Why do we keep trying to make meat sexy?

Most people are familiar with the concept that advertisements are sexualized. “Sex sells!” is what they say, right? As a society, we’ve become almost immune to seeing women in sexy poses or little clothing, often to sell clothing itself or often something completely unrelated. For example, look at this American Apparel ad that is supposed to be selling a turtleneck sweater.

This ad is not selling a sweater. It is selling an idea, a concept. It is selling sexuality. It is objectifying the woman in the ad in order to appeal to a hungry consumer. It is participating in a patriarchal society that wants to take away who the actual person is, but show what their body looks like in an alluring way.

The same concept applies to animals in advertising. Carol Adams, author of the book The Pornography of Meat, says that “Women are animalized and animals are sexualized and feminized.” She coined the term “anthropornography,” which means is when animals are shown as sexually consumable, in the same way that sexually exploits women. I never realized how common this was until reading Adams’ words. Let’s look at some examples.


This ad shows a pig’s head on a woman’s body. The body is wearing a bikini. She is covered in tattoos, which are traditionally viewed as risqué or promiscuous. She is lounging back in an alluring way. When translated to English, “fajna” means cool and “swinka” seems to mean pig. So what we’re looking at in this advertisement is a cool pig. I am not sure if this is for a specific brand, or if it’s literally just advertising the consumption of pork. Either way, it completely is taking away who the pig actually is. The fragmentation of both the pig and the woman shows complete disregard for who each actual is as a living creature. We aren’t supposed to think of them as living creatures. This ad is meant to entice men to eat meat. Eating meat is already viewed as a primarily masculine thing to do. This ad makes it look like this pig/woman WANTS to be eaten.


This ad is for the brand Skinny Cow, which is a diet ice cream brand marketed towards women. It features a cow with overtly feminine features, like it’s wearing makeup. The cow’s body is skewed and wrapped up in measuring tape to measure it’s waist. This whole campaign is sexist for so many reasons. First, the idea of normal ice cream being bad and this ice cream being better because it’s skinny is insulting to women. Women are supposed to feel guilty for eating full-fat items, so this product is telling them they can finally eat ice cream and have a nice body/lose weight. A cow does not have defined hips and a skinny waist. This logo totally morphs a cow’s body. A cow is also a term commonly used to shame a person for their weight. The morphing of the cow into something skinnier, thus better, is insulting for both animals and women. The cartoon aspect of the drawing takes away from the reality that this ice cream comes from a cow, who certainly did not consent to providing milk for a mass-produced frozen diet treat. The cartoon makes it seem lighthearted, fun, sexy, and cool. This is sending a message to women that if you eat this food, you will be those things too!


This third ad would maybe be considered more of a meme. It’s a “quirky” picture that was shared on Facebook. I read this and immediately thought, “ew.” This is obviously targeted towards men and the idea of masculinity laying in both eating meat and also being good in bed. It is suggesting that both animals and women are objects for consumption. It is going with the sexual violence theme of women “asking for it.” Even past misogyny, it plays up racism and privilege, as it shows a white pilgrim being so excited for his dinner. We’re just going to overlook the American history of genocide that white pilgrims caused? It also demonstrates Adam’s hierarchy, posted below.

In the chart, column A is the side that has privilege over column “not A.” You’ll notice that everything in the second column is what we typically see being used in advertisements for consumption.


This last ad is an in your face sexualized ad from Carl’s Jr. You look at it, and “BIG BREASTS” catches your eye. This ad is not shy in what it is trying to do. It’s saying, “hey you’re manly, you love boobs…you’ll love this chicken sandwich!” This is another example of fragmentation. By simplifying women down to a pair of boobs, and chicken down to just their breast meat, it makes it easier for a person to consume. At that point, they are not living, breathing creatures. They’re just parts. This ad is trying to be sassy and lighthearted, but it’s actually contributing to the normalization of exploitation of women/animals.


I just showed four examples.  There are countless others.  Now that you’ve seen it exemplified, you’ll see ads like this in your daily life.  Women are not objects, just as animals are not.  The way that advertisements make living creatures two-dimensional in order to sell a product is problematic, but our culture has become so immune to it.  Just being able to recognize it is a step in the right direction.



Works Cited:

Adams, Carol. The Pornography of Meat, NY: Continuum, 2003.

Kemmerer, Lisa. “The Pornography of Meat by Carol Adams.” Philosophy Now: a Magazine of Ideas, 2006, philosophynow.org/issues/56/The_Pornography_of_Meat_by_Carol_Adams.

Williams, Laura Anh. “Gender, Race, and an Epistemology of the Abattoir in My Year of Meats.” Feminist Studies, vol. 40, no. 2, 2014, pp. 244–272. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.15767/feministstudies.40.2.244. Accessed 1 Mar. 2020.

Laura Anh Williams is an assistant professor and director of the women’s studies program at New Mexico State University.   This source is well-researched and cites its own sources throughout.

Meet Meat

The image above is up for interpretation. Immediately upon looking at it, I was confused. Who made this image? What is the point? Is that real meat? Did the artist waste actual meat in order to convey a point about not eating or wasting meat??? If I had to say what this image represents, I think it’s the mystery behind the meat industry. We see a nondescript white chef clip art character cutting into a slab of meat. The man is vague, and the action makes me want to look away – exactly like the meat industry. People want to ignore how the meat gets on the table. Paul McCartney famously once said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”

Gendered eating is something that can be socially ingrained in us from the time we are young. It may be something we are not even aware of. I was not until I read the article “Meat Heads: New Study Focuses on How Meat Consumption Alters Men’s Self-Perceived Levels of Masculinity” by Zoe Eisenberg. The article says that genders are assigned certain foods, such as men with meat and women with salads. A google image search can back that up. I googled “man eating” and here are some results:

I googled “woman eating” and got these results:

I am not surprised.

Another gendered food conception is that healthier food in general is for women, and unhealthier food for men. A study was done with 93 adults where certain foods were shown to them, and they were to say whether or not they considered the foods masculine or feminine. For example, they were to label baked chicken or fried chicken. The results backed up that people have a perception of different foods, or even the way the are prepared, applying to different genders. (More about the study can be found here: https://time.com/4021781/food-marketing-gender/)

There are two main theories regarding how ecofeminists see humans’ relationship with non-human animals. One is from Greta Gaard. She believes that the next natural progression in ecofeminist theory is being vegetarian, just as the progression of feminism created ecofeminism. The other is Diane Curtin, who believes in contextual moral vegetarianism. This is basically saying that eating animals is wrong in cases that it is not necessary to do so. She argues that in some cases, it could be morally okay. For example, when a family has no other option for food supply unless it came from an animal. While these two theories do differ, they have some shared principles. In her essay “Vegetarian Ecofeminism,” Gaard said “One of the strengths of feminist thought is that it is never ‘just’ about women: it is a critical discourse that tends to ask uncomfortable questions about everything.” I like that this quote calls the conversation about vegetarianism uncomfortable. For some people, it is. Eating habits and what we consume daily are very personal, and some people are not open-minded to hearing other points of view about it. It can also be uncomfortable because a lot of people who consider themselves feminists may have never heard of ecofeminism, much less vegetarian ecofeminism.

Most people who aren’t born into a vegetarian culture but later on choose to become vegetarian do so out of sympathy for animals (Gaard 119.) The abuse and suffering of animals in the meat industry is well known. Many of us just choose to look the other way, or not think about it. Eating meat and other animal products is so ingrained into our culture. It is more taboo to be vegetarian or vegan than it is to be a meat consumer, despite the stigma the meat industry holds. By ignoring the suffering of animals, vegetarian ecofeminist believe that humans are being held to a higher regard than non-human animals. It is oppressing another living animal. That is when the concept of speciesism comes into play. Speciesism is “an arbitrary form of discrimination that gives preference to one’s own species over all other species and that functions in a way that is similar to racism or sexism” (Gaard 122). In vegetarian ecofeminism, oppression of all animals, human or non, is wrong. Curtain would agree with that in areas where people are financially well-off and can find other food sources, which is often the case in America. Curtain believes that vegetarianism should be followed unless there is an absolute real reason for it not to be, in the name of survival.

Works Cited:

Eisenberg, Zoe. “Meat Heads: New Study Focuses on How Meat Consumption Alters Men’s Self-Perceived Levels of Masculinity.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 13 Jan. 2017, www.huffpost.com/entry/meat-heads-new-study-focuses_b_8964048.

Gaard, Greta. “Vegetarian Ecofeminism.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, vol. 23, no. 3, Sept. 2002, p. 117. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1353/fro.2003.0006.
This is a quality source because it is another writing from a man ecofeminist we are studying, Greta Gaard. This was published in an academic journal within the past twenty years. This source gives her argument for vegetarianism and includes some great quotes.

The Wisdom Tree

photo taken by me that day

This is the Wisdom Tree. It is located at the top of a long, hard hike in Los Angeles. Being at the top of this spot made me feel like myself. To be straight up – I hate hiking. I don’t consider myself athletic. My friends convinced me to go on this hike, telling me I could do it. As I spent an hour going up, I struggled. I fell on the rocks. I was dirty. I was somehow both hot AND cold. Then I got to the top. Looking at the Wisdom Tree, I felt so much strength both in myself and in the tree! It’s just thriving alone in a dry, dirt covered area. It even survived a big brushfire on the mountain that killed off any other trees. According to legend, the tree was planted as a Christmas tree and somehow managed to survive (Aron.) Now tons of people go to it for inspiration. A man named Mark Rowlands took a box up to the tree and left some journals and writing utensils. Now, everyone goes up and can either share wisdom or read others. I sat on a log on the mountain reading all the inspirational messages others had written. Some were light hearted and fun, and others pored their heart out. All the inspiration came from the tree that had survived against all odds. This is something that I identify with. To me, this carries my history as well as many others.


credit: Mark Rowlands

I have always identified as an “inside person.” I’ve always either lived in suburbs or cities. I’ve always enjoyed the comforts of being inside. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to branch out more. Although I live in Pennsylvania, I go to Los Angeles often. Although it may seem ironic because it’s a huge city, it’s made me appreciate nature more. Natural landscapes on the west coast are so different than the ones we have here. I realized at a certain time I had grown immune to recognizing the beauty in the greenery in my own backyard. The Wisdom Tree helped remind me of that. In her piece “Small Wonder” Barbara Kingsolver wrote, “People need wild places. Whether or not we think we do, we do. We need to be able to taste grace and know once again that we desire it.” This rang so true for me. I need to be reminded sometimes. I think we all do. Nature reminds us how small we really are. It reminds us of both our strengths and our weaknesses. It can give us hope. In addition to the spiritual/mental benefits that nature gives us, Kingsolver reminds us that nature physically gives us all the tools in order to live and have our creature comforts. She reminds us, “that the oxygen in our lungs was recently inside a leaf.”

Works Cited:

Aron, Hillel. “The Wisdom Tree Is Becoming an L.A. Landmark. But Will Fame Kill It?” LA Weekly, 22 May 2019, www.laweekly.com/the-wisdom-tree-is-becoming-an-l-a-landmark-but-will-fame-kill-it/.

This source tells about the way the Wisdom Tree came about. It shares it’s meaning. It also discusses how it becoming a hiking hot spot may one day put it at risk.   It is written by a staff writer to a popular Los Angeles magazine.  It includes linked sources.

Western vs. Non-Western

A big part of growing as a feminist and as a global citizen is un-learning thinking patterns and language that we’ve been taught growing up. When I was in elementary school through high school, certain countries were always referred to as “third world” countries. I never saw an issue with this at the time. I was a child, and this is what the people I was learning from were telling me. I did not understand that the term “third world” can be socially insensitive, as it’s quickly translated to poor. Or, what makes up the first and second world? Why are we ranking?

A term that is used more currently is the Global South. This is based off geographical facts rather than a term that can be offensive. While there are many rich countries in the Global South (such as New Zealand, Argentina, etc), there are also a lot of impoverished countries. I want to focus on how women in these countries are affected by the environment.

A big way that women in the Global South are affected by environmental degradation is their water supply. There are a lot of countries where there is a lack of sanitation facilities, and the water supply may not be safe or may not even exist. This effects women for three main reasons.

1. Women typically hold the responsibility of getting the water. This can be very time consuming and also grueling.
2. It can be dangerous walking back and forth for women to a safe bathroom site. They are left vulnerable to attack.
3. Women have specific sanitation needs to attend to that men do not. They need to find ways to take care of themselves during their periods, pregnancy and raising children.

Being raised in an environment having to work hard for a basic human need like water definitely shapes part of who a person is. From an ecofeminist standpoint, it can be argued that women’s relationship to nature in this environment does not empower them. The relationship a woman has with nature in for example, the United States, versus the relationship a woman has in a country in the global south is entirely different. In dire situations like above, where a woman is typically unsafe in their day to day environment, they are oppressed just like nature is.

Eco-feminism from a non-western perspective views women as more of victims of their environment. At the same time, women have had a massive impact on different environmental movements, and have helped shape the environment in positive ways. Western feminism describes women as one with nature. Women are commonly associated with the beauty and softness of a flower. They are supposed to be united. It has been argued that the very life path of women, with menstruation, childbearing, etc proves that they are one with nature’s path. Non-western feminism doesn’t always view it that way.

A main difference that is found in western ecofeminism is that it can be privileged. Basically, western ecofeminism seems to view the relationship between women and nature mainly in the lens of how women treat nature. This is typically assuming that humans hold power over nature (besides in instances such as natural disasters) which is a privilege many of us don’t think about. Another difference between Western feminism and non-western feminism that Bina Agarwhal has pointed out is that Western feminism doesn’t necessarily include all kinds of women. Agarwhal writes in “The Gender and Environment Debate: The View From India” that this view describes “women as a unitary category and fails to differentiate among women by class, race, ethnicity and so on” (122).

The main thing that ecofeminism in the Western world and the non-Western world have in common is that they believe oppression of both women and nature exist, and that there is some sort of relationship. I don’t necessarily side with either belief. It is harder to understand how non-Western feminists feel because I have never personally endured the struggles a lot of women have. I have never had to worry if I was going to get water, or if I was going to be attacked on the way to the bathroom. I acknowledge their struggles and want my feminism to be inclusive and concern ALL people. This makes me feel like I cannot say I mainly side with Western ecofeminists, whose views Agarwhal called “idealogical” (120). To me, ecofeminism says that people and nature have a relationship, and we must care for the earth and it must care for us. To oppress and disrespect the earth is not feminist.

Works Cited:

Agarwal, Bina. “The Gender and Environment Debate: Lessons from India.” Feminist Studies, vol. 18, no. 1, 1992, pp. 119–158. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3178217. Accessed 8 Feb. 2020.

Jabeen, Neelam. “Women and the Environment of the Global South: Toward a Postcolonial Ecofeminism.” Women and the Environment of the Global South: Toward a Postcolonial Ecofeminism, North Dakota State University, 1 Jan. 1970, library.ndsu.edu/ir/handle/10365/25914.

UN-Water. “Gender: UN-Water.” UN, www.unwater.org/water-facts/gender/.

What is ecofeminism and what does my period have to do with it??



Ecofeminism, according to Hobgood-Oster, is “simultaneously serving as an environmental critique of feminism and a feminist critique of environmentalism.”  It is the connection between feminism and the environment.  It is basically the belief that feminists must take care of nature, as it is a part of our world.  Feminism is about equality.  The earth/nature must be seen as our equal, otherwise we are hypocritically saying we are better than.  Nature deserves rights as well, as it is also living.  Ecofeminism wants to fight all forms of oppression.  Typically, when we think of being oppressed, we think of the issues feminists have been championing for years – equal pay, the right to choose, etc.  Intersectionality in feminism means that we need to fight for everyone.  This includes those who may not have a voice or a platform to advocate for themselves.  This is where ecofeminism comes in.  The earth cannot verbally speak for itself.  As feminists who care about rights, we need to step in and speak for the silent.   Ecofeminism says that all forms of oppression are connected.  In order to bring change, we need to consider all forms of oppression.


One of Warren’s eight connections between women and the environment I found interesting was her third point, “Empirical and Experiential Connections.”  This is linking women and women’s actions to hurting the environment.  Warren writes about it on a large scale – health risks borne primarily from women and children, or public environmental policy harming families.  To look at it from an everyday issue, we could consider the use of pads/tampons.  We know that using disposable items (take the war on straws, for example) is harmful for the environment.  There are a growing number of states making regulations banning straws or plastic bags because they are wasteful.  It may only be a matter of time until they come for disposable women’s products.  It could be argued that somebody using multiple tampons a day, even just for one week out of a month, is more wasteful than using a single plastic straw a day. According to The Huffington Post, the average person who has a period will use more than 11,000 tampons or pads in their lifetime. This can be hurting not only the environment, but the user as well.  Since tampons/pads are considered medical devices a la the FDA, companies are not legally required to tell us what all goes into the making of them like they would have to on a food label.  The majority of mainstream pads/tampons contain non-biodegradable plastic – about the equivalent of four plastic bags.  In addition to the plastics, many sanitary items contain bleached and nonorganic cotton.  These are known to carry pesticides and herbicides.  While the FDA claims that these carcinogenics are a negligible amount that won’t hurt the user…why would we WANT to be putting that in such a sensitive area?

This goes back to Warren’s third point about experiential connections between women and the environment.  This is a feminist issue that affects anyone who experiences a period, and it is directly harming the environment by how we react to it.  As feminists who want to respect the environment, we should find another way.

There are other more sustainable options that could be explored.  I am not suggesting that people should just give up their feminine care products.  I do think that an ecofeminist approach to periods could be using reusable products, such as a Diva Cup (https://divacup.com/)



Works Cited


Brendan. “Warren’s Introduction to EcoFeminism.” There It Is, 21 Jan. 2014, thereitis.org/warrens-introduction-to-ecofeminism/.


Hobgood-Oster, Laura. Ecofeminism: Historic and International Evolution . 18 Aug. 2002.


Mosbergen, Dominique. “The Ugly Truth About Tampons And Pads.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 28 Feb. 2019, www.huffpost.com/entry/plastic-free-tampons-pads_n_5c0e88a6e4b06484c9fce988.