‘Like meat’: Carol Adams talks intersection between veganism, feminism

Corinne Tam’s work called, “A Message from the President,” was one of two pieces she submitted to the “Sexual Politics of Meat” art show and lecture. Her other piece used meat product SPAM to sculpt female body parts to symbolize sexual violence. Photo by Cassidy Keola

Two weeks ago, junior Corinne Tam spread the American flag over a Roosevelt Hall conference room table, took a deep, anxious breath and began writing some of the words President Donald Trump has said about women on the flag’s red and white stripes.

“I was scared. At first I thought it was illegal,” Tam, a sociology major, said about her work.

On March 6, the flag was draped over a gallery wall in Argyros Forum, with quotes from Trump like, “If she weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her,” which was about his daughter, Ivanka, in 2006, and “Such a nasty woman,” said during the 2016 election about opponent Hillary Clinton.

The piece was one of multiple art pieces meant to illustrate misogyny, sexism and gendered politics submitted to the “Sexual Politics of Meat” art show and lecture, held in Argyros Forum.

“The flag was angering, and it was difficult to finish,” Tam said. “I did online research before starting, and it was just unbelievable. Trump has been saying things like this since the 1990s. There’s just a continual perpetuation.”

Tam was joined by fellow student artist Micaela Bastianelli, a sophomore sociology major, whose piece showed a female mannequin and a “menu” listing parts of the body, designed to illustrate the parallels between the “ideal woman” and meat consumption.

“I wanted to focus on body fragmentation, women being sexually objectified and the idea that value is assigned to body parts,” Bastianelli said. “Like meat, we pick and choose what we want from the female body.”

The student gallery also showcased postcards highlighting both the Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford Congressional testimonies and the gendered politics of meat and veganism. After an hour, g, artists and guests were joined by vegan and feminist Carol J. Adams, who spoke on intersectionality of feminism and veganism – and how advocacy for animal rights and societal gender roles intersect.

“In the patriarchal structure, women are seen as figures of consumption,” Adams said to an audience of about 50. “There is a history of women and minorities being perceived as lesser, that they should be more associated with the animal than the man.”

Adams, whose book “The Sexual Politics of Meat” was published in 1990, has spent her adult life looking at how advertising tactics equate women’s bodies with meat.”

“Companies are hyper-sexualizing animals, they are putting animal heads over pictures of women’s bodies, they are using phrases like ‘Grab both buns and eat it like a man’ to sell a sandwich,” she said. “There is a connection between the rhetoric being used and sexual violence.” 

Adams shared some of the critiques and insults she has faced within her career. “A fat chick with hairy armpits wrote this,” read one tweet about her work called, “The Anti-Trump Diet.” 

“If we had paid attention, we wouldn’t have been surprised by Trump,” Adams said, as she argued that an uptick of gendered advertisements and rhetoric present in the first decade of the 2000s contributed to bolstering gender and racial stereotypes. Adams referred to 2008 Burger King’s “Whopper Virgin” advertisement campaign as an example.

“We are flattening diversity into stereotypes,” she said.

The lecture finished with a Q&A where students asked about how to bridge the gap between expected gendered roles and diet, and whether being a “conservative feminist” is possible.

“I want people to know that change is possible,” Adams said to The Panther.