A Critique of Fur in Fashion : The Reign of Arrogance

(This text is taken from the 2017 Oxford lecture at the ‘Animal Ethics’ Global Summit: Ferrater Mora Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics – Author: Jasmine Alexander) It’s taken me a long while to fully and comprehensively find myself committed to a peaceful existence…  by this I mean whilst I have been a conscious pacifist since the age of 17, an animal advocate my entire existence and vegetarian since the age of  21, I still consumed milk, I still, although had renounced all leather, suede and fur clothing attire, wore leather shoes if nothing ‘suitable’ were available in non leather convincing myself they were a by product and I will seek a nice vegan kitten heeled boot in the interim as I move through my everyday… that was 26 years ago… and I still haven’t found ‘the perfect’ vegan kitten heeled boot though near perfect now suffices; I eventually became appalled with myself realising my vanity still governed a part of me… That I placed an industry ruled, fuelled and served by ego, the fashion industry, before the living rights of another being, the rights not only to live but to live without suffering and without pain.  With the advent of the internet and its readily available deluge of information I also soon became aware of the reality of the dairy industry, becoming privy to Defra documents stipulating that ripping infants from their mothers at just a few days old was unacceptable. Instead 10 days was considered to be an acceptable age. I then realised most of them were not just taken from their mothers but boys in the dairy industry were, are, superfluous… Superfluous to requirement. Thus as infants, as young beings just taking in their new gift of life, the light, the sounds, the mother they look towards whose place it is to protect them, they are killed… And let’s be very real about this. They are dragged away and murdered…. And so as not to ‘waste’ their life they are consumed as veal… their skin, with or without hair, sold to aesthetic industries. Is this not a contradiction in terms? A life that is wasted before it has even begun is consumed so as not to waste it?  Is humanity so disconnected, in such spiritual discord that it views the breath and very life of a vulnerable creature that exudes nought but pure innocence as an expendable commodity as theirs to extinguish. Its right to imbibe infinite moments that are the very essence of living, that are the very expression of this, of our universe, of no worth… but its perishable flesh and skin, its physical substance that can no longer experience, that is decaying the moment it is slaughtered, is given value? And must be honoured?… and must be utilised?…  put to good use in a manner that further serves humanity?     And yes, this may have been the way of our world for thousands of years, but we, humanity, are not the same species we were a millennia or so ago; we have evolved… and so must our actions. As a child I would sit by the family pond and wait for kamikaze bees & wasps…  I wouldn’t just scoop them out initially, perhaps because I was a little apprehensive, I would just extend a digit and they would ‘choose’ to climb up, they would ‘choose’ hauling themselves into a future… I always found bees to be more responsive, or interactive, as though there was a form of consciousness…  This has recently been affirmed to some degree by (a) recent studies wherein bees were delivered into controlled parameters and their prowess in associative learning measured and confirmed, thus showing cognition… And in the words of American Scientific “Although these experiments do not tell us that bees are conscious, they caution us that we have no principled reason at this point to reject this assertion” The animal kingdom is brimming  with cognisant conscious creatures. (b)  It’s now asserted that fish are sentient, cognisant… Yet we still eat them, furthermore, dangle sharp hooks into their world, pull them out of their environment, allow them suffocate, whilst we marvel at their beauty and the battle that ensued to land them. (c)  Crustaceans, through scientific experiment, have now been discovered to experience and express pain… yet still we boil Lobsters alive.                                      (d)  Cephalapods were the first intelligent species on earth, this perfectly expressed by the Octopus with myriad tricks up its eight sleeves, it is sentient, it desires and conspires to live, as demonstrated by (e) inky the octopus  who made a brave and successful bid for freedom, from its new Zealand Aquarium to the open sea. (f) The Raccoon Dog with their inquisitive minds do not find themselves exempt of this…  closely related to the domestic Dog and Wolf family  … in 1907 psychologist Lawrence W. Cole and Doctoral student Herbert Burnham Davis, after prolonged studies both independently concluded that raccoons bested the abilities of cats and dogs, most closely approximating the mental attributes of monkeys, with Cole further affirming they possessed ideas derived from complex forms of mental association (g) In 2012 a prominent group of scientists signed ‘The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness’, at Cambridge University, declaring “The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Nonhuman animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.” Yet still, society at large allows itself to be deluded by unconscionable corporations who have now convinced them it is a show of chic, thus à la mode to don fur trim as an accessory. Just one such show are these spheres of fur that are all that remain of a sentient creature … Continue reading A Critique of Fur in Fashion : The Reign of Arrogance