Why Abusing Animals For The Sake of Fashion Is A Feminist Issue
Kim Kardashian calls herself a feminist. She casually disclosed this piece of information to Rolling Stone magazine in July 2015, which caused a stir among her critics. There are plenty of reasons to question whether or not Kardashian is a feminist, and many have debated them. But the under-discussed point that bothers me most is that she is an avid wearer of fur.
There was a time when I believed that the animal skin industry has nothing to do with feminism. That was before I learned about the harrowing and heartbreaking suffering endured by animals sacrificed for the sake of fashion. These poor creatures include female minks, who are kept in tiny cages and expected to breed once a year. They produce a litter of kits that are killed when they are barely six months old. It takes (wait for it) 40-80 minks to make a single fur coat, which is an incredible amount of death and suffering for the sake of just one garment.
Minks are hardly the only animals abused for fashion. Beavers, chinchillas, dogs, cats, foxes, rabbits and raccoons are similarly confined in fur farms, and all too often meet their end in an unimaginably cruel manner. Many are suffocated, gassed or poisoned and some of the animals are even skinned alive due to the brutal (and even ineffectual) methods of slaughter.
Learning about this particularly struck a disturbing chord with me as a mixed-race feminist. Enslaving and imprisoning female animals, forcing them to produce litters of young year after year, just to exploit them for their skin is a form of objectification that feels deeply, even personally, distressing. Recognizing this treatment forced me to ask myself an unsettling question: What if my body was no longer my own? What if I was forced to produce offspring that would be torn away from me and used for their skins to make coats and bags? This barbaric image seems like something from a nightmare or a violent horror film that stays with you for years afterwards.
I concluded that in order to consider myself a feminist, I have to support equality in all contexts — even when it comes to fashion. The skin trade systematically violates and exploits female animals’ reproductive systems and objectifies, commodifies and brutalizes their offspring. What's more, this treatment is entirely unnecessary: It seems absurd when synthetic and cotton fibres are so easily available that anyone would choose to wear fur, even as a "luxury" product.
Kim Kardashian and plenty of other celebrities have seemed unapologetic about choosing to wear fur. But by doing so, they support inhumane treatment of living beings. Kardashian has also publicly opposed the objectification of the female body. Shouldn't this belief extend beyond her own species? Is it not a different side of the same coin? I suppose it’s up to her to decide.
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