5 Reasons Why Women Make Great Leaders for the Animal Rights Movement

International Women’s Day, which is this Sunday, is the perfect opportunity to honor how far women have come. Admittedly, women’s rights still has a way to go (as Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech painfully reminded us). But women are also in a unique position — intrinsically and from experience — to lead one of the most pressing social justice issues of our time: the fight for animal rights.

Why Animal Rights?

Animal rights encompasses everything: health, the environment and our moral stance. Here is some evidence that our carnist culture is destroying us:

  • Factory farming is creating antibiotic resistant superbugs.
  • Farm fertilizers are largely responsible for our ocean dead zones.
  • Most of our water resources are going to the animals that we consume (even in times of drought).
  • We’re cutting down our trees — our second pair of lungs — to make room for livestock.
  • We’re feeding grains that could nourish the world’s hungry (870 million people) to livestock.
  • Experts fear that times of war, conflict and terror will come down to water and food scarcity.

Saying we’re not going to use (for entertainment), abuse, eat, wear and experiment on animals is the ultimate rejection of speciesism — a system built on oppression, exploitation and violence.

Why Women?

In essence, oppression recognizes oppression. Women can help us heal, and here are a few reasons why, largely inspired by Feminists for Animal Rights:

1. The gaze. While the entitled male gaze strips women of their identity to focus on her assets, the entitled carnist gaze strips animals of their identity to focus on how the animal tastes. Both require detaching the personhood from the body.

For some perspective, in a short 2012 essay, user vegetarianmythmyth writes, “So often, I feel hunted, I walk down the street with the male gaze gauging me like a gun. I understand the deer’s predicament, her fear of men.”

2. Language. Language is powerful because it reinforces what the gaze wants to see. Joan Dunayer writes a fascinating piece on how, “Just as sexist language demeans women and excludes them from full consideration, speciesist language demeans and excludes nonhuman animals. When we consign other animals to the category thing, we obscure their sentience, individuality and right to autonomy.”

It isn’t a coincidence that when someone wants to attack a woman, they will resort to invoking an animal-related slur, e.g. the word that starts with “B” and rhymes with itch. And if the woman is overweight than she’s no better than a fat cow, an elephant, a “landwhale” or a “hamplanet.”

If that doesn’t shock you, then how does “rape rack” (a common dairy industry term where cows are artificially inseminated) make you feel? Could it contribute to our rape culture of violence against all female bodies?

3. Property. Like women, animals are property — objects — to be owned. While this is sadly true in some parts of the world today, the idea that women were property was a popular and accepted belief.

Animals of all types are sold, bought and auctioned off every single day. I mean, in 2015, a progressive nation like France stepped up and said that animals are sentient beings, not furniture.

4. Motherhood. Animals aren’t property because nonhuman mothers love and want to bond with their babies. Renee King-Sonnen, who went from a cattle rancher’s wife to a vegan animal sanctuary owner, felt that longing as she saw baby calves being driven off, “Mammas were running after the trailer. It just blew my mind. And then they cried for, like, a week or more.”

Mother pigs are known to sing to their piglets while nursing. And we’ve heard about the strong bonds that orcas and their babies share.

5. Culture. The good news is that women can put an end to this. As Phylicia Rashad says, “Where the women go, the culture goes.” It’s not a surprise that more women are rejecting animal cruelty by adopting a veg-friendly lifestyle. According to the Huffington Post, 79 percent of vegans are women and 59 percent of vegetarians are women. If veganism keeps its momentum, then by 2050 the United States could be vegan.

But we need women to keep the momentum going, and it’s as easy as starting in the home. After all, we still do most of the cooking and cleaning anyway. Let’s fill those bellies, minds and hearts with compassionate choices, so that our children 1) have a planet to live on and 2) have a more compassionate world to live in.

And to the men: we will always need your support.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Jerome S
Jerome S1 years ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Sheena Looi
Sheena Looi2 years ago


Darren Woolsey
Darren Woolsey3 years ago

Shared everywhere!

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla3 years ago

I hate being sexist, but I see this in my country. The majority of volunteers and the people who have created the organizations that help animals are women. I know there are exceptions; there are always exceptions of course.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the interesting article.

Elizabeth Z.
Elizabeth Z3 years ago

One of the best decisions I have made is going vegan...not just my diet, but my lifestyle as well. You are not truly an animal lover if you consume and use animals in any way.

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey3 years ago

We know women do things best.

Janet B.
Janet B3 years ago