Sexism: Another Reason Not to Wear Wool

Warning: This piece contains strong language.

By now, you’ve probably heard about PETA’s international exposé of the wool industry in Australia and the U.S. that documented how workers violently punched scared sheep in the face, stomped and stood on their heads and necks, and beat and jabbed them in the face with electric clippers and a hammer. Some sheep even died from the abuse, including one whose neck was severely twisted and broken.

But there’s another ugly aspect of the sheep-shearing industry that you may not have heard about. In addition to abusing sheep physically—often leaving them battered and bloody—some shearers demonstrated a frightening contempt for females.

When one lamb cried out during shearing, a worker yelled, “Pull it out! … [You’re] hurtin’ ‘er,” crudely joking that the shearer was raping the lamb. Workers called sheep “f***ing” and “God damn cunt[s],” and one rancher boasted that he had “the ‘all permission’ to pound the f*** out of” sheep. Another rancher said of one animal, “I want to choke that sheep. Cut her air supply off.”

Even some of the comments that we saw posted in response to articles about PETA’s investigation reflected a similar misogynistic streak. For example, one commenter posted a sick joke about an Australian worker who comes across a ewe stuck in barbed wire and fantasizes about raping her.

Now here’s the really scary part: These are not isolated incidents. Time after time, PETA’s undercover investigations of factory farms and slaughterhouses have documented that—in addition to the routine cruelty that occurs at these nightmarish facilities—workers often take their personal issues out on animals by sexually assaulting them, sometimes in the animals’ terrifying last moments.

At a Hormel supplier’s farm in Iowa,a supervisor (who was later convicted of livestock abuse) rammed a cane into a pig’s vagina and boasted that he had thrust gate rods into the anuses of pigs who frustrated him. At the same facility, another worker, who was also later convicted of livestock abuse, urged PETA’s investigator to beat a pig as if she had scared away a “voluptuous little f***ing girl.”

At a poultry-breeding company in West Virginia, a worker was indicted for cruelty to animals because he had been caught on video pinning a female turkey to the ground and pretending to rape her. At a Butterball slaughterhouse in Arkansas, a PETA investigator witnessed a worker repeatedly sticking his finger into a turkey’s cloaca (vagina). Another worker mimed the rape of a bird whose legs and head he had crammed into the metal shackle that would carry her to her death.

PETA has always believed that animal rights and human rights go hand in hand. Calling animals “cunts” and joking about rape help to create an environment in which prejudice and even physical abuse against females of all species are all too acceptable. We can take a stand against this type of sexism by not supporting industries that treat females as nothing more than commodities.