheless, a patriarchal demonstration of power sometimes involving an attitudinal construction of wild and thus uncontrolled animality.  John Stoltenberg (1992) argues that straight, gay and homophobic pornography institutionalises the sexuality that both expressively embodies and enacts male supremacy.  He says, ‘Pornography says about that sexuality, ‘Here’s how’’ (ibid.: 150).  This is how men are encouraged to ‘act out’ male supremacy in sex; male supremacy as sex.  This is ‘how the action should go’.  These acts impose power over and against another body, often suggested as an ‘animalistic body’.  Pornography also says this: ‘Here’s who’.  ‘Here’s who you should do it to and here’s who she is: your whore, your piece of ass’ (ibid).  As a piece of meat, she is ‘yours’.  Your property, just as many other animals are regarded as property. 

 

          Men are encouraged to view their penis as a weapon, Stoltenberg argues, and her body is the target.  Therefore, pornography also says: ‘Here’s why’:  ‘Because men are masters, women are slaves; men are superior, women are subordinate; men are real; women are objects; men are sex machines, women are sluts’ (ibid).  Thus, Stoltenberg maintains that pornography institutionalises male supremacy in the way segregation institutionalises white supremacy.  It is a means of keeping certain people powerful by keeping certain others down. 

          Stoltenberg proposes that ‘male supremacy’ is a more honest term than ‘patriarchy’.  Male supremacy:

 

is a social system of rigid dichotomisation by gender through which people born with penises maintain power in the culture over and against the sex caste of people who were born without penises.  Male supremacy is not rooted in any natural order; rather, it has been socially constructed, socially created, especially through a socially constructed belief in what sex is, how many there are, and who belongs to which (ibid.: 151).

 

 

Part of the construction of male supremacy involves recognising a distance between male and female: the former must feel a ‘disidentity’ with the latter.  Therefore, men learn[65] to locate themselves in their superior peer group, or ‘sex caste’; that is, in relation to the supremacist position he perceives in other men and in himself.  Part of knowing himself is in knowing himself ‘apart from’ the inferior status of females (ibid.: 152).  Men who commit forced sex acts or assaults often dehumanise their victims in an act of objectification.  He may do this by thinking of the other as ‘a thing’ and ‘less’ than himself, ‘a thing with a sex; he regards that object as sexual prey, a sexual target, a sexual alien, in order that he can fully feel his own reality as a man’ (ibid.: 154).  However:

 

Not all sexual objectifying necessarily precedes sexual violence, and not all men are yet satiated by their sexual objectifying; but there is a perceptible sense in which every act of sexual objectifying occurs on a continuum of dehumanisation that promises male sexual violence at its far end (ibid).

 

 

 

Again, just as in the process of ‘being marked’ for genocide, sexual objectification begins in depersonalisation.  This is what ‘makes violence possible’, for, as we have seen, once you have made a person out to be a thing, ‘you can do anything to it you want’ (ibid, my emphasis).

 

          It was suggested earlier that the notion of ‘thingness’ is something to be avoided.  From an ecofeminist position (see Salleh 1997), women’s ‘thingness’ is emphasised and doubly objectified by male relations to both women and the natural world.  With a clear notion such as ‘the logic of domination’ in mind, Salleh argues that men are often orientated to a ‘M / W=N lore’ (male / women: women equal nature) which is built on gender differentiation, and then places women and nature into the same category.[66]  In this so-called lore, women, just like nature, ‘are readily available and disposable; and like nature they have no subjectivity to speak of’ (ibid.: 94).  Therefore, objectified in a division of labour, women (a little like some nonhumans who are taken to the ‘cattle’ market) ‘have customarily been exchanged between men, father to husband, pimp to client, from one entrepreneur to another’ (ibid).

 

          When asked to place these relations into a socio-political context activists, whether animal rights or environmental, will often begin to talk about the globalised values of patriarchal capitalism (see Plows 1995; Doherty, Plows & Wall 2001).  Ecofeminists Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva do the same thing.  Talking about connections between male views about women and nature, Mies and Shiva state that, ‘In analysing the causes which have led to the destructive tendencies that threaten life on earth we became aware - quite independently - of what we call the capitalist patriarchal world system’ (1993: 2).  As ‘feminists actively seeking women’s liberation from male domination’, they feel they cannot, however, ‘ignore the fact that ‘modernisation’ and ‘development’ processes and ‘progress’ were responsible for the degradation of the natural world’ (ibid).  As activist-scholars, they are particularly interested in investigating and explaining why some women apparently fail to see the exploitative connections so evident to themselves.  They opt for a version of socially-constructed false consciousness, saying ‘Some women... particularly urban middle-class women, find it difficult to perceive commonality both between their own liberation and the liberation of nature, and between themselves and ‘different’ women in the world’ (ibid.: 5).  Why?, ‘because capitalist patriarchy or ‘modern’ civilisation is based on a cosmology and anthropology that structurally dichotomises reality, and hierarchically opposes the two parts to each other: the one always considered superior, always thriving, and progressing at the expense of the other’ (ibid).  Thus, ‘nature is subordinated to man; woman to man; consumption to production; and the local to the global’, and so on.  Mies and Shiva (ibid.: 8) decry the notion that good will come of so-called ‘catching up strategies’ advanced by some liberal feminists.  Such strategies amount to ‘catch-up development’ for Third World countries, and policies of ‘equalisation’ and ‘positive discrimination’ for women.  Such policies, they argue with irony, ‘leads to women’s involvement in the armed forces as being something we are supposed to welcome as women’s emancipation’.  Rather, they go on, ‘the individuals pursuing such strategies are simply demonstrating the depth of their internalisation of capitalist-patriarchal norms and values’.  Little wonder, then, if some women attempt to be like men on the hunting field, or by their participation in other harm-causing activities (ibid).

 

***** 

 

Modern humans have the eyes, ears, hearts and minds of agri-culturalists, whether having ever worked on a farm or ever visited one or not.  This agri-culturalist’s mindset means that ‘virgin’ land needs to be cultivated: made productive.  In the agri-culturalist’s view, virgin land means empty land, even though that notion is clearly an illusion.  Just as the Spanish and the English did when they ‘discovered’ new worlds, it remains possible to regard land which can be seen occupied by people as ‘empty’.[67]  Agri-culturalists cannot, therefore, help but regard regions or spaces without human inhabitants as anything other than void.  Western agri-culture states that to leave such places untouched (that is, leave unimproved) is somehow immoral.  Of course, there may be some perceived value – if limited – in ‘wilderness’ areas, if only for the sake of ‘contrast’; yet even such ‘uncivilised’ areas will be deemed to belong to ‘us’ as well, perhaps as ‘our’ retreats, places where we are able to ‘get away from it all’. 

 

The modern agri-culturist mindset also holds the paradoxical view that even ‘wild’ regions require some form of human management and control.  For example, British fox hunters and grouse shooters are particularly keen to remind people that the ‘treasured’ (generally meaning ‘present’) countryside looks as it does only through the human manipulation of ostensibly ‘wild’ areas.  Vast grouse moors would alter dramatically were it not for caring human intervention in the form of annual burning to maintain heather and moorland growth.  Bloodsports supporters invite the British public to view any change in patterns of human ‘nature management’ negatively and so give our support to the activities which maintain the moors in their present condition.

 

 


 


[1]   In the BBC2 television documentary, Beastly Business, transmitted in Britain in 2000.

[2]   In the BBC2 ‘Animal Night’ sequence: ‘The Animal Rights Debate’, transmitted in the 1980s.  A female animal advocate of my acquaintance responded to this point by saying that even if it were a black, lesbian, single-mother settling on her arm, sucking blood, she would indeed get ‘swatted’

[3]   Rousseau’s attitudes towards women left as much to de desired as his attitudes towards ‘beasts’ - and he saw both ‘in a state of nature’, according to Midgley (1983: 74).  Similarly, other ‘admirable theorists’, such as Aristotle, Hume and Kant cause embarrassment to some contemporary philosophers due to their sexist and speciesist positions (see Midgley’s chapter, ‘Women, Animals and Other Awkward Cases’, 1983: 74-88, and Clark (1984) for further embarrassment for similar reasons).

[4]  Although Sapon suggests the necessity of teaching older children about the ‘real world’, it seems that ‘timing’ and ‘method’ are both important factors.  For example, when American animal activist Laura Moretti noticed a display including live ‘farm’ animals had been set up in her local shopping centre, she said in the hearing of a 4-year-old fascinated by a piglet that it is ‘[w]eird to think someday that pig’ll be somebody’s bacon, eh?’  Whether upset by timing or method, the child’s father angrily said: ‘You had to say that in front of the kid, didn’t ya?’  Morelli says she knows this enlightenment is a ‘dirty job’, but ‘someone’s gotta do it’. (Morelli, 2000).

[5]   In the video, Cow At My Table, Flying Eye Productions.

[6]   Furthermore, it does explain why those intent on disseminating this knowledge are not necessarily thanked for their efforts.

[7]   In the sociology of food, a good deal of domestic violence appears to be based on the ‘necessity’ of working men to eat meat for strength.  However, meat is not seen as so ‘necessary’ for children or women (see Blaxter and Paterson 1983; Ellis 1983)

[8]   Since some people play classical music ‘into’ the womb to ‘calm the foetus’, perhaps even earlier.

[9]   Acculturation is also often used to mean ‘borrowing between cultures.’

[10]   Singer (1983: 240) argues that this understanding is so embedded in social thought that people simply vaguely assume that ‘conditions [of animals used on farms or in laboratories] cannot be too bad, or else the government or the animal welfare societies would have done something about it’.

[11]   The name of this legislation betrays its age, since modern sentiments, and reactions from a well-established anti-vivisection movement would render a title unwise if it were seen to purposely allow cruelty rather than sanction ‘mere’ scientific procedures.

[12]   Singer may have in mind the content of publications such as ‘Finding Out About Animals’ (Purnell 1966) in which there is a great deal of discussion about wild animals’ lives.  In contrast, there are just one or two references to the lives of farmed animals.

[13]   This phrase causes controversy among farm animal welfare groups, ‘animal rights’ organisations and ‘pro-use’ countermovement.  I have used the term ‘de-beaking’ which is favoured by rights and some welfare groups.  However, ‘pro-use’ mobilisations prefer the term ‘beak trimming’ and liken the experience to having toenails clipped.  According to an expert featured on the video, A Cow At My Table, neither description is accurate because the procedure is painful for the birds (whereas trimming nails is not) while not all of the birds’ beaks are removed (as implied by ‘de-beaking’).

[14]   Butterworth et al’s (1990) book Animal Friends contains four pages that deal with ‘farm animals’.  Among pictures of smiling children at the breakfast table, a smiling farmer in a milking parlour and an apparently smiling cow, the text on page 28 asks children if they know where meat and milk come from.  We are then informed that these products come from ‘different kinds of cows’ with the immediate emphasis on dairy farming and no mention of animal deaths in providing meat.  A picture of the farm is also present (ibid.: 30-1), with smiling pigs in a sty and free-range hens being fed by two children.  The text says: ‘The chickens are kept outside in the daytime, and allowed to peck around the farmyard for food’.  For 80% of chickens kept for egg laying in Britain, this information is false, according to the founder of an international pro-vegetarian organisation (Gellatley 2000: 134).  In Sally Grindley’s (1992) book there are just two pages featuring animals ‘down on the farm’.  While children are told that the smiling pig likes to roll around in the mud, there is no mention of pork or sausages.  The text also says that the cows eat grass in the fields for most of the year and eat hay in barns during the winter.  Milk, cheese and butter are mentioned as products of cows’ milk: there is no word on cows being killed for meat.

[15]   Presumably, children get to thinking that cows can keep their milk ‘up’ if they decide to.  In April 2002, BBC Radio 4 interviewed 11-year olds about their knowledge of food sources.  One girl stated that she believed potatoes ‘come from cows’, and when asked to guess the frequency of milking, replied ‘every spring’.

[16]   Peter Singer (1983: 237) makes this point about an undated book, Farm Animals, published by Hallmark.  This book also includes the line, ‘Cows don’t have a thing to do, but switch their tails, eat grass and moo’.  Also, citing a similar Ladybird book, The Farm, Singer states that it is no surprise ‘that children grow up believing that even if animals ‘must’ die to provide human beings with food, they live happily until that time comes’.

[17]   In recent years, in an attempt to slightly alter the present situation concerning nonhuman animal representation in children’s books, animal rights mobilisations such as VIVA! have promoted many new pro-animal/vegetarian books.  For example, their 2000 catalogue Books for Life have the following on sale: Victor the Vegetarian by Radha Vignola (for 2-7 year olds) about a young boy who runs off with two lambs to save them from slaughter, turning his parents vegetarian in the process;  Victor’s Picnic by Radha Vignola (for 2-7 year olds) about a vegetarian picnic; The Chicken Gave It To Me by Anne Fine (for 9 year olds +) about a rescued battery hen; The Stone Menagerie by Anne Fine (for 12 year olds +) about issues such as mental health, circuses, childbirth and vegetarianism; Countdown by Anne Fine (for 5 year olds) about animals kept in cages; Talking Turkey by Benjamin Zephaniah (poems for ages 8-80); Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White about a pig and a spider; Snow Kittens, Foxglove & Huney Bun by Jean Ure (for 10 year olds).  A series of books raising issues such as meat eating, fox hunting, abandoned pets and fur wearing; Nature’s Chicken by Dr. Nigel Burroughs (for 8 year olds) about modern chicken production; Goosie’s Story by Loise van der Merwe (for 8-12 year olds) about animal liberation from a battery unit, and The Livewire Guide to Going, Being and Staying Veggie by Juliet Gellatley (for teenagers).

[18]   From the preface of the tenth anniversary edition of Carol Adams’ The Sexual Politics of Meat (Adams 2000: 14).

[19]   When I visited relatives in 1999 I took an interest in children’s early-learning books that were about the house.  When asked, I explained that I was investigating how society effectively ‘protects’ its children by systematically misleading them about how animals are treated by humans.  I was told quite emphatically - and quite logically - that ‘it would be cruel’ not to tell these untruths: cruel to the children that is!

[20]   Journalist Danny Penman (1996: 155-56) states that the British Meat and Livestock Commission ‘currently spends about £10 million per year persuading people to continue to buy meat while others with vested interests in selling meat and dairy products spend tens of millions more’.

[21]   The 1982 documentary, The Animals Film, shows the filming of a McDonald’s ‘hamburger patch’ advertisement.  ‘Ronald McDonald’ is seen leading children over a bridge onto a piece of land in which hamburger ‘grow’ like toadstools.

[22]   Robbins (1987: 132) tells of when he saw chickens in a market described as ‘fresh’.  He suggested to a stallholder that since he was actually selling dead chickens, the accurate description for them might be ‘freshly killed chickens’.  He notes that his suggestion did not meet with gratitude.

[23]   Journalist Kevin Toolis (in ‘Eat It or Save It?’, Guardian Weekend, 27. 10. 2001: 58-67) makes the claim that Western sentimentalism about selected species of animals has led to the demonisation of whale hunters and eaters of whale meat from Japan and from Norway’s Lofoten Islands.

[24]   There is now a mobilisation in the USA called ‘Wise Use’ (founded in 1988) representing anglers, off-road enthusiasts, real estate developers, hunters & trappers, chemical and pesticide manufacturers, and the timber industry.  Wise Use have an ‘educational foundation’ at the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.

[25]   A recent bull run in Pamplona, Spain ended on the 27th of July, 2001.  See appendices for a press report on the event from the Times in 1999.

[26]   In an undated edition of the BBC Radio 4 Moral Maze program (in the possession of the author).  Scruton argues that humans have a ‘natural hunting instinct’, found in the activities of hunt saboteurs, which enables human beings to better appreciate and understand the works of William Shakespeare.

[27]  Historically, bull-runs have performed far-reaching societal functions, which seem linked to Mason’s main theme of the social construction of worldviews:  ‘In the 16th century, shortly after the fall of the Aztec State which was founded on sacrificial ideology, bull races were organised and presented as a type of sacrifice. This contributed to both the material conquest by the Spanish and the spread of new spiritual norms. Serving to reinterpret the fundamental divinities of the conquered in the figure of the devil, the bull was used to edify a mixed-blood society. Soon claimed as a major element in native culture, this...animal made the coexistence of various logics possible: that of the Crown, of the Indians and other ethnic groups, of colonists and of the clergy.’ (Fournier, 1995).

[28]  These are advertising slogans used by an American Bullfight promoter.  (Mason, 1993: 244).

[29]  And, surprise, surprise, the ideological construction known as ‘God’:  Recent plans to build a bullring complex in the Bronx area of New York included the provision of a chapel ‘where the bullfighter prays before he goes out and faces the bull.’ (Arcnews, 1998: 15).

[30]   This is what the matador hopes to achieve as an ideal type kill.  In practice, things are often messier:  ‘Ordinarily, the sword misses, hits a bone or slices into the lungs instead.  Then the bull staggers around the arena, blood pouring from his mouth and nose until he can be put out of his misery’ (Mason, 1993: 246-47). 

[31]   There is one bizarre feature in some rodeo shows where cowboys sit playing a game of cards as if they were in a saloon.  A charging bull is entered into the arena in which they continue to coolly play.  The cowboy who is the last to lose his nerve and dive for cover wins.

[32]   According to the animal rights magazine Arcnews (Arcnews 1995/96), a ‘steer’s’ back was broken at a four day rodeo in Salinas, California in 1996.  This was one of five deaths during the four-day event.  One victim in a ‘calf-roping’ contest also had his back broken.  Arcnews reports that he was refused medication on the grounds that he was to be taken to a slaughterhouse and the meat may ‘spoil’.

[33]   Calf-roping often results in neck and back injuries in these young animals.  The British animal rights magazine, Arcnews (1996: 17), reported that when calf-roping was covered regularly by US cable news service ESPN, the camera would deliberately pan back to horse and rider so viewers were spared seeing the calf ‘hitting the end of the rope and being slammed down to the ground’.

[34]   There is also the Irish practice of hunting ‘carted’ deer, in which the aim is not to kill the prey animal.

[35]   When hunter Sandi Johnson addresses opponents of hunting, meat eating appears to be presented as the only dietary option open to humans:  ‘I’d rather go out and get my own meat.  You may get yours at the supermarket... Somebody has killed that animal too’.  http://www.acs.ucalgary.-ca/~powlesla/ personal/hunting/ text/women. txt

[36]   Since the mid-1990s, women-only ‘Bows and Does’ hunting excursions have been organised in the USA to encourage more women to hunt. http://www.buckmasters.com/features/bmmag_ oct99/ bows.html

[37]   The same logic was used by a respondent to a survey on meat eating (see elsewhere) who claimed that the ‘necessity to survive’ rendered meat eating a non-ethical issue.

[38]   http://www.pbpub.com/hunting/ index.html?hunt.  As we have seen elsewhere, rapists have also described themselves as predators chasing ‘prey’.

[39]  http://www.buckmasters.com/online_store/index.html

[40]   The group of riders who follow the red-coated hunters but who take little part in the actual hunt in terms of directing hounds or deciding where to hunt.

[41]   Also, a great many theologians have held that human beings were not originally carnivorous: ‘Many biblical commentators maintained that it was only after the Flood that humans became meat-eaters.’ (Mason, 1983: 289).

[42]   http://www.pbpub.com/hunting/index.html?hunt

[43]   See Van de Pitt, ‘The female is somewhat duller’ (1998) for an interesting discussion of the ‘construction of the sexes’ in ornithological literature.

[44]   Not to mention that the human team have their Winchesters, while the turkeys have but their supernatural eyes and their ‘gobble.’

[45]   A common strategy of every ‘conservationist.’

[46]   The BFSS (and now the Countryside Alliance) strategy has been to point out that many types of people, not just the rich, go hunting, shooting and particularly hare coursing.  They made much of the existence of a hunt which had a large percentage of miners in its ranks, while they have also attempted to entice anglers to join their organisation.  While fox hunters and shooters have made allegiances with the hare coursing fraternity due to its working class base, this may be regarded as a serious tactical mistaken, since public opinion polls (even given their suspect validity) have consistently suggested that hare coursing has been the most hated of all bloodsports for many years.

[47]   These are special hunts in which the majority of the ‘field,’ the riders who follow the actual red-coated hunters, are children.

[48]   In August 2001, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) launched an anti-angling campaign featuring posters of a dog with a hook in her top lip with the slogan ‘if you wouldn’t do this to a dog, why do it to a fish?’  This has led to email debates among animal advocates about whether the cam-paign will jeopardise the moves towards a prohibition on ‘hunting with dogs’.

[49]   Meaning the ‘huntsman’ with his ‘whippers-in’ and other ‘hunt servants’.

[50]   This information comes from responses to a question I asked on an animal rights email net.  One hunt saboteur stated, however, that one ‘terrier woman’ called Rose was just as frightening as her male counter-parts who have the general reputation of being the most violent of hunt followers.

[51]   North America has one remaining ‘freak show’ which includes one picture, captioned, ‘Nature’s Mistakes’ (Sweet, 1999).

[52]   However, Thomas notes that seventeenth-century scientists such as Walter Charleton, John Ray and John Wallis ‘were much impressed by the suggestion that human anatomy, particularly the teeth and the intestines, showed that man had not originally been intended to be carnivorous’ (1983: 292).  Similarly, Franklin (1999: 178) notes that Rousseau used the scientific and anthropological knowledge of his day to claim that humans were not natural meat eaters but were rather a ‘frugivorous species’.

[53]   This rationalisation for killing and eating animals is, historically speaking, separate from the most commonly used Old Testament mandate argument; that is, ‘God permits, allows or even commands it’: ‘BE KIND TO ANIMALS BY USING THEM AS INTENDED! Raise them as stock, love them as pets, learn from them through science, wear their skins to comfort us in the cold, eat their dead flesh to nourish the glorious bodies that God gave to us. ANIMALS ARE BEAUTIFUL, EAT THEM!’ (http://www.mtd.com/tasty/-comments3.html).  Or other arguments such as ‘uneaten’ animals would overrun the world or, conversely, would not exist if they were not eaten by humans (see Thomas, 1983: 287-303).

[54]   When ITV News interviewed slaughterers involved in the British foot and mouth outbreak in 2001, they were met by this same ‘someone’s got to do it’ response to the mass slaughter of sheep.

[55]  These themes find surprising echoes in Freidrich Engels’ The Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1972, London: Lawrence & Wishart, originally published in 1884).  Engels argues that the advent of agriculture altered social relationships in what he characterised as ‘primitive communism’.  Indeed, he argues that animal agriculture effectively created private property and patriarchal relations to the extent that women suffered ‘a world historic defeat’.  It should perhaps be acknowledged that Engels’ anthropological data has been severely criticised, as no doubt, Mason’s citations could be.

[56]   Or, perhaps, not feats of ‘magic’ as such, but rather ‘witchcraft’.  In the 1999 Hollywood film South Park, a schoolteacher character tells his class that he is wary of women because he does not trust anything that can bleed for five days without dying.

[57]   Dahrendorf (1969: 22-3) notes that Rousseau claimed a version of ‘original sin’ based on the transition from foraging to sedentary agriculture.  Rousseau is quoted from 1754 (The Origin of Inequality Among Men and Whether it is Legitimated by Natural Laws) saying: ‘The first man who fenced in an area and said, “This is mine”, was the real founder of civil society’.  Dahrendorf, on social inequality generally, quotes John Millar from 1771 (Origin of the Distinction of Ranks) who states: ‘The invention of taming and pasturing cattle gives rise to a more remarkable and permanent distinction of ranks.  Some persons, by being more industrious or more fortunate than others, are led in a short time to acquire more numerous herds and flocks’.

[58]   Although modern circuses with performing animals may be increasingly seen as relics from an unenlightened past, it is noteworthy that until the 1970s animal circuses featured on primetime British TV schedules, especially at Easter and Christmas (information from the Captive Animals’ Protection Society).

[59]   For example, in ‘the wild’ elephants do not stand on their front feet and raise their back legs to perform a forward ‘handstand’.  However, this is a common part of circus elephants’ routines.  Physiologically, this ‘trick’ places undue stress on the skeleton of an elephant.

[60]   Recently, sections of the the animal protection movement have used the term ‘companion animals’ in preference to pets.  Traditional animal welfarists are, generally speaking, happiest to continue using the label ‘pet’ (Singer 1983; Regan 2001).

[61]  Groves (1995: 448) reports that an activist at a North American anti-vivisection rally declared: ‘I’m not an animal lover.  Some animals I like, others I don’t like.  To say I’m an animal lover is the same as saying I’m a nigger lover’.  This consciousness is not universal in the animal protection movement, of course.  In 2003, a spokesperson for an ‘animal rights’ group in Britain campaigning against a pigeon ‘cull’ was reported in the press that he regarded himself ‘as a tax payer and bird lover…’  If asked, some activists will suggest they are merely employing terms of reference familiar to the public, while others are emotionally committed to relationships with nonhuman ‘companions’, sometimes suggesting – ironically like supporters of animal circuses and zoos - that direct contact between human beings and other animals is beneficial in engendering concern in humans for nonhuman beings.  For his part, Regan acknowledges that the pet issue is a problem in terms of the logic of animal rights thought since nonhumans such as many types of dogs and cats are hardly suitable candidates for liberation into the ‘wild’.

[62]   This information came from the RSPCA, responding to an emailed question by the author.  Of course, companion animal keepers often say they have animals ‘put down’, or ‘put them to sleep’ rather than killed.  What sounds more innocent - and caring - than putting someone to sleep?

[63]  Emailers often suggest that the relationship is exactly the opposite and effectively they must serve the interests of nonhumans.  This may be regarded as an ideological devise that obscures the real status of those who own and those who are owned.

[64]   Mason (1993: 167) argues that misothery leads to the contempt of those animals we control and a hatred of animals we cannot control for that very reason.

[65]   Stoltenberg describes the process of social learning within a framework which appears to lean heavily on Freudian concepts.

[66] Ynestra King speaks of a ‘woman = nature connection’ that is ‘made up by men’ and which sentimentalises and devalues both women and nature (quoted in Buege 1994: 45).

[67]   Part of the mindset of occupiers is to disregard the notion that people ‘already there’ can have rights, because they themselves are deemed to have forfeited protective rights because they had failed to subdue the earth around them. (Mason 1993: 23).