Carol J. Adams

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Carol J. Adams
Carol J. Adams at the Intersectional Justice Conference.jpg
Carol Adams speaks at the Intersectional Justice Conference, March 2016.
Born 1951
Residence Dallas, Texas
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Rochester (BA); Yale Divinity School (MDiv)
Notable work The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory (1990), The Pornography of Meat (2004)
Religion Presbyterianism
Spouse(s) Rev. Dr. Bruce Buchanan

Carol J. Adams (born 1951) is an American writer, feminist, and animal rights advocate. She is the author of several books, including The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory (1990) and The Pornography of Meat (2004), focusing in particular on what she argues are the links between the oppression of women and that of non-human animals.[1]

Adams has published around 100 articles or entries in journals, books, magazines, and encyclopedias on vegetarianism, animal rights, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. She was inducted into the Animal Rights Hall of Fame in 2011.[2]


Carol J. Adams was born in New York in 1951.Adams is a feminist-vegan, advocate, activist, and independent scholar who's work explores the cultural construction of inter-sectional oppression.[3] She is most notably known for her books, The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory and the recently released, The Pornography of Meat. These books are widely read and used in many colleges in the United States of America, Canada, and Great Britain.[4] At a young age, Adams was influenced by her mother, who was both a feminist and a civil rights activist, and also her father who she recalls, was a lawyer who participated in one of the first law suits regarding the pollution of lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes in the north eastern region of the United States[5][6]. As an undergraduate at the University of Rochester, she was involved in bringing women's studies courses to the University's course catalog.[7] She graduated from there with a BA in 1972, and obtained her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School in 1976. In 1974 Adams moved to Boston to study with Mary Daly. It was with Mary that Adams credits much of her feminist thought, Adams recalls this time as, " a fascinating time of conversation and mutual critique...My evolving feminist-veganism and her evolving biophilic philosophy bumped up against each other at times. Usually, at least in the beginning, she had the last word." [8]

[9] She was executive director of the Chautauqua County Rural Ministry, Inc., Dunkirk, New York from the late 1970s to 1987.[7] Adams lives in Texas with her husband, the Reverend Dr. Bruce Buchanan, and is a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, where her husband is an associate pastor.[10]

Adams recalls hearing of the death of her family pony in a hunting accident while at Yale, then eating a hamburger that night. She concluded that it was hypocritical for her to mourn the death of her pony, yet have no problem eating a slaughtered cow. She became a vegetarian that night.[11] She is also a pioneer of feminist care theory in animal ethics. Adams continues to work towards the ethical treatment of animals and other forms of activism. She does this through visiting colleges, teaching courses, and through the internet and different forums of social media in which she can reach out to a wider audience. Adams has also been working on a theoretical autobiography.[12]

Adams is one of several people who provided information used in the writing of the book Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism (2008) by Mark Hawthorne.


The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory[edit]

The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory discusses how, especially in times of shortage, women often give men the meat they perceive to be the "best" food. She also discusses the connections between feminism and vegetarianism, and patriarchy and meat eating, historically and through the reading of literary texts. This describes what she calls the structure of the "absent referent", which in this context is that "which separates the meat eater from the animal and the animal from the end product."[13]

Important Writings[edit]

In The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, Adams parallels the patriarchal system with the relationship between humans and animals.The male connotations associated with meat eating, not only highlights species inequality, but also defines distinct gender roles. Simply, meat signifies male dominance over females as “men who batter women have often used the absence of meat as a pretext for violence against women.”[14] Adams proclaims that our culture has become preoccupied with reducing non-human animals to a source of consumption, a fragmentation of their individual species. A reoccurring theme throughout her work pertains to men that feel a sense of entitlement over animals similar to women who abuse, exploit, or degrade women for their bodies.

In Adam’s Animals and Women Feminist Theoretical Explorations, she argues that the social context behind female oppression and sexual violence has a direct tie to the way humans mistreat other species. Humans tend to deem animals as an inferior species and in this way, justify their actions regarding animal exploitation. According to Adams, men regard women in a similar light. This sense of entitlement over animals translates into human relations and men begin to label women as inferior as well “available for abuse.”[15] The established discourse shifts from a negative image for nonhuman animals to a sexist portrayal of women. Constantly, men refer to women using language such as dogs, chicks, bunny, which all indicate men using women as a mere means.[16] Given current speciesism, individuals use non-human animals for their production, i.e. cows for milk, hens for eggs, or female dog to breed more puppies. Hens use chicks as simply physical beings similar to how men may exploit the female body for pleasure.

These animals become absent referents, they exist as meat for human ingestion rather than existing as another species in the world. In "Sexual Politics of Meat", Adams this notion comes into play through not only physically being an absent non-existent species however, through language and metaphorical; the way others compare women to meat. The concept of discourse allows one to refer his meat product rather than the dead animal i.e. veal rather than baby calves. In her writings, Adams uses language to acknowledge the central point between how feminism and vegetarianism intertwine with one another. Similarly, she recognizes that the gender roles may participate in eating meat and men might become sexual violence victims. However, the overlap lies primarily in meat consumption and violence against women.

As per the title of Chapter 2 “The Rape of Animals, the Butchering of Women,” in Sexual Politics of Meat, the author interchanges the words associated with sexual violence and animal cruelty. In that, Adams notes the similarities between the two oppressive systems. Adams introduces a larger disconnect between the human eating the animal and the animal itself. According to her work, “batterers, rapists, serial killers, and child sexual abusers have victimized animals,” who later use such incident as a threat against women.[17] Merely, this strengthens the relationship between how men treat women and how men regard animals, both of which can be seen as degrading. She introduces this concept in several publications including Neither Man Nor Beast: Feminism and the Defense of Animals in which the feminist advocates for animal rights and supports feminism in a slightly different manner.[18] In this case, she introduces animal experimentation, abortion rights, environmentalism, and child abuse to depict the existing violence in the current system. She focuses in on the institutional violence at hand between factory farming practices, sexualizing women and minorities, as well as the oppression amongst species in modern culture.

In one of Carol Adam’s works, "The Pornography of Meat", she draws the visual comparison between meat advertised on a shelf and women portrayed in particular advertisements or magazines. The idea of consumption plays a significant role in a culture that compare women to a product, something that’s not only attainable, but a consumable person.[19] It is important to note that consumption may refer to literal digestion or rather simply, a desire for someone considered attainable by another individual. Adams juxtaposes commonly unnoticed advertisements in the local grocery store to sexist and misogynistic images of women. Further, she creates the “A” category, which creates an idea of white male supremacy in a civilized society, whereas the other in this sense, includes language that relates to different races, non-human animals, and women. Adams argues that modern culture idealizes the white male figure and demonstrates that he represents an advanced civilized society. The author argues that any individual who doesn’t fall into the “A” category likely faces a reference to animals, now seen as derogatory and inferior. In this work, she includes an image of women labeled according to her body parts similar to how butcher advertises meat cuts. The underlying premise remains the same; current culture has created a desire for consumption from non-human animals, genders, and races.

Other works[edit]

She is the author of several other books, including Living Among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarian's Survival Handbook. This book advises vegetarians to ask if they are at peace with their own vegetarianism and provides communication skills for avoiding abuse while dining with meat-eating friends, family, and coworkers who may be hostile. Her book The Pornography of Meat explores her thesis that United States culture conflates women and meat by analyzing its verbal and visual imagery.


Carol J. Adams' activism includes "experience of working for social justice (which includes justice for nonhuman animals) and against domestic violence, homelessness, racism, and violence against animals."[20]


  • The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory. Continuum, 1990. ISBN 0-8264-0455-3
  • Ecofeminism and the Sacred. Continuum, 1993. ISBN 0-8264-0586-X
  • Neither Man nor Beast: Feminism and the Defense of Animals. Continuum, 1994. ISBN 0-8264-0670-X
  • Woman-battering: Creative pastoral care and counseling series. Fortress Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8006-2785-7
  • with Marie M. Fortune. Violence against Women and Children: A Christian Theological Sourcebook. Continuum, 1995.
  • with Josephine Donovan. Animals and women: Feminist theoretical explorations. Duke University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-8223-1667-6
  • The inner art of vegetarianism: Spiritual practices for body and soul. Lantern Books, 2000. ISBN 1-930051-13-1
  • Journey to gameland: How to make a board game from your favorite children's book. Lantern Books, 2001. ISBN 1-930051-51-4
  • with Howard Williams. The ethics of diet: A catena of authorities deprecatory of the practice of flesh-eating. University of Illinois Press, 2003. ISBN 0-252-07130-1
  • "Bitch, Chick, Cow: Women's and (Other) Animals' Rights" in Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium. Washington Square Press 2003. ISBN 0-7434-6627-6.
  • Help! My child stopped eating meat!: An A-Z guide to surviving a conflict in diets. Continuum 2004. ISBN 0-8264-1583-0
  • The Pornography of Meat. Continuum, 2004. ISBN 0-8264-1646-2
  • Prayers for Animals. Continuum, 2004. ISBN 0-8264-1651-9
  • God listens when you're sad: Prayers when your animal friend is sick or dies. Pilgrim Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8298-1667-4
  • God listens to your love : prayers for living with animal friends. Pilgrim Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8298-1665-8
  • God listens to your care : prayers for all the animals of the world. Pilgrim Press, 2006. ISBN 0-8298-1666-6
  • with Douglas Buchanan and Kelly Gesch. Bedside, bathtub and armchair companion to Frankenstein. Continuum, 2007. ISBN 0-8264-1824-4
  • The Feminist Care Tradition in Animal Ethics: A Reader. Columbia University Press, 2007. Edited by Carol J. Adams and Josephine Donovan. ISBN 978-0-231-14038-6
  • How to eat like a vegetarian even if you never want to be one: More than 250 shortcuts, strategies, and simple solutions. Lantern Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59056-137-9
  • Living among meat eaters: The vegetarians' survival handbook. Lantern Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59056-116-4
  • The Foreword to Lisa Kemmerer's anthology Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice. University of Illinois Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-252-07811-8[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Green, Elizabeth W. Fifteen Questions For Carol J. Adams, The Harvard Crimson, October 10, 2003, accessed November 22, 2008.
  2. ^ "U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame". Animal Rights National Conference. Farm Animal Rights Movement. Archived from the original on 2014-03-17. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  3. ^ Michael. "Carol J. Adams - "Politics and the absent referent in 2014″ - Neither Man Nor Beast". Youtube. Standard Youtube License. Retrieved September 30, 2016. 
  4. ^ Rice, Pamela. "Carol J.". 
  5. ^ "Carol J Adams". Youtube. 
  6. ^ "Carol". Retrieved September 30, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "About me"
  8. ^ Adams, Carol (2012). "Finding Necrophilia in Meat Eating: Mary Daly's Evolving Fem-Veg Perspective". Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. 28 (2): 93. doi:10.2979/jfemistudreli.28.2.93. 
  9. ^ {{"Carol J. Adams",, accessed November 19, 2010.}}
  10. ^ Book signing with Carol Adams,, accessed January 25, 2011.
  11. ^ Adams lecturing at Stanford University on YouTube, October 2010.
  12. ^ Michael. "Carol J. Adams - "Politics and the absent referent in 2014″ - Neither Man Nor Beast". Youtube. Standard Youtube License. Retrieved September 30, 2016. 
  13. ^ Myers-Spiers, Rebecca. "Not a piece of meat: Carol J Adams and the feminist-vegetarian connection", Off Our Backs, December 1999, accessed September 3, 2009.
  14. ^ Adams, Carol J. (1990). The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory. New York: Continuum. p. 62. 
  15. ^ Adams, Carol J.; Donovan, Josephine (1995). Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations. Durham: DUKE UP. p. 11. 
  16. ^ Adams, Carol J.; Josephine, Donovan (1995). Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations. Durham: Duke UP. p. 15. 
  17. ^ Adams, Carol J.; Donovan, Josephine (1995). Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations. Durham: Duke UP. p. 71. 
  18. ^ Adams, Carol J. (1994). Neither Man nor Beast: Feminism and the Defense of Animals. New York: Continuum. 
  19. ^ Adams, Carol J. (2003). The Pornography of Meat. New York: Continuum. p. 12. 
  20. ^ Adams, Carol J. "Bio". Carol J. Adams. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  21. ^ Kemmerer, Lisa A., ed. (2011-05-23). Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-07811-8. Lay summary.  Foreword by Carol J. Adams

Further reading[edit]