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sexism for seals?

May 28, 2010

Missed connections: part2

Vegina

In the last week a new Facebook page, Support for the Seals! has received almost 1,000 “Likes.” To get this sort of response in one week for anything animal rights related is exciting, until you look below the surface. This site does not have a single action item nor does it have any educational literature, save one video. What it does have is breasts. The point of this page is to get women to take pictures of their boobs (in t-shirts or bras) and post them to show their support for the seals. The reason? According to the page’s creator:

One year ago,a very creative Facebook user put a group together for breast cancer. “Show your bra for breast cancer support”…she wrote!
Well, there’s a cancer in Canada. It’s called Newfoundland. This cancer has been malignant for fifty years now, and has claimed the lives of a billion baby seals.
We are taking our clever Facebook sister’s campaign one step further for our furry little friends of the north who are brutalized each year by Newfoundlanders and asking you to show your “support” ladies.

What this person seems to miss is that breast cancer is actually somehow connected to breasts. I don’t know that this is a good campaign for breast cancer either, but at least there is some sort of connection there.

The blatant, “look at my boobies” gimmick on this page offends me as a woman concerned with sexism. The façade of helping seals while actually just visiting a page to show off or gawk at breasts offends me as an animal liberation activist.

Arian

The average response to my claim that this boob-fest is sexist will go something like this: “Women aren’t being exploited if they choose to do it.” I disagree. People are constrained by their culture. In a culture that values women for their bodies, women are often reduced to their bodies. In a society that values our boobs more than our brains, we can unintentionally reinforce or be victimized by sexism when we engage in non-liberating activities with our bodies. A perfect example is this Facebook page that encourages us to show our cup size under the guise of raising awareness for a cause on a webpage that doesn’t have a word of informational material about that cause. This perpetuates sexism while also doing nothing to alleviate animal exploitation.  Animal rights activists should avoid sexism at all costs or they risk contributing to oppression in society. Remember folks: Racism= Sexism = Speciesism.

Nicoal

If showing my breasts could really help the seals I would do it, but it won’t. This Facebook page won’t either. In fact, I think this an example of just how distracting for the movement internet activism can be. The internet can be a great tool for disseminating information and galvanizing activists. But it can also be a void in which minutes, hours and days are lost to clicking on “causes” and “liking” groups, taking time away from actual activism. The possible disconnect between online fan groups and actual activism is exemplified by this post on the Support for the Seals! page:

This is brilliant and I am so pleased that you have created this page. It will help the seals so very much, and we do need to give them a hand because they cannot talk for themselves! 🙂

This page will not actually do a single thing to help a single seals. There is not even a word of educational material that might educate the random dude who goes to the page to stare at the boobies.

Dana

I tried to make the above points to Support for the Seals! by posting the picture at the top of this page. I was interested in encouraging real activism over sexism. Several others posted similar pictures. I think Jere’s (below) makes the best point—that there are “real” things that can be done to help seals. Our boobs are not included. (Not surprisingly, the page “unliked” all dissenters and deleted our photos :/).

Jere

It is true, as the woman above says, the seals can’t speak for themselves. But my boobs can’t help them either. I am frustrated, because in less than a week almost 1,000 people became fans of this Facebook page, but at any average demo or protest fewer than a dozen activists typically join me. I am frustrated because different movements don’t embrace each other to the degree they should; too many important connections are missed.  In order to defeat a system of oppression that allows women, nonhuman animals, ethnic minorities, prisoners, sexual minorities, children, the elderly and disabled individuals to suffer discrimination and exploitation, we need to recognize that oppressions are tied so that we can join together.

Cameron

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Nicoal permalink
    May 28, 2010 11:37 am

    PERFECT Vegina! 😀 This one of my favorite posts so far. Even if our efforts were stifled by the inane creator(s) of the “support-the-seals-by-posting-your-boobs” page, this post will be here forever and cannot be deleted. I hope our important message will resonate with your readers, and maybe some PETA employees, too 🙂

  2. May 28, 2010 12:41 pm

    yes. yes. yes. So poignant. It will only debilitate the animal rights movement in the long run if there isn’t a commitment to ending sexism as well.

    Objectifying one group to save another should NEVER be masqueraded as liberation.

    • May 28, 2010 4:15 pm

      Unless the group that you are objectifying happens to be white non-Hispanic males who work for a living.

      • May 28, 2010 6:05 pm

        ?? How does a single thing said in this post or ANY post on this website objectify or support the objectification of “white non-Hispanic males who work for a living”?

  3. May 28, 2010 7:25 pm

    I already know this story, that’s how.

  4. May 29, 2010 9:42 pm

    Well said, and I agree, competely absurd. Not a thing on that site on how to actually save seals.
    Great to meet you this evening!

  5. rabbit permalink
    February 25, 2011 4:27 am

    “The average response to my claim that this boob-fest is sexist will go something like this: “Women aren’t being exploited if they choose to do it.” I disagree. People are constrained by their culture. In a culture that values women for their bodies, women are often reduced to their bodies. In a society that values our boobs more than our brains, we can unintentionally reinforce or be victimized by sexism when we engage in non-liberating activities with our bodies. ”

    BRAVO!!!

  6. September 21, 2012 7:36 pm

    salaar like it..

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