Carol J. Adams, Ecofeminism, and Christian Roots of Oppression

Transcript of powerpoint slideshow for presentation on Carol Adams, delivered by Carrie Proctor, Feb. 28, 2013

ECOFEMINISM AND ANIMAL JUSTICE

Finding Commonality in Suffering and Justice

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OUTLINE
Introduction

Reading Review: Carol J. Adams’ “A Very Rare and Difficult Thing” [a phrase borrowed from Simone Weil, to refer to compassion for the objectified other within an institutional setting – it is rare for his to happen; it is far easier for objectify than to recognize the ‘absent referant’ or ‘invisible subject’ who has been shorn of humanity or animality by institutional violence]

Introduction to and discussion of The Sexual Politics of Meat

“Power, Oppression, and Christianity: Locating the Historical and Theological Roots of Gendered and Animal Oppressions”

Questions, Concerns, Thoughts [there was a class discussion at this point]
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CAROL J. ADAMS

. Lifelong activist and feminist
. Education: Yale Divinity School; field work at new Haven Women’s Liberation Center and an abortion clinic at Yale Medical School
. Executive Director of the Chautauqua County Rural Ministry in Dunkirk, New York
. Advocacy and service not-for-profit agency addressing poverty, racism, and sexism
. Started a Hotline for Battered Women; pursued legal action against a radio station, and advocated for equitable housing to combat racism

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“A VERY RARE AND DIFFICULT THING”

ECOFEMINISM: WHAT IS IT?

Photo of art piece “Eat my fear” by David Lynch, referred to in the essay by Adams titled “Ecofeminism, Attention to Animal Suffering and the Disappearance of the Subject: a Very Rare and Difficult Thing.” [note: this essay is in the course reader]

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ECOFEMINISM: WHAT IS IT?

[graphic showing worldview in which Male, Reason, and Human are above Female, Emotion, Nature. This is nextto another graphic in which the same categories are picture as Yin and Yang, side by side, not above and below]

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STRUCTURE OF PATRIARCHAL OPPRESSION

Three main facets, as explained by Karen Warren:

. Dualistic Thinking
. Value-Hierarchical Thinking
. The Logic of Domination

The Construction of Subjectivity (Transcending the Animal)

[list of hierarchical binaries Adams refers to in the essay]

. Culture/nature
. Reason/nature
. Male/female
. Mind/body
. Master/slave
. Reason/matter
. Rationality/animality
. Reason/emotion
. Freedom/nature
. Civilized/primitive
. Public/private
. Self/other
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THE ‘ABSENT REFERENT’

[photo fo cow on left, hamburger meat on right]

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ENGAGING WITH THE SUBJECT

. Awareness
. Attention and Denial
. Action
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WHERE TO GO FROM HERE?

. Engaging with the subject
. The “ecological self”
. Redefinition of subjectivity
. An ethic of attention

[note “attention” is also a concept borrowed by Adams from Weil]
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Two books by Carol J. Adams
THE SEXUAL POLITICS OF MEAT
THE PORNOGRAPHY OF MEAT

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[part II of slideshow]

POWER, OPPRESSION, AND CHRISTIANITY
Locating the Historical and Theological Roots of Gendered and Animal Oppressions
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GENDERED OPPRESSIONS

[taken from essay on the topic by presenter Carrie Proctor]

This essay will argue that the oppression of women and the oppression of animals are embedded in the same hegemonic patriarchal framework, and these issues are mutually inclusive and necessarily intertwined. To address these issues, we must approach them holistically by examining the overarching system that allows for these oppressive systems in the first place, thereby dismantling the patriarchy rather than operating within its framework. We cannot afford to focus on the liberation of one group at the expense of another.
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CONSTRUCTING THE ABSENT REFERENT

The absent referent: gendered oppression
. The metaphors
. Intersecting metaphors

Objectification – Fragmentation – Consumption

. Literal example: animals bodies
. Alternate example: pornography
. Alternate example: Jack the Ripper

Complicity and Perpetuation

. The absent referent hides our complicity in these structures; unable to see the subject behind the meat, we unknowingly perpetuate the very systems that oppress and subjugate women and the natural environment.
. The distance between social groups is thus reified through these very structures.
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LOCATING THE ROOTS OF OPPRESSION: CHRISTIANITY

. Judges 19:22: “When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel

. I Timothy 2:12: “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

. I Corinthians 11:7: “He [the man] is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.”

. Augustine: nupt et conc. 1.4.5: “…women were meant, by the order of creation, to be subrodinate to men; that the only legitimate purpose of sexual intercourse is the procreation of children.”

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[part III of slideshow]

PAUL WALDAU

. Critically outlines the roots of social dualisms, as noted above
. Christian foundational principle: each and every member of the human species, by virtue of species membership alone, has a special, qualitatively superior ontological status relative to other animals
. Value-hierarchical thinking
. Just as Augustine argued that women are inferior to men due to their physicality, animals are placed in opposition to human society because of their wildness.
. Augustine: Ontological truth in sequence of creation (Genesis)
.Irrationality as justification for destruction and use of animals
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THEN TO NOW

. Descartes: Animals as machines
. Rationality versus emotions, instinct
. Cartesian duality

Carol J. Adams:

. Outlines modern manifestations of these dualities
. So implicit in our lived realities, we are not aware of how these structures oppress certain groups
. The absent referent – a new expression of duality, as a certain group is so devalued as to become non-subject

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CONCLUSION

The oppression of women and the oppression of animals are embedded in the same hegemonic framework. The ideas are embedded in our worldviews, and this worldview has continually constructed women and animals as inferior subjects or, often, inferior objects. Thus, to address the issue of patriarchal domination, we must approach them holistically, thereby dismantling the patriarchy rather than operating within its framework. We cannot afford to focus on the liberation of one group at the expense of another.

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CITATIONS

Adams, Carol J. “’A very rare and difficult thing’”: Ecofeminism, Attention to Animal Suffering, and the Disappearance of the Subject.” A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics. (591-604). Paul Waldau and Kimberley Patton, eds. Columbia University Press: New York, New York, 2006. Print.

. Adams, Carol J. The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc, 2000. Print.

. King James Bible Online. <http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/>

. Matter, E. Ann. “Christ, God and Woman in the Thought of St Augustine.” Augustine and His Critics: Essays in Honour of Gerald Bonner. (163-174). Robert Dodaro and George Lawless, eds. New York: Routledge, 2000. Web.

. Waldau, Paul. The Specter of Speciesism: Buddhist and Christian 
Views of Animals. New York: The American Academy of Religion,
2002. Web.

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