Sexism, racism, speciesism: unjust ideologies
In analogy with racism and sexism, speciesism refers to the ideology which considers that the lives and the interests of animals can be neglected solely because they are from a different species. Non-membership in the human species is supposed to justify indifference to the fundamental interests of other sentient beings, especially their interest in not being harmed or killed. However, an individual’s species is not a relevant basis to decide whether he or she matters or not, just like “race” or sex.
A political phenomenon
Speciesism refers to a political phenomenon: the ideology which organizes our social representations of the enslavement and the murderous exploitation of non-human animals. Speciesism creates the impression that regarding non-human animals as simple resources to be used and abused by human beings is just, normal, necessary and trivial.
A scale of beings
Speciesism grounds ethics on the membership in a group – the human species – and on the notion of a scale of beings rising from inferiors to their superiors. As the human species is considered both to be the center of the world (anthropocentrism) and the pinnacle of creation (the “superior”, “chosen” species), the more sentient beings are considered distant from the human species, the more they are perceived as inferiors. Thus, the interests of aquatic animals are considered even less important than those of birds, for example, which are in turn considered less important than those of mammals.
A repudiation of individuals
In practice, speciesism hides the subjective lives of animals (what they feel, think and want), their existence as individuals who have their own lives and desires, the fate they are subjected to and the rights we should recognize them. Speciesism grounds the neglect of non-human animals and the failure to take their interests into account which characterize our societies, and makes questioning this neglect and their exploitation taboo.
At last, this taboo is eroding, but the speciesism which targets aquatic animals is especially persistent. Our initiative aims to undermine it.
- World Day for the End of Speciesism
- The definition of speciesism given by the journal Les Cahiers antispécistes
- David Olivier, « What is Speciesism? », Cahiers antispécistes n°5, 1992