Sister Species


There is anger and passion here.

Carol Adams
Author of The Sexual Politics of Meat
Foreword to Sister Species

The Introduction provides a brief overview of the evolution of intersectional analysis, then focuses on a handful of key ideas that run through the essays of Sister Species: empathy, silence, trauma, and voice. Next, the Introduction employs empathy and voice, encouraging readers to be make informed choices that are consistent with a heightened understanding of linked oppressions—“Social justice advocacy is not simply a career—it is a lifestyle.” Finally, the introduction provides a critical analysis of an ongoing debate over the ethics of diet and veganism at feminist and ecofeminist conferences.

Feminists and ecofeminists must take a stand on behalf of all who are oppressed rather than seek loopholes in the hope of defending their habitual diet while continuing to ask others to make fundamental changes in their understandings and lifestyle on behalf of women.

Introduction to Sister Species

Chapter 1
Fighting Cocks:
Ecofeminism Versus Sexualized Violence

In a boldly personal and deeply philosophical essay, pattrice jones’ remembers how she insisted that “everything—racism, sexism, homophobia, capitalism, militarism, etc., etc.—was connected . . . but somehow managed to leave animals out of the equation.” She ponders her reluctance to recognize milk products as sexist exploitation, triggering a hot button between feminists, ecofeminists, and animal liberationists—is diet personal or political?

I’ll never know for sure why the queasy uneasiness I felt at the dairy farm slithered out of sight so easily. What I do know for sure is that this kind of shifty slippage probably helps to explain why the altruistic, animal-loving, feminist friend who sat next to me sobbing as we watched the documentary “Peaceable Kingdom” is still eating meat.

pattrice jones in Sister Species

Chapter 2
From Rural Roots to Angels' Wings

Having lost several women in her family to cancer—and fighting cancer herself—Twyla François describes her journey from growing up in a farming community to the discovery of commonality between female humans and female farmed animals, partly through the window of cancer which has a tendency to take some lives and change others—or both.

My friend, from a dairy farmer family, was enrolled in the livestock program. She was instructed to select a newborn calf, take him as her own, learn to care for him, name him, groom him, and then present the calf at the town fair in the summer. Little did she know that she was not showing her beloved calf for his beauty—those in the audience, bidding on the calf, were meat buyers. As her calf was loaded onto a trailer to be taken away and killed, the full meaning of what she’d done hit her. There was no going back, no matter how many tears she shed or pleas she pled. This is, in fact, stipulated in the rules—no child can have his or her calf back. As quickly as possible, the organizers handed her a check for $1,000. To my surprise, her tears were quickly replaced with thoughts of how she would spend the money.

Twyla François in Sister Species

Chapter 3
Are You Waving At Me?

Ingrid Newkirk asks the proverbial question—What does it take to bring change? She rejects categorization at the outset (even male and female), pondering a world without compartmentalization. Working largely with females and for females, she raises the question of essentialism: Is there some innate difference that lends females to animal advocacy? She also notes that women tend to control kitchens—“fonts of power” . . . vegan power. Displaying the spunk and pluck that has led People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to the forefront of animal advocacy, Newkirk’s essay questions, well, pretty much everything.

I guess it’s not very politically correct to start off an essay that has to do with women and their influence by declaring that I detest being defined by the word “woman.” Perhaps that sounds a bit strange to anyone who knows that I’ve been a feminist since forever or, more accurately, since I saw a drawing of a suffragist chained to a railing; that I marched in the bra-burning ’60s when women first demanded equal pay for equal work; and that I became one of the first deputy sheriffs in Maryland—I dare say in the country. (During a drug bust or other tricky bit of business, if there turned out to be a guard dog or two on the premises, the men (who lifted weights in their off hours and belonged to gun clubs) would say, “We aren’t going in until Newkirk is here to deal with the dogs!

Ingrid Newkirk in Sister Species

Chapter 4
Connections: Speciesism, Racism, and Whiteness as the Norm

Reflecting on her childhood, the experiences of racism that she and her brother suffered, Amie Breeze Harper notes that most animal activists seem to be middle-class Caucasians who remain collectively oblivious to linked oppressions, particularly the issues of racism and poverty. She asks activists, “How can any of us be exempt from the same critical reflexivity and emotionally difficult self-analysis that we demand from speciesist?”

A few years ago, French actress and animal rights activist, Brigitte Bardot, openly expressed distaste for the French Muslim community because of religious practices in which they kill nonhuman animals. I wonder, “Why are white French omnivorous nationals exempt from her disgust? Why is she not concerned about nonhuman animals slaughtered for traditional white French cuisine or Christian religious feasts?” Instead, she used speciesism as a means to racialize an immigrant group as “barbaric,” as a threat to the white identity of Christian France.

Amie Breeze Harper in Sister Species

Chapter 5
Fighting "Other"

Labeled “nothing’” in kindergarten, “Gook” in public, and “yellow” on her birth certificate, Miyun Park offers an insider’s understanding of “other,” a view that prepared her well for her work on behalf of farmed animals like the hen she found pinned in a cage on a battery farm, whom she named Jane.

Jane’s left wing was pinned under a broken metal clip in the front of a battery cage, where she was immobilized, unable to reach food or water. Who knows how long she had been pinned there. She was emaciated. Unable to move, crowded in that tiny cage with other hens, she was trampled by her cagemates vying for space. Her nearly featherless body had deep, long scratch marks, and she was so weak she could barely hold up her head. As I removed her from the battery cage, my hands encircled her tiny body, and all I could feel were bones. I took her with me.

Miyun Park in Sister Species

Chapter 6
Small Small Redemption

Indian American Sangamithra Iyer, who describes her time as a foster-mom for three chimpanzees orphaned by the Cameroon bushmeat trade, whom she affectionally refers to as her ‘small-smalls,’ reveals how personal experience and internal understanding of trauma can help to bring change.

Emma and Niete in each arm and Gwendolyn on my back, all shy of one year. They had just arrived, as I had, at the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center . . . . Emma and I made the journey there together. She, like the other girls, was a product of the illegal bushmeat trade flourishing in West Africa, where chimpanzees and gorillas (among other wild animals) are hunted and sold as a delicacy meat to an urban affluent elite both locally and abroad. Their body parts can be found in markets and on menus—eight dollars for a chimpanzee head, ten dollars for gorilla arms. Too little to be made into lucrative meat, baby chimpanzees like my small smalls are orphaned and sold as pets.

Sangamithra Iyer in Sister Species

Chapter 7
Compassion Without Borders

Describing a new and fascinating area of noninvasive research, Hope Ferdowsian also compares the effects of trauma in human beings and chimpanzees while also reflecting on her father and their family dog, Charlie.

One evening when my dad was visiting, he noted how timid and careful Charlie was with people. He presumed that Charlie must have had a hard life before he met us. He asked me if I knew who Charlie reminded him of. I said, ‘No.’ My dad began to quietly weep, remembering the hardships his mother faced before her early death. No one felt the need to explain the common vulnerability between my grandmother and Charlie, not in common terms, and not in academic or scientific terms. We all easily recognized the similarities.

Hope Ferdowsian in Sister Species

Chapter 8
Theology and Animals

Elizabeth Jane Farians, whose work was inside the church, often felt the need to perfect the art of self-effacement by way of cloaking herself in model female behavior, by way of facilitating change for animals.

The theology chair was on the phone when I arrived, so I had to stand awkwardly in the hallway. I felt like a naughty schoolchild outside the principal's office. I waited for quite some time. Obviously, I was not a high priority, just a nuisance. But I was an eighty-year-old woman, a pioneer woman theologian of almost fifty years. I had to remind myself that I was on a new and unique mission—who I was or how I was treated did not matter—I was here to bring change for nonhuman animals.

Elizabeth Jane Farians in Sister Species

Chapter 9
Freeing Feathered Spirits

Speaking from inside the Ojibway community, Linda Fisher expresses dismay at the innumerable ‘leather goods, feathers, and trinkets made of animal parts—bear claws, cougar teeth, turtle shells, and whale bones’ at traditional ceremonies. She questions the Native American tendency to feature hunting as culturally essential—and showed up to protest when the Makah (Western Washington) attempted to renew their ‘ancient tradition’ of whaling.

When I hear that some of today’s Indians are slaughtering whales in the name of tradition, killing eagles for the sake of ceremony, or destroying any nonhuman animal for the sake of vanity and ‘tradition,’ I wonder what has happened, what has changed. In a world where most people have traded in guns for cameras, has Indian philosophy become unfashionable and politically incorrect among my own people? Can we maintain such traditions and consider ourselves to be ecologically minded?

Linda Fisher in Sister Species

Chapter 10
The Art of Truth-Telling:
Theater as Compassationate Action and Social Change

Latina playwright, performer, and educator Tara Sophia Bahna-James defines compassion as “inherently inclusive” and argues that theater is capable of transporting people across artificial boundaries to , . For her, vulnerability is power.

Breaking down barriers of denial has always been art’s forte, and this is no less true of education, travel, and cross-community exchange. But lately, theater has nurtured an extraordinary movement that straddles all these areas and brings with it unprecedented potential for building bridges. It is a shift from story-telling to truth-telling.

Sophia Bahna-James in Sister Species

Chapter 11
From Hunting Grounds to Chicken Rights:
My Story in an Eggshell

Karen Davis grew up in a community where anymal abuse and racial prejudice were as unnoticed—and widespread—as child abuse and sexism. She describes her journey from a powerless and sensitive youth, through dangerous levels of despair and collapse, to become an internationally respected animal activist.

I was an avid meateater. I loved broiled fat, which I would eat off other people’s plates: “Give it to me, I’ll eat it!” Nonetheless, around the age of thirteen, I started arguing with my father about hunting. We’d be at the dinner table when the fight would commence. I’d be yelling at my father about hunting, and he’d be yelling back—over prime rib or baked ham or broiled lamb chops. Needless to say, my father never changed.

Karen Davis in Sister Species

Chapter 12
Isn't Justice Supposed to be Blind?
Practicing Animal Law

lauren Ornelas writes, “animal advocates will draw more people, and become part of a more viable movement, when we explicitly connect animal, human, and environmental injustices. We are all comrades.” Consistent with her words, Ornelas launched an organization focused on “animals, workers, and the environment,” designed not only to chip away at corporate animal exploitation, but to encourage community gardens and change treatment of field workers. Through food, Ornelas “found a movement in which almost anyone could participate,” but she began, like many activists, working against factory farming.

On each side of me, there were rows upon rows of pigs in pens. Hundreds of them. Looking down the middle aisle, I saw a huge bloated pig and what looked like a plastic bag. I began going pen by pen to videotape the victims—one pig with an injured leg who struggled to lie down, another with an abnormal growth under his belly—all very curious, yet with pleading in their eyes. Finally, I made my way down to the end of the alley, to the bloated pig. As I started to videotape and photograph this poor, diseased individual, I realized that the plastic bag I had seen behind the dead pig was actually a smaller pig who was still alive. . . . This pig was very sick. Instead of caring for him, the workers had thrown him in the middle of the aisle where he would have no access to food or water and where he would eventually die. The same must have happened to the bloated pig.

lauren Ornelas in Sister Species

Chapter 13
An Appetite for Justice

Vegan animal rights attorney, Christine Garcia, who works in animal law, exposes injustice in the U.S. legal system, introducing animal liberationist as “other.” She exposes the U.S. government as the strongest opposition in her efforts to protect animals, writing that “police protect the university’s legal right to test on animals, not the citizen’s right to protest animal experimentation.”

Judges need to be reminded that even animal activists are protected by the constitution.

in Sister Species

Chapter 14
A Magical Talisman

Allison Lance doesn’t generally let speciesist legal systems get in her way. She puts her frustrations squarely on the table in an essay that recounts physical confrontations with armed hunters, and working on behalf of Dolphins in Japan… and her tendency to get arrested.

I decided to sit on a ledge above the escalator with my feet dangling, where I could gain the attention of women in the cosmetic department and the fur salon. With my booming voice I gave shoppers an earful of statistics on fur and cosmetics to help them rethink their consumer needs. I had their undivided attention, with a U-shaped bicycle lock around my neck, locked to a pole that seemed conveniently made for a protest.

Allison Lance in Sister Species

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