Interconnected: Female Oppression and the Dairy Industry

Walter and Harrison - rescued cows living at Spring Farm Sanctuary; photo by Laura Carroll

I gave birth to my fifth baby in four years this afternoon. My body is weak, but my heart is full of joy! It feels so good to have her by my side. All I want to do is frolic in this field and teach her everything. When she brushes up against me, it is all I ever want to feel. When she calls to me, it is all I can hear. The sun is going down now. I cannot remember a more perfect day.

Is that her breath against my cheek? I slept so well—much better than usual. Oh, she’s still fast asleep! I should lick her; that will wake her up. Today, I’ll teach her things to help her find me if she’s ever in trouble. What’s this? The sun is going down already? This day went even faster than the last. I know my baby will remember all she’s learned.

I’m awake and panicking! I hear gates shutting. My baby is crying, and she’s going farther and farther away. It is still dark, and I can’t see. Baby! I’m over here! Can you hear me? I can hear you! Run to me like I taught you! Keep calling until I break free. What are you doing here, human? Can you help me find my baby? Why are you keeping me here? My baby is in danger. I can’t stop calling to her. My heart has been broken open, and the pain is unbearable!

Around nine million dairy cows live in the United States. Their forced reproduction is the only thing that keeps their milk flowing. But their milk is not given to their own babies. A high percentage of dairy calves are separated from their mothers within 24 hours of birth. These new moms often bellow and cry for days in desperation and mourning. Cows are sensitive, sentient beings. Being separated from their calves isn’t something they forget quickly. And it’s all for profit and to satisfy what the dairy industry has lead us to believe about “the best” sources of calcium.

Would we do such a thing to human women for profit? Well…

Enter feminism. Suffragettes led the way. The Women’s Liberation movement followed. Ecofeminism emerged and aligned with the oppression of non-human females, particularly those being factory farmed. Postmodern feminism focused on humans. And where are we in 2018? Feminism has again embraced the animal rights movement because the reproductive freedom of both women and animals are linked to the patriarchy and other forms of oppression.

Want to engage and learn more? A great way to connect with factory farmed animals and learn about what they endure is at a sanctuary. And Spring Farm Sanctuary in Long Lake, Minnesota even has cows rescued from the dairy industry. I encourage you to pay them a visit, and remember to embrace how the interspecies oppression of females is one more reason to add plant-based meals to your plate.

“Those who seek greater justice in our world need to work toward a deeper understanding of oppression. Activists need to develop the kind of understanding that will lead to a lifestyle—a way of being—that works against all oppressions.” – Lisa Kemmerer, Sister Species

This article was originally published in the 2018 issue of Twin Cities Veg Living.

Emily Kampa is a digital copywriter, animal lover, and vegan foodie. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her wife Laura and their American Staffordshire Terrier, Pip.

CAA hosts a vegan Mother’s Day potluck on Sunday, May 13. All are welcome. Join us as we honor all mothers.

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