<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Another Guest Editorial by pattrice 

(This was sent in an email to us after her reading part of the last series.)

Virgil didn't ask me to write about this but I was moved by his entry
about masculinity and killing.

I've been thinking about that subject a lot lately, because we are the only sanctuary to rehabilitate former fighting cocks. Everybody says that those birds are just naturally aggressive but the truth is that they've been terrorized and traumatized into acting violently.

Just like Virgil was when he was a boy.

Back to the fighting cocks: What happens is that people trick and terrify them into fighting and then point to their behavior as evidence that violence is a natural aspect of masculinity. This is one of the best examples there is of how the exploitation of animals ends up hurting people too. Because everybody -- girls and boys, men and women alike -- is hurt in some way by the idea that violence is natural for males. Of course, the victims of male violence -- be they human or
animal -- suffer the most. But the perpetrators of violence are alienated from their true selves and that hurts too.

She wrote a wonderful piece a while back that I have saved that is entitled, "Crossing the Mammalian-Avian Line." She talks about "fighting" roosters. It is very interesting, and I really hope that you read it. Here are some excerpts from it to give you an idea of what is in it:

Do you believe that roosters are inherently aggressive or cannot get along with each other? If so, you’re not alone. The most common fallacy about roosters is that they cannot live together in groups without fighting. This misperception is rooted in propaganda put forward by proponents of cockfighting, a “sport” that is itself rooted in thousands of years of projecting human ideas about sex and gender onto chickens.

Cockfighting began in Asia Minor more than 2,500 years ago. It was brought to Spain by the Moors and carried to the New World by the European invaders of the Americas. Those who portray cockfighting as a proud Latino tradition tend to conveniently forget to mention that it is a legacy of the same Spanish Conquistadors who slaughtered and enslaved the indigenous peoples of South and Central America.

Studies of modern-day “cockers” (as they call themselves) show that these men and boys do see the birds as expressions of their own masculinity. They feel shame if one of “their” roosters behaves normally, fleeing from an aggressor or declining to attack a retreating bird. In contrast, unnaturally aggressive birds are accorded an almost totemic respect.

Here at the Eastern Shore Sanctuary, former fighting cocks coexist peacefully with each other and with hens rescued from egg factories. Both groups of birds are physically and psychologically scarred by the specifically gendered forms of exploitation they have endured. The tops of the roosters’ combs and the tips of the hens’ beaks have been cut off. Both suffer feather loss: hens pluck out their own feathers due to hunger or frustration during months in over-crowded cages; fighting cocks lose feathers (and eyes) when forced to fight and are sometimes shaved to make them look fierce.

In each case, the natural sex role of the animal has been perverted and exaggerated for purposes of human pleasure and profit. Eggs are, of course, a component of the reproductive process of the female bird. White Leghorn hens have been bred to bear far more eggs annually than their wild jungle fowl ancestors. Factory farming practices such as forced molting increase the pressure on their bodies, leading the hens to suffer abnormal rates of reproductive system ailments.

Similarly, combat is natural for roosters, but not in the way that cockfighting enthusiasts say. With few exceptions, roosters fight for defensive rather than offensive purposes. In the wild, male jungle fowl squabble over pecking order and territory but do not inflict serious injury. The same is true of feral roosters and the roosters here at the sanctuary.

Roosters will fight to the death to protect the flock from a predator. Cockfighting perverts this natural and honorable behavior into a parody of human masculinity. The roosters who have been “trained” as fighting cocks cooperate because they have been so traumatized that they are terrified, seeing every other bird as a potentially deadly predator.

Fighting cocks are typically caged or tethered to stakes for most or all of each day. This isolation prevents them from learning to recognize and react appropriately to the social signals that chickens use to maintain the peace within and between flocks. Isolation also prevents the establishment of normal peer and sexual relationships, thereby warping their social development and emotional stability.

Go ahead and read the rest. It's an interesting and heartwarming story. Very eye-opening for many people. Enjoy. This is only part of what makes pattrice and Eastern Shore Sanctuary so special and why I am blogging for them.
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