Non-profit organizations are not exempt from sexual harassment despite their honorable efforts in other areas. We spoke this week with author and philosopher-activist, Lisa Kemmerer. She is dedicated to working against oppression on behalf of the environment, animals, and disempowered human beings, and she is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religions at Montana State University, Billings. Professor Kemmerer says:
“Sexism in the Animal Rights Movement is not new—it’s part of our culture and has been in the movement since women first started working to protect animals! Male privilege and white privilege are connected with human privilege—they are connected with the problem of animal abuse. We need to recognize these interconnections and make the necessary changes in our lives if we want to bring change. Going vegan is critical, but we also have to root out sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression to welcome a world of peace.”
In our conversation with Professor Kemmerer, she explained that it’s naive for us to think that sexism, racism, ableism, ageism do not exist as a very real problem in the Animal Rights Movement. The movement of Animal Liberation is largely white, way too male powered, and that’s creating real sexism and racism in the movement. It is men in power, CEOs, donors, and board members who are the perpetrators.
To illustrate the fact that this issue is about power, I share a quote from Lisa’s introduction to Speaking Up for Animals, An Anthology of Women’s Voices:
“The position of most women in patriarchal societies is closer to that of chickens and cows than it is to that of the men who hold power.”
There are solutions to sexism in the animal rights movement. Here are a few solutions Lisa suggests:
- Hire Women & People of Color as leaders of organizations.
- No relationships inside organizations.
- If someone says something is wrong, believe & support them!
- Have policies in place against harassment and discrimination.
- Have recurring required education.
- Don’t let problems within organizations disappear.
- Get educated about overlapping oppressions: intersectionality.
- Make sure that in your language and your behavior that you are not contributing to other oppressions. The problem with the white male privileged perpetrators is that they are contributing to other oppressions, oppressions outside the protection of animals. We women don’t want commit the same errors of behavior or intent.
- Look for non-profits owned and run by women to work for and donate to.
Watch for shake downs in the Animal Rights movement, and who is taking sexism on. Carol Adams, who wrote The Sexual Politics of Meat, has a blog allowing anonymous postings. You can read Carol’s Blog here.
Lisa Kemmerer is doing a survey for women who have been sexually assaulted or harassed or discriminated against inside the Animal Rights Movement. Find the survey at CANHAD.org – Coalition Against Nonprofit Harassment & Discrimination. You can submit testimonials here and read others here.
“We can’t save the animals until we get rid of sexism, racism, ableism, ageism, and the destruction of the environment because they are all linked. It’s such a change for me to say it’s not just about the suffering of the animals. It’s a system of oppression. If we are supporting one part, we are not going to get rid of another part.”
More information on Lisa’s work here: Lisa Kemmerer.com
Check out #ARMeToo for women speaking up.
Our Free Podcasts with Lisa Kemmerer:
Books by Lisa Kemmerer
Eating Earth: Environmental Ethics and Dietary Choice
Sister Species: Women, Animals and Social Justice
Stay tuned for more podcasts on Sexism, and the results of Lisa’s Survey. #MeToo