Anti-Speciesist Women were at Cambridge Vegan fair last Saturday! We felt very inspired to be in such a positive environment surrounded by incredible activists. Cambridge Hunt Saboteurs were on the stall next to us and some of the people involved were also fellow anti-speciesist womxn who stand in solidarity with us. We also gave our Total Liberation Workshop and were pleased to see people engaging with the activities and taking part in discussions afterwards. Below are accounts from Caitlin, Casey and Elecia, the three womxn running the A-SW stall.
The Anti-Speciesist Women stall next to the Cambridge Hunt Sabs with Kaya who is also a fellow A-S womxn and her child Ivy!
It was the biggest event in the local vegan calendar. Cambridge vegan fair had arrived, a day of food, chatting, food, outreach..oh and did I mention food? As someone who is new to the Cambridge vegan community I felt incredibly nervous walking into a room full of amazing, inspiring activists, speaking up for the voiceless. However the second I walked through the door, and was handed a leaflet about animal experimentation by a very smiley chap, I felt right at home. I headed straight over to the ‘anti-
speciesist woman’ stall which was to be my base for the day ahead. I met loads of incredibly motivated vegans/ soon to be vegans and we shared knowledge and compared recipe ideas. I got to try lots of beautiful vegan cakes, and even some coconut bacon! Then went around the stalls and met activists from other local groups including ‘Cambridge hunt saboteurs’ the mum of ‘the amazing fella’ and the campaign group ‘viva’. Overall a truly amazing day and hopefully we can all come together again soon for another celebration of veganism, and each time be a step closer to complete animal liberation.
Wow. What a day! I felt so amazed and at home at this vegan fair. It was amazing to be surrounded by a lot of likeminded people who believed in animal liberation. I loved working with both Elecia and Caitlin in solidarity for our stall. They both did an awesome job talking to the different types of people that came to our stall, answering questions, and I was so happy to be a part of something like this.
My experience overall was amazing, I tried loads of the different foods, juices, and discussed a lot of different topics with the people there. However, there was one experience that wasn’t so positive. In a conversation with a man who was accompanied by a female-presenting person, which the man dominated a lot, I got questioned why is it that we only allow womxn in our group? I explained the reasonings of womxn needing a platform on their own, for our own voices to be heard whilst not being shouted over by men. Unfortunately he couldn’t grasp it as well as I’d hoped, he kept on questioning and repeating the same question in different words and even said well if there was an ‘anti-speciesist men’s group’ I’m sure you’d kick up a fuss. I wish that I had the strength and courage to tell him how uncomfortable he made me feel, I was sat down behind the stall whilst he leaned over the table. Another thing to consider in this situation is that there was another womxn there with him, I tried to engage with her but once again the man dominated and we (being the stall holders) couldn’t really talk to her. Luckily Elecia stepped in when I needed her! I love being able to rely on other womxn for support, she handled the situation with courage and awesomeness! Only later on did I realise how much it really affected me, I had to have a small break from the stall. But now I’m turning the situation into a positive experience, because now I know how to deal with oppressive men in this manner and that I can stand up and leave a situation if I feel uncomfortable.
After this, Elecia and I went upstairs to set up for our talk of ‘Total Liberation’ and it went really well!! Considering that we only had two laptops to show the presentation on, I feel like most of the audience really engaged with what our message was. I love speaking to people in groups and noticing all of the individual reactions. I was super proud of Elecia and myself for putting on this talk and for being able to talk in front of an audience, once again in solidarity.
Overall it was a fantastic experience, good conversation, I also tried this amazing samosa, scotch egg with the middle bit made out of spring onions, I think maybe some tumeric and tofu? Food is one of my many passions, and the vegan fair definitely did justice for it!
So here’s to the next fair and the next zine issue!
Awesome day filled with awesome people. We had a lot of interest in the zines and we were also writing Solidarity cards to Debbie, Natasha and Sven (more info here).
The people we spoke to about the injustice that they face were horrified, and share our support for the three. We also had some thought-provoking conversations about companion animals – to what extent is living with animals okay? We concluded that the rhetoric and language around companion animals desperately needs to change (stop using the words owner/pet!). Quite a few people were enthusiastic about coming to our bi-monthly discussion groups too.
I always feel nervous before any events like this as people can be unpredictable. I prepare myself for the usual questions that we usually get – queries like ‘what is speciesism?’ or ‘but what do you do?‘ and of course the ultimate inquiry that almost always comes from men mansplaining their opinions to us: ‘but why are you only for women?’. We need to set up some sort of inquiry bingo as this happens EVERY TIME we do outreach events. I noticed that a man was engaging in conversation with Casey in a way that looked quite oppressive – she was sat behind the stall table, and he was leaning over and questioning her about our decision not to include men. Casey looked at me and I stepped in to take over, repeating and reaffirming everything she had just said to show that we stand together behind our reasoning. Check out our FAQ page to read up about our stance. Casey later expressed to me that she felt quite intimidated by the exchange. While we encourage questions and discussion, we do not accept this kind of passive-aggressive dialogue. Male privilege allows men to dominate and interrupt discussion, and is so normalized that the speaker does not always realise they are doing it. This needs to change. If you are a man involved in a discussion or a debate with a woman, non-binary or gender non-conforming person who looks uncomfortable or is struggling to speak, back off and give them some space.
Our Total Liberation Workshop came after this. I am quite articulate in one-on-one exchanges or small group settings, but standing in front of a room of strangers terrifies me. I had moments throughout the day of physical shaking and I had barely slept the night before. Nervous was an understatement. I am so grateful I had Casey there for support as she really helped me keep it together! We had a small hiccup as there were no projectors set up, but I think we improvised quite well. Most people in the room participated in the privilege exercise (we read out statements and people raise their hand if the statement applies to them) and the sharing experiences section. We laid out pieces of paper labelled with different strands of kyriarchal oppression (for example, ableism, racism, cissexism).
The ‘ageism’ page – experiences from left to right: ‘being made to feel that I am an “older person” and should have the typical older person’s appearance, attitudes and activities’, ‘being a young teacher (with no children) meeting students’ parents: if the parents feel you’re not qualified (in terms of life) to critically talk about their children’, ‘people’s reaction the age difference in our relationship’.
You can check out the structure of our workshop here. I really hope that the workshop as well as the discussions we had on the stall were helpful
and interesting to everyone involved. We definitely had some great feedback in our guest book! How did you find the Cambridge Vegan Fair? Send us a comment or a message about your experiences!