Outing Sexist and/or Racist Men in the Animal Rights and/or Vegan Movement

I have been receiving emails over the last few years, from people who ‘out’ certain men in the animal rights and/or vegan movement as ‘sexist’ and/or ‘white supremacist’. I received an email from someone who had images of a white man’s Facebook messages to her that referred to black people as ‘niggers’.

What do I do with information like this? How do I know they aren’t being ‘set up’? How can this be verified? Maybe these people are contacting me because perhaps they are too scared to do it themselves?

Suggestions?

This is complicated to me and I would appreciate feedback.

8 thoughts on “Outing Sexist and/or Racist Men in the Animal Rights and/or Vegan Movement

  1. Hey Breeze, I think people read blogs for critical analysis, yes, and to learn, and also for good news. So from my perspective, I think you would just either do nothing and ignore it, or see if they mention any specific behavior, and then, if you choose to write about this at all, you would let everyone know how/why not to do that, i.e. how to resist racism and sexism.

  2. Hi Breeze, I think people read blogs to learn, yes, and for critical analysis, but also for good news. Like how to be happy. So if you choose to address this at all on your blog, you could just identify the behavior and let people know how/why not to do that/how to resist racism and sexism, or just totally ignore it. This just sounds like tattling. I mean, are they expecting you to personally deal with it, or are they just complaining? They need to say something instead of complaining.

  3. I guess my first question would be what are they asking you to do with this info? Is it just a warning/heads up? Or are they wanting you to act on this? Second question: How well do you know the person giving you this info? Barely know them? Know them quite well? The answers would provide clues.

  4. People often email me with similar things hoping I will publish them on my website. If I think it’s worth exploring I will use it as an example, but sometimes I do not feel qualified to speak to the issue and invite them to write up something themselves. Things in private messages or personal emails I think are off limits. But even when I repost public information we catch a lot of heat.

    For instance, I did a piece on one person reported to me by a reader who had been promoting a known rapist in his vegan dating group and then publicly shaming and harassing some of his rape victims who attempted to alert other women in the group. This infuriated him (all the information I used was 100% publicly available) and he tracked down my phone number and called me from another country, which I thought was pretty creepy.

    People see these horrifying things in activist spaces and they are scared because they know the consequences of speaking up about violence in our community. They see us as experts on it who might bring some sort of justice to the situation. Really we just end up taking their heat for them. Most of the movement already hates me for the work I do, so I have less to lose in a way by reporting on these issues in a way. But I also am constrained, as are you, by our obligations to our work, our work that is tied up in animal rights.

    I’ve definitely had my animal rights work infiltrate into my real world more than once. Gary Francione who was upset by my decision to start working with someone he didn’t like began to bully me, I then posted about it online and he promptly called my dissertation adviser ??? I’ve also had other people claim they were reporting me at work or calling the police, etc. for my feminist work. I lose friends, I have had facebook hate groups created about me… I’ve had these people retaliate by contacting my real-life colleagues and threatening them for working with me or telling them I’m “crazy” or an alcoholic. And these are professors at universities, mind you. People who aren’t constrained by university ethics are even more threatening and scary. So it’s completely understandable why no one would want to call out violence in our movement themselves with the risks so high.

    ANYWAY: If they are personal Facebook messages, often what we do is just keep a mental note of it and privately alert our friends and colleagues who could be endangered by not knowing.

    My 2 cents.

  5. Perhaps also relevant to your experiences:
    http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/2015/06/stop-making-black-women-the-mammies-of-our-movements/

    “Activist circles are especially guilty of this abuse. I personally have observed how Black Trans and Queer women are at the forefront of a lot of movements. As if it’s our job, we are meant to bring awareness to everyone’s struggle but our own. That, we are to be quiet about. And when we do speak up, there is usually backlash from those who we consider ourselves aligned with in terms of oppression.”

    “Mothers, in the traditional sense of the term, are seen as martyrs for our entire existence. From the physical pain of pregnancy and labor (for some) and the emotional aerobics mothers endure every day, mothers are seen as people who give everything they are for nothing in return. By designating your friend (and hell, your actual mother) to be this person for you, you allow yourself to be unburdened by empathy for them.”

  6. I agree with Mike and Sarah in that when you are hearing 3rd party information you have to be mindful of that person’s intention. I have no doubt that there are sexiest and racist people in the animal rights movement (Just because you work for animals rights doesn’t automatically make you a saint), but one sentence or word does not a racist make. We see it all the time with people’s words being taken out of context. Maybe you could just offer these people suggestions of how they can handle it. Let them take some of the responsibility of changing the word.

  7. I don’t know. Perhaps ask the people sending them, what they would like you to do or if they are afraid to do it themselves? I might try to get into contact with the people who are shown to be acting in bigoted ways and ask them about it. You could tell them that someone is emailing you about this and that you’re concerned? Likely if they are bigoted, it won’t stay hidden for long I think, but then again if their racism/sexism is spread out in more private messages it might be hard to know there’s a pattern.

  8. I’m on Twitter 24/7 so I encounter a lot of sexism and racism. I typically screen shot the offending tweets & ask my followers to unfollow them as well as report their acct. I guess the easiest way to verify the remarks is ask for a direct link of the offending messages or look at the individuals acct & see if they’ve posted any other sexist or racist comments. I don’t really see what motivation anyone would have to “set you up” or make false accusations. You could also directly contact the accused. I’ve not once had someone come forward and either apologize or claim they never said what they were accused of.

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