U.S. slaughterhouse industry : masculinity, violence, and a call for feminist intervention

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Gavit, Carrie Danielle

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A slaughterhouse is a location in which animals are disassembled into meat products consumed by the public. In the United States, this process is made invisible due to a restructuring of the industry that took place in the mid-20th century, as well as “ag-gag” laws. Not only does animal abuse occur without repercussions but also the inhumane treatment of the workers killing, deconstructing, and processing the meat for public consumption continues without notice. For the purposes of my research, I specifically analyze the daily experiences of men working within various slaughterhouses across the country. Through academic articles, newspaper stories, investigative reports and whistleblower accounts, I gain access to workers’ stories and the set-up of the U.S. slaughterhouse industry. Due to the industry’s desire to increase production rates, the environment within slaughterhouses is one founded in patriarchal and capitalist notions. Each worker must prove his worth to maintain any amount of job security. At the same time, each worker must bear through the working conditions, inhumane treatment, and the act of participating in the killing and deconstruction of animals every minute of every day. The pressure to perform accompanied with the physical, emotional, and psychological toll of the job often results in post-traumatic stress disorder for the workers. As a form of outlet, the workers resort to violence toward one another and the animals. In assessing workers’ experiences and violent outbursts, I apply feminist methodologies to uncover ways of healing for these workers and possibilities for altering the industry’s set-up to dismantle its foundations in patriarchal and capitalist notions.


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