A theme night about the connection between feminism and
animals/animal rights. Dr. Lynda Birke,
expert and author of many books and articles about these
themes came all the way from Lancaster (UK) to explain 'why
animals matter to feminism'.
We will try to put Lynda's digital presentation
on-line soon, but for now you can already download the
of the lecture (Word-doc).
Abstract of Lynda Birke's talk:
In this talk, I will first ask why feminism should pay more
attention to nonhuman animals (and why people concerned
about nonhuman animals should pay attention to feminism).
Ecofeminist and animal rights activists often see connections
between women/gender and nonhuman animals. Yet, the feminist
theory produced in women's studies seems rarely to do so,
even when it focuses on science, which is my particular
concern. I want to ask - what does science tell us about
nonhuman animals, and what has feminism got to say?
Feminism connects to animal issues in science in various
ways. These include:
the practices of science - feminists have for over a century
been critical of the way that science uses bodies (human
or nonhuman) - for example, through vivisection;
knowledge, particularly the underlying belief in objectivity,
with its associations with masculinity;
the contradictory beliefs that nonhumans are both similar
to us and dissimilar, so that nonhuman animals are seen
as pure biology in ways that humans are not (animal behaviour,
for instance, is part of biology; human behaviour is included
in biology only seldom).
Feminists have written about all these questions. But these
are usually from a perspective highly critical - and outside
- of science. So, finally, I want to draw on ideas from
science (about animal consciousness and subjectivity) which
enable us to emphasise animal agency. This, I will
argue, is an important move for feminist theory, for theorising
human/animal relationships, and for activism.