As feminists, we’re working to put more women in office and in corner offices. We fight for equal pay, tax-free feminine hygiene products, an end to sexual harassment, funding for women’s sports, and streets safe enough for us to walk alone. We push for strong role models who don’t objectify women on television and in movies. We work to end sex trafficking, slavery, genital mutilation, and “honor killings.” We rail against sexism in all its many forms—except, perhaps, when it comes to what’s on our plates.
Can food really be sexist? Yes, when it’s the product of imprisonment, rape, reproductive control, kidnapping, and abuse.
Contrary to popular belief, female cows produce milk only when they’re pregnant or nursing. They make milk for the same reason that human women do: to feed their babies. Cows who are imprisoned on dairy farms are forcibly impregnated through artificial insemination again and again on rape racks. Rape racks. All for your milk, cheese, and yogurt.
PETA investigations have shown that farm workers kick, whip, and jab laboring mother cows and others who had just given birth. Eyewitnesses also filmed workers attaching chains to unborn calves’ legs when their mothers had difficulty giving birth and yanking the babies out of their birth canals, causing the laboring cows to cry out.
The mothers are not allowed to nurse their babies. Instead, their infants are stolen from them, usually within hours of birth. Male calves, who are considered worthless to the dairy industry, are often sold for veal. Otherwise, they’re raised to be killed for beef. Females are typically fed a milk replacement and eventually sentenced to the same sad fate as their mothers.
After their calves have been taken away from them, the mother cows are hooked up to milking machines two or more times a day. Through the use of intense milking regimes and sometimes drugs, their reproductive systems are exploited and they’re forced to produce much more milk than they normally would. The average cow today produces more than four times as much milk as cows did in 1950.
A cow’s natural lifespan is about 20 years. Those used by the dairy industry live only five years on average before their bodies wear out from the strain of constant pregnancy, birth, and drastically increased lactation. They are slaughtered, and their flesh is typically turned into soup, ground beef, or dog and cat food because their bodies are too “spent” to be used for anything else.
Mothers, and all females, deserve better.