quarta-feira, 29 de julho de 2015

Carnism, gender and sexuality: visual and discursive articulations in fast-food ads

by Anabela Santos

The debate on the ideological foundations of meat consumption started within social sciences and humanities in the late 1970s. Recently, a new concept has emerged in academia to identify the ideology that underpins the consumption of (certain) nonhuman animals - carnism (Joy, 2010). In Western societies, carnist ideology categorizes nonhuman animals by degrees of importance, ontologizing some of them as carriers of meat. Besides expressing human supremacy over nonhuman animals and establishing hierarchical relations between species, carnism interacts with different systems of oppression, particularly those involving gender and sexuality.
Over the last decades, feminist and queer scholars have pointed out that meat consumption reinforces traditional gender roles and is tied to the performance of hegemonic masculinity. Others have also noted that meat-eating practices underlie the (re)production of heterosexual norms.
Recognizing that advertising images are a privileged arena for the (re)production of dominant ideologies and the promotion of meat culture, this paper discusses the articulation of carnism with gender and sexuality in print ads that have been disseminated by fast-food corporations in Western industrialized countries. In particular, it analyzes how carnist discourse has been intersected with representations of (hetero)normative masculinity and femininity.
Based on social semiotic analysis, this paper argues that nonhuman animals are often depicted in fast-food print ads as gendered and (hetero)sexualized subjects, in such a way as they seem to be complicit in their exploitation and encourage the edibility of their own bodies. Fast-food advertising tends to support an oppressive triad that conjugates carnist/speciesist violence, the maintenance of male dominance and the apology of heteronormative paradigms in the context of neoliberal capitalism.
Thus, informed by the principles of critical animal studies, this paper will contribute to a better understanding of how advertising promotes an anthropocentric logic that ontologizes nonhuman animals as consumer goods, configures located powers and privileges, and simultaneously reinforces carnism, speciesism and (hetero)sexism. Furthermore, it will enhance the critical questioning of the role that capitalist elites such as fast-food corporations have played in the maintenance of the carnist system in contemporary societies.

Keywords: carnism, gender, sexuality, advertising, fast-food corporations.

Anabela Santos is a PhD student in the FCT Doctoral Program in “Communication Studies: Technology, Culture and Society” (University of Minho, Portugal). She holds a Master's degree in Communication Sciences from the University of Minho, as well as a Master's degree in Political Science from the Russian State University for the Humanities. Her research interests include feminist media studies, critical animal studies, theory of intersectionality and anarchist studies. She has been involved in feminist movement, LGBTQI* activism and social justice issues.

Email: amsantos86@gmail.com

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