Something really disturbing happened to me today. I met with friends at a Veggie Grill and was planning to have a good conversation and a good time when the ugly face of patriarchal conditioning showed its ugly head.
I sometimes wonder how we can reach men and make them realize that they are part of a giant conspiracy which allows an oppressive mentality to commodify women and animals. When I tried to have a reasoned conversation with this man (name withheld), he became not only aggressive but almost physically violent towards me. Afterwards, I learned that he felt insulted. Really? Was he insulted when he called me a fat ugly b… and told me to exercise? or was he insulted when his male pride felt threatened by my calling out the patriarchal mentality? I tried to push my point by telling him about the 10,000 year old patriarchal mentality and how it is damaging to him too and even suggested great reads like The Sexual Politics of Meat and The World Peace Diet (written by a man!) who address this old programming.
I choose to put this behind me but it is disturbing to see, in the 21st century, the remnants of old Old Testament type thinking which still keeps us in the dark ages. The worst part is when this is directed to you by someone who is Vegan and who should therefore question the dominant mentality of sexual oppression. When I see what is happening to women in some parts of the world and its similarity to what we do to animals, I can’t help but think that patriarchy needs to die and has no more relevance in our time than slavery. It is all part of the same old paradigm of exploitation and it doesn’t serve anyone: animals, men or women.
Although, he accused me of being against showing beautiful women’s bodies and never let me answer this accusation, I will therefore do it here. No, I am not against beauty if done in a non-objectifying way. I asked him this question: what is the first thing you think when you look at a woman’s body in a magazine? He responded: « her ass ». That is objectification. He sees a woman as a piece of meat. Whenever a woman’s body is deconstructed, we have objectification. And it is the same with men also. However, we see this in not only men’s magazines but in women’s magazines. 95% of images in magazines are objectified women. Men make only 5% of it. The image of women in women’s magazines is also of a body, not a person, who has to be desired for her appearance, not her intelligence.
He absolutely didn’t understand what I meant one bit. This is sad. And that is also the way a lot of men still react (thank God not all and more are getting it). They don’t see what’s wrong with this picture.
Instead, he chose to show off his supposed « male macho » image over me (even though he is skinny and I could probably kick his ass) and physically threatened me and accused me of having sexual issues. So, being against pornography and objectification of women makes me a sexually impotent person? But then, I’ve heard it all from some men. Many years ago, I was shopping with my closest friend in a store in Paris. We were very close and often mistaken for lesbians (which we were not and I am not against it either). Two men, behind us, looked at us and made a gross remark about us on why we needed « them ». I remember turning to them and saying that, with the way they looked, it was not wonder so many women were lesbians. Why is it that men, if they feel rejected, automatically assume women are lesbians because we are not interested in them? Are some men really believing that they are that irresistible and that women are too dumb to know who they want to be with? I have seen other examples of this. So this is not a one time situation.
To this day, although I would never do this again, I do not regret saying this because I was then trying to prove a point. I was also younger and less diplomatic. It was also around that time that I was sexually assaulted. Like a lot of women, I know first hand what objectification means. I don’t discuss this with anyone but the closest people in my life. But this needs to be said here. Objectifying women and using their bodies to sell crap is just plain wrong! And women need to stand up to that and wake up from their own trance. One of the most disturbing aspects I see in our society, as Carol Adams pointed out, is women who go hunting, fishing, eat meat and dairy and don’t even question their participation in this patriarchal exploitation of other beings. The conditioning runs deep in both men and women. When does it end?
Can we move on and grow up? Why do women still need to prove that they are not just a body? Why do men still feel so insecure that they have to show off their macho personalities to prove they are men. Well sorry, but that is not masculine to me. Rip Esselstyn once said: « Real men eat plants ». My take on this is that real men don’t need to act like bullies to prove they are men. Real men are not afraid to show compassion and respect for others. And real men are also not afraid of questioning society and the programming that we have all received. It is a sad thing when a man acts this way. But when it is a Vegan, it is really even more disturbing.
As Vegans, we have a duty to question everything. If we were not, we would continue to eat the tortured flesh of other animals. Whether you are a man or a woman, this society is sick and is built on a sick foundation which has been around for about 10,000 years (see great books like The World Peace Diet for more on this). One out of three women in the world is currently either physically abused or sexually assaulted. We turn on the television and we see violence and sex. We go to the movies and we see violence and sex. Commercials are for tortured animal body parts or drugs to keep us stupid and docile. Most commercials objectify women to sell ridiculous products we don’t really need. In the meantime, we abuse millions of mothers in factory farms as well as small « family farms » while millions of women are abused at the same time in the human world. And a so-called Vegan dares telling me that I have issues with my sexuality?
Some people need a reality check. If you are part of a society who is constantly brainwashing itself with violence and pornography, what do you expect it to be like? Full of violence all of kind. That is just the cosmic check book balancing itself. We reap what we sow. People cry out for peace and harmony but they psychically and physically consume the opposite and then wonder why their lives is the opposite of what they want.
I learned again today why Vegans (and not just non-Vegans) need to seriously work on themselves (that includes me, I am far from perfect obviously). We bring to the world what we carry inside. As the great philosophers in all traditions have said: As in, as out. If we want to truly change the world, we have to change the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves. That is the only way. Veganism is more than what we wear, eat or believe outwardly. It is about walking the talk fully.