Queering Vegetarian Politics: Beyond a Politics of Purity and Normalcy
By, JL Schatz
Queering Vegetarian Politics explores how social justice campaigns have been co-opted by a politics of purity that works against coalition building. This paper argues that instead of searching for a perfect politics that we should embrace the dis-abilities within our advocacy and look for commonalities between our differences. The paper begins by exploring how different social movements prioritize single-issue politics to the detriment of others. Afterwards the paper goes on to argue how the focus on single issues and for campaigns of perfection risk undermining productive coalitions that can more effectively create change. From there I contend that embracing the intersection between queerness and vegetarianism is the best way to gain access to the multiplicity of struggles that exist. Both queerness and vegetarianism recognize that it is impossible to ever exist on a single side of an issue because there is a diverse world beyond the binaries of how politics are traditionally constructed. To adopt a queer vegetarian politics is to at once admit one’s own incompleteness and inadequacies while not giving up on those struggles that are most important. It is to always already admit failure but not to let that failure dishearten future avenues of resistance and change. As social justice theory advance, I contend that activists and academics must evolve alongside it in order to diversify their strategies and tactics so as to never close off the possibility of future merges with other struggles. To eschew a politics of purity is at once to give up the claim to normalcy, stability, and purity in order to embrace an always already fractured politics that never claims to have the final answer or have reached perfection. Once social justice theory gives up on perfection it can be better suited to conquer oppression in all its many manifestations.
Joe Leeson-Schatz is a Professor of English and Feminist Evolutionary Studies at Binghamton University where he also serves as the Director of the Speech and Debate Team, which was ranked 1st in the nation in 2008. He has published essays on technology and apocalypse, environmental securitization, disability studies, and the influence of science-fiction on reality.