Thursday, May 7, 2015

MOTHERHOOD - May, 2015

                                           by Fireweed,  for The Island Word, May 2015 issue

portrait of Julia Ward Howe 
     Mother's Day has been a tradition during the month of May for just over 100 years. It began half a century earlier however, not as a celebration of a mother's devotion to her immediate family, but as a commemoration of women's activism.

     In 1872 suffragette Julia Ward Howe proposed an annual Mother's Day for Peace. Her “Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World” (later known as the “Mother's Day Proclamation”), conveys the conviction that women must engage in shaping society at the political level to effect change. Committed to abolishing war, Howe wrote: “Our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage...Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

     Today many women continue the struggle for liberation and peace with a pro-intersectional approach that has expanded to include an end to violence against other species as well. A striking characteristic of the animal advocacy movement, says feminist researcher Emily Gaarder, is that women constitute the majority of its activists. A number of theories have been advanced about why this is so, including 'empathy based on shared inequalities.'
Ecofeminists like Carol Adams, the late Marti Kheel and many others have recognized how the devaluation of women and nature has gone hand in hand in western culture. Ecofeminism calls for the rejection of 'dualistic' thinking at patriarchy's core. As a hierarchical construct, dualism sees one half of the equation as inferior (worth less) and existing primarily to serve the interests of the allegedly superior half (worth more). Animals, for example, are commonly expected to be subservient to human wants just as women have been (and still are in many places) deemed subordinate to the interests of men.

     The right to bodily autonomy is of course a basic tenet of feminism - including the choice to become a biological mother or not. The practise of animal husbandry, on the other hand, is all about forced serial pregnancies and the traumatic separation of mothers from their offspring. This denial of bodily autonomy is perceived by a growing number of women (and men) as an egregious form of injustice.

     Last May, undercover documentation in British Columbia's largest dairy operation by Mercy
Chilliwack Cattle Sales - link to story
for Animals
exposed just how far the patriarchal mindset will go to reinforce its sense of entitlement. As one startled veterinarian put it, the fact that multiple workers “exhibited the same cruel and often sadistic behaviour” towards the mother cows harmed suggests “that the conduct is part of the culture at this facility, and not simply the modus operandi of a rogue or mentally unstable individual.”

      Julia Ward Howe would surely have wept alongside the mothers of the eight young men charged with animal abuse. Marti Kheel recognized that the objectification required to devalue animals (and women, and the natural world as a whole) is a systemic problem, symptomatic of the profound degree of detachment encouraged by dualistic thinking. She believed that our inherent capacity for empathy is so devalued by patriarchal culture that we have to relearn it. One of the most important contributions of ecofeminism is the awareness that the environment isn't just 'out there' is within us. While our personal natures are socially constructed, Kheel explained, our feelings of connectivity with animals and the rest of 'nature' should not be suppressed, but validated.

link to Clarabell's story
     Grassroots activist Jennifer Dowis Mora took note recently that the dairy industry is waging a social media campaign on Instagram to try and improve its image. Along with her daily examples of beautiful 100% plant-based meals, Jennifer has made it her mission right up to Mother's Day to counter the spin that animals are ours to exploit by sharing additional photos portraying tender moments of motherhood being enjoyed by farmed animals liberated from human servitude (click on a photo Jennifer has added to find out the story behind it).    #MothersDayProject

     On Mother's Day weekend in Victoria, BC, animal activists are holding a protest dubbed “Not Your Mom - Not Your Milk” outside of a local dairy facility. This group's particular reclamation of care and empathy highlights the fact that there is absolutely no need for any human animal to drink the milk of another species.

     May is International Chicken Month, focusing in part upon egg production as yet another example of how the female animal body's reproductive capacity is routinely exploited for commercial gain (as if a mother's life has no other worth.) Anyone who has ever tried prodding a broody hen off her clutch knows that the words “Mother Hen” reflect every mother's desire to nurture her offspring and protect them from harm.

Here's a very short and sweet recipe treat to share with mothers and others this month - aquafaba is the juice from cooked beans (like garbanzos) that can be used not only as a nutritious substitute for eggs in baking, but whipped into a froth to make a fabulous cruelty-free meringue!

Aquafaba Meringue Drops (with thanks to Goose Wholt)

The liquid from one 15 oz can of chickpeas - salted or unsalted
(you can also cook your own and
 retain the liquid)
1/2 cup of organic unbleached granulated sugar
a pinch of cream of tartar (not absolutely necessary)
a dash of vanilla

Whip the aquafaba until stiff peaks form with an electric beater (not a wand mixer). Add the sugar gradually with the machine on at high speed. You may wish to add additional sugar for a stiffer meringue. Add cream of tartar and vanilla. Whip again. Once the mix is holding its shape spoon or pipe dollops onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 1.5 hours at the low temp of 100C/200F. Cool in oven, then store these tasty treats in a covered container if you're not gifting or eating them right away. Enjoy!

P.S. The video link above shows vegan meringue being prepared for a pie, and added the way one would prepare the recipe provided above. Find links to additional recipe ideas with aquafaba (like macaroons and lemon meringue pie), on the right hand side of this blog under MAY LINKS. 

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