Vegan feminism: if giving birth was called 'freshening'



If giving birth was called 'freshening' because the act regenerates a woman's ability to lactate, and 'freshening' then soon became the go-to nomenclature for the same beautiful process of giving new life, there would be uproar. Uproar uproar uproar. And if we trained our children to use this word?

'Hey did you hear Jane just got newly freshened now she's got so much milk?!' 'I am just waiting for my wife to freshen... yes, she's not fresh yet not at all. She's bone dry.'

That's right - what if we called all infertile or non-pregnant women 'dry'?

Today I discovered that the dairy industry calls the act of heifers giving birth 'freshening'. I discovered it from no less than a children's animal education site - When she is not pregnant, she is called 'dry'. The heifer isn't simply allowed to 'be', only to either - euphemistically - 'freshen' or to live a dry and therefore 'unproductive' and 'inefficient' life.

I am so disgusted by industry euphemisms. The idea that a heifer cow must 'freshen' herself - i.e. be forcefully and artificially impregnated by a device or a human arm tearing through her vagina, denied access to her male counterparts (a natural relationship with a bull) to then carry said foetus and give birth to it... and we have the human arrogance to think of nothing but her milk. We reduce this female to nothing more than her mammary glands which we actually commodify and later discard... along with her life. Because females are worth nothing more than their reproductive organs.

I've been vegan for quite some time now. Nevertheless, every so often, it hits me all over again. The feminist, or post-feminist, aspects of veganism are devastatingly pertinent and they can reduce me to tears. The fact that I am finding new ways to be disgusted leaves me so utterly apathetic. We need help. Our species needs a really good therapist. Bless those vegans that take on that role.

Much as there are the HeForShe campaigns for human females who are being heard, we need WeForAll campaigns too for all those females without a voice. And I have so, so much respect for male vegans too.

But maybe I'm giving the industry an unnecessarily hard time. After all, even they recognise that female cows can be more purposeful than their mammaries. So enter dual purpose breeds. That's right, female cows can have up to two purposes! When they're not good at the teat, then they're good to eat.

As you were.
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This is an interesting approach to the problem of the dairy industry!!

I grasp it like binary computer programming: To the livestock industry, there is no existence of these cows, they can only grow profit (freshening) or be a cost burden (dry). We can all agree here that this is extremely reductive and does not take in consideration the mere fact that a cow is alive for another purpose than providing the livestock industry with its life.

Yet, I am quite sure that in past centuries, a woman who wasn't fertile was called 'dry' as diminishing as it sounds. I am not so entirely sure how much society has outgrown the expectation that a woman should have children. (I had a teacher in A-levels who told us that the duty of a woman to the nation - as an equivalent to military's service - was to breed children.)

Perhaps it might seem more far off for a carnist to consider a woman a 'breeding machine', but he will definitely consider livestock's mere existence as bound to serve him. In that sense, and this goes back to your initial argument, carnists' consideration of livestock is stuck in a patriarchal hegemony, whether it is now perpetrated by men or women. There is some irony there.