Thursday, July 23, 2009

Got Sexism?: The Absence of Female Agency

What we learn from is that men do things with their bodies and women have things done to theirs; men produce things, women have things produced for them.

Slav, Igor and Sergie work their muscles to solve a puzzle; Mr. Osseous works the assembly line saving a valuable product, and Chuck assembles cartons for shipment. A nameless steer even drives the milk truck. On the other hand, Miss Dowdy needs to be *given* a makeover by blasting from a cannon into a pool of milk filled by the truck driver and Mother Hen needs your help because she is "tense and irritable" from her PMS. While the male animals are productive laborers, the female animals are either ditsy blonds or cruel old hens not worthy of the same honor, but still customers who need milk.

While the male animals perform all the labor in the games, the literal labor of female cows giving birth in order to begin lactating as well as the exploitation of their bodies' labor in producing all of the milk is completely absent. It is as Joan Dunayer writes in Animal Equality: within the dairy industry, "Milking is done to her rather than by her."

The political-economy of milk consumption (the hundred million dollar ad campaigns, the hundreds of celebrity spokepersons, the federal subsidization, the bias within school lunch programs and cafeterias, the killing of dairy cows who don't produce enough milk or are too expensive to feed, the veal industry, etc.) becomes absent and (cow's) milk becomes sold as "Nature's perfect food" (though goats milk is much more similar to human milk) eventhough few people in the world ever drank or needed "fresh," unsoured milk before the Industrial Revolution.

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