Sunday, September 28, 2008

PETA says, "Breast Is Best!"

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) recently sent a letter to Ben & Jerry's urging them to consider using human breast milk instead of cow's milk to make their ice-cream. When I first heard about this, I was reading about it on a number of feminist blogs, and then last night they mentioned it on "Weekend Update" on SNL. Everyone seems to be taking this request very seriously.

Now, while I'm a vegan, I've never been a PETA member or supporter. Their campaigns have often been controversial, sometimes sexist, and many times very aggressive and off-putting. I personally affiliate with MFA (Mercy For Animals), an organization which tends to take a much gentler and more peaceful, educational and less controversial approach. I have deeply ambivalent feelings about some of the campaigns PETA has put forward. However, I do think PETA has done some great work and I'm not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The cause they fight for is real and important. They truly speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves.

Anyway, my first reaction when I heard about this request was, "Wow! That's great! Maybe it'll make people think about what they're eating when they eat ice-cream and all the other dairy products they consume everyday." And then, regarding all the hoopla and outrage I thought, "You've got to be kidding--I know PETA couldn't have been serious... could they?" I just simply could not believe that they were making a serious request. It seemed like something completely crazy and out there that was meant to make a point and make people think. And now that I've looked into it a little, I'm even more certain. Of course if this request were meant to be taken seriously it would be very upsetting. It's true that this would disproportionately exploit already economically disadvantaged women. It would take nourishing food from the mouths of the children the milk was produced to feed. Of course. I think that's the whole point.

On the peta blog page, they updated information with Ben and Jerry's response: "In response to our letter, Ben and Jerry's issued the following statement: "We applaud PETA's novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother's milk is best used for her child." Hey, guys, that's our point: Cow's milk is for baby cows." PETA is very clear about their assertion that using human breast milk to make ice cream is absurd. I'm afraid people have completely missed the satirical quality of this request. Please, read your Swift, people! Remember A Modest Proposal?

Cows are sentient beings who feel pain, both physical and emotional. Mothers cry when their babies die or are taken from them. On real farms (which are few and far between) cows will rally to support a mother cow who has lost her calf and is in mourning. Cows are naturally peaceful creatures. But we humans have taken them and imprisoned them in factory farms where they are tortured daily. They are forced to unnaturally produce far more milk than their bodies were made to produce. We take their babies from them and torture them for several weeks, depriving them of their mothers' milk and purposely keeping them malnourished, before killing them to feed them (veal) to privileged people. It's completely sick.

Let's please remember that most of the groups that we belong to and/or fight with/for can, to some extent, speak up and fight for themselves. Animals cannot. It's not just the men oppressing the women, the whites oppressing the people of color, the rich oppressing the poor, the straights oppressing the gays... It is human beings oppressing, exploiting, and torturing billions of animals each year for their own selfish desires. Gandhi said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." We pretty much suck.

Nobody is saying that what is currently done to cows should be done to human women and human babies. I think what they're saying is, "Hey! Cows milk is for baby cows!" Get it?

Links:
Smite Me! blog

The Meatrix

Human Diet and Its Effects on Natural Ecosystems

Mercy For Animals

Biblical Vegetarianism

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Right on, Sistah!!!!

Here is a great link:

http://www.milksucks.com/index2.asp

Satire is groovy. Cow's milk is not.

That's all I have time for.