In this blog post I am going to be swearing, a lot. If you are easily offended, please don’t read past here. This is not for you.
Last week was busy in the world of abolitionist veganism for quite a few reasons. Sadly none of them were positive.
I’m going to start this story right from the beginning. Right back in September 2014 when things started to really change.
I and many of my UK vegan friends were part of The Abolitionist Vegan Society or TAVS for short and had been for quite some time. The movement had been founded in the US on Gary Francione’s principles of abolition of animal exploitation, in response to the lack of consistency in The UK Vegan Societies ethics. I had never felt more at home. I had long conversations with members about everything from animals to my gender identity. I felt we really understood each other and I felt like Sarah K Woodcock was my friend, even though I had never met her. Unfortunately last summer there was a lot of racial tension in the US and rightly so after what happened. It seemed like the US members of TAVS then went on a mission to declare every single action of anyone who disagreed with them as racism, sexism or homophobia. They had taken being an intersectional group to a level that no normal person could possibly ever live up to. A few UK TAVS members voiced their concerns and others declared that they were going to disassociate with them because they couldn’t live up to the new expectations. In no way were these people racists, homophobes or sexists. In fact they were and still are bloody good vegan educators. They are my friends and just because they are white, does not mean they are racist or anything else for that matter. TAVS went on a bullying hate campaign calling them misogynists and plastering their pictures all over the internet and quotes from their Facebook walls where they had used the word cunt. (More on this later.) It was so bad that one even had to change her name so she couldn’t be identified. All the UK abolitionist vegans that I know immediately withdrew their support from TAVS in disgust. I messaged Sarah asking what was going on and the reason’s for her actions and I was ignored and unfriended.
Us UK abvegans felt very alienated. We had no one to represent us. So what we did is went back to what we should have been doing all along, grassroots vegan education and not messing around on Facebook with TAVS.
A few months later Pete Crosbie who runs the Willowite Animal Sanctuary, posted the below image. He is an Australian TAVS advocate. He also provided the pictures for the TAVS calender. He was not reprimanded at all. It wasn’t even mentioned to him when I spoke to him about it. (No offence intended Pete.)
Why if cunt is such a horrendous word was he not pulled up on this? Convenience. It was convenient for TAVS to ignore this because it didn’t further their agenda and they got to keep their calender.
In the last few days it has been made public that Tower Hills Stables, a supposedly vegan sanctuary in the UK have been selling eggs from their rescue hens in a vain attempt at trying to educate people on the horrors of the egg industry. Gary Francione picked up on this and publicly asked on their FB page why they were doing this. I have also chimed in on this debate as I don’t feel it is effective activism, it is exploitation and is not what vegans should be doing. A few hours later it was brought to Francione’s attention that Martin who runs the sanctuary, had used the Buddha image from above. Francione has started a hate campaign and is actively bullying Martin, calling him a misogynist and splashing images all over the internet. Francione never picked up on Pete Crosbie. Maybe because he is an abolitionist and Martin isn’t.
So now you have the background to what I am about to say, it might make a bit more sense as to why I am saying it.
I do not and have never had a problem with the word cunt. I first heard it when I was 10 years old, but didn’t really know what it meant until much later. The word itself is the only English language word that describes the whole of the genitalia. It has various origins mostly involving female deity worship and words that describe the genitalia in a pleasant way. I can think of a lot more offensive things to call it than cunt:
Hairy axe wound
Bubble gum sandwich
Pink velvet sausage wallet
I mean for fuck’s sake! Those are some really offensive terms right there and it’s always cunt that is singled out. It is a word of beauty! As the world migrated away from female goddess worship and towards male god worship, it also moved towards more sexual repression and male privilege. The word became taboo in the middle ages at the height of single male deity worship. The female and her devilish temptations should not be mentioned.
Therefore is it misogynistic to single the word out and demonise it? Is it not damn right bloody sexist as a white, heterosexual male to decide that a word reclaimed by some feminists (including myself) is in itself wrong?
In the UK and Ireland the word cunt is used as a term of endearment in most circles of people under 50. We call each other cunts as we do call each other mate. The word describes genitalia but it also describes your friend. Therefore to have the American’s (TAVS and Francione) impose their sexism and cultural colonialism on us because they don’t understand is absolutely unacceptable. How dare they!?
I’m sorry abvegan movement, but you’re wrong this time.