This short video piece featuring Carol Adams, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat, provides a very powerful snapshot of how chickens and turkeys are sexualized by popular culture, and of how the oppression of women and animals are deeply connected, exposing the insidious cultural myth that animals “want” to be consumed in the same manner that women “want” to be objectified. Adams uses a number of compelling visuals — real-life examples of sexualized portraits of chickens and turkeys in the media — and explains how these visuals function to reinforce the dual message of sexism and specieism.
To paraphrase Adams, when we sexualize animals, the uneasiness we have about eating them is displaced and diffused through comic relief — imagery of sexy animals makes us laugh and reduces whoever is being represented to an object. What should be an ethical concern has now been reduced to a joke.
“We sexualize and feminize dead animals who are going to be eaten or consumed. We make them appetizing as sexually consumable.” “We imply that they want to be consumed.” Adams cites the example of an ad for organic chicken, in which Rosie the chicken is portrayed as a streetwalker in high heels. Often, “symbols or tropes from prostitution or pornography are laid over the dead chicken to not only imply consumability, but the desire to be consumed.”
Another feminist writer, Carolyn Zaikowski, has noted that, at its very core, “Animal farming is the most large-scale, institutionalized control of female reproduction, sex, and bodies-in-general that has ever existed.” It is impossible to argue with this perspective, and once we accept its basic premise, the deeper connections between eating animals and oppressing women become undeniably clear.
This video is part of an exhibit called, Uncooped: Deconstructing the Domesticated Chicken, from The National Museum of Animals & Society