Where Sexual Assault is the Norm: The Unseen Standard Practices of an Industry
This is not a story I expect will be widely read or shared but I am going to ask that you please consider reading and sharing it if you see fit. It should go without saying based on the title of this piece, trigger warnings apply.
Like many vegans, I get Google Alerts about news items that relate to veganism. A lot of times, especially these days, the stories are really positive and uplifting. Restaurants opening, chains carrying plant-based options, trends shifting, heck, even Disney World is getting on board. Sometimes, though, a disturbing story seizes the media and for a week or two, the tabloids really mine it for everything it’s worth. This was the case recently when the story broke about a man who goes by the name “Sexy Vegan” was charged with sexually assaulting his dog. (I will not link to the story here but it is easy to find with his name.)
It is my sincere hope that, if convicted, he is sentenced to the fullest extent of the law and he is prevented from ever having an animal in his “care” again.
I was compelled to write this because while the tabloids seem to think it’s comedic, I believe that people for the most part really do care about this for the right reasons. It is upsetting and infuriating to know that an innocent animal was sexually assaulted, perhaps more than once. If we are bothered by that — and we should be — it is worth pointing out that the sexual assault of animals by the people who hold their fate happens on a mass scale every day. In fact, consumers’ dollars pay for it to happen. It is just as brutal and senseless; it is also fully premeditated. Whole industries exist for aiding and abetting this sexual violence. The only differences? Species and culture make one seem cruel and wrong and the other, well, perfectly normal if it is noticed at all.
Farmed animals like turkeys, pigs, goats and cows are forcibly impregnated repeatedly over their short, tragic lives until they are considered “spent,” meaning they are producing fewer offspring and/or milk. Their babies are almost always taken away from them very shortly after birth and the female progeny are put into the same severe cycle of forced reproduction as their mothers. They are sexually violated using artificial insemination via human agents most often, as breeding with a male of their species is an inefficient use of time and money with less predictable results. Artificial insemination may sound so detached, it is almost clinical, but in reality, metal rods filled with semen are pushed into a restrained, unconsenting female for the purpose of impregnation repeatedly throughout her life.
How is this not sexual assault? Are we so brainwashed by capitalism that if sexual assault results in tasty ice cream or bacon instead of simply sexual gratification, it is not only justifiable but acceptable?
This violation that occurs every moment of every day against non-consenting farmed animals is only illegal when it’s bestiality; when it is the standard industry practice, as it is, it is normative and unexceptional. Farmed animals’ reproduction systems have been weaponized against them to create products, or future products, against the female’s own best interests. She is little more than a host. If you have researched this, you know it. This is why when I see someone with a coffee drink swirled high with whipped cream, I cannot not detach myself from the recognition that what I am seeing is nothing less than the aftermath of sexual assault.
You are right to feel upset with the news story about the individual who sexually assaulted his dog. But if you are bothered by it, please also understand that sexual assault — every moment of every day — is the established norm of animal agribusiness. If that bothers you, I would ask that you consider withholding your consent to this brutal violation against bodily autonomy by not supporting industries, like animal agribusiness, that cruelly exploit and violate as part of their standard operating practices.
Believing that one form of sexual assault is wrong and one is acceptable is not just irrational and hypocritical, it allows the needless suffering of innocent, feeling animals to continue unabated.
Marla Rose is the co-founder of VeganStreet.com and VeganStreetMedia.com.