Butchery Galore! 6/40

February 26, 2007 at 8:51 am | Posted in Culture, Food, Lent, Religion | 13 Comments

This flickr photoset might meanwhile have become a meme on the web: A sacrifice of 2000 pigs, neatly dressed and decorated, to invoke the complacency of the deity General Chao of Wudeh temple at a temple festival in Jendeh, southern Taiwan, 19 Jan 2007. This is my favourite picture from the set – it makes you wonder whether they do something with the carcasses to make the pigs smile.

Smiling dead pigs

LentA Lenten comment (Day 6): Well, good that I am not eating meat at the moment anyway. This is probably hearsay, but when people begin a conversation about vegetarianism, they tend to discuss the different types of meat at one point. Pork is the one that is dissed most in these conversations (although probably eaten the most in Europe). At that point someone might say: “Biologically, man and pig are very close. They even have the same meat and the same insuline. That’s why diabetics shouldn’t eat pork.” This is ususally greeted with nodding by the rest. It might be utter rubbish, but I believe I have heard this argument at least half a dozen of times.


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  1. Wow, holy beautific pigs! It took me a moment to notice that they appear to have lost their stomachs. Nothing like a bit of Surrealism Sus Domesticus.

    Pass that pig a cigarette.

    Okay, I need to go to bed and think about happy things.

  2. Vegetarianism seems more and more like the correct decision. While I have not eaten one, look at the dolphins in this one:

  3. Poor creatures. Slaughtered by the thousand or dying from mercury poisoning. My other vegetarianism anecdote is that the Red Cross did not want my blood while I still was a vegetarian. I began eating meat regularly again about two years ago and have already donated my first half litre now:-)

  4. Huh? What was the reason for the Red Cross not to want it? Too little iron? Cholesterol not high enough? Strange.

  5. BTW: I feel really bad about this, but I have never donated blood. I am VERY scared of needles and this little phobia was enough for me not to do it. Not even when the university clinic in Marburg offered students DM 500 for a plasma donation.

  6. They prick you briefly and then they check whether there is a sufficient amount of red blood cells (in that sense: iron). If you don’t have enough, you qualify as ‘anaemic’, meaning that you might have problems if losing any more blood. I could also imagine that that type of blood wouldn’t be too good for someone who has just lost blood, e.g. in an accident.

    It’s ok, I sometimes fret at the sight of needles too, just don’t look at them. And I felt really good after in the week after I donated blood. Good old medieval bloodletting….

    And of course it felt good for the sake of it.

  7. I’ve been thinking about the politics of going veg lately. There’s an interesting book called The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, by Carol J. Adams.

    “What *The Sexual Politics of Meat* arguesis that the way gender politics is structured into our world is related to how we view animals, especially animals who are consumed. Patriarchy is a gender system that is implicit in human/animal relationships. Moreover, gender construction includes instruction about appropriate foods. Being a man in our culture is tied to identitiesthat they either claim or disown–what “real” men do and don’t do. “Real” men don’t eat quiche. It’s not only an issue of privilege, it’s an issue of symbolism. Manhood is constructed in our culture, in part, by access to meat eating and control of other bodies.”

    “Everyone is affected by the sexual politics of meat. We may dine at a restaurant in Chicago and encounter this menu item: “Double D Cup Breast of Turkey. This sandwhich is so BIG.” Or, we may dine at the restaurant chain Hooters, which has a logo ostensibly of owl’s eyes. In its menu, the restaurant explains how it came up with the name “Hooters” which is a slang for “breast”: “Now the dilemma . . . what to name the place. Simple . . . what else brings a gleam to men’s eyes everywhere besides beer and chicken wings and an occasional winning football season. Hence, the name–Hooters–it is supposed they were into owls.” Or look at the image of “Ursula Hamdress” on page 52, from a publication called *Playboar: The Pig Farmer’s “Playboy”* that continues to be sold in upscale bookstores. In each of these cases, animals are ostensibly the topic, but women are the absent referents.”

    “Through the sexual politics of meat, consuming images such as these provide a way for our culture to talk openly and joke about the objectification of women without having to acknowledge that this is what they are doing. It is a way that men can bond publicly around misogyny whether they know it or not. It makes the degradation of women appear playful and harmless: “just” a joke. No one has to be accountable because women are not being depicted. Thus everyone can enjoy the degradation of women without being honest about. “We’re *just* looking at a pig.” “It’s *only* a sandwhich.” “We’re *just* eating at Hooters.” (Tenth Anniversary Edition, 16-7).

    So perhaps the absent referent of the above pigs is the complacency of the deity General Chao of Wudeh temple, but what else? It’s interesting to think of the symbology of what we eat or worship with as deeply imbricated in the ideological structures that guide our behavior and perpetrate manifold logics of violence from a safe distance at table or shrine.

    On a personal note, as an undergraduate I used to give blood–but as life caught up with me the battery of invasive (though necessary I imagine) questions about sexual history became such that my blood became disqualified because it was too risky.
    Usually a kind elderly woman would ask about sexual history, drugs with needles, and similar topics of concern.

    More humiliating, perhaps, is when the doctor giving you an HIV test asks well, what have you been up to? (i.e. K-State). What difference does it make? I’ll be positive or I won’t. Fortunately I was not.

  8. BTW I just saw the sexy kasebrot. The headless woman dancing near the sandwhich…the kind of thing Adams makes us aware of.

  9. Helge is good for exposing that kind of stuff (I would say that he exposes it, while it would at the same time be justified saying that this is another creation where the objectification of women seems o.k. – I would say it is an exposure rather, because of the obvious headlessness and the bearded man who’s also shaking his arse in the video. Mmmh, but maybe this headless body is too beautiful, in particular in comparison with the beard guy. In Helge’s latest stage shows the guy accompanied his music with dance, clad in a tight bellbottom suit. Btw, he also played Hitler in a feature film recently. Anyhow, Helge post coming up tomorrow.

    Adams is very right with her connection. Having been a vegetarian for a long time of my life, it was never quite comprehensible to me why (mainly) men feel so threatended by the absence of meat in their diet. Until I realized that eating meat is an essential part of their manliness.

    Similarly, knowing how to prepare meat is an integral part of womanliness. And most recently, I even observed myself, when announcing the first time visit of my boyfriend, insinuating that it would be a good idea if we had some meat on the table, oh my#-)

    EDIT: Watched the video again, definitely no exposure…

  10. I’m looking forward to the Helge post. I’m unfamiliar with his work.

    Adams, not surprisingly, spends a lot of time discussing the meat/manliness connection and links it in part to the effeminacy of desk job emasculation. Steak as consolidation of masculine identity. “It’s okay, I’m eating this bloody piece of thing; I’m still a man.”

    I’d not thought of the ability to prepare meat as a part of womanliness. That makes sense and is probably fairly complicated. It facilitates the man’s ability to feel masculine through the meat, possibly as an extension of the woman and her traditional offices in the domestic sphere. Both function for the man to be able to realize himself in a space that he most likely understands as “authentic,” as opposed to his alienation at the office.

    How does it work for the woman?

  11. Simple. The woman renounces the thought of having an identity of her own, and lives of the remnants of the man’s identity. Both through the preparation of the meat (which belongs to him not her) and through her inferior or nonexisting claim to the meat (if there’s one schnitzel too few, she won’t have one or happily have the leftovers). It allows her to feel feminine.

  12. Yuck. I sometimes see my mother behaving in this way, and want to say no, mom–you don’t have to do that. I guess I do say that, but then don’t get into the why of it. I worry about hurting her feelings and just being confusing.

    It’s harder to have that kind of conversation with an older generation, let alone one’s parents.

  13. well, you are denying her the opportunity to reiterate her identity. that could indeed be painful. The odd thing is that I have also observed myself at some point with similar behaviour, encouraging the boys to eat. I suppose this interconnnects in a nasty way with women’s anxiety to become fat (at least in my case). Good for me that I am such a lame duck when it comes to preparing meat.

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