Books

- by Carol J. Adams - Bloomsburry

The Sexual Politics of Meat

The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory explores a relationship between patriarchal values and meat eating by interweaving the insights of feminism, vegetarianism, animal defense, and literary theory. The New York Times called it “a bible of the vegan community.” This October, a twenty-fifth anniversary edition was published as the book enters the Bloomsbury Revelations series. http://bloomsbury.com/us/the-sexual-politics-of-meat-9781501312830/

When it first appeared in 1990, Library Journal called The Sexual Politics of Meat “an important and provocative work” and predicted it would “inspire and enrage readers across the political spectrum.” True to Library Journal’s prediction, the book was hailed by CHOICE as a “’bible’ for feminist and progressive animal rights activists” and equally reviled by conservative commentators, including Rush Limbaugh.

The Sexual Politics of Meat explains the concept of “the absent referent.” Behind every meal of meat is an absence: the death of the animal whose place the meat takes. This is the “absent referent.” The absent referent functions to cloak the violence inherent to meat eating, to protect the conscience of the meat eater and render the idea of individual animals as immaterial to anyone’s selfish desires. It is that which separates the meat eater from the animal and the animal from the end product. The function of the absent referent is to keep our “meat” separated from any idea that she or he was once an animal, to keep something from being seen as having been someone, to allow for the moral abandonment of another being.

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