This is an introduction to my talk at VegfestUK, in London, Oct 27 – 28:
Ableism, bodyshaming and healthshaming, Geertrui Cazaux
Hello, I am Geertrui. Or, that’s Trudi in English.
And I will be presenting a talk at the upcoming VegfestUK festival in London.
And my talk will be about ableism in the movement.
Now ableism is discrimination or prejudice against people with physical or mental disabilities.
So against disabled people.
Now, I can immediately hear some of you think: oh, ableism what does that have to do with veganism? Why should we be discussing this at a vegan festival?
It should be about tackling speciesism. About fighting for animal rights. We shouldn’t be talking about ableism or other forms of discrimination like racism and sexism, but only focus on the animals, because it’s about the animals, right?
yes, of course veganism is about tackling speciesism and about the animals, but how we deal with each other as humans, how we organise ourselves as a society, will of course have repercussions on how we deal with animals, with other animals. So, it’s sort of like a matter of effectiveness. If me make a whole group of people not feel welcome in our movement, or even actively discriminate against them, we’re shutting out a whole group of people who would also, come join or movement, who would also take up the fight for tackling speciesism, who would also fight for animal rights. And also we are marginalising people within the movement, who have disabilities, disabled vegans. So that’s a matter of effectiveness. The larger our movement can become, the more efficiently, effectively we can fight speciesism.
But of course it’s not only a matter of effectiveness. I feel that veganism and animal rights, is about justice. It’s about compassion for others, it’s about respect for others, for the rights of humans and for animals.
So it’s not only about tackling speciesism, but also about tackling racism, sexism, and these other types of discrimination and prejudice.
And actually they are not really individual forms of discrimination, and prejudice, but they are ideologies to enforce a system of oppression. All these different types of -isms, like sexism, racism, and ableism, and ageism, they are interconnected with each other in a system of oppression, and they are not only interconnected, and they intersect, but they also operate in the same way, through tactics of devaluation, animalization, objectification, so they all operate in the same way. And they are part of a broader system of oppression and the source of this system of oppression is a combination of patriarchy, of colonialism, and of capitalism. And if we only focus on one of these -isms, One fighting one of these -isms, for example tackling speciesism, while still operating within the system, while still being racist and ableist and ageist, that will not work. So if you only tackle speciesism, while being racist and sexist and ableist, you are still working within the system, you are colluding within the system and that just will not work. We cannot dismantle the system that way.
So, that’s a short intro why it’s important to talk about ableism even at a vegan festival, and I will give some points to take into consideration to become an inclusive movement, so for example, the use of ableist language, and also accessibility of events, and not only accessibility of buildings, everybody thinks about wheelchair accessibility, but for example also the accessibility of your website from your organisation. There are two issues that I will be specifically focusing on, and that is bodyshaming and healthshaming in the vegan movement, in the animal rights movement.
So that’s a short introduction on my talk in London, at the upcoming VegfestUK festival. I’m really very much looking forward to going to London. I was at the festival two years ago, in 2016, and that was mainly for the intersectionality conference, and that was truly so inspiring, so I am really looking forward to going again. There are so many interesting presentations, it is so hard to choose which one to go to. There are presentations about the environmental aspect, about vegan athletes, about veganism and health, and the justice talks, and the radical veganism talks. So it’s going to be really a fantastic weekend.
So I’m very much looking forward to it, and maybe I will see you there! Bye.