Speciesism

‘Speciesism’ refers to the discrimination based on species membership. First originating in 1970, British psychologist Richard, D. Ryder , member of the nascent animal rights community discussed areas of concern over the speciesism term. Protesting against animal experimentation they argued that scientists have agreed that there is no ‘magical’ essential difference between humans and other animals. Ryder states “Why then do we make an almost total distinction morally? If all organisms are on one physical continuum, then we should also be on the same moral continuum.” Writing at height of the animal experimental craze, he uses the term again in his essay, “Experiments on Animals,” in Animals, Men and Morals (1971), writing;

“In as much as both “race” and “species” are vague terms used in the classification of living creatures according, largely, to physical appearance, an analogy can be made between them. Discrimination on grounds of race, although most universally condoned two centuries ago, is now widely condemned. Similarly, it may come to pass that enlightened minds may one day abhor “speciesism” as much as they now detest “racism.”

He then goes on to talk on the illogicality of both forms of prejudice as an identical sort. As If it is accepted as morally wrong to deliberately inflict suffering upon innocent human creatures, then it is only logical to also regard it as wrong to inflict suffering on innocent individuals of other species. The idea of speciesism looks at why someone can eat a pig while caring for a dog. It’s the reason we give humans a right to their lives, while denying other animals the same. It’s why we use the word “animal” solely for nonhuman animals, despite the fact that humans are animals too. It’s what enables us to cram thousands of chickens into a dark, filthy shed. It’s why some people are distressed about dolphins caught in fishing nets, but unperturbed by the fish. It’s what makes killing one individual “murder”, and another “sport”. It’s slaughterhouses.

An example of this glorification of animal suffering can be seen in the documentary “Earthlings” (2013). Earthlings’ key message is that we are not above other animals and compares our speciesism to other -isms, such as racism, sexism and Nazism. It demonstrates this through footage of animal cruelty in “food production, but entertainment, pet ownership, medical research and clothing” and has been described as a “hodgepodge of slaughterhouse CCTV videos”. Although the film was created with good intentions it did look to trivialise the issues it targeted by using extreme emotional tactics, placing human bias on a non-human issue and displaying animal cruelty in such a way that it not only exemplified, but glorified, the issue. If we are to tackle speciesism, the message delivered on behalf of non-human animals must be not only powerful, but also realistic and therefore, supportive of meaningful change.

We as humans have an alarming ability to switch off our empathy for individuals in a perceived “out-group”, especially when the welfare of our own “in-group” is threatened. Fortunately, we have made significant progress against many forms of such discrimination in the last few centuries. Ensuring that others are not discriminated against is a key concern in modern society, and we focus significant efforts on eliminating remaining inequity. As having a strong moral circle to expand humanity encompass all individuals who are capable of suffering.

References:

  1. ANIMALS, MEN AND MORALS
    In-text: (“Animals, Men And Morals”)
    Your Bibliography: “Animals, Men And Morals”. ESDAW. N.p., 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
  2. THE CASE AGAINST SPECIESISM – SENTIENCE POLITICS
    In-text: (“The Case Against Speciesism – Sentience Politics”)
    Your Bibliography: “The Case Against Speciesism – Sentience Politics”. Sentience Politics. N.p., 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
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The Nature of Poverty Porn and How it Affects us

The Nature of Poverty Porn and How it Affects us

Although portraying exploitive imagery of people living in harsh conditions can be described as a tactic for charity/organisations to gain empathy from donors, we are left with a conflicted, as seeing these conditions as we compare them to our own lives as the media looks to use these visually miserable images to trigger emotions from audiences. One of the biggest problems with poverty porn is that it is incredibly successful at empowering the wrong person. Telling donors that because of their position in society and because of their resources they have the ability to be the saviors in vulnerable communities, some they might know nothing about. It fails to awaken Western audiences to the mutual need for transformation. Advertisements and marketing materials depicting the suffering of the poor and soliciting financial support may inadvertently tell subjects that they are helpless and dependent on the support of the wealthy for any lasting transformation.

Diana George’s essay ‘Changing the Face of Poverty” looks how these Non-profit organizations want you to believe that you are dealing with the most disadvantaged, accomplished through shock value advertisements. She discusses the different forms of poverty and it can not always be identified easily, stating many stereotypes of poverty are also built off “an ideology of undeservingness”.

Some of the world’s largest NGOs are still accused of showing their subjects’ most vulnerable moments. An example can look at this video from Save the Children:

 

The film features a woman giving birth to an unresponsive baby. The mother is seen moaning and shaking as the scene is followed by the text, “For a million newborns every year, their first day is also their last.” Although being widely criticized, the organization’s statement defending the advertisement wrote:

“Although we realize that these images may make people uncomfortable, we are committed to showing the reality of the situation and do not shy away from the issues vulnerable children around the world face. This particular advert was one of Save the Children’s most successful of all time in the UK in terms of motivating the public to support our work on food crises and chronic malnutrition around the world.”

The problem, according to George, is it’s publicity to the public. Her reason being that people may not recognize these representations and in return think that they won’t qualify, or don’t need to program as much as the people in the ads do. Diana George’s project explains the progression of how poverty has been represented in our society and how the public has reacted to this issue. Society, paintings, media, and non-profit organizations paint a hopeless image that reaches out for help in improving others’ lives. George explores that the nonprofit of Habitat for Humanity has many flaws to its organization. Her project gives examples of how our society is not as motivated within our country to help people as compared to other countries. She stresses that all these sources are representing poverty with an emphasis on one side of the issue while ignoring less severe levels of poverty.

The reason why this depiction of poverty has become so popular among humanitarian aid organization looks at profitability and its delivery of its promise. Tom Murphy reporter for ‘Humanosphere’, a non-profit organisation devoted to covering and analyzing the most important issues in the global health, aid and development arena explains that NGO marketing and communications teams are producing these messages because they have been proven effective through rigorous testing. In fact, audiences are more likely to make a financial donation when an advert shows a child that is suffering, rather than happy and healthy. At the end of the day, poverty porn is the result of well-meaning organizations attempting to raise money for their programs, and besides its profitability, these images are working. In reality, successfully addressing poverty means empowering the poor to transform their own communities, even admitting our own inadequacy and ignorance in understanding the true nature of poverty.

References:

  1. A SUMMARY OF “CHANGING THE FACE OF POVERTY” BY DIANA GEORGE
    In-text: (“A Summary Of “Changing The Face Of Poverty” By Diana George”)
    Your Bibliography: “A Summary Of “Changing The Face Of Poverty” By Diana George”. Blooming In Rhetoric. N.p., 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
  2. IT’S EASY TO HATE ‘POVERTY PORN’ BUT HARDER TO FIGHT INEQUALITY In-text: (“It’s Easy To Hate ‘Poverty Porn’ But Harder To Fight Inequality”)Your Bibliography: “It’s Easy To Hate ‘Poverty Porn’ But Harder To Fight Inequality”. The Conversation. N.p., 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
  3. THE REPRESENTATION OF POVERTY THROUGH THE MEDIA: AN ANALYSIS OF DIANA GEORGE’S ESSAY “CHANGING THE FACE OF POVERTY In-text: (“The Representation Of Poverty Through The Media: An Analysis Of Diana George’s Essay “Changing The Face Of Poverty””)
  4. “The Representation Of Poverty Through The Media: An Analysis Of Diana George’s Essay “Changing The Face Of Poverty””. prezi.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

The Selfie Craze

The topic of the ‘Selfie’ craze made me question my own degree of taking photos. Although personally I can’t say I’m someone who has a camera roll filled with images of myself, I do enjoy a selfie or two on a good day. When discussing the craze many people have different opinions on it’s effect throughout our society, as this global phenomenon has taken to many of our social timelines.

Self-confidence looks at an attitude that one holds about themselves, allowing you to move forward and achieve certain goals. An article on self-confidence from the counseling center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign defines self-confidence as having a positive attitude, but with realistic views. They note that a self-confident person has a general sense of control of their own life, wishes, plans and expectations. According to time Magazine’s Article on “selfie”, researchers believe the photo craze allows individuals to express themselves in diverse ways helping to become more confidence as well as boost more sociability than ever before. With over 90 million photos posted to Instagram with #selfie, the benefits it brings to create an interactive society forms people to become closer as well as capturing one’s thoughts and emotions, giving individuals more opportunities to express themselves through these captured images.

Although the art of the selfie does present positive attributes, many believe that this craze focuses too heavily on physical appearance, targeting individuals as they promote narcissistic tendencies. An example of this can look at Kim Kardashian and her portrayal of empowerment after recently being criticised for posting a naked post- baby selfie to Instagram. Personally I don’t see the reasoning behind the criticism as her brand is created around ‘shock value’, as well as already selling an entire book featuring many the nude selfie. However, firing back her reasoning behind this post was to feel “empowered’. Kim shared her view on the scandalous picture on her website stating “I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.” Although I believe that it is great that Kim is proud of her body, her accomplishments and her lack of shame attributes. The problem with this selfie looks at women and girls receiving the persistent message that being beautiful, sexy, and happy with your body depends on other people thinking you’re attractive. It means being an object of sexual appeal for the visual gratification of others.920x920

Research has shown that when girls grow up in a culture saturated with sexualized images of women, they are negatively affected. The American Physchological Association report on the ‘Sexualisation of Girls’, found that girls experience real emotional and cognitive declines from sexualization, “performing worse on tests when they feel sexualised, and experiencing anxiety, shame, and self-disgust. Women who are “exposed to narrow ideals of femininity and female attractiveness are more likely to have eating disorders; links have also been made to depression and low self-esteem. They are more likely to believe sexual stereotypes about women and think that a woman’s greatest assets are her looks”. These women who value their “empowerment” through physical appearance have shown to have poor sexual health outcomes as they are less likely to be sexually assertive and report lower rates of condom usage, which means they often end up worse off health-wise even into adulthood showing a lack to assert your needs, desires, and requirements for your own physical protection.

However in this age of the equality movement, we need to embrace women, and we cannot judge them for their actions, especially ones that are so innocently made, as was Kim’s selfie. Kim did not post that photo to hurt anyone, nor did she post it in revenge, or post a picture of another woman. Kim posted a photo of herself, at a moment when she was proud of herself. This is a moment we should embrace rather than shun. Although the Kardashian family have built a remarkable empire and clearly had entrepreneurial success, I do believe that foundation of that empire can only exist in a culture that promotes sexiness in women above any which cannot be looked at as “empowering.”

References:

  1. AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION: SEXUALISATION OF GIRLS
    In-text: (“American Psychological Association: Sexualisation Of Girls”)
    Your Bibliography: “American Psychological Association: Sexualisation Of Girls”. Apa.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
    FONVIELLE, D.
  2. Why Is Confidence Important In Life?
    In-text: (Fonvielle)
    Your Bibliography: Fonvielle, David. “Why Is Confidence Important In Life?”. Always Greater. N.p., 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
  3. SELF-CONFIDENCE | COUNSELING CENTER
    In-text: (“Self-Confidence | Counseling Center”)
    Your Bibliography: “Self-Confidence | Counseling Center”. Counselingcenter.illinois.edu. N.p., 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.