Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

Intersections: Black female slave vivisection, non-human animal experimentation, and the foundation of Western gynecology April 12, 2011

Filed under: vegan — Dr. Amie "Breeze" Harper @ 8:45 pm

This was originally published in my Sistah Vegan Blog about 2 weeks ago, but I wanted to share it here on VOC as well.

In this video, I speak of how Black female slaves were forced to undergo ‘vivisection’ by Dr. Marion Sims, the ‘father’ of Western gynecology. I also speak of how this fits into colonizing both ‘the other’ (Non-white peoples and nature) and how vivisection on non-human animals today is connected to the interlocking system of oppression and suffering that allowed Dr. Sims to repeatedly cut into black female slave’s vagina’s (without anesthesia, remorse, or regret).

Books for further explorations on these intersections:

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present

Birthing a Slave: Motherhood and Medicine in the Antebellum South

Animal Welfare and Anti-Vivisection 1870-1910: Nineteenth-Century Women’s Mission (History of Feminism)


11 Responses to “Intersections: Black female slave vivisection, non-human animal experimentation, and the foundation of Western gynecology”

  1. veganelder Says:

    Thank you for the information re Marion Sims, it seems that an accurate and truthful history of medical “advancements” would bring tears to the eyes and pain to the hearts of all. Probably all truthful and accurate histories would do the same. We human animals are a piece of work aren’t we? It seems we would rather behave horribly and then cover it up than just do the right thing in the first place. I am both puzzled and dismayed by it all.

    I appreciated how you talked about “othering” in your video, the distancing, the de-connecting, the “not like me-ing” process that seems invariably to be invoked and used to support insupportable behaviors. As if they could be supported.

    Your efforts are inspiring, thank you.

  2. LoriA Says:

    I just wanted to let you know that I typed up a transcript of this talk for any disabled people who can’t otherwise access it right here:

    Thank you so much for producing this video! It’s a great resource.

    • Thank you so much! I was asked to transcribe it a week ago for people who are not able to hear it but was unable to have time to do it. I am an improv speaker so had not transcript ready. I wish I had software that could translate what I say into English script. I am going to look into how much that will cost. Thanks!


  3. emfole Says:

    Thanks so much, Breeze.

  4. Angel H. Says:

    I was just wondering if you’d seen the intersectionality fail over at Feministe:

    I admit that I have a long way to go in understanding animal activism and veganism, but the comments on that thread disgusted even me.

  5. Josie Says:

    Angel — holy shit. I wanted to cry reading that ignorance, and I only bothered to read the originial post by Jill and then a few comments in… There was one that said something like, “People ask me how I can be against sexist, racist, classist, homophobic language and yet oppose these reforms… and the answer is because ANIMALS AREN’T HUMAN!” (Humans are animals, though, and God FORBID anyone take away our privilege.) Seriously, the entire point of every form of oppression, whether race- or sex-based or whatever, is the group you’re using those slurs against is being DEHUMANIZED. You’re saying they’re not human, or not as human as you in all your white male heterosexual able-bodied humanity. The fact that animals aren’t humans doesn’t equate to the fact that they deserve oppression, anymore than the fact that POC aren’t white means they do, or women aren’t men, etc… It’s a very unique thing, unique to the privileged class, to be able to determine the extent to which you’re willing to give the oppressed class freedom to exist free of harm.

    The author of that blog needs to read Carol Adam’s “Sexual Politics of Meat”. Sexualization of animals and animalization of women, that answers her, “But what if they call me foxy?” question, Christ.

    Btw Breeze, I could not view the video (really slow Internet), but I’m definitely going to try to read that first book to which you linked now, thanks!

  6. Josie Says:

    Thank you for the link, Breeze!

  7. kloncke Says:

    This is fabulous and so helpful! Thank you!

  8. Horrific. Thank you for managing to express some of the atrocities that went on so that men get to hear LOUD AND CLEAR that what they have done to women over the centuries is unacceptable. An apology is never going to be enough to atone for the way women have been treated at the hands of men over the centuries. Gynecology is one big male turn-on– that is the entire point of it. In Europe and AMerica, female midwives were burned by their millions by men, who then moved in to colonize childbirth. Fistulas and other problems come about from the ignorance of men about women’s bodies, and the process of childbirth. Women died tortuous deaths because of their interference.

    I would like ALL men to LEAVE the profession of gynecology. WTF are they doing there?

    And black women have bore the brunt of the experimentation and this video was clearly very painful for you to make, but thank you for re-living the pain of your foresisters so that their suffering can be avenged.

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