Why Are Animal Rights An Important Aspect of Social Justice?

The animal rights movement, also known as the animal advocacy or liberation movement focuses on removing, or at least minimizing the discrepancy between human and animals moral and legal rights. Essentially, this means removing the term that animals are property, but also helping prevent unjust research, and use of animals for clothing, food, and entertainment. The treatment and exploitation of animals in modern society (particularly animal testing and factories), encouraged animal rights groups and animal advocates to take action in order to achieve animal equity. 

Although, “Animal rights means that animals are not ours to use for food, clothing, entertainment, or experimentation. Animal welfare allows these uses as long as “humane” guidelines are followed” (Peta). The idea of mutual recognition is also key to this social movement. The fundamental belief of animal liberationists is that animals deserve recognition, protection, and moral and legal rights as well. 

Altogether the movement inspired many people to lead cruelty-free lifestyles, but more importantly inspired those that value animal morality to help demand regulation and reformation of the legislature for animal rights. 

The novel, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, heavily captures the ideas of animal justice and regulation through the perspective of animal enthusiast and narrator, Janina. However, the story also demonstrates the opposition, and viewpoint of those anti-animal rights. Power dynamics between Janina and anti-animal rights become relevant in many instances. For example, Janina and law enforcement seem to always be at odds, which is always due to unfair treatment of animals. 

Similarly, Janina despises the priest, Father Rustle, for justifiable reasons. Father Rustle describes how interconnected church and hunters are, that he as a priest particularly praises hunters. As a result, Janina becomes extremely angry and begins shouting during mass because she knows what hunters are up to in the town. As a result, she expresses, “I felt someone’s hand on my arm and saw that one of the men in uniform was standing behind me. I pulled away, but then a second one ran up and they both grabbed me firmly  by the arms” (243). In the story, it is clear that those in favor of animal morality are viewed as less, and especially are perceived in a different light. 

At one point, Janina was talking to Father Rustle before knowing he contributed to the death of her girls. Father Rustle argues that “‘It’s wrong to treat animals as if they were people. It’s a sin– this sort of graveyard is the result of human pride. God gave animals a lower rank, in the service of man’’” (236). Even while knowing Janina loves animals, Father Rustle makes it a point that he believes animals are not as worthy as human beings. Janina then asks what she must do to stop mourning the death of her dogs and heal from this tragedy, but simply suggests praying is the only solution. Then Father Rustle states that “‘Animals don’t have souls, they are not immortal. They shall not know salvation’” (236). 

Does Comedy Have to be a Complete Tragedy?

Since I was young, comedy has always been my favorite form of entertainment. I would prefer reading comic books, or shows and movies about comedy over any other genre. However, I have recently realized the movie’s I was always watching rarely had any asian cast members. Even still in the past few years, the movie industry has little to no coverage of Asian culture. As a result, very few Asian actors and directors have been nominated or won academy awards, and also the culture isn’t being honored/celebrated.

The rom-com film Crazy Rich Asians quickly became one of the highest rising and trending comedies. The movie was a huge win for Asian Americans, and particularly significant as it was the first movie in at least 25 years to feature an all-Asian cast. Consequently, leading to an increase in Asian-American representation in Hollywood. The film marks a historical milestone to Hollywood movie production. 

The film focuses on a young couple, Rachel and Nick, who are polar opposites in terms of status and wealth. While the couple is heading on a trip to Singapore for Nick’s friend’s marriage, Rachel soon realizes many women are in pursuit for her boyfriend, Nick. Rachel, who comes from a middle to low class family later discovers that Nick’s family is extremely wealthy and successful. While Rachel becomes deeply immersed in the higher-class society, she contemplates whether or not she is built for that life. The movie suggests that people from all different social classes and families can form a connection. The movie is based on Rachel, the protagonist who ultimately determines her and Nick’s fate. Although Rachel chooses not to marry Nick, she was looking out for his best interest since she valued his relationship with his mother. If Rachel had decided to marry Nick, he would have had to lose contact with his family due to his mothers disapproval in their relationship. Ultimately, the happy ever ending takes place- Nick and Rachel get engaged. 

Throughout the film power dynamics and social class are apparent. The ending however carries specific significance since the middle-class woman is deciding the wealthy man’s future- whether the two will stay together. The flip in this binary is also important due to its relevance in  our world today. Typically those in power are those who are more wealthy, but more importantly the men in society usually make the important decisions whereas the women in this instance are. At times, the humor in the movie is portrayed through irony, and helps present gender roles and class. According to Aristotle, the definition of a comedy is a story of a person’s rise in fortune, and two lovers who are separated due to an extenuating circumstance, and this film is a parallel example. Rachel had to make the major choice, despite Nick coming from a family of great wealth and noble status. Crazy Rich Asians is a prime example of a comedy that contributes to real-life meaning and discusses important issues. The deeper and socially related message discusses the issues of gender and wealth, and how society views people following these factors.

The Importance of Horror and Satire

Get out, the psychological thriller directed by Jordan Peele showcases an example of satire in hopes to convince others to open their eyes to the ways history and discrimination is still so prominent in our present society. The story is based on an interracial couple that visits one of the families parents, and the discomfort that follows and later events that turn out to go horribly wrong. The film explores race relationships between white liberals and African Americans that act as though they have surpassed racism, or are understanding and supporting. Although Rose and her family, the white liberals, showcase their infatuation with Chris in many instances, they have an ulterior motive.  

At the start, Rose’s parents appear to be nice people, and remarkably interested in Chris. Rose’s dad is quick to randomly tell Chris that if he could, he would’ve voted for “Obama a third time”.  Her father continues to repeat ideas like this which becomes almost like a parody. This interaction itself doesn’t take long for Chris to recognize the family’s strange behavior. Chris begins to notice the family’s eagerness and overly welcoming behavior. The interactions between Rose’s parents and Chris are certainly unnatural. This idea of liberal racism becomes significantly apparent in the parents’ conversations and objectifications of Chris. Furthermore, the Armitage family acting infatuated in the black culture/appearance, ultimately implying the difference of the two races and leaving a larger discrepancy (like some white liberals in society). 

At one point, Rose’s brother talks about how much he loves Chris’ “genetic makeup”. This horrid comment exemplifies the white people’s perception of black people, and continuous assumptions and racial ignorance. Not only does this put Chris in a very uncomfortable situation, it is uncertain whether they are meaning Chris’s body is superior because of the attributes he carries being a black man. 

Ultimately, Chris’s intuition and suspicions of the family prove to be true. Rose’s mother decides to hypnotize Chris in order to perform a surgery on him that will put somebody else’s mind into his, and trap him in “The Sunken Place”. The hypnosis was significant for many reasons. Firstly, it will make Chris a passive audience, which signifies that in real life media can become passive and essentially control your mind. The bigger representation is a symbol of the family’s hopes to restrain his will and legitimately make him inferior to them. The name itself “The Sunken Place ” signifies pushing one down and sundering one. In addition, when Chris closes his eyes it represents his loss of consciousness, however Peele used this as a way to represent the past of educational rights being stripped from black people. Another important, yet horrid part was the cotton picking scene. This part is ironic because it was what ultimately helped save Chris. Poole transforms a practice once used as a way to oppress, to a more lightning meaning as it enables Chris to survive. Although Chris is able to escape, there is still an underlying uneasiness and everlasting prejudice like in our world today. 

In the end the flash wakes up Chris and many others before that have been hypnotized by the Armitage family. The flash in the film portrays societies’ need to wake up to reality and see these real life problems that are taking place in our world right now.  

Corruption, Cruelty, and Karma

In King Lear, many present day issues and rooted problems in society are addressed in the play. These ideas and issues relate to corruption, social class, power, and karma. Specifically focusing on the socioeconomic gap which is still tremendously present in our society today.

From the start, Goneril and Regan present very two-faced speeches telling their father how much they love him, all in hopes to persuade him to give them the most material possessions, and ultimately benefit their own self interest. Yet, it doesn’t take time for them to disregard everything they said and completely betray their father. As a result, the sisters end up completely blinded by their own cruelty. Although Goneril and Regan aren’t the only characters in the play that did anything and were willing to harm anyone to be on top, it is clear that all they cared about was their dignity and perceived status. 

Another person that reflects similar qualities was Lear. Throughout the play, his behavior demonstrates his pride in power and status, and overwhelming passion for wealth. In our society, most individuals have to climb either the social or political ladder, meanwhile Lear began at the top. For Lear, everything just came easy to him from the start. However once Lear fell from his status he finally understood his apathetic, and especially selfish nature. It is when both Gloucester and Lear are at their lowest, that they recognize the struggles of those lower and less fortunate than themselves. During this time, they admit that those that are rich are unlikely to help when they don’t know how it feels to be at the bottom. Lear realized that he was doing nothing to help or even acknowledge the gap between social classes. Whereas, if Lear fairly distributed his wealth, it would’ve been less costly to him at the end. 

Karma was one of the biggest roles in the play, that directly tied into the idea of wealth and social class. The daughters play the utmost impact in Lear’s downfall, but also their own. From the beginning, Lear’s unjust distribution of land foreshadowed a dramatic downfall that would eventually take place. King Lear suggests that jealousy and greed will always lead to deserving consequences– that will come back to you. 

A Little too Late

The song “Let Her Go” by Passenger (Michael David Rosenberg), in the album All the Little Lights is a really fascinating song because all the lines have various types of intricate language which I never realized when listening to the song. After analyzing the lyrics, I remember parts of my life of people coming and leaving like the song suggests. Passenger creation of this song could go both ways, it is one of those songs that could work as its own poem instead of a song and nobody would know the difference. 

The overarching meaning of the song represents losing someone you really cared for and not realizing what you had or how much you really appreciate the person in your life until they are gone. This song especially focuses on the thoughts and struggles within re-memory and further reminiscing about regrets in your life. For Passenger, this song was used as a way to express the loss he felt after a loved one left him. Subsequently, he conveys that he took for granted her affection and presence and assumed she would stay no matter what. The song’s layers are so significant because each line talks about different ideas that all interconnect. Throughout the song, the motif of the sun frequently emerges as a metaphor to his regrets. 

Lyrics to “Let Her Go” Passenger – Let Her Go Lyrics – Genius

The beginning of the song starts off with this line which is repeated throughout the song as a way contribute to the overall meaning of the story and add a multidimensional meaning to each part.

“Only miss the sun when it starts to snow”

This line is an alliteration because the “s” sound is repeated at the beginning of words in the same line. The sound helps the lyrics flow better which completely enhances the meaning throughout, and expresses feelings through the words “miss” and “sun” used to convey his regrets. Similarly, the word “only” is repeated throughout half the lines to emphasize that you only relate to what the singer is describing after you have lost someone or something you love. This experience is parallel to many poems that allow you to either relate or immerse yourself in an experience or situation.

Once again, Passenger includes the word “only” in a line, that still has a completely different meaning.

“Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low”

This is an example of an oxymoron since people can’t feel high and low (happy and sad) at the same time. However, it enables the listener to think about the text more, and in one sense make it seem a little humorous. The contradictory terms high and low appear in conjunction with one another to reiterate the struggles he is experiencing, while still being in such a low after this breakup. 

“Only hate the roads when you’re missing home”

Passenger uses this to compare missing his home to the road, more specifically his homesickness of the person he loved and misses that made him feel so at home. Although, this part has multiple meanings, for example fighting and also comfort in a relationship. Passenger insinuates his own relationship may have been fighting and bliss.

“Only know you love her when you let her go”

Throughout the song the phrase is repeated 15 times to emphasize the idea. Passenger wanted the listener to understand that the reason the couple broke up is because the man was not trying hard enough so the woman let go. Ultimately, he lost her not because he didn’t love her at all or enough but because he loved her too much.

Overall, Passenger sings about losing a loved one and the two dimensions that comes with it: pain and heartache. Through these troubles, he utilizes strong poetic language to express the toll and affect this had on him. He mourns his actions and feeling a mix of many things but especially, what he could’ve before it was too late. This song is a way for him to release everything he had been thinking, parallel to poetry. Altogether, the meaning of this song relates to loss and remorse. 

Is Meursault the most emotionless or accepting person?

The novel, The Stranger, prompts the reader to question their own value of life. At one point, Mersault states, “Since we’re all going to die, it’s obvious that when and how don’t matter” (114). While reading, I tried to distance myself from the writing because I have a radically different view and did not necessarily want to believe this is true. Whereas Mersault finds that living this way, and valuing life as he does sets him free, and guides him to true happiness. Even more so, Mersault claims that we are all going to die at some point, so nothing in life really matters. 

During Meursault’s mother’s funeral, he seems to be at ease and unfazed, besides the sun which seemed to cause him the most discomfort. Mersault had more to say about the sun blaring on him, yet minimal about his reaction to her death. Most people would find this to be somewhat absurd to not cry or show any emotion at their mothers funeral. Throughout the novel, Meursault provides many reasons to make you question who he is as a person.

A Conversation About “White Gaze”

Nafissa Thompson-Spires short story “A Conversation About Bread” signifies how prevalent issues on race are in our society. While attending UCLA, a predominantly white school, Brian and Eldwin notice a lack of welcoming. While, the two graduate anthropologist students are working on an ethnographic assignment they notice the white women next to them ease dropping on their conversation, also known as this “white gaze”. They feel as though they are constantly being observed by others and critiqued. Even more so, Brian feels that “he was more self-conscious about his black maleness than his disability” the frequent judgement the two students face only because of their skin color (177).

Nafissa Thompson highlights this struggle known as “white gaze” when describing Brian’s mothers experiences in college. Brian recalls that when his mom attended USC, she had a white roommate who would try to take pictures of her whenever she got out of the shower. The roommate wanted to “catch her in her ‘natural state’”(179). Although, Brian and his mom both attend/attended prestigious schools, the discomfort and unjust judgement from people provides that it is never prevented within these highly ranked communities. This short story allowed me to analyze my own sensitivity while creating my interpretation of the short story, but more so question why racism still exists, and is still so pervasive in the US. 

Jessica Benjamin’s Master Theory of Mutual Recognition

Jessica Benjamin’s, Bonds of Love, encourages the reader to rethink the world, by understanding individualism through binary thinking. Individualism allows you to not only thrive but also inspires you to separate yourself from others. I am me because I am not you gives rise to all manner binaries, where one thing is defined by another. The utmost hegemonic binary in our society is that women are subordinate to men. In this case, men are imposing a situation of hierarchy through dominance, while women remain submissive to this authority. A lack of mutual recognition results from an unequal balance of separation and connection, inevitably leading to a “power struggle” or dissatisfaction of one person/group. In order to prevent complete domination, it is necessary to have healthy subjectivity. The universal theory of mutual recognition helps administer self-identity and controlled connections.