by Scott Faith
When I knock back an ice cold glass of 2% skim milk after a tough morning at the gym, I’m perpetuating rape culture. That’s apparently the message PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wants me to take away from their article “Why Cheese is the Most Sexist Thing You Can Eat.”
I’m grateful for my wide variety of friends and the wide range of views they have on politics, religion, security, music, sports, and entertainment. They expose me to things I otherwise would have totally missed. I would ordinarily not read any article by PETA, I’ve read plenty over the years and they’re more or less the same. But the click-bait title hooked me; I’ve had some skunky cheese before but I never had any sexist cheese. I decided, despite my better judgment, to check out the article.
I’m sorry I did.
After reading the first paragraph, I knew this was going to be a doozy:
“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.”
Sex trafficking, sexual harassment, slavery, genital mutilation, safe streets, objectification of women, honor killings. Yep, totally on board with ending all of that. That’s not “feminism,” that’s “being a decent human being.” Feminism doesn’t own that space, thank you very much. But the rest? What “equal pay” are you so-called feminists fighting for? Surely you’re not talking about that tired, played out “gender pay gap” trope. What funding do you want for women’s sports? Doesn’t true equality mean we all compete to play the same sports? Why aren’t you working to eliminate “men’s sports” and “women’s sports” and just have “sports?” Why should “feminine products” be tax-free? Is it the government’s fault you’re female? What does any of this have to do with sexist cheese?
I’ll go ahead and answer my last question. Feminism, as it is practiced today, isn’t about combating sexism; it isn’t about “equality.” It’s about power. This article isn’t about protecting cows, it’s about projecting a political power play. You can see it in literally the first sentence of the story: “We’re working to put more women in office and in corner offices.” You’re helping one group of people get special treatment and deliberately discriminating against another just because of their gender? Isn’t that the literal definition of sexism? Oh, right. I forgot, only men can be sexist.
When the hit 1970s-era TV series “Happy Days” started running out of ideas, they created an episode in which one of the main characters jumped a shark cage. It was supposed to be shocking, attention-gathtering, provocative. It wasn’t. It was so stupid and poorly done that “jumping the shark” became synonymous with “A defining moment when you know from now on … it’s all downhill … it will never be the same.”
With “rape cheese,” PETA and feminism have now officially jumped the shark. Couching the very admirable goal of preventing animal abuse in the language of feminism and rape culture does only one thing: it exposes the hypocrisy of identity-based politics.
The plight of dairy cows is in no way comparable with the very real issues facing women in American, nor with the very real need to establish true equality between the sexes. This article, just like PETA and just like modern feminism and just like identity politics writ large, is a naked grab for political power. Next we’ll be reading how milk is the most racist thing you can drink, because the plight of America’s dairy cows is exactly like the plight of America’s former slaves. Just like with racism, if everything is sexist then nothing is. And that’s what this article is: a whole lot of nothing. I’ll know better next time one of my friends posts a PETA article.
But hey, at least they didn’t say I deserve to. Or because I’m a man.