269life was established formally in October 2012 where in which three activists from Tel-Aviv, Israel were branded with a hot iron bearing the number 269. The number was the number assigned to a dairy calf that has become the symbol of all oppressed animals – the calf has since been liberated. When I first watched the original footage, I was amazed. Such a drastic and radical step to spread the message of animal liberation is to be applauded by all. The aim of the event was to connect people with animals and to make people think about how animals can suffer in the same way as humans – after all, we are all connected. But the underlying reason for this is so people are branded for life and thus commit themselves for life to fight for animal liberation through militant means.
Since its incarnation, 269life has spread worldwide with similar events taking place in over 80 cities and, as of now, there have been four international events all of which have received great media attention and opened people up to the suffering endured by animals on a daily basis – they have thusly created many more vegans. Despite its massive successes, people have criticised 269life for a number of things – those critics include other animal rights activists as well as feminists and human rights campaigners.
In a recent Israeli 269life demonstration, a woman (volunteer) was pulled from a crowd of onlookers. She had a baby in her arms who was taken from her; she then had her shirt ripped off and then an act that simulated a forcible milking was performed upon her (see the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R6bqSzAsc8). 269life have stated that this act was done to show the horrors facing cows (and other animals) within the dairy industry – where they are artificially inseminated (raped) so they produce milk, pumped full of hormones in order to increase their milk supply, only to then have their new born babies torn from them to be used as veal or simply shot in the head. This act was deemed to be extremely powerful; however feminists and women’s rights activists – some of which are also animal rights activists – have labelled this as “misogynistic” and a “promotion of rape culture.” Their reasons for this are that the woman in question was objectified – her breasts were forcefully revealed and she was molested, thus adding a more sexual domination element to the display. Rape victims are often faced with “triggers” which invoke flash backs to the time where the assault upon them happened. Feminist activists have claimed that this has occurred whilst watching the video – thus have labelled it rape porn; they use the comments on the YouTube video to justify this claim, with comments such as, “Nice tits” and “Boner” which of course are entirely unacceptable.
My personal opinion on the matter is that 269life is not a sexist organisation, nor do they intend to make rape victims suffer any kind of discomfort. I feel that the use of the voluntary female was extremely powerful; humans and non-humans are equal, we all feel pain, we all suffer – therefore using a real human female to display what happens in the dairy industry to female cows brings home the concept of equal suffering. Furthermore, after having a discussion with those involved in said act, the masked people were in fact female themselves and the majority of the 269life movement consists of females. Therefore, I believe it is hard to claim that there is a misogynistic element to 269life.
269life is a signatory of the “Non-Humans First Declaration” (I will do an in depth post about this soon) which aims to phase out the intersectionality of the animal rights movement. The Declaration, which I must state I do not support in anyway, exists solely to allow anybody from sexists to racists into the movement in an attempt to boost up numbers. In my post “Why Am I Vegan?” I stated that racists, sexists, homophobes etc. should not be welcomed into the movement. However, the Declaration dangerously seems to allow people who will discredit the movement and use it as another platform to spout their vile rhetoric. With this in mind, 269life has been branded – no pun intended – as “anti-human” and in some extreme cases “a fascist organisation.”
As I have stated, I do not support the “Non-Humans First Declaration” and therefore I was disheartened to see that 269life was a signatory to such. I asked members of 269life why this was the case – their response was that they only focus on non-humans and do not incorporate human rights into their campaigns. It seems rather pointless for 269life to make such a statement; the majority of animal rights campaigns do not mention human rights issues – but they do not discount them. It is clear to the majority of animal rights activists that animal rights and human rights are inextricably linked – I feel that 269life needs to make their stance on this clearer.
269life has an unapologetic and uncompromising demand for animal liberation – it is a campaign that has never before been seen and that is why I still support it. It has turned many people vegan and into active animal rights campaigners – that is what we need. I do not believe that they have ulterior motives in terms of sexism or an anti-human agenda. Therefore, as of now I still support 269life.
No boarders! No cages! No Nazis!
One struggle, one fight!
Animal, Earth and Human Liberation!