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#61 Old 01-21-2016, 07:33 AM
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First of all, yes. All cows are slaughtered young.

The point of that “good Shepherd/good steward" schpiel isn’t to say these are wonderful people (to my mind genuinely pious does not necessarily equate to authentically good), but that they lack the evil intent of a rapist. And of course these dairymen are motivated by profit. That goes without saying. We’re all trying to make money, but we also want to feel good about what we do. You’re mistaken if you think dairy operators can’t honestly believe they’re contributing in a positive way to the needs of this world. I can disagree profoundly with them about the value of that contribution, but I can also take a farmer’s word about what keeps him in that line of work. Dairy operators believe their product is wholesome. They eat cheese, and they feed milk to their own children. Anyway, the point of bringing up the schpiel goes right to intent. The rapist has no such positive schpiel. There are valid reasons why a rapist’s intent is nearly always seen as evil and antisocial, whereas the inseminator’s intent is nearly always seen as positive and pro-social. Please keep in mind that I brought this up because you pointed to intent as being more significant than effect in your inseminator/rape analogy.
I never said that intent is more important than effect, only that it is important. If it weren't, then molestation of very young or unconscious victims would be acceptable, which clearly isn't the case.

In dairy farming, the intent may not be as malicious as a desire to harm the animal but it is not as benign as the simple act of bringing "wholesome" food to the world. There is a conscious and purposeful abuse of power. Farmers treat their animals as objects to be manipulated or, at best, as dumb and empty creatures. The only reason why this is considered acceptable is because we live in a world where animals NEED to be viewed as objects in order for society to function as it does.

You might as well say that cat-calling a woman on the street is an innocent gesture because many men who do it probably think they're paying their targets a genuine compliment. We live in a society where it's considered normal for a man to have enough power over a woman to be able to approach her on the street with his opinion of her body, and she is expected to smile and thank him. There are a great many people who would defend this behaviour, but that doesn't make it any less an exploitative and abusive act.

In other words, it only seems less abusive for a human to forcibly inseminate a cow for profit than to sexually abuse a human woman because we're human. We're (understandably) biased in favour of humans and we've been raised to believe that we are entitled to use other species for our own purposes, and even that there is a kind and "humane" way to do this, but there isn't. When you say that it makes people uncomfortable to speak of sexual assault happening to a cow, what you're really saying is that we want to believe that only we are entitled to bodily autonomy, dignity, and privacy, that only a human can be violated. I don't hold that opinion. I understand that many people do, but I'm not inclined to soften my language to appease those people. Maybe that's to my own disadvantage, I don't know. I never said I wasn't stubborn.
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#62 Old 01-21-2016, 08:51 AM
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When you say that it makes people uncomfortable to speak of sexual assault happening to a cow, what you're really saying is that we want to believe that only we are entitled to bodily autonomy, dignity, and privacy, that only a human can be violated. I don't hold that opinion.
I never wrote anything about it making people uncomfortable to speak of sexual assault happening to a cow. Uncomfortable isn't the issue. The issue is that the argument (not you personally, but the argument itself, which I've long been familiar with) comes across as unhinged and overwrought and way off the mark. People understand the concept of bestiality, and people understand the issue of bestiality committed upon sheep, goats and cows. This is what people understand sexual assault on animals to mean, not a veterinary procedure that involves physical restraint and an arm up a cow's rectum.

I don't reject the argument because of having a higher regard for humans than for animals, although partly because of differences in the way our two species react to sexual intrusion. As I wrote, the capacity for self-consciousness makes it an entirely different experience. It's hard to imagine a human being yawning or chewing gum through a sexual assault. Obviously, a cow is capable of experiencing pain, fear, loss, physical injury and other forms of suffering. But as I've laid out, for the idea of rape to make sense to me (and I think for nearly everyone) requires not only a victim experiencing fear, pain and/or injury, but it needs, at the very least, a perpetrator abusng an animal for sexual gratification. To my mind neither requirement is anywhere close to being met here, and that's why the analogy doesn't work for me.

Last edited by Joan Kennedy; 01-21-2016 at 09:19 AM.
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#63 Old 01-21-2016, 09:22 AM
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The argument isn't at all off the mark, and I think you're displaying a very narrow view of what sexual assault looks like. Again, I'll list the scenarios involving human victims where your criteria isn't met: the molestation of young children (who are not self-conscious and have no social inhibitions about sex) or severely mentally disabled or unconscious victims (who may not even be aware that an assault is taking place). Perpetrators of sexual assault do NOT always experience sexual release, and in fact rape and sexual assault are less about sex and more about domination and the exercise of power. You keep bringing up the video of a cow yawning. I don't know if this is a real video or one you've invented, but I can guarantee that human victims of sexual assault can appear perfectly docile or blank during the attack. Victims can even sleep through it, or experience orgasm. The reactions and experiences of human sexual assault victims is varied, yet the assault is always an assault. Referring to the insemination of cows as a "veterinary procedure" is euphemistic in light of the fact that it is done at the expense of the cow's wellbeing, with the sole intention of exploiting her reproductive system for the profit of the one inseminating her. Is female genital mutilation simply a "medical procedure"? Furthermore, would the standard practices on a dairy farm be considered sexual assault if done to ANY human female, however docile, however unaware?

What, exactly, differentiates a non-human victim from a human one, aside from species? We've established that cows are sentient, that they are capable of experiencing pain and fear. I think we can agree that a victim is no less a victim for not understanding the implications of sexual assault (as with children) and that sexual assault does not necessarily need to be violent or cause physical injury (as it often doesn't). What, then, is so special about humans-- ALL humans, even babies and humans in a coma-- which makes us susceptible to sexual assault while non-human animals are not? I can't see any reasonable answer beyond pure speciesism.

My stance on this is based on reason, not simply emotion. To exclude the insemination of dairy cows from the range of possible abusive and exploitative sexual acts on the basis of the cows' lack of sexual inhibitions or psychological complexity is to exclude certain human victims, as well.
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#64 Old 01-21-2016, 09:26 AM
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My view of sexual assault does require a perpetrator who is committing a sexual act for sexual gratification, whether or not the perpetrator actually ejaculates. That would exclude very, very few sexual assaults. And it would include a man sexually penetrating a cow, whether or not the cow minded or even noticed.

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#65 Old 01-21-2016, 11:47 AM
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My view of sexual assault does require a perpetrator who is committing a sexual act for sexual gratification, whether or not the perpetrator actually ejaculates. That would exclude very, very few sexual assaults. And it would include a man sexually penetrating a cow, whether or not the cow minded or even noticed.
I'll point you here: http://www.responseva.org/#!sexual-a...hs-facts/c1df3
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#66 Old 01-21-2016, 12:25 PM
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A sexual assault isn't just an act of physical domination. A punch to the eye, while perhaps involved in the offense, doesn't qualify by itself as a sexual assault. A sexual assault is a sexual act, motivated by an urge to dominate sexually. There is no inherent hostility or violent urge suggested by the procedure of insemination. You can impute such a desire to people who go in for that line of work, but even if that is ever true, it's quite an assumption that it's always true. All large-animal veterinarians inseminate, among other procedures that can involve being in up to one's elbows. And since anyone can impute any motivation to any act, with or without a valid basis in fact, it doesn't get us anywhere. I'm not claiming you're misinformed. Our mastery of the facts has led us to different conclusions. It happens sometimes.

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#67 Old 01-21-2016, 01:33 PM
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A sexual assault isn't just an act of physical domination. A punch to the eye, while perhaps involved in the offense, doesn't qualify by itself as a sexual assault. A sexual assault is a sexual act, motivated by an urge to dominate sexually. There is no inherent hostility or violent urge suggested by the procedure of insemination. You can impute such a desire to people who go in for that line of work, but even if that is ever true, it's quite an assumption that it's always true. All large-animal veterinarians inseminate, among other procedures that can involve being in up to one's elbows. And since anyone can impute any motivation to any act, with or without a valid basis in fact, it doesn't get us anywhere. I'm not claiming you're misinformed. Our mastery of the facts has led us to different conclusions. It happens sometimes.
Insemination isn't a punch to the eye or a helpful veterinary procedure. It's one species exerting complete control over another's reproductive capabilities, not for the benefit of the cow but for the profit of the human. It's an extreme abuse of power involving the cow's sex organs.

AgaIn: if it were to be done to a human, even a human incapable of understanding-- even a human who remains unconscious throughout, a human in a coma-- would you consider it sexual abuse? If there were a place where human women were artificially inseminated, made to carry babies to term, and then pumped so that their milk could be sold, would that be sexually exploitative even if the women were incapacitated? If so, then why is it not when the victims are non-human animals known to be sentient and intelligent beings?
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#68 Old 01-21-2016, 03:29 PM
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To clarify, I mention the fact that cows are repeatedly impregnated not to highlight any inherent problem with the rate of one calf per year but to counter the notion that cows produce milk spontaneously without first giving birth, or that cows who have only given birth once are encouraged to continue lactating through extended breastfeeding or pumping, or whatever other mistaken notions a person might have about milk production. Whatever might be hypothetically possible regarding lactation, in the dairy industry cows are generally impregnated at a rate of one calf per year.

.......

I understand the desire to speak only truths, but I don't feel it's at all inaccurate to say that dairy cows don't produce milk spontaneously (because they don't, even if it might be technically possible for them to do so) or to say that it's abusive for a dairy cow to be repeatedly impregnated for her milk (because it obviously is.) Out of curiosity, how would you prefer to express those sentiments? Is there a way that's less ambiguous? The meaning seemed clear to me, but obviously there's been some confusion and I'm always interested in finding better ways to phrase these things.
I might have focussed overly much on your mentioning cows giving birth every year, because I've often seen this said or written in a way that seemed to imply that this is something unusual for cows. I thought (perhaps mistakenly) that people knew a cow would normally start giving milk only when she had a calf to nurse. Maybe it's necessary to point all this out to at least some people, and it needs to be said/written.

But for myself... I formerly was unaware that milk could be produced economically only if:
1) much of it, if not all of it, wasn't given to the calves;
2) most of the animals not producing milk were butchered; and
3) cows were bred to produce an unnaturally large amount of milk- more than her calf would need... and this increases her risk of developing certain illnesses.

Looking back, I just never thought about what happened to dairy breed cattle. I didn't think about what their calves were supposed to drink if we were taking the milk... maybe I thought there was enough for both us and them. I never thought what happened to male calves (who obviously couldn't give milk) or to their mothers once they became too old to lactate. I just never thought past the "fact" that you could milk a cow without harming her. These were the things I needed to become aware of.
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#69 Old 01-22-2016, 12:03 AM
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I might have focussed overly much on your mentioning cows giving birth every year, because I've often seen this said or written in a way that seemed to imply that this is something unusual for cows. I thought (perhaps mistakenly) that people knew a cow would normally start giving milk only when she had a calf to nurse. Maybe it's necessary to point all this out to at least some people, and it needs to be said/written.

But for myself... I formerly was unaware that milk could be produced economically only if:
1) much of it, if not all of it, wasn't given to the calves;
2) most of the animals not producing milk were butchered; and
3) cows were bred to produce an unnaturally large amount of milk- more than her calf would need... and this increases her risk of developing certain illnesses.

Looking back, I just never thought about what happened to dairy breed cattle. I didn't think about what their calves were supposed to drink if we were taking the milk... maybe I thought there was enough for both us and them. I never thought what happened to male calves (who obviously couldn't give milk) or to their mothers once they became too old to lactate. I just never thought past the "fact" that you could milk a cow without harming her. These were the things I needed to become aware of.
I'm embarrassed to admit that I was one of those who believed that cows simply make milk, that it's what cows DO. I never drew the obvious connection between milk and babies.
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#70 Old 01-22-2016, 06:53 AM
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Insemination isn't a punch to the eye or a helpful veterinary procedure. It's one species exerting complete control over another's reproductive capabilities, not for the benefit of the cow but for the profit of the human. It's an extreme abuse of power involving the cow's sex organs.

AgaIn: if it were to be done to a human, even a human incapable of understanding-- even a human who remains unconscious throughout, a human in a coma-- would you consider it sexual abuse? If there were a place where human women were artificially inseminated, made to carry babies to term, and then pumped so that their milk could be sold, would that be sexually exploitative even if the women were incapacitated? If so, then why is it not when the victims are non-human animals known to be sentient and intelligent beings?
How to put this. I understand that insemination qualifies as animal exploitation, and that to be a lifestyle vegan is to oppose all animal exploitation. Once more I need to stress that I’m focusing on why I don’t think rape/insemination is a good analogy for vegan PR. Every post of mine you're responding to sounds like you’re trying to talk me out of drinking milk, and that’s not an issue. There are arguments, and then there are the arguments most likely to resonate with the public.

In the hierarchy of all the exploitations that people do to animals, I don’t regard insemination as being so egregious as to bump it up to the top of the list and equate it to rape. I've alluded to "the yawn" and I saw it onsite, not in a video. At a dairy in Ohio my boyfriend's cousin was running at the time. I would put insemination toward the bottom of the list because the procedure itself doesn’t seem to me to cause animal suffering, and because so many of the others do. My problem with inseminating cows is the entire multi-step process of which it is a part, not the insemination itself. The right-after-colostrum separation of cow from calf, and the calves who languish in veal pens: Those are two examples that seem to me a lot riper for attention and focus.

Abolitionist vegans are all about “even when there’s no suffering it’s still exploitation” and I get that logically. They wouldn't eat an egg if it came right from Daisy Duck herself, and I get that too. I just think that rape analogy rings cold to a public that’s very much okay with inseminating their own dogs and horses, and pretty much okay with food production processes that clearly do cause suffering. If someone’s not ready to be outraged at some of the (IMO) subtler forms of animal exploitation, I believe rape/insemination will hit them like an extremely strained metaphor, the way it hit me. Again I must observe that our understanding of the facts has led us to entirely different conclusions. Honest minds can differ.
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#71 Old 01-22-2016, 11:09 AM
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I understand what you're saying. Our opinions of where insemination stands on the hierarchy of exploitative practices differs, that's all. For me, the hijacking of a female's reproductive system for profit is an egregious offense.
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#72 Old 01-22-2016, 12:19 PM
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Really interesting, thoughtful discussion and without the ad hominems so common to differing opinions on the internet. Thanks No Whey and Joan.
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#73 Old 01-22-2016, 12:38 PM
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Aw, thank you... and Joan!
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#74 Old 01-22-2016, 12:50 PM
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Aw, thank you... and Joan!
Not at all. Thank YOU!
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#75 Old 01-22-2016, 02:26 PM
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I'm embarrassed to admit that I was one of those who believed that cows simply make milk, that it's what cows DO. I never drew the obvious connection between milk and babies.
If you thought that, I'm sure lots of other folks have thought that also, because you definitely don't strike me as someone who doesn't think things through. And actually.... now I'M wondering when I first became really aware that cows produce milk only when they have a calf to nourish.

And yeah... my hat's off to both you and Joan for a really in-depth yet civil discussion. Between the views expressed by the two of you, all of us here probably have a better understanding of how different people might see the treatment of dairy cows.
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#76 Old 01-22-2016, 04:02 PM
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First off, this discussion really deserves it's own thread!
I really dislike the whole 'friends not food' campaign. The idea of children cuddling stuffed animal bears and lions seems as far fetched as the barnyard play sets where the same chickens pigs and cows get feed and watered and never leave.
Animals are different from each species. Some are complete dicks. I got this in my inbox today-
http://www.care2.com/causes/the-kang...dead-mate.html
That's really sick, but how many people looked at that photo and had tears in their eyes with the thought of the caring dad mourning his families loss?
Joan is right, people who've grown up on family farms see animals every day, and have very different opinions on what seems okay. The ones I know are fiercely opposed to factory farm conditions but have no problems with pastured cows, and chickens roaming outside.
I grew up visiting my cousins dairy farm and I have to admit the cows didn't seem to care much, but I remember the calves were right with them. Don't know what went on beyond that, but it never felt right that they weren't just left alone. I saw it as being bullied, against their will, when they had lives of their own.
Just as it's totally wrong to think that humans are so much smarter by comparing all other species to our intellectual standards when we're obviously pretty stupid when compared to their standards, it's unequal to compare our emotional lives.
The only thing that should matter is that they do have their own lives and we should have no authority to keep them captive, in this modern world. It's like wool- yes, you can have a symbiotic give and take with sheep where you only shear it enough to make a nice waterproof sweater that will last for years and years. But that's not the world we live in now. We've made a disposable world where we don't care about throwing things away when we're tired of caring for them. So we should not create products that use sentient life.
There are so many practical reasons for not using animals that the whole 'compassion' thing doesn't even need to come up
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#77 Old 01-22-2016, 04:17 PM
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Pixie,

All you can do, is all you can do.

I have a pair of leather shoes I bought before going vegan. They are in pretty good shape, and I am waiting for them to wear out. I use them for my uniform at work, and they fit the bill. When they wear out, I will explore a vegan option. Until then....

I see no problem with you getting the shoes you need.

Life is too short. Worry about the real big issues. The sun will come up tomorrow.

You'll be fine.

All animals should be respected & should have the ability to lead a natural & enjoyable life. This means not eating them, or abusing them in any way.
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#78 Old 01-23-2016, 07:45 AM
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As I was recently mulling this very subject, I figured I'd join the forum and share my experience.

I had for the longest time coveted a nice pair of oxfords like those my younger brother so expertly donned. I bemoaned to him my inability to find nice faux leather shoes. He flipped up the tongue on one of his and said "These aren't leather - says 100% man-made material." I'm an idiot! Of course in this age of producing products at minimal cost, antiquated emphasis on specific materials is considered passe.

Department stores are loaded with handsome synthetic 'leather' shoes, I had just always assumed everything was real leather and walked on by. Vegan-specific outfitters online are generally ungodly expensive and severely lacking in style - at least as it pertains to shoes for guys. Of course, sweat shops present another ethical quandary.
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