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Carol Adams argument for a connection between the patriarchy and what I

dare call the carnarchy (or meat as primary protein in the American diet) is a
strong one. We regard meat as manlymen are the hunters and bring home
the bacon, and women are the gatherers who obsess over salad. Though
vegetarianism, even in our carnarchal Western culture, is an old idea, it is
seen as a fad mainly because of its association with women (who are
assumed to be willing to try all kinds of fad diets to stay attractive to men).
For in a carnarchal culture, the rejection of meat is all the more powerful
vegetarianism or veganism are not matters of sustenance for survival, but a
conscious rejection of the killing and eating of animals. The connection
between women and animals in a patriarchal culture are difficult, if not
impossible, to ignore. Like at a butchers shop, women are divided up into
piecesare you a tits man or an ass man? a wings guy or a drumsticks guy?
Sexual submission is denoted through the use of collars, a sign of animal
ownership, and affectionate pet names are almost always foodstuffs or
animalspet, chick, honey, even lamb. (And on page 46 of the text,
Adams quotes a guide to brothels that reads just like a guide to meatmarkets: framing sex workers as a flock in prime condition for male
consumption.) Veganism is, in a carnarchal culture, a hippie college girl thing
emasculating due to its femininity. And in this femininity it finds
unimportanceAdams declares How could I discuss food choices when so
many people needed any food whatsoever? How could I discuss violence
against animals when women victimized by male violence needed shelter? In
silencing myself I adhered to that foundational text of meat, the relative
unimportance of vegetarianism. By my own silencing, I endorsed the
dominant discourse that I was seeking to destruct (p 31). Animal welfare is
seen as a girly issuethought to be driven by emotional sympathy alone
(but look at the cute baby chickies!) rather than a determination of ethics
and scientific sustainability. To extend it further, we determine the various
sciences as hard and softsoft sciences being things like psychology and
sociology and hard sciences being like chemistry and physics, and formerly,
biology, though as more and more women start studying biology and
environmental science, hard scientists begin to refer to it as not real
science or bordering upon soft.
Meat eating and virility go hand in hand, and poor women in patriarchal
societies often sacrifice their own food to provide meat for their husbands
and sons, often making up the familys only source of protein, even though
women need much more protein (when nursing or pregnant, as many poor
women in patriarchal societies often are) than a man does. Some cultures
make meat a male food outright, and women can be punishedeither by
their husbands or by lawfor partaking of it. Cookbooks with sections for
men only make meats the male foods, with instructions on barbecuing and
grilling and hefty steak dinners. Adams argues that much of this is residual
superstitioneating meat gives you the strength of the animal you consume.
A working man needs the strength of an ox, so he deserves a daily beef
dinner where his wife and daughters do not. Poor English men with hard-

labour jobs like mining and manufacturing got their full English in the
morning and a London broil in the evening: plenty of meat to get them
through the day. In my hometown, an Ulster fryan enormous breakfast with
at least two types of meat, generally bacon, pork sausage, and black
puddingis the hallmark of a Manly Derryman, with legends of big gals who
could put away a full Ulster fry (this being a sign of her masculinity and
strength, and therefore undesirability). A Sunday roast of meat and potatoes
was the big lunch of the weekendthe man of the house is at home from
work, and so deserves to have a big meaty meal.
But even as meat provided power to the working man, 19th century
neurologist George Beard divided Western society into the brain-worker and
the muscle-worker, and used an Aristotelian great-chain-of-being method to
determine what foods were best for which class. Humanity of course, was top
of the ladder of life, but the brain-workers were highermore evolved
than the base muscle-workers, and thus required meals made from things
higher up on the ladder: animals. The muscle-workers, in effect, served the
purpose of animals, and thus required meals made from things below
animals on the laddergrains and vegetables. This was also very useful
analysis from a colonialist standpoint, as it defined those who eat a primarily
vegetarian diet are intellectually far inferior to the beef-eaters of any race (p
54). The Irish, with little resources for animal agriculture, depended upon
things like potatoes, cabbage, and seaweed for their nutrients, and thus were
ripe for control by the meat-loving English. So too, were the people of India
and China, who subsisted on rice and root vegetables (many for philosophical
and religious reasons). To further lower foreign people in our estimation (and
thus make them more easily conquerable and enslavable), we accused them
of cannibalisma blatant disregard to the Aristotelian ladder of life.
Many years later, through the World Wars, meat was highly rationed in order
to save the bulk of it for the male soldiers, who ate 2.5 times the amount of
meat on average than the civilian did (p 55). This directly threatened the
masculinity of the men left behindwhile women were encouraged to get
creative with other sources of proteins like beans and lentils (with recipes like
Victory Soup so named because their vegetarian makeup would save meat
for the soldiers), men still expected their fair share of flesh. Its not a meal
without meatjust as a woman is nothing without her man.
Animal agriculture is power, and masculinity is power, therefore dominance
over animals through consumption is a masculine activity. Beginning on page
58, Adams more thoroughly links the carnarchy with the patriarchy, pointing
out that animal agriculture-based food economy segregates work based on
sex, with women taking roles in the home more often than men, while in
plant agriculture-based food economies, work roles are more equally split
amongst the sexes. She also points out that the societal tables do not turn:
plant-based societies are not inherently matriarchal as meat-based societies
are patriarchal, but rather women gain an essential economic and social role
without abusing it (p 59, emphasis mine). The share of women in the
survival of the society at large is more obviously seenproducing and

providing food is seen as more inherently vital than things like childcare or
even cooking/preparing the food we eatand therefore women earn the
right to authority.
Furthermore, meat and vegetables as respective symbols of power and
passivity is ingrained in our language. Both the words meat and vegetable
have experienced a sea change in their meaning: meat used to just mean
food (though at its very root, the Proto-Indo-European *meh2d, meant
grease or fat or oozing), and vegetable comes from the Latin verb
vegetre, to invigorate or enliven, which makes sense as vegetation is seen
as the sustainer of life, its greenness a symbol of health. Now, meat
specifically means animal flesh and vegetable plants for food. Colloquially,
meat signifies importance and vegetable dullness and lifelessness. We veg
in front of the TV doing nothing, and a vegetable lies in hospital braindead
and unfeeling. (Here I feel it important to link this to another sociolinguistic
trend that assigns Germanic words to the strong and the masculine, like
meat, and Latinate words to the passive and the feminine, like vegetable
and even plant.) Even this harkens back to Aristotles Great Chain of Being
women are as less than men as plants are less than animals. Adams uses
the example of Michael Dukakis being referred to as the Vegetable Plate
Candidatea phrase that seems to have originated with Sandy Gray of the
Beaver County Times in an editorial in which Gray describes the bulk of
Dukakis speeches as the boring but healthy stuff your mother made you eat
(Beaver County Times, 25 March 1988), an interesting link back to the
feminine. Vegetables are easy, dull, and are said to somehow lack the flavor
of animal products. But if vegetables are like some boring but nourishing
staple, meat is like an exciting weaponits connection to violence is
inescapable. Meat is earned somehow by men, and by not dishing it out to
them as they expect, women find themselves ignored or even punished for
this transgression against male privilege. Adams reports that women who are
abused are most often first abused for the smallest thingmaking the wrong
meal. They call it trivialtheir husbands mistrust their cooking lest they are
trying to sneak in some kind of vegetable, or they shout at them because
the meat they expected was not givenbut it is an offense of a very
personal kind. Meat is for men, and if a man doesnt get his meat, he feels
less of a man. Even though the modern man doesnt go out and hunt his own
meat, and in fact leaves the purchasing of the meat to his wife in many
cases, he still feels some kind of societal connection to it. Its another
entitlement, like earning the highest salary, or getting the girl, or winning a
The Sexual Politics of Meat came out 26 years ago, and some societal
change has happened. Hipster culture rose up alongside activist culture and
has now splitthe urbanite vegan man is still a man, and fits the Alan Alda
type image that Adams predicts as ringing in the end of the macho era
(exemplified today by celebrities like Joaquin Phoenix and Peter Dinklage).
But the other result of hipster culture is the Beardy Bacon Lumberjack Man,
who revels in his manlinessthe Ron Swanson trope (I use Nick Offermans

Parks and Recreation character instead of the real person, because more
people know and admire the character than the manthough he himself also
exemplifies this culture, even saying that eating red meat is one of his ten
basic tenets for prosperity). He cuts down trees, he eats his meat, and he
pomades his hair like some 19th century gentleman. I see this culture, lauded
with positive pop culture portrayals, as a direct threat to the changes we
have made, in a sense. While on the one hand, middle-class white America
turned toward the lentil and the chickpea as an alternative to factory-farmed,
non-heart-healthy meats, suddenly bacon-flavoured everything (from
sandwiches to cupcakesand even bacon-patterned products, down to
novelty duct tape) came onto the scene, directly linked to Beardy Bacon
Lumberjack Man culture. When vegetarians extol the virtues of their dietary
choices, the 2016 response is, more often than not, but bacon! Its not
coincidence that this subset of the hipster culture draws so heavily from 19 th
century male imagery: their ideals of masculinity are similar to 19th century
ideals, and the same ideas George Beard spouted may just as well be
blogged about by some flannel-wearing Beard Man in praise of meninism.
The two viewpoints are at odds like never before as our suddenly healthconscious culture (fuelled by the obesity epidemic) comes to embrace
vegetarianism, or at least cutbacks on red meat, as a mainstream option.