The Power of Women in Activism

Empowered women empower women. 

Image via American Greetings

These are three powerful words that are often the mantra of feminists advocating for change. Although rippled through modern movements of feminism, history shows us, women have taken the stance as active agents in the fight to combat the oppression of the natural world connected so deeply to their own livelihood far before the empowerment shown at the forefront of the media today. Environmentalism movements led by women occur across the globe –most notably amongst those living in the Global South– as the egocentric degradation of land threatens their ability to access the very natural resources that nourish their souls. As individuals living in the Global North, we tend to overlook the privilege we have. We do not think about the labor one does to gather water for drinking, food for eating, wood for fueling, or the uneasiness in wondering if the next rainstorm or mass deforestation project will destroy the very land in which fosters our well-being. 

I begin with this reflection for us to understand the power in women being activists in feminist environmentalism. The oppression of nature is linked to the oppression of women as the motive behind ecological degradation is to maintain capitalistic power, to favor profit over life. When one destroys the life of the land, they are taking resources with it. When one pollutes the land, they are contaminating the bodies of those in contact with it. The livelihood of women does not cross the androcentric mind; rather, power and control must remain intact. 

Image via Google

Women of the Chipko movement stood in embrace of the trees that sourced their livelihood. Those at the political hands of power threatened the life of land and women as the leaves of the trees were converted to money as if life was invisible to the male gaze. The area that once produced the wood needed to make tools and provide fuel, the life that sourced photosynthesis and the air to breath, and the roots to keep the soil fertile and intact was now naked to the eyes of the androcentric mind. They say, why let a land filled with trees go to waste when companies that can generate profit for the region can utilize the space? Women fight back by saying ecology is their economy but their word is against the power of those who hold precedence in a patriarchal society. So what does one do when their word is against that of man? Women speak for the land and their life in taking action as they embrace the trunks exposed to the exploitation of man. A movement that has generated pressure in the political sector to notice the destruction of life in actions of ignorance. 

Image by Diego Nigro/JC Imagem 

The women and children of the Brazilian slums are faced with food insecurity and economic burden as they must rummage through the garbage consuming the canals that once sustained life and nature’s beauty. Picking up can after can, hoping one day they can generate enough wealth to break them free from the debilitating life in the slums ignored by those at the top with enough wealth and power to provide for all those pleading for recognition and support. It is not until pictures of children living amongst the degradation of the land surface the media that power feels the need to speak only to take action for those pictured while the land and all remaining life is left to swim in the garbage of capitalism. Again, women are facing direct disrespect to land as they are left to care for their children while the resources needed to live are washed away. 

Image via Life of Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai of the Green Belt Movement gathered women in the distribution of seedlings to encourage planting belts of green across the lands that have been taken from them. No longer will the soil be harmed by the effects of erosion but instead acres of trees will provide the shade, oxygen and lumber that the women who work the lands have been pleading for. As women begin to fight for the resources that sustain their life, those in authority are threatened with the words of patriarchy; women do not have a voice and neither do they behave with command. Rather than falling to the weight of subjugation, women began to develop techniques that they knew would place power and fortune into their own hands. The provision of seeds led by the movement empowered women as it was a simple task, achievable, and witnessed each day as the growth of trees flourished right before their presence. It was not aid from the government but rather their own hands that improved the quality of life for their community. As I read the story of these women who were disadvantaged in a society that favors privilege, I cannot help but think of the willpower and strength they had to watch their environment degrade, hear authority berate their value, and yet develop strategies of activism to empower each other to take matters into their own hands. This very courage was not simply an action, but rather a necessity in preserving the life of the land tied so closely to their own existence. Behind the material deprivations there are deeper issues of disempowerment as power works to interrogate, criminalize, and silence their voice in the name of patriarchy. There are deeper issues of capitalism in environmental degradation as the resources being diminished did not alter the life of the privileged but rather commodified the embodied experience of the vulnerable. 

Image by Jamie Malcolm-Brown via CulturalSurvival

As we listen to the voices of indigenous communities, behind the cultural loss is movement to end diversity, to instill white supremacy. As corporations come to take over the land, they do not care to understand how profiting off the land will impact the livelihood of indigenous communities. They care about the dollar signs rather than the deep connection between land, body, mind, and soul. Indigenous women who experience the consequences of environmental degradation most intensely speak of the land as extended family, the dislocation of communities from the land will not be a temporary adjustment, it is a life-long loss of identity and culture. It is not just exploitation of the land but exploitation of the women’s body. As mining projects move in, violence, pregnancy, disease, and deprivation come along with them. As the land is raped of its resources, as are the women of indigenous communities, objectified by the hands of power.

Image via Prolific The Rapper YouTube

Prolific The Rapper x A Tribe Called Red use music to express the violence against the land in connection to the livelihood of indigenous communities. The power of the lyrics translates emotion into the ears of listeners as we hear calls of recognition and action rather than empty promises. The provision of jobs and stimulation of the economy will not protect the land from degradation. It will not honor the sacredness of the natural world to that of the soul. Projects of exploitation fail to recognize that the land is not ours to take, it works to disconnect human life from that of all other living entities. While the media works to paint an entirely different message, the protests held by indigenous peoples are a peaceful act of activism hoping to create change while the violent acts of capitalism and patriarchy are left unspoken. 

Image by Paul Horn via Inside Climate News

As I read about the Standing Rock Sioux protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, I am brought to current events of the recently approved Willow Project. The $8 billion drilling project is set to occur closest to the town of Nuiqsut, home to Alaska Native populations. The construction of the land will impact subsistence activities such as fishing and hunting which increases food security amongst the community. The project is also set to increase exposure to air and water pollution threatening the health of Indigenous peoples, a contract that they did not sign. Reading about yet another project rooted in profit and power is truly disheartening as the exploitation of the vulnerable and eradication of natural resources is left to be forgotten. It is evidence that an intersectional framework is lacking in our legislature. Decisions are made with a blind lens to those that are disadvantaged in society in attempts to keep those in power in that very place. Superiority continues to be rooted in disempowerment and deprivation as we forget to remember that the land is a source of life. The disconnect does not only oppress the land, but also women who are connected in the provision of sustaining life. 

Image via KnowYourMothers

Ivona Gebara provides an alternative perspective in applying faith to activism as she highlights, while the discussion of theories is occurring, so is the destruction of life. While social and environmental movements to end the oppression may bring recognition to problems, it will not work to solve the problems of patriarchy. There is no equality present in the social construction of hierarchy and she connects this to the cultural product of theology. Christian theology is rooted in the hegemonic ideals of androcentrism. Power is in the hands of men who have knowledge making perspectives–such as ecofeminism–a deviance from the expected. Gebara calls for a world in which the poor and marginalized are given the equal opportunity to live in peace through the rehabilitation of the utopian perspective rebuilt on justice. However, what is important to note is that she does not discredit spiritual values to that of material realities; rather, she wishes to diminish the structure of patriarchy that has worked to shape lives as it works to rank the value of life instead of honoring the importance of egalitarian relationships between man, woman, and all other forms of life. 

Image by @allwecansave via Instagram

As I reflect on the movements of activism discussed above, it is evident that political reshaping of social structure is needed. History continues to repeat itself as the hands of power continue to fall disproportionately to men. This ignores the connection of ecological degradation to that of the oppression of women as profit and control continue to take the reins. Women are essentialized into a single category when attempts of action are made ignoring the intersection of identities that occur globally. It is not until we honor that women are at the forefront of environmental exploitation, that we hear the voices of those marginalized, that we elect women in representation, that we will see a world that destroys the hierarchy and values all life as their own.

The Interconnected Web of Ecofeminism and Its Intersectional Approach

I begin this blog by asking you to think about your own identity. Think about the categories of gender, race, class, sexuality, religion, age, ethnicity, and ability and where you would align yourself. Now think, are you one without the other? Does one aspect of your identity take over one half of your body and the other the remaining? Or does each aspect of your identity simultaneously make up, you?

I ask you to reflect on this as we work to understand the interconnectedness of the ecofeminist perspective. Rather than understanding this theoretical framework to be a hierarchy of oppression, we must understand its relation to intersectionality as oppression is not felt singularly but rather multidimensionally. 

Image adapted from Kathryn Pauly Morgan

Take a look at the image included to your right. Splicing the circular figure in half is the line of domination. Above domination represents the categories of identity deemed “superior” in societal context; along the lines are the “isms” in which those with privilege enact when perpetuating discrimination towards those outside of their identity. Below domination is the social categories in which oppression is felt most intensely. However, what is most important to note in this image is not the hierarchical aspect of social category but rather, the form of the image. All categories are in a circular shape, connected at a single point in the center. This is what intersectionality is to be understood as, “…a web of entanglement…each spoke of the web representing a continuum of different types of social categorization such as gender, sexuality, race, or class, while encircling spirals depict individual identities” (Kings 65). One may identify with multiple lines of the spiral but it is intersectionality that allows experiences of identity to occur simultaneously. 

Image by MarinaRabazova via Pixabay

It is also important to note that all experiences are unique and oppression is felt differently depending on one’s place in society. The intersecting axes of privilege, domination, and oppression show that one may have privilege in one social category, but feel the effects of oppression in another. For example, a black heterosexual man may have privilege in the category of gender and sexuality but face marginalization in a society plagued with racism. Therefore, it is crucial to understand this perspective as a web of interconnectedness. As Kings describes, “The spirals collide with each spoke at a different level of the continuum, illustrating the context-specific privilege or discrimination experienced by the individual. A spider’s web preserves the necessary complexity of intersectionality and the potential ‘stickiness’ of cultural categories, which can often leave people stuck between two or more intersecting or conflicting social categories” (65-6). 

When relating intersectionality to the ecofeminist perspective, it is important to understand its historical implications. Hobgood-Oster provides a Western perspective of ecofeminism in which “…oppression of the natural world and of women by patriarchal power structures must be examined together or neither can be confronted fully” (2005). This can be understood to analyze oppression as a hierarchy on the basis of sexism. While true, gender is not the only social category that experiences harmful effects in connection to environmental degradation. 

Image by sylviaduckworth

We often analyze oppression based on a single category, this creates hierarchical thinking in terms of dominance; however, as Kings states, “Discrimination is not merely about gender or race or class, but rather an intersection of these different social identities which lead to the generation of various locations of vulnerability” (82). When applying intersectionality in an ecofeminist perspective, exploitation of the environment is viewed in connection to the oppression of women through an interconnected web as subjugation is not felt the same across populations as identity is diverse. 

Leah Thomas touches upon the importance in understanding the difference between ecofeminism and intersectional environmentalism as although both understand the degradation of the environment to be in connection with deeply rooted societal problems, “…Intersectional Environmentalism considers all aspects of someone’s identity like race, culture, religion, gender, sexuality, wealth, and more” making it more inclusive (2020).

Image from

Taking a flashback to our previous sections, I correlate this closely to the work of Bina Agarwal in which focuses on a non-Western perspective of ecofeminism, feminist environmentalism. Agarwal expresses not only the link between women and nature in social context, but also through material realities as the connection between women and the environment is “…structured by a given gender and class (/caste/race) organization of production, reproduction, and distribution” (127). This works to relate ecofeminism to intersectionality as an analytical tool that recognizes the connection between oppression of the environment and the oppression of women is not biologically determined or based solely on the category of sex but rather, the differing aspects of one’s identity works interconnectedly to shape the experience of oppression faced. For example, a rural woman living in India is more likely to experience oppression of the environment closely due to the disadvantages of social identity as the dependence on the environment is linked to survival. 

In this, we can use intersectionality as a tool to better understand the effects of degradation in varying communities and how to become activists in feminist environmentalism. Kings writes intersectional theory is important to recognize “…unequal experiences, not just between the North and South, but also within these very broad and non-homogenous categorizations…” (73). Western perspectives of ecofeminism can mistakenly focus on oppression of women as a whole rather than breaking down the varying social identities within this group of individuals. It is for this reason that intersecting oppressions prevent the elimination of other forms of oppression. Afterall, we are in an interconnected web. Working to abolish sexism will not solve the problems of patriarchal society as identities are simultaneously interacting to shape our experience. It is not until we eliminate each “ism” in the web that we will have a society free of exploitation. 

Image via

Rachel Carson provides insight into the ecological importance of the ecofeminist interconnected perspective in her piece, Undersea. Carson takes the reader on a journey of life throughout the numerous layers of the ocean often forgotten in the disconnection between human and non-human life. She writes that we must “shed our human perceptions of length and breadth and time and place, and enter vicariously into the universe of all-pervading water” (Carson 63). That is, we must rid ourselves of the “superior species” perception and rather place ourselves in a world of diverse life that is often forgotten even though we share the same environment. In this piece, the ecological web of life is celebrated in its diversity as each living thing in the “place of paradoxes” (64) contributes to the well-being of another form of life. Just as intersectionality is important to recognize the various identities of human life oppressed by exploitation of the dominant, this ecofeminist perspective of interconnectedness is important in ecology as “Individual elements are lost to view, only to reappear again and again in different incarnations in a kind of material immortality” (Carson 67). If we continue to treat life as a hierarchy, ignoring the multiple layers of oppression connected in one’s identity, then we cannot effectively eradicate maltreatment of the natural world and all life forms within it. 

I will leave you with a quote to consider as you go forth in a society that works to isolate and subjugate, “Engaging with intersectionality can help sensitize ourselves and others to the ways in which different forms of disadvantage can act as a method of silencing the most vulnerable and oppressed” (Kings 83).


Works Cited:

Agarwal, Bina. “The Gender and Environment Debate: Lessons from India.” Feminist Studies, vol. 18, no. 1, 1992, pp. 119–158., 

Carson, Rachel. “Undersea.” Visions for Sustainability , vol. 3, 2015, pp. 62–67., 

Hobgood-Oster, Laura. “Ecofeminism: Historic and International Evolution.” Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, edited by Bron Taylor, Continuum, London & New York , 2005, pp. 533–539,–Ecofeminism.pdf.

Kings, A.E. “Intersectionality and the Changing Face of Ecofeminism.” Ethics and the Environment, vol. 22, no. 1, 2017, pp. 63–87., 

Thomas, Leah. “The Difference between Ecofeminism & Intersectional Environmentalism.” The Good Trade, 11 Aug. 2020,

Women In Politics Are Saving The Environment

There are nearly 334 million people in the United States alone.

There is a sex ratio of 98 males to every 100 females. 

As of 2023, there are 7,383 seats in the legislature, yet only 32.7% of those positions are held by women. 

That is less than half, only a little over a quarter. 

We are in the twenty-first century, yet women are still not elected into at least half of the power making decisions for their nation state, evidence the gender division is still very present and equality is still on the lengthy list of “to-do’s” needed in order for a healthier, happier, and more progressive era in society. 

Consider your own list of things to do, perhaps you should be adding research into the next list of electoral candidates and most importantly, voting. 

Image via Generation Equality

Norgaard and York, authors of “Gender Equality and State Environmentalism” claim, “If women tend to be more environmentally progressive, the inclusion of women as equal members of society–as voters, citizens, policy makers, and social movement participants–should positively influence state behavior” (508).

To further understand this link between gender equality and state environmentalism, let us begin by breaking down the depth of what these terms mean:

Gender equality is to grant equivalent rights and access to opportunities despite gender identification. 

Environmentalism is a political movement that aims to take action in protecting the environment for present and future generations. 

Norgaard and York discuss the correlation between gender equality and environmental policy through women’s active representation. As discussed in previous blog postings, a society run by patriarchal and capitalist ideologies place male centeredness at the heart of all decision making to acclaim power and privilege over those less advantaged. This results in a society plagued by inequality with those less powerful disproportionately experiencing the harmful effects of environmental degradation, specifically women as gendered divisions of labor, land, and other resources have left them “uniquely and disproportionately affected” (Norgaard and York 507). As gender is socially constructed in society, this places women into the social role of caretaker while men are to be the economic money pot of the family.

Imagine you are a woman, responsible for collection of resources that may be scarce, left to live in an area affected by degradation, and devoted to unpaid domestic labor. Any implications of environmental harm will leave you as the first to experience effects as your social role places you in direct contact with the very land and resources that are being exploited. Norgaard and York connect this with the desire for women to become active advocates in environmentalism as their own life is deeply affected just as much as planet life. The greater the gender equality, the more likely nature is to be protected as women are more likely to care for the support of environmental protection due to direct predisposed risks linking sexism and environmental degradation in the simultaneous devaluation of women and nature (Norgaard and York 508). 

Image by Mei Lamison via Achona Online

The negative reinforcing loop of gender inequality and environmental harm is a result of social structure. Humans did not naturally take advantage of land and humans, but rather, the birth of industrialism and modernization gave way to power over egalitarianism as both women and nature became “invisible under capitalism” (Norgaard and York 509). With men taking control over the social and political economy, women were socialized to become domestic providers. With a gender and social divide, women were left to fight for their wealth, health, and protection as harm against the environment meant harm to their own being. 

This is where ecofeminism is essential in understanding “Oppression of the natural world and of women by patriarchal power structures must be examined together or neither can be confronted fully” (Hobgood-Oster 2005). However, although male centered desires are a result of degradation and subjugation, it is important to note that non-Western perspectives of ecofeminism shed light on the health of the environment being in direct connection to women’s survival. Thus, Norgaard and York’s connection between women’s equal political power and environmentalism is crucial when aiming for a positive outlook. 

Let us apply their thesis to some examples:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & The Green New Deal 

Image by Pete Marovich via New York Times

The Green New Deal, proposed by New York Representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls for the federal government to “…wean the United States from fossil fuels and curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions across the economy” (Friedman 2019). While previous attempts to curb the ever worsening effects of climate change have been in the works, this new movement has stood out with women advocates voicing their concerns as consequences of this environmental degradation are linked to additional social inequalities and racial injustices (Friedman 2019). As both the youngest woman and youngest Latina to ever serve in Congress, her voice was powerful in speaking on behalf of those experiencing social inequalities in communities across the nation. Environmental racism is a significant indicator in deliberate institutional racism that connects the oppression of the environment with issues of race and class (Hobgood-Oster 2005).

Ocasio-Cortez grew up in The Bronx, an environment that experiences the effects of environmental pollution, entangled with gender, race, and class. Her example is just one of many that draw women into key roles in environmental policies. Ocasio-Cortez’s legislation is an example in which “…women both perceive environmental risks as greater and are less willing to impose these risks on others; higher status of women may lead to more environmentally progressive policies as women put their view and values into action” (Norgaard and York 509).  Our capitalist social structure has far given into the degradation of the environment ignoring the detrimental effects to those who aren’t granted power privilege. While greenhouse gasses continue to enter the air we breathe to satisfy the greed of corporation giants, those at the opposite end of social structure value health risks of individuals far more than those pocketing the money at the end of the day. Legislation introduced by women such as the bill proposed by Ocasio-Cortez, provides evidence that women’s voices in government place us closer to positive environmental changes for the better social and physical health of the land and other forms of life. 

Marina Silva & The Amazon 

Image by Gabriela Portilho via New York Times

Marina Silva, a Brazilian environmentalist and politician works to fight against the climate crisis affecting her country as a result of inadequate environmental policies. Appointed as environmental minister, her goals have been to reduce deforestation practices, wildfires, and replace fossil fuel energy with clean energy that will reduce the already exceedingly high carbon footprint (Valencia 2023). During her career, she worked to create 24 million hectares of conservation while doubling natural reserves for traditional indigenous populations who are often most vulnerable amidst environmental degradation (Valencia 2023). As a young girl growing up in the Amazon working on her family farm extracting latex and materials to build their living, she established a deep connection with the land as she recalls it her “economy, identity, and place of fun” (Valencia 2023). As she became an activist and then minister for her country, she aimed her agenda towards the younger generation in hopes to preserve the environment throughout one’s lifetime. 

In a country where women account for 52% of the population yet are only 15% of legislators and 11% of ministers, Silva used her voice in being elected as a women environmental minister to grant change in effectively reducing deforestation and providing social and environmental justice to the reserves of the Amazon region. This is important to note as Norgaard and York state their results “…do not necessarily establish that gender equality has a direct causal influence on state environmentalism” but rather they suggest, “…gender equality and state environmentalism are linked and that an understanding of one may contribute to an understanding of another” (515). Silva is an example that despite being a woman in a country that lacks gender equality and representation, positive change can be made when understanding there is a link between women representation in parliament and environmentalism. 

Image via OECD

Pictured is a chart of statistical data gathered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in which illustrates Norgaard and York’s central thesis in which “…women have more pro-environmental values, are more risk averse, are more likely to participate in social movements, typically suffer disproportionately from environmental degradation, and sexism and environmental degradation can be mutually reinforcing process” (519). Therefore, improving gender equality in political representation will allow an increase in state environmentalism. As described above, 55% of women showed environmental motivation while 30% were environmental skeptics. On the other hand 38% of men showed environmental motivation while 42% were environmental skeptics (OECD 2020). Therefore, with women more environmentally motivated, an increase in political positions will connect to an increase in policies and practices in state environmentalism.

Take a look at the picture to your left. The statistic above tells us that 55% of women show environmental motivation compared to 38% of men. If we place women in positions of authority, elect them in the political arena, and overall grant gender equality in society, then together they can work together across the globe to improve the environment which radiates to the overall well-being of life across the planet. Our choices are not our own, we are all entangled in a web of cause and effect. One determinant decision of environmental harm impacts a community elsewhere. With women motivated and represented, state environmentalism will be supported. 

So, who will you be voting for?

Works Cited:

Friedman, Lisa. “What Is the Green New Deal? A Climate Proposal, Explained.” The New York Times, 21 Feb. 2019, 

Hobgood-Oster, Laura. “Ecofeminism: Historic and International Evolution.” Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, edited by Bron Taylor, Continuum, London & New York , 2005, pp. 533–539,–Ecofeminism.pdf. Accessed 9 Feb. 2023. 

Norgaard, Kari, and Richard York. “Gender Equality and State Environmentalism.” Gender & Society, vol. 19, no. 4, 2005, pp. 506–522., 

OECD. “Gender and Environmental Statistics.” Exploring Available Data and Developing New Evidence, 2020, 

Valencia, Robert. “She Grew up in the Amazon, and Now She’s Fighting for Its Life.” Earthjustice, 6 Jan. 2023,

Understanding the Women-Nature Association through Anthropornography

Have you ever watched a televised advertisement or taken a second glance at a poster meant to sell you some delicious meal? As individuals living in Western society, there appears to be nothing wrong at the surface, but I urge you to think twice before you indulge in the message these corporations are trying to sell you.

Carol J. Adams in her interview with Annie Potts, describes how the sexualization and feminization of animals not only justifies the action of consumption, but also directly connects with the exploitation of women through cultural images that favor male centeredness. This can be described as:

Anthropornography → the presentation of animals, usually those presumed literally consumable, as sexually consumable in a way that upholds the sexual exploitation of women (Adams 14). 

In other words, animals are presented in specified ways to generate capital in the food industry under the presumption that humans and non-human animals are separate species. Therefore, the sexualization and feminization of animals justifies consumption as it is targeted towards masculine consumers while simultaneously overlapping with the exploitation of women as justified consumption of feminized non-human animals implies that women are too in need of male control. 

In order to apply this to our understanding of the women-nature association a select few images from Adams’ Sexual Politics of Meat will be analyzed.

Image #1: A Barbecue Fit For Men

Image via Carol J. Adams Sexual Politics of Meat

Pictured is a trio of smiling men, one holding a set of tongs, all under a pop-up tent adorned with banners that read ‘Meat Club’ while wearing t-shirts stamped with what appears to be a sexy silhouette of  a woman with a bull head asking ‘got meat?’ Here we have our first example of anthropornography in which male dominant sexual economy is present (Adams 14). To be masculine means to eat meat, this explains the ‘meat club’ banner as these men are inviting you to their all inclusive club which includes the violation and sexualization of non-human animals and the exploitation of women, an all-in-one patriarchal package, “an act of self-definition as a privileged (male-identified) human, and it allows all other humans the access to that self-definition, too, as voyeurs and consumers” (Adams 17). Solidarity around meat consumption only reinforces male domination and acceptance in society as the non-human animal is exploited and consumed without consent. 

The shirt sends an additional message, as the non-human animal is feminized and sexualized with the replacing of its body with that of a woman simultaneously with the animalization of women as her head is shaped into that of a bull. To place a bull’s head on the sexualized body of a woman then asking the message of ‘got meat’ while actively cooking meat for consumption is a practice that enforces hegemonic masculinity in which “…reassures and re-establishes human (male-identified) primacy at several levels are hidden or unacknowledged, it never has to expose itself for what it is” (Adams 20). Cultural ideologies teach us to look past this common tendency to exploit the women-nature association while every aspect of visual representation and action continues to be justified. Here men are the consumers while women and non-human animals are the consumed. As Kemmerer states in her review of Adams’ The Pornography of Meat, “…we fail to notice that ‘consumable’ animals are invariably portrayed as feminine, as sexual–available to men, just like female human beings (2006). 

Image #2: The Hanging Objectification

Image via Carol J. Adams Sexual Politics of Meat

This image proposes an abundance of startling messages in the objectification of women and non-human animals. Presented is a portion of raw meat, hanging from a hook that pierces the skin while its body is clothed in feminine attire. The chosen attire to clothe the raw meat in rather what is considered “revealing feminine clothing” works to sexualize the now dead non-human animal, a representation of “misery made sexy” (Adams 15). The message at the bottom of the advertisement reads, “It’s not acceptable to treat a woman like one” and comes from a coalition that stands against domestic violence. The first thing that stands out is the clear connection between nature and women as the ad calls out for men to speak out against violence in order to prevent women from being treated as if they were a dead animal. This functions as “propaganda for speciesism…art that reinscribes the denial of the animal through actively denying/depriving them of life…simultaneously reassures our self-definitions as humans while also affirming human superiority” (Adams 19) as if it is justified to violate the non-human animal dead or alive, the human as consumer while the non-human animal being consumed. 

Adams also touches upon the narrative of raw as “real” in which “raw meat may express a more immediate sense of violation of what once was, what once existed and only recently lost their lives” (14). Using raw meat in awareness of domestic violence might create the perception of what harm violence against the human body can do; however, the connection between non-human animals and humans is absent. Adams speaks of artist privilege in which “…current laws allow artists to manipulate and kill someone else if that someone else is a nonhuman” (18). Because humans are viewed as a superior form of life, cultural images such as this one corrupt mainstream society. 

Image #3: “Racks For Racks”

Image via Carol J. Adams Sexual Politics of Meat

Included in this image is an advertisement for a fundraiser in support of raising proceeds for Breast Cancer sponsored by a barbeque company. What makes money raised for a good cause problematic one may ask? The proof is in the poster. As Breast Cancer is an already sexualized disease in Western society, this flier further adds to the objectification of women as the fundraiser is called “Racks for Racks,” insinuating that the more racks of meat eaten, the more you care about saving women’s breasts connecting masculine meat consumption to the desire for male pleasure by the female body. The presentation of the non-human animal pig produces both the animalization of women and feminization of animals as the pig is pictured to have a female stature, curvy with a large bust, ready for male consumption, anthropornographic evidence. Adams suggests “animalizing women and feminizing animals helps in this process because it renders women and dead animals used as flesh as commodities” (Adams 15). The consumption of non-human animal flesh is being consumed to generate capital in support of a feminized disease and the feminization of the pig for barbecue generates interest as it correlates closely with masculinity. 

The chosen skin tone of the animal is also to be noted as it appears to be that of a white woman. Adams writes of ads appealing to white, heterosexual men as “heterosexual politics are also embedded; the assumption that woman is available as an orifice for men” (16). Society not only enforces the ideal that man must be attracted to woman and vice versa but also that white colonialism must be favored to support that “casting individuals as animalized humans is usually influenced by race, sex, and class…because the race hierarchy is inscribed so strongly in Western culture, a white pig was needed, so that the degradation being represented could be as strongly represented as possible” (Adams 15,17). Not only are women and non-human animals being consumed, but also people of color as the white human male works to gain control over the objectification of vulnerable communities. 

Author’s Selection: Wrap it Up 

Image by Luis Beltran & Giovanni Macco via Bimbo Wraps
Image by Luis Beltran & Giovanni Macco via Bimbo Wraps

Pictured is the advertisement for a bakery corporation’s product, wraps. On one side we have a cow standing with a feminine pose holding its tail with facial features of long lashes, juicy red lips, and purple eyeshadow, all sealed with a wink. On the other side we have a pig also with feminine facial features of rosy cheeks, long lashes, and arched eyebrows while standing in a pose that draws explicit attention to its voluptuous rump. Both animals feminized, sexualized, and draped in a food product made to sell to an audience. This is not an accident but instead anthropornography as non-human animals are depicted as sexualized women, promiscuous and in need of sex calling for men to consume them as if they are in desire to be exploited and violated (Kemmerer 2016). The wrap literally wrapped around them as if tempting for the consumer to take it off and expose the body as if consumption of their product gets you closer to pleasure. The use of non-human animals as a “model” feminizes animals to show that both non-human animals and women are being consumed and oppressed due to male societal dominance.

These are only a select few examples of the many efforts to justify exploitation of women and consumption of non-human animals through sexualization, feminization, and animalization practices in the food marketing industry all with the desire to objectify. Adams describes objectification in the sexual politics of meat to permit an oppressor to view another being as an object which then turns into violation through object-like treatment, fragmentation, brutal dismemberment, and finally consumption (13). Animals are viewed as objects, their life taken away for the human palate. Women are perceived as objects meant to be used in ways that satisfy men. The overlap in cultural images justifies that masculine power is the backbone of society’s structure and in feminizing non-human animals, we justify that meat consumption is just as sexy and valuable as women subjugation.

As each of the images above present, white male privilege is at the center of each message and although solutions to improve societal outlook are possible, “people don’t want to give up their privilege; after all inequality is tasty” (Adams 21). 

Works Cited:

Adams, Carol J. “Examples of the Sexual Politics of Meat.” Carol J. Adams, 2018,

Kemmerer, Lisa. “The Pornography of Meat by Carol Adams.” Philosophy Now, 2006, 

Potts, Annie, and Carol J. Adams. “The Politics of Carol J. Adams.” Antennae, no. 14, 2010, pp. 12–24., Accessed 5 Mar. 2023.