Meat plays an important role in our daily lives. The global demand for meat products has resulted in various forms of violence, discrimination, and environmental degradation. This dissertation discusses how Ang Li, Ruth Ozeki, Upton Sinclair, and Margret Atwood shed light on the meat industry’s exploitative and patriarchal practices in their literary works, Shafu (The Butcher’s Wife), My Year of Meats, The Jungle, and Oryx and Crake and how these literary works reveal the intersectionality of oppression and reinforcement of status hierarchy in a meat-centric world.
Ecofeminism combines feminism and ecology, with the aim of improving environmental sustainability and achieving equal rights for all. Following Carol J. Adams’ “absent referent” and Greta Gaard’s “vegetarian ecofeminism,” this dissertation argues that the alienation and degradation of oppressed groups through language in meat-centric world exacerbates discrimination and victimizes the oppressed. Language has been used as a tool of power and social control by the ruling class, with the effect of influencing society’s attitudes and behaviors towards women and “Others,” and ensuring that they remain in socially, economically, and politically inferior positions. Ecofeminist skepticism about language helps language-users identify the racism, sexism, and speciesism present in our everyday vocabulary, and change our unconscious adherence to cultural and political biases.
This dissertation examines the effects of language on various cultures in both Eastern and Western contexts and how carniculture, patriarchal power and global capitalism encourage violence and influences how people eat, act, think, and speak. Chapter One presents how the discrimination in our language helps strengthen patriarchal ideology and meat-centric culture. Meat / patriarchy language coerces people into supporting the system of oppression and become indifferent to other race, class, gender, or species’ suffering. Chapter Two discusses the incorporation of pork, pig offal, and pig parts into derogatory Taiwanese language renders meat consumption a habit and all forms of oppression routine. The use of meat / patriarchal language helps to reinforce social hierarchies of traditional Taiwan and contributes to collective apathy and discrimination against women, children, and animals. Chapter Three focuses on how a female body is used as a social, political, or economic tool. Chapter Four highlights violence against women and animals is often shrouded in many cultures under the guise of art or “the loving act.” The meat-centric culture encourages us to view women and animals’ bodies as commodities that can be traded and bought for pleasure, and as a result, we lose our ability to see the inequality that permeates our society. Chapter Five explores the effects of fast food and consumerism on local and global agriculture, the prevalence of meat fraud, and the environment, and how the working class struggles within the context of slaughterhouses and meat production plants. Through the exploration of these four literary works, this dissertation expects to provide a broad ethical response to environmental and all forms of violence associated with meat production and consumption.