Campaigns Against Fur Don’t Work And They Promote The Use of Other Animal Products Like Wool
I’ve never understood anti-fur campaigns. An animal use known only to the upper class and celebrity, getting the average person to sign a petition to not rock a full length mink is asking them to do something that they wouldn’t do anyway. Thing is, we use animals in our clothing in many other, more affordable ways. And these ways, including leather, wool, and silk, are just as bad for the animals. And if the idea of slinging a fox around our shoulders evokes feelings of sadness or disgust, so should stepping in to leather boots or throwing on a wool scarf. I’m strongly against the use of all animals, for clothing or other means, but i’d like to focus on why wool seems to be the easiest for people to remain passive about.
We know, inherently, that animals are killed to dress us. People look for the smell of leather, or the fluff of down. So why is wool easily mistaken as being an acceptable use of animal life, in comparison? Well, after surveying a handful of my closest non-vegan friends, it’s clear to me that the media propagated Old McDonald’s farm is still fresh in the minds of many. People still think that these animals are given a life at all. So let me make a couple quick things clear right off the bat; no, most wool does not come from someone’s backyard, the majority comes from Australia. And no, sheep aren’t sheared carefully when their coats have begun inconveniencing them. They have been engineered to produce more skin, and in turn more wool, meaning they are sheared on industry schedules. Mulesing is one common practice that see hunks this overgrown flesh cut from the animals while they’re still alive, bound upside down to poles. I’ve included a video at the end of this article, for those who need to see it for themselves. Also, that modified wool isn’t a byproduct of keeping sheep, they’re sold when their wool runs out, making meat the byproduct. The 1.9 billion dollar wool industry is one wrought with animal injustice from inception to death, and it relies on people remaining uneducated to the practices it follows. Still, we believe that using them without death is somehow okay, despite that not being an option.
Just like “Humane Meat,” caring about animals while commodifying them is myth. And to open our eyes and ears to the truth is to recognize that like a cow who’s given it’s last milk, sheep are sold once their wool producing is no longer profitable. Then, it’s a lamb shank for dinner. When we agree that animals deserve freedom from use on a moral basis, there’s absolutely no difference between what animal is hiding in your closet, or how they got there. Just like being a cat person or a dog person, deciding that a rabbit coat is disgusting while wearing a big wooly-sweater says that you value the lives of rabbits over sheep.
Above and beyond that speciesism and the guise of sheep needing human intervention, lies continually perpetrated misconception. We’ve managed to convince people that eating a veggie burger over a beef one won’t kill them, but continue to tell them that unless there’s wool in their jacket or their boots, they won’t survive a winter. Why, when society has the capability to manufacture synthetic fabrics so similar in aesthetic and function, do we continue to falsify the knowledge that maintaining our wool industry is necessary for people? And in that same vein, how can people continue to believe there are enough happy, living sheep in the world to meet the demands of all those articles of clothing?
Gary Francione has written extensively about how this poses a problem for animal activist groups that focus on single issue campaigns like the anti-fur campaign. Whether they know it or not, when they run anti-fur campaigns without the explicit message of veganism, they are encouraging people to wear wool and leather. Unless the movement argues that no animal deserves to be used for any reason, we continue to segregate and set ourselves back as a whole. If we continue to designate ratings of evil to different animals and their various human uses, or focus solely on alleviating the suffering of those animals in forms of treatment, then the greater population will continue to stay the course. Unless the message is clear, that veganism is the only solution to end societies use of animals, then people will continue to avoid wearing fur, while continuing to wear wool.
The next time you go to purchase a sweater, take a look at the tag. If you see animal derived fabrics like wool listed, decide if you want to continue contributing to the commodifying of animals.