In this interview on Animal Rights Zone, hosts Carolyn Bailey and Roger Yates talk with Kim Socha.
Short summary* of the interview. Kim Socha talks about:
- Ageism as another issue that needs attention in the animal rights movement. How there is a basic connection between ageism and ableism and how she came to make that connection.
- How several women over 50 have thanked her for raising that issue, that they often feel that push back in the animal rights movement.
- The gender difference with respect to ageism: In the US workforce, women can start experiencing ageism at age 35, while it starts much later for men. But it does affect both women and men.
- How a comment from Charlotte Cozzetto (Animal Rights Coalition Minneapolis) many years ago, saying that she ‘feels invisble’ has stuck with her. It brought ageism to her attention.
- If the whole purpose of our movement is to make others visible, their lived realities, why are we making others invisible? The same thing also happens with other people who are marginalised.
- How ageism plays a role in blocking the learning of the history of the movement.
We need to talk to the people who have come before us. Not only immediate people with who we do day to day activism (referring to the story of activist Vonni Thomasberg). Kim talks about the oral history she did (together with Sarahjane Blum) of activists in the animal rights movement. To know what it was like to be part of this movement as it was growing in the 70′ and 80’s.
People who are now deemed as unhip or uncool. They are invisibilised.
By doing so, we are loosing out on the history, inspiration for what to do next, strategy for what to do, caution for what not to do.
We are doing ourselves a disservice by ignoring those who have that history.
- How young people also experience ageism. Ageism affects those ‘too young to know what they’re doing’, and those deemed ‘too old to know what’s relevant anymore’.
- About the social construction of normal and attractive in animal rights movement. How that alienates our allies in other movements. E.g. Nick Cooney saying you should put your most attractive people out there. Such a thing is never heard in other movements like BLM or the LGBTQ movement.
How because of the commercial strategies, we aren’t taken seriously. We aren’t seen as a diverse collective group of people.
- How invisibilising also makes us an ‘animal whites movement’. Completely erasing people of colour in the movement. How only caring about numbers (effectiveness) entails only targetting white young college women.
- We not only have to be intersectional that we are inclusive, but that we are working with and for other social justice movements.
- About what can we do to make actual changes.
Take for example the lack of diversity of speakers (and always the same speakers) at the U.S. Animal Rights Conference. People have to demand more diversity of speakers.
There is and unfounded fear that the focus would be taken away from animals. But by maintaing that fear, they are being exclusionary and cloistering themselves from the real world.
- Even if you only do AR activism: be inclusive in your wording, in your rhetoric,
Look at how you can be active in another movement as well. Dedicate some time to other social justice movements. Move into those spaces where you’re not the dominant voice. But keep in mind: show up and shut up (cf. article).
- Until people see animal rights activists acting for other movements, then we will remain cloistered and divorced from other potential allies.
This interview was part of a series on intersectionality.
Podcast on AR Zone (total length 28.19): ARzone Intersectionality interview – Dr Kim Socha. April 30, 2017.
The oral history mentioned is written in this book: Socha K., Blum S. (eds.) (2013) Confronting Animal Exploitation, Grassroots essays on liberation and veganism, McFarland.
The Vegfest Talk mentioned is: Kim Socha, On Being Ignored, Ageism in Animal Rights, Vegfest UK, London, October 2016.
The article mentioned is: Kim Socha, Show Up and Shut Up: White Animal Activists and the Racial Justice Movement, Progress for Science, December 31, 2015.
website Kimberly Socha: https://kimberlysocha.com/
*The points mentioned above are just a brief summary of the interview, and in summarising, nuance and context might have gone lost. For full context and nuance, please listen to the podcast.
Until people see animal rights activists acting for other movements, we will remain cloistered and divorced from other potential allies.