Speciesism is easy. Humans oppress non-humans.
What if it gets more complicated? Numerous bloggers on VoC have questioned the way that vegans, AR activists, and everyone else respond to the oppression of some animals over others; the oppression of whales, simians, and pets (as defined in the North/West) as oppossed to livestock (as defined in the North/West), deer, and bugs.
The way we see, and judge, speciesism is shaped by our own socio-cultural contexts.
The closer an animal is to us (physiologically or mythologically) the more we care. We value animals we have deemed to be smarter over the dumber ones. The cute over the ugly. The human-esque over the alien. Animals that we used to eat are less important than the ones we always pet.
There is a hierarchy of the harm one does to animals as well. Vivisection is ‘better’ than dog fighting. A zoo is ‘better’ than animal husbandry.
Intersection Ahead: Racism, classism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, (and on and on) color our perceptions of animal oppression: Our families don’t whale, they don’t dog fight, they don’t experiment on apes (Our great cousins!). Our neighbors may hunt and go to circuses, but they aren’t doing anything as alien as whaling! Our families may eat cows and chickens (Happy meat? Even better) and go to zoos, but that is something everyone does, and it isn’t as barbaric as somethings that those people do like eat dogs.
Those people, over there, actually eat (whale/dog/cat/guinea pig/monkey).
(Sexism)How often do we talk about the fact that livestock are raped on an unprecedented scale. Hypothesis: a human rape culture, leads to the rape of nonhumans as well. A human rape culture allows us to overlook this rape as insignificant.
Science is a hegemonic force. We often give (‘legitimate’) science extra chances. After all, despite how horrible animal testing is (‘especially on apes’) we got so many things from it, or so popular mythos tells us. Science also helps tell us which animals deserve saving more. Hint: The ones most similar to us.
We create a complex hierarchy of animal oppression based on our own biases (and utilitarian thinking). The more accepted by the Allfather (the big ol’ white patriarch) the less we touch it. It is easier to attack the practices of the Other/others either because one doesn’t recognize their biases, or because one seeks to side with the One in order to get more support.
But tackling speciesism isn’t supposed to be easy.