Creating A Safer Movement

Creating A Safer Movement

“When one of us gets tired, our allies prop us up and take over.

We pass the torch and then pass it again.”

Although the animal protection movement is populated largely by women, as with most industries, women are underrepresented in positions of power. After the initial #MeToo fallout, stories began to surface of (predominantly) female activists suffering harassment at the hands of employers, colleagues, and donors, including in some of the most well-known and most respected advocacy organizations. Because the women targeted were activists, abusers and enablers had long maintained a culture of staying silent “for the sake of the animals,” rather than denouncing successful male activists. The #ARMeToo conversation focused on the need to create a safer space for all activists, highlighting that for every successful male activist who was kept in the movement and in the spotlight, an unknown number of women would leave the movement burnt out and demoralized.

Jaya Bhumitra, former International Director of Corporate Outreach for Animal Equality, shared with us her insights on how #ARMeToo and #TimesUpAR have impacted the community, and how the movement has evolved over the last few years.

“While the years leading up to the height of #ARMeToo and #TimesUpAR in the spring of 2018 – and the subsequent reckoning – were emotionally wrought and exhausting for many of us working to create a safer and healthier space for women and non-binary folks to participate in activism, the solidarity that emerged among us has been the most beautiful silver lining.

As soon as we started sharing our stories of survival with each other, our strength grew. While self-preservation is absolutely necessary when coping with issues of harassment and sexual harassment, speaking in whispers and secrets also protects the perpetrators.

It’s not possible for every survivor to come forward – they need to consider their safety and emotional energy – and that’s why I have been so heartened to see so many women and non-binary folks speaking out about these important issues on behalf of each other. When one of us gets tired, our allies prop us up and take over. We pass the torch and then pass it again.

‘Trauma-bonding’ is not the happiest way to make connections, but the friendships we’ve gained from it have contributed to creating a whole new infrastructure for the movement built on trust and support. With this more secure foundation in place, we are less personally encumbered and more able to refocus on helping the animals we came here to liberate.”

Why I rarely use the term “intersectional”

Why I rarely use the term “intersectional”

“We must address gender inequity in our movement,

but not at the expense of racial inequity”

I’m a queer woman of colour, born from immigrant parents, and the founder and executive director of Encompass, a new organization fostering greater racial diversity, equity, and inclusion in the farmed animal protection movement. Because my identities live on so many different margins, I am constantly thinking about the intersections of various social justice issues.

I found my way into animal advocacy when I was in seventh grade and learned about how animals are used and abused through a frog dissection project in my biology class. Since then, I’ve worked on just about all animal issues from circuses, zoos, fur farms, vivisection, puppy mills, factory farming, and more. And I have also worked in other social justice movements, including those striving for racial equity, queer rights, and reproductive freedom.

Now that I spend most of my time in the farmed animal protection movement supporting fellow advocates of colour, I find myself thinking about race and gender even more than before. It’s interesting how many people approach me with gender-related issues, simply because I focus on race-related issues.

Don’t get me wrong––there is a lot of overlap in how the roots of oppression manifest, and I always appreciate the opportunity to support others and think about how gender and race operate simultaneously. But I find that when conversations about gender arise, we are typically talking about white women unless otherwise specified. This is because gender is often centered around whiteness. Similarly, when we talk about species, it is almost always centered around humanness.

These days I hear the term “intersectionality” used with a fair amount of frequency when gender and race are discussed side-by-side and, to be honest, it causes the hairs on my neck to stand up (which I’ll get to in a moment).

To truly understand intersectionality we have to go back to the creator of the term itself, Kimberlé Crenshaw, who back in 1989 used it to address the dual systems of gender and race, specifically for Black women. She highlighted that being Black and being a woman independently doesn’t look the same as being a Black woman, and she implored our society to better understand and address this particular intersection.

Today “intersectionality” is often incorrectly used to explain just about any intersection of oppression. Some say this is a co-optation by white people to “divorce [the concept] from its roots, and re-appropriat[e] it in some way that serves white interests.” This is part of the reason why Encompass rarely uses the term, and when we do it’s intentional. In short, we should avoid using the term “intersectionality” whenever we want to connect two issues, as it erases its original meaning––the oppression of Black women.

This is also why, when Encompass works with white allies, we focus exclusively on racial equity. I regularly hear an increased desire to work holistically to address multiple under-represented groups, especially women, and this is commendable. Many of the tools Encompass will employ can be used to better address other marginalized groups. However, we find that when multiple issue areas are discussed simultaneously, the race conversation gets lost.

Our movement—and the United States on the whole—hasn’t ever truly grappled with racial inequity. When we have fear about the language we should use, about how to talk about race in the workplace, how to address inequities, and more, it shows me that we need to carve out space to focus on this issue. This is not to say we should only talk about race in isolation, without discussing and understanding how gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, and other aspects of our identities affect our advocacy, but I would encourage our movement to be okay with settling into a difficult and lengthy conversation about race without letting discussions of gender take it over.

Similarly, when conversations around gender arise—even if they are mostly comprised of white women (or maybe, especially if they are)—it’s important to set intention to understand how race/racism might be simultaneously operating. For until we intentionally address race, we are unintentionally ignoring it—and that action has consequences.

Animals, Feminism, and Antiblackness

Animals, Feminism, and Antiblackness

W omen are the footsoldiers of the animal movement.  And its philosophers and strategists as well.  Some of the most generative theorizing in the emergent intellectual-political field of animal studies has been produced by (eco)feminist scholars committed to exploring how the subjugation of women is related to that of animals—for example, through dominative ideologies authorizing the violent instrumentalization of the (human and nonhuman) female body’s sexual and reproductive capacities under neoliberal capitalism.  Queer and trans scholars, too, are deepening the critique of gender as a system of power intimately connected to speciesism.

For animal studies, and feminist studies, too, the path forward goes through, not around, black studies.

A ‘race turn’ is now observable within the field of animal studies, as well.  Having a ‘race panel’ is de rigeur in animal conferences, and the race/species nexus has been the specific organizational focus of symposia, single authored books, edited volumes, and blogs.  More often than not, however, race simply substitutes for gender here; it is inserted as a replacement variable whose interaction effects with speciesism are then posited as the updated object of inquiry.  Instead of ‘what is the relation of gender to speciesism,’ we now have ‘what is the relation of race to speciesism’—as if the first answer can be ‘added’ to the second answer, as if gaining understanding were a matter of (seamless) accumulation.

Dr. Claire Jean Kim. Photo by Carly Daniel and supplied by Claire Jean Kim

Dr. Claire Jean Kim. Photo by Carly Daniel and supplied by Claire Jean Kim

The limits of this approach to knowledge production are best appreciated if we consider a pivotal argument made by black feminist thinkers past and present: that gender is always raced and race is always gendered.  In other words, the separation between the two questions posed above is a false one: gender is not an independent category that is analogous and parallel to race but rather a category that is refracted or lived through race.  Black feminist thinkers have been making this argument for a long time—from abolitionist Sojourner Truth, to anti-lynching activist Ida Wells, to theorists Hortense Spillers and Sylvia Wynter—often in response to white feminists who assert the ontological reality of a universal ‘woman’ without accounting for the staggering disparities in the power, status, and freedom enjoyed by black and white women. Without accounting, that is, for the fact that it is black women who have been enslaved, raped by slavers, used as experimental subjects, had their children sold on the auction block, killed with impunity, forcibly sterilized by the state, criminalized, incarcerated, and shot down by police and others caught up in the throes of what the philosopher Frantz Fanon called Negrophobia.

A new wave of black feminist vegan bloggers are bringing the lessons of black feminist thought to bear on the animal question, speaking as black women to the entanglements of gender, race (or, to name the historical specificity of the status of blacks more precisely, antiblackness), and speciesism.  The issue of vantage points was brought home to me at a recent conference, where a black woman speaker recounted seeing cows in a dairy facility and feeling a ‘visceral’ connection with them through her geneaological connection to racial slavery.  As a nonblack woman whose ancestors were not tormented in the gendered racial project that was U.S. slavery, I was stunned by this observation—by the force of the connection asserted and the fact that my imagined connections to farmed animals did not and could not travel this route.

Nor is this ‘visceral’ spark a matter of one individual’s emotions.  Rather, it reflects a distinct collective epistemological-philosophical vantage point that can help to illuminate the ways in which the human-animal hierarchy is mapped onto, and secured by, an antiblack racial order.  For animal studies, and feminist studies, too, the path forward goes through, not around, black studies.

Claire Jean Kim is Professor of Political Science and Asian American Studies at University of California, Irvine, where she teaches classes in comparative race studies, human-animal studies, and social movements. Her first book, Bitter Fruit: The Politics of Black-Korean Conflict in New York City (Yale University Press, 2000) is the recipient of the American Political Science Association’s Ralph Bunche Award for the Best Book on Ethnic and Cultural Pluralism and a Best Book Award from the American Political Science Association Organized Section on Race, Ethnicity, and Politics. Her second book, Dangerous Crossings: Race, Species, and Nature in a Multicultural Age (Cambridge University Press, 2015), is the also the recipient of a Best Book Award from the American Political Science Association Organized Section on Race, Ethnicity, and Politics. Dr. Kim has written numerous journal articles, book chapters, and essays, and she is co-editor of a special issue of American Quarterly entitled Species/Race/Sex (2013). She is the recipient of a grant from the University of California Center for New Racial Studies, and she has been a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and the University of California Humanities Research Institute. She co-organized the Race and Animals Institute at Wesleyan in 2016.  She is currently working on two book projects, one on Asian Americans and antiblackness and one on the interconstitution of blackness and animality.

What My Rescue Dog Taught Me About Love, Motherhood, and Serenity

What My Rescue Dog Taught Me About Love, Motherhood, and Serenity

Jasmin Singer and Rose. Photo credit: Jessica Mahady.

Jasmin Singer and Rose. Photo credit: Jessica Mahady.

If I had a dirty diaper for every time I was told that motherhood defines being a woman, and defines love, I’d be living in a shit storm. (Thankfully, I haven’t been counting the mentions.) Call me radical, but I am a woman who chose not to have children, yet I am indeed full of love, and I hereby object to that theory.

You might say I am living proof that the assumption that a woman with no children cannot possibly understand the love between a mother and her child is a false one. For me, understanding that unique, heartfelt connection is one of the most important components in my ability to empathize with the plight of other beings – setting me on my life’s path to change the world for animals. Not only is it true that you don’t have to be a mother to understand love, but you don’t even have to be a mother to understand the love between a mother and her baby. To me, the saddest irony is when the most adamant naysayers actively participate in depriving animals of their very own maternal instincts.

My Mother’s Love

I was four years old when my mother and I got locked in a vestibule that connected two buildings in a nearby community college, where, on Sundays, I took ballet. My memory of this is obviously hazy, but I do clearly recall two things: 1. I was wearing my favorite tutu (the shiny purple one that was extra ruffley); and 2. Even though, on one hand, I was scared, on the other I was ecstatic to have my mom all to myself. (Take that, big brother.) Given the fact that it is now thirty-two years later and I am writing this, you can see that we did, in fact, eventually get out.

When I was a little girl growing up in suburban New Jersey, man-oh-man was I obsessed with my mom. The unconditional love that my mother showered back on me is something that helped shape me, a warm-fuzzy quality that I like to think I bring to my various relationships these days – with my wife, with my friends, with my dog. Just like Mom, I’m doting and devoted. And even though I chose not to have children, the values of goodness and kindness that she helped instill are, I hope, as embedded in my days as my morning coffee. They wake me up. I need them.

Yet every time someone says that “you don’t know real love until you’ve been a mother,” I feel my ovaries begin to boil. Though I don’t doubt for a second the overwhelming love that (most) mothers feel when they gaze at their baby — and I think I’m safe in assuming there might even be a chemical reaction going on making that love even bigger and better — as a person who chose not to have children, there is one thing I don’t lack in life, and that’s love.

My Dog, the Mother

As I am writing this, my twelve-year-old rescued pit bull, Rose, is sitting on the bed looking at me, her paws nestled close on each side of her face, her brow alternately lifting – left then right, left then right. It’s so cute I can hardly stand it. In a moment, when she says so, I will need to help her get down the stairs, because she’s shaped a bit like a fireplug, and she doesn’t bend in the middle. Plus, she’s elderly, and sometimes needs a hand with things I took for granted when she was younger and could jump as high as my shoulders.

Rose and I love each other. A lot. Of that I have no question. Given our connection, you can imagine that even though I try to ignore it, there are moments every day when my mind lingers for a second too long on Rose’s early days: Being found tied to a tree in Washington, D.C., where she had been left for several days… Being taken to a “shelter,” where they killed all pit bulls… Sufficiently wooing the friendly, brave employees there, who had formed an underground railroad of sorts, sneaking out the lucky few dogs who had, for some reason, won their “let’s live!” lotto.

Years ago, I got out of that vestibule and made it to my ballet class nearly on time. Not as many years ago, Rose the Dog got out of hell, and managed to find a place in our heart and home.

She was one year old when she was rescued, and her teats hung down low – she had just weaned puppies. Though we’ll never know what had come before that, we suspect that Rose might have been used as a breeding dog. Her reproductive capacities were exploited when she was only a puppy.

Sometimes I think of how adorable (and tragic) her own offspring must have been, and I wonder if they, too, escaped the oppressive cycle they were born into. I imagine Rose’s brand new puppies squirming their way up her body to her teats for some breakfast, and Rose seamlessly falling into the role of the nurturing Mama. Sometimes I allow my imagination to go back further, and picture Rose as a newborn herself – her gigantic triangular ears no doubt just as tall as she was, her eyes still glued shut as she instinctively made her way to her own Mama’s teats. It’s all so goddamn incredible – the miracle of life and all that.

Jasmin Singer and Rose. Photo supplied by Jasmin Singer.

Jasmin Singer and Rose. Photo supplied by Jasmin Singer.

Exploiting Hearts

Animals have a remarkable capacity to love, and – if you’re lucky – you have a remarkable capacity to love those animals. Love does not need to be severed by species, just as different variations of love (mother to offspring, partner to partner, friend to friend) doesn’t need to be limited or defined by race, gender, class, or able-bodiedness.

A mother’s love is strong, no doubt. Rose’s love for her puppies – those little slimy, squirmy critters who were taken away from her so soon – was, I’m sure, profound, just as Rose’s love for her mother was. We need our mothers, after all. We all do, regardless of what species we arbitrarily happen to have been assigned.

Like love, the exploitation of the reproductive capacities of animals also spans species. In many societies, female adultery can be punishable by death. Still in modern day, there are places where men keep a strong hold on their wives, ensuring that their reproductive parts are there to do their job – to please the men, to make the babies, to be of service.

Meanwhile, the reproductive capacities of non-human female animals are exploited and commodified: Dairy cows are constantly impregnated only to have their babies forcibly removed from them and turned into veal calves, or dairy cows themselves. (Cows are commonly known to bellow for days when their babies are stolen, so that we can then steal their milk.) Egg-laying hens are crammed into tiny cages so small that they can’t stand up or turn around, and when they are considered “spent” – when their egg-laying weans – they are killed for low-grade meat (much like the aforementioned dairy cows). And dogs like Rose are made to breed puppies that they never know so that humans can fight them or sell them.

Jasmin Singer with a calf at Farm Sanctuary, Watkins Glen, NY. Photo credit: Cameron Icard.

Jasmin Singer with a calf at Farm Sanctuary, Watkins Glen, NY. Photo credit: Cameron Icard.

Drying Up Assumptions

The love between a mother and child is indeed powerful, and that’s true of non-human animals too. In virtually every form of animal exploitation, animals are ripped away from their mothers, their babies. They suffer, like we do. And they love, like we also do.

During those unfortunate moments when I am told my eggs are “drying up” because I am approaching my late thirties and haven’t mothered, I wonder if the person preaching to me is aware that when the eggs of a hen “dry up,” she will be killed. I wonder how often people who judge me for being childfree, and who assume that I am somehow deprived – or worse, selfish – make the connection between their consumption habits, and the exploitation of the reproductive parts of non-human animals – females and males alike.

It is a system that is literally banking on tearing mothers and babies away from each other.

Reinventing Her Story

Rose is outside now, frolicking and being silly, obsessed a little too monomaniacally with a certain spot in the soil. She’s sniffing something important, but I’ll never know what it is. I love that dog, and my love runs deep. The hope she gives me for finding serenity is impossible to explain. Her ability to trust again, even with the nightmare of a life she has seen, floors me.

It will probably offend some, and make others scoff, but I am pretty sure that my adoration for my dog is somewhere along the lines of how my mother felt when she watched me plié in that purple tutu over thirty years ago, when – just like today – my love knew no bounds.

Jasmin Singer. Photo credit: Derek Goodwin.

Jasmin Singer. Photo credit: Derek Goodwin.

Jasmin Singer is the author of the forthcoming memoir, Always Too Much and Never Enough (February 2, 2016, Berkley — Penguin Books USA), which details her journey finding herself through juicing, veganism, and love, as she went from fat to thin and from feeding her emotions to feeding her soul. She is the Executive Director of Our Hen House, a multimedia hub for people who want to change the world for animals. The award-winning, weekly Our Hen House podcast, which she co-hosts with her wife, animal law professor Mariann Sullivan, has been going strong for six years. Jasmin, Mariann, and Rose live in New York City.

Sexism is Speciesism

Sexism is Speciesism

Caregivers at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary tend to a turkey. Photo by Lisa Kemmerer.

Caregivers at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary tend to a turkey. Photo by Lisa Kemmerer.

One only need glance around at any protest, meeting, or conference to note that there is a preponderance of women shaping and driving animal advocacy.  Frankly, in any social justice cause it is most often women who volunteer to create and distribute fliers, prepare posters and food for meetings and events, make necessary phone calls, and draft required letters.  Women offer creative solutions to problems of justice, foster community among activists, and show the way forward in difficult situations. Whether preparing posters or standing up to corporations, women form the front lines of social justice advocacy, including animal liberation. But when we look to who is holding the megaphone, chairing the meeting, or speaking at the podium, it is usually men. Why is this the case given that women have formed and continue to form the foundation and backbone of animal advocacy?  The vital contributions of women in social justice advocacy generally, and animal liberation specifically, deserve more recognition.

In patriarchal societies, which exist across Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas, women have traditionally been viewed as a support system for men, not as agents in their own right. In such cultures women have traditionally been (and in many places still are) property of their husbands legally, and are often confined to the home where they are exploited for labor:   They are expected to tend homes, cook, and provide both offspring and child care.  In exchange, “breadwinners” (men who hold the wealth) provide a home and food.  Women who fail to perform expected duties are at risk of being abused, cast out, or even killed.

As breadwinners, men often feel entitled to exploit women in the home and dispose of them as they please. In particular, women have been exploited for reproduction—for intercourse-on-demand and resultant offspring.  Traditionally, men desire sons to work alongside and inherit wealth, and women who have failed to produce sons—or who fail to produce children—have been at risk of being cast out or traded-in for a woman who is able to perform these services.  Women are comparatively powerless in relation to men—devalued, at risk of abuse, insecure in their homes and their communities.

Like women, anymals (any animal other than my own species) are expected to provide labor and offspring in exchange for upkeep.  Those who do not fulfill this expectation are at risk of abuse and/or being killed or cast out.  Those who are in power feel entitled to exploit donkeys, ponies, dogs, or elephants and to dispose of them as they please if they do not perform as expected or desired.

Animal activists, when working for change on behalf of farmed animals, target extreme confinement of farrowing, gestation, and veal crates, as well as battery cages. What is the common denominator of these practices?  These extremely cruel forms of confinement only affect female farmed animals—cows, hens, and sows.  These unfortunate individuals suffer the longest and the most severely because they are females—because they are exploited for their reproductive powers.  Female farmed animals are violated, forced into pregnancy, forced to birth, forced into a motherhood they never experience because their young are snatched from them at birth or shortly thereafter.  Because they are females, cows, hens, and sows not only suffer the worst industry practices, but they also suffer for the longest time period.*


Exploiting and abusing women and farmed animals are both injustices of the powerful over the disempowered—stemming from the same selfish source, they are manifest in similar ways.  Consequently, if we are to bring change, those who work on behalf of anymals must also work on behalf of women, and those who hope to free women must also work to free anymals. Injustices stemming from the powerful against the disempowered also fuel racism, heterosexism, ageism, cissexism, and ableism.  Consequently, it makes no sense to fight one form of oppression while fueling another.  Sexism is speciesism is racism.

We can only further the cause of equality and peaceful co-existence if we start with ourselves.  We must each own and let go of power, privilege, and forms of exploitation over others, whether farmed animals, women, people of color, the aged, and so on. Because the source of the problem is the same—selfish exploitation of the disempowered by the powerful—the solution is the same: Foster and exemplify an equality and respect for all of humanity and for all living beings that disallows marginalization and exploitation. This requires that women—especially minorities—be recognized for their contributions to social justice activism, including animal advocacy, and that men move away from the microphones, megaphones, and podiums so that the full potential of women can be realized on behalf of anymals around the world.

*For a more detailed discussion see “Appendix: Factory Farming and Females” in Lisa Kemmerer, ed. Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice, p.173-185. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011.

Lisa Kemmerer and Mango. Photo supplied by Lisa Kemmerer

Lisa Kemmerer and Mango. Photo supplied by Lisa Kemmerer.

Lisa Kemmerer, professor of philosophy and religions at Montana State University Billings, is a philosopher-activist working on behalf of nonhuman animals, the environment, and disempowered human beings. Graduate of Reed, Harvard, and Glasgow University (Scotland), Kemmerer has written/edited nine books , including Eating Earth: Dietary choice and Environmental HealthAnimals and World ReligionsAnimals and the Environment: Advocacy, Activism, and the Quest for Common Ground, and Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice.  You can learn more about her work at


Women, Animals, & the Future of Work

Women, Animals, & the Future of Work

Women’s work with animals reveals so much about lives and deaths, about money and power, and about the entanglements of pain, anger, care, happiness, and hope. We should see the diverse threads, but also imagine this collection of work as a tapestry, one with vibrant patterns, along with rips, holes, and patches sewn carefully or hastily, because it was risky or because there simply wasn’t enough time. There are contentious corners, too, and designs that have been covered or cut-out because they were scorned, painful, flawed, or threatening to others.

Susie Coston, National Shelter Director at Farm Sanctuary

Susie Coston, National Shelter Director at Farm Sanctuary

Women have worked with animals at all stages of history, across every culture and landscape. Women, and especially working class, poor, rural, and racialized women, have regularly been responsible for unglamorous yet essential daily labour, and often have had to take on the dirtiest and most emotionally-trying tasks. Sadly, many women have also had to “choose” between brutal poverty and an awful job that harms animals.

Some workforce dynamics are shifting, and certain jobs with animals that have historically been male-dominated, like veterinarian, are undergoing gendered changes. Women have held most veterinary technician and nursing positions, but today, in a number of countries, women also comprise the majority of students in veterinary medicine programs — although tuition fees are often high and that affects which women can afford this employment route. How an influx of women will affect veterinary practice, cultures, and advocacy is still to-be-determined.

Overall, many types of work with animals, particularly in caring and protective sectors, are still not well-respected or well-compensated.  Nevertheless, among women able to more freely choose their career paths, many are motivated by their love for animals, and they endure low pay, job insecurity, and difficult working conditions because they want to make a difference for individual animals or whole species.

Moreover, much of the work women do with and for animals generates no income at all. The unpaid and often unrecognized work done in homes and families to feed, heal, teach, and empower makes all social and economic activity possibility. Around the world, women continue to perform the majority of this unpaid domestic labour, and often this work involves caring for animals. At the same time, animals assist women in homes and communities of all sizes, by engaging in caring, protective, transportation, and manual work. When women are confronting domestic violence, are homeless, or are precariously-housed, the importance of the companionship and protective work done by animals and dogs in particular cannot be over-stated.

The life-saving political work women do with and for animals is not often paid or well-paid, and is virtually never done with income front-of-mind. Most animal advocacy organizations would not exist in the current political and economic context without the unpaid labour of volunteers, activists, and everyday women who manage to find some time to help. Plus, even in situations of paid employment, it is women who disproportionately take on the boring and demanding tasks, the interpersonal work of tending to others and preventing or mediating disputes, everything that gets forgotten or pushed aside.

This pattern is not unique to animal advocacy work. More women (and progressive men) across workplaces are asking important questions about the distribution of power, credit, and labour of all kinds, including emotional work. That is a much-needed first step.

Dr. Devi, founder of the Animal India Trust, with their mobile clinic in Delhi, India

Dr. Devi, founder of the Animal India Trust, with their mobile clinic in Delhi, India

Yet these are complicated dynamics without easy answers or a single solution. A simple refusal to do unpaid tasks or undervalued jobs won’t suffice – and, as noted, many women do not have a real choice about where they work because of high unemployment and underemployment rates, discrimination, forced migration, and other barriers. Moreover, women who take care of others do so to challenge the very insensitivity and selfishness that helps fuel greed, violence, and suffering within and across species.

Part of the solution requires men to recognize their privileges and their responsibility to share in unpleasant and/or essential caring work in homes and in spaces of paid and unpaid labour. Similarly, we all ought to encourage broader conversations about how to not only recognize but genuinely value those who work to support others. There is potential to forge alliances among women and men who understand the challenges and essentialness of care work, and who can find common cause whether their efforts are currently focused on people, animals, or multispecies connections. Care work, wherever it is done, is at the heart of more caring societies.

Therefore we absolutely must promote new paid jobs and whole employment sectors that are underscored by respect for all sentient beings. In that spirit, I propose an increased commitment to improving, expanding, and creating what I call humane jobs: jobs that benefit both people and animals. Many jobs are lousy for people and even worse for animals, and spaces of paid work are where the most horrific and large-scale violence against animals occurs. So in addition to critique, let’s work towards alternatives.

People needs jobs, and with careful work and political will we can move away from practices that harm people, animals, and the planet, towards positive, healthy, sustainable, and ethical alternatives. Opportunities exist in health care, conservation, humane education, agriculture, cruelty investigations, among other sectors.

Kendra Coulter and Lenny. Photo supplied by Kendra Coulter.

Kendra Coulter and Lenny. Photo supplied by Kendra Coulter.

Women have long worked for bread and roses – for the material needs of life, but also for joy, peace, and dignity – for themselves and others. Women deserve nothing less, and so do animals. And neither is possible without work.

Dr. Kendra Coulter is an associate professor in the Centre for Labour Studies at Brock University in Canada where she teaches the unique and popular course “Animals at Work.” An award-winning author, Kendra’s latest book is Animals, Work, and the Promise of Interspecies Solidarity.  She is now conducting a path-making multi-year research project on humane jobs funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.