The following is 5-step Animal Welfare Rating that is used by the Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods uses this rating system so that customers can make informed decisions about animals they choose to eat.
Sitting in the Whole Foods cafeteria and working my way through an enormous vegan oatmeal currant muffin, I read through this chart, which was posted on the wall, and pondered the differences between the animal welfare model and the abolitionist or animal liberation model. The animal welfare model assumes that humans will eat meat, and therefore the goal is to make the animals as comfortable as possible without compromising the end goal: reasonably-priced, reasonable-quality meat on the plate.
The animal liberation model would make at least two changes in the chart. First, Step 5 would not be titled “animal centered.” Step 5 is truly “human centered,” in that the animals are being raised to feed humans. The animal liberation model would then have a Step 6, which would be genuinely animal centered: animals would live out their entire lives for their own sake. They would not be raised to be eaten. The idea of “farm” would become archaic.
It was a really big muffin, so I had more thinking time. I started to ponder how as a society we have also adopted a “women’s welfare” model, rather than a “women’s liberation” model for women’s rights. We accept a similar set of five steps, and we also do not include the additional, ultimate ideal of women’s liberation.
5-Step Women’s Welfare Rating
Unlike Step Five + on the Animal Welfare Rating, Step Five +, on Women’s Welfare Rating denies moving forward to liberation. Step 5+ is the work of the patriarchal mastermind. It jams up and skews the progression towards liberation by not only convincing some women that abuse is liberation, but it also puts women in conflict with one another. We are left arguing with each other, rather than united in the fight for true liberation.
Moreover, just as the Animal Welfare Rating is designed by humans from a human-centric perspective, the Women’s Welfare Rating is completely circumscribed by patriarchy. At each point, women are allowed “freedoms” only in relationship to how many–or what kind of—“rights” patriarchy is willing to grant.