Wrenn, C. (2020). “More of a Liability than an Asset”: Victorian Women’s Advocacy for Other Animals. Society & Animals [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1163/15685306-BJA10017.
Although the nonhuman animal rights movement in the West is frequently framed by activists and remembered by historians as gender-neutral, Donaldson’s (2020) Women against Cruelty (which examines meeting notes and campaigning documents reaching back to the movement’s founding in the early 19th century) demonstrates just the opposite. Women’s affinity for anti-speciesist activism within the context of a prevailing sexism which pitted all female pursuits as lesser-than would prove a difficult hurdle to surmount with regard to social movement resonance. This is not to reify or reduce women’s contributions. Women against Cruelty catalogs a diversity of feminine and feminist approaches to advancing the interests of nonhuman animals: some religious, some scientific, and some
intersectional. Many women favored educational outreach, while others relied on rational debate, shocking images, direct intervention, and legal resistance.
Wrenn, C. and Lizardi, A. (2020). Older, Greener, and Wiser: Charting the Experiences of Older Women in the American Vegan Movement. Journal of Women & Aging [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/08952841.2020.1749501.
Vegan feminist theory argues that women and other marginalized groups experience discrimination in the vegan movement given its failure to apply intersectional praxis. We interviewed a small sample of older vegan women in America, hypothesizing that they would report feeling particularly vulnerable to discrimination given the vegan movement’s patriarchal leanings and its heavy focus on health and vitality. Our results, however, are mixed. Some viewed older age as an asset that strengthened their ability to commit to veganism, while others reported stressed social interactions, underrepresentation in the movement, and lack of support by doctors.
Wrenn, C. (2019). Discriminating Spirits: Cultural Source Theory and the Human-Nonhuman Boundary. Mortality [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/13576275.2019.1622519.
Ghosts symbolically represent the social recognition of a subject’s personhood as well as the legitimacy of that individual’s experience with inequality since many haunting narratives center grievance. Marginalized groups may be so oppressed that they do not warrant acknowledgement, thus protecting the distinctiveness of privileged groups. Nonhuman Animals, for instance, are much less likely to be recognized as ghosts, especially farmed species. To explore the relationship between oppression and the cultural visibility of other animals, this article revisits cultural source theory with a qualitative content analysis of 20 ghost anthologies. Results support human bias in haunting narratives.
Wrenn, C. (2019). Atheism in the American Animal Rights Movement: An Invisible Majority. Environmental Values [Online] 28:715-739. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3197/096327119X15579936382509.
Previous research has alluded to the predominance of atheism in participant pools in the Nonhuman Animal rights movement (Galvin and Herzog, 1992; Guither, 1998) as well as the correlation between atheism and support for anti-speciesism (Gabriel et al., 2012; The Humane Society, 2014), but no study to date has independently examined this demographic. This article presents a profile of 210 atheists and agnostics derived from a larger survey of 287 American vegans conducted in early 2017. Results demonstrate that atheists constitute one of the largest movement demographics, and these vegans are more likely to adopt veganism out of concern for other animals. While atheist and agnostic vegans did not register a higher level of social movement participation than religious vegans, they were more intersectionally oriented and more likely to politically identify with the far left. Given the Nonhuman Animal rights movement’s overall failure to target atheist demographics, these findings suggest a strategic oversight in overlooking the movement’s most receptive demographic.
Wrenn, C. (2019). The Vegan Society and social movement professionalization, 1944–2017. Food and Foodways [Online] 27:190-210. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/07409710.2019.1646484.
In a qualitative content analysis of The Vegan Society’s quarterly publication, The Vegan, spanning 73 years and nearly 300 issues, the trajectory of one of the world’s most radical and compassionate counter cuisine collectives is presented and critically assessed. The Vegan Society’s history provides a case study on the ways in which social movements negotiate difference and conflict. Specifically, this article highlights the challenges of identity, professionalization, and factionalism across the 20th and 21st centuries. This research also puts into perspective the cultural impact that veganism has had on Western society, namely the dramatic increase in vegan consumers, vegan products, and the normalcy of vegan nutrition.
Wrenn, C. (2018). Free-Riders in the Nonprofit Industrial Complex: The Problem of Flexitarianism. Society and Animals [Online] 26:1-25. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/15685306-12341544.
Social movements have traditionally viewed free-riders as a problem for effective mobilization, but under the influence of the nonprofit industrial complex, it is possible that movements actively facilitate their presence. Free-riders become an economic resource to professionalized movements seeking to increase wealth and visibility inthe crowded social movement space by discouraging meaningful attitude or behavior change from their audiences and concentrating power among movement elites. Actively cultivated free-riding is exemplified by the professionalized Nonhuman Animal rights movement which promotes flexitarianism over ethical veganism despite its goal of nonhuman liberation. Major social-psychological theories of persuasion in addition to 44 studies on vegan and vegetarian motivation are examined to illustrate how free-rider flexitarianism is at odds with stated goals, thereby suggesting an alternative utility in flexitarianism as a means of facilitating a disengaged public.
Wrenn, C. (2018). Pussy Grabs Back: Bestialized Sexual Politics and Intersectional Failure in Protest Posters for the 2017 Women’s March. Feminist Media Studies [Online] 19:803-821. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2018.1465107.
The women’s march on Washington on January 21 2017 and its more
than 600 sister marches across the world was characterized by its
distinctly feline theme. Most notable were the pink pussy hats and a
multitude of signs that played on the historical association between
women and cats to resist the crude remarks made by US presidential
nominee Donald Trump who bragged of grabbing women “by
the pussy.” This article explores this feline counterframing from a
vegan feminist perspective. A content analysis was performed on
photographs that were published in Why I March (2017) and uploaded
to the Women’s March on Washington Archives Project, the Georgia
State University Women’s Marches 2017 Collection, and Instagram in
Spring 2017. Results illustrate the persistent role that animality plays
in feminist politics, but they also point to a critical intersectional failure
exhibited by an ultimately anthropocentric collective.
Wrenn, C. (2018). College Student Literacy of Food Animal Slaughter in the United States. International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food 24:215-228.
Despite the growing influence of food justice and conscious consumption in Western society, Westerners exhibit limited knowledge of non-human animal oppression in the food system. This study asked students in seven classes of
Introduction to Sociology offered in a private New Jersey university to estimate
how many non-human animals are killed for food every year in the United States.
Although students had been exposed to reading and lecture material covering
speciesism and non-human animal oppression in the food system, results demonstrate major variation in student retention and awareness. Most students (66%)
severely underestimated the magnitude of killing; the median response was just
65 million while the bottom 10% of responses averaged a guess of 24 667. Exam
grade was slightly correlated with student responses, but gender was not. These
findings support existing research on consumer ignorance and social psychological theories that predict cognitive barriers to understanding large-scale suffering,
alerting educators and policymakers to the difficulties in raising food literacy
Wrenn, C. (2018). How to Help When It Hurts? Think Systemic. Animal Studies Journal 7:149-179.
To resolve a moral dilemma created by the rescue of carnivorous species from exploitative situations who
must rely on the flesh of other vulnerable species to survive, Cheryl Abbate applies the guardianship principle
in proposing hunting as a case-by-case means of reducing harm to the rescued animal as well as to those
animals who must die to supply food. This article counters that Abbate’s guardianship principle is
insufficiently applied given its objectification of deer communities. Tom Regan, alternatively, encouraged
guardians to think beyond individual dilemmas and adopt a measure of systemic reconstruction, that being
the abolition of speciesist institutions (The Case for Animal Rights; Empty Cages). In addition, politics of
non-vegan pets and vote-with-your-dollar veganism are addressed as relevant moral dilemmas that highlight
the limited utility of individual decision-making within a larger system of speciesism. It is argued that
guardians are obliged to work toward the abolition of speciesism, while guardians may, in the meantime,
support carnivorous refugees with animal agriculture byproducts given the reality of sellercontrolled
Wrenn, C. (2017). Trump Veganism: A Political Survey of American Vegans in the Era of Identity Politics. Societies [Online] 7:1-13. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/soc7040032.
Often stereotyped as being apathetic to the human suffering, the American vegan movement has historically failed to build alliances with other social justice movements. As intersectional feminism gains a foothold in the movement and external political crises challenge the movement’s frame of reference, the role that identity plays in movement progress has become a serious concern. Using the 2016 election as a flashpoint, this article considers if the identity backlash characterized by the Trump campaign finds parallels in the American vegan movement. A survey of 287 American vegans finds limited evidence of Trump veganism, defined here as a single-issue focus on speciesism that rejects the relevance of human-experienced systems of oppression. However, respondents do find that movement diversity efforts are insufficient, especially when controlling for race and gender. Most respondents were ethically-motivated vegans, liberal voters, and intersectionally-oriented activists who reported multiple engagements with various leftist movements. Only four percent of respondents voted Trump, while 14% agreed with or were neutral about Trump’s campaign promise to put “America first”. Those who were vegan for reasons of self-interest and had been vegan for less than a year were significantly more likely to support Trump’s conservative agenda and were slightly less likely to participate in other social movements.
Wrenn, C. (2017). Skeptics and “The White Stuff”: Promotion of Cows’ Milk and Other Nonhuman Animal Products in the Skeptic Community as Normative Whiteness. Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism [Online] 5:73-81. Available at: http://www.ledonline.it/index.php/Relations/article/view/565.
This article discusses a dairy advertising campaign featuring skeptic Derren Brown. I explore
the various health claims made in the ads as well as a report Brown featured on his website
that claimed consumption of cow’s milk is linked to longevity. I discuss how dairy consumption is largely linked to race and ethnicity. It is a practice enjoyed primarily by European
whites as most nonwhites are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is a normal biological
process associated with weaning, but it is medicalized and made deviant because it is not part
of the white experience. I also mention comments made by Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins
that normalize Western diets with unsubstantiated claims. This article takes a critical look at
skeptic leaders who have failed to address misleading information perpetuated by exploitative animal product industries.
Wrenn, C. (2016). Fat Vegan Politics: A Survey of Fat Vegan Activists’ Online Experiences with Social Movement Sizeism. Fat Studies [Online] 6:90-102. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21604851.2017.1242359.
The author examines the consequences of stigma strategies in vegan activism as it is experienced by fat vegan activists. The fat politics of veganism in online spaces is examined in data provided by a 2016 qualitative survey of fat-identified vegan activists. Results highlight the subjective experiences of fat vegans, illuminating the meaning of healthism, sizeism, and thin-privilege in vegan social justice spaces. Sizeism is a significant concern for fat vegan activists as respondents report only medium-level feelings of comfort and community, with one in four reporting having experienced fat discrimination in the movement. Most indicate that online vegan spaces feel safer than those offline, but most also perceive vegan online spaces as less inclusive than nonvegan ones. Most activists did not significantly modify their participation in response.
Wrenn, C. and Lutz, M. (2016). White Women Wanted? An Analysis of Gender Diversity in Social Justice Magazines. Societies [Online] 6:1-18. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/soc6020012.
The role of media in collective action repertoires has been extensively studied, but media as an agent of socialization in social movement identity is less understood. It could be that social movement media is normalizing a particular activist identity to the exclusion of other demographics. For instance, Harper has identified white-centrism in anti-speciesist media produced by the Nonhuman Animal rights movement and supposes that this lack of diversity stunts movement potential. Using the lesser-studied Nonhuman Animal rights movement as a starting point, this study investigates two prominent Nonhuman Animal rights magazines. We compare those findings with an analysis of comparable leftist movements also known to exhibit diversity strains. A content analysis of Nonhuman Animal rights, women’s rights, and gay rights magazine covers spanning from 2000 to 2012 was undertaken to determine the manifestation of gender, race, body type, and sexualization. We find that the Nonhuman Animal rights media in our sample overwhelmingly portrays white women with a tendency toward thinness, but with low levels of sexualization as comparable to that of the other movements. All three movement samples unevenly depicted gender, overrepresented whites, and underrepresented non-thin body types.
Wrenn, C. (2016). Social Movement Prostitution: A Case Study in Nonhuman Animal Rights Activism and Vegan Pimping. Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity 4:87-99.
This article explores the sexual objectification of female-identified
volunteers in social movements as a form of tactical prostitution, arguing
that tactical prostitution constitutes a violation of the dignity of women in
social movement spaces, while posing a threat to the wellbeing of women
and children in the larger public. This article investigates the Nonhuman
Animal Rights movement, particularly suggesting that tactical prostitution
is particularly counterintuitive in this context as it asks the public to stop
objectifying Nonhuman Animals with the same oppressive logic that it
wields by objectifying female activists. This critique is placed within a
systemic analysis of neoliberalism as it impacts social movements through
the formation of a non-profit industrial complex. This system encourages
the commodification of marginalised groups for institutional gain.
Wrenn, C. (2015). An Analysis of Diversity in Nonhuman Animal Rights Media. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics [Online] 29:143-165. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10806-015-9593-4.
Lack of diversity in the ranks as well as a failure to resonate with
disadvantaged groups and other anti-oppression movements has been cited as one
important barrier to the American Nonhuman Animal rights movement’s success
(Kymlicka and Donaldson in Animal rights, multiculturalism and the Left. The
Mellon Sawyer Seminar at the Graduate Center, CUNY. City University of New
York, New York, 2013). It is possible that social movements are actively inhibiting
diversity in the ranks and audience by producing literature that reflects a narrow
activist identity. This article creates a platform from which these larger issues can be
explored by investigating the actual demographic representations present in a small
sample of popular media sources produced by the movement for other animals. A
content analysis of 131 magazine covers produced by two highly visible movement
actors, PETA and VegNews, was conducted to demonstrate that activist representations in at least some dominant American Nonhuman Animal rights media are
mostly white, female, and thin.
Wrenn, C., Joanne, C., Maddie, J., Katharine, G., Delanie, W., Katherine, D., Riva, S. and Jonothan, W. (2015). The Medicalization of Nonhuman Animal Rights: Frame Contestation and the Exploitation of Disability. Disability and Society [Online] 30:1307-1327. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2015.1099518.
Nonhuman Animal rights activists are sometimes dismissed as ‘crazy’ or
irrational by countermovements seeking to protect status quo social structures.
Social movements themselves often utilize disability narratives in their claimsmaking as well. In this article, we argue that Nonhuman Animal exploitation and
Nonhuman Animal rights activism are sometimes medicalized in frame disputes.
The contestation over mental ability ultimately exploits humans with disabilities.
The medicalization of Nonhuman Animal rights activism diminishes activists’
social justice claims, but the movement’s medicalization of Nonhuman Animal
use unfairly otherizes its target population and treats disability identity as a
pejorative. Utilizing a content analysis of major newspapers and anti-speciesist
activist blogs published between 2009 and 2013, it is argued that disability has
been incorporated into the tactical repertoires of the Nonhuman Animal rights
movement and countermovements, becoming a site of frame contestation. The
findings could have implications for a number of other social movements that
also negatively utilize disability narratives.
Wrenn, C. (2014). Abolition Then and Now: Tactical Comparisons Between the Human Rights Movement and the Modern Nonhuman Animal Rights Movement in the United States. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics [Online] 27:177-200. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10806-013-9458-7.
This article discusses critical comparisons between the human and nonhuman abolitionist movements in the United States. The modern nonhuman abolitionist movement is, in some ways, an extension of the anti-slavery movement of the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the ongoing human Civil Rights movement.
As such, there is considerable overlap between the two movements, specifically in the
need to simultaneously address property status and oppressive ideology. Despite
intentional appropriation of terminology and numerous similarities in mobilization
efforts, there has been disappointingly little academic discussion on this relationship.
There are significant contentions regarding mobilization and goal attainment in the
human abolitionist movement that speak to modern collective action on behalf of other
animals. This article will explore the human abolitionist movement and discuss possible applications of movement organization, tactical repertoires, and goal attainment
to the current nonhuman animal rights movement. Specifically, the utility of violence
and legislative activism in the antislavery movement are discussed as potentially
problematic approaches to abolishing nonhuman animal exploitation. Alternatively,
the nonhuman animal rights focus on consumer resistance and nonviolence represent
an important divergence in abolitionist mobilization.
Wrenn, C. (2014). Fifty Shades of Oppression: Unexamined Sexualized Violence against Women and Other Animals. Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism [Online] 2:135-139. Available at: http://www.ledonline.it/index.php/Relations/article/view/27.
This article examines a chicken cookbook that parodies a popular pornography novel “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Applying Carol J. Adams’ theory of intersecting oppression, I argue that the cookbook exemplifies the sexual objectification of women and Nonhuman Animals. The trivialization of violence against women and other animals also exemplifies rape culture, speciesism, and misogyny.
Wrenn, C. (2013). Nonhuman Animal Rights, Alternative Food Systems, and the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. PhaenEx [Online] 8:209-242. Available at: https://phaenex.uwindsor.ca/index.php/phaenex/issue/view/404.
In response to concerns over the treatment of animals in the food industry, the humane
product movement and welfare-focused Nonhuman Animal1
advocacy have arisen to create an
alternate system of food production, one that has gained significant attention in the past 30 years
(Singer and Mason 4). The industry-led humane product movement seeks to capitalize on public
concern with Nonhuman Animal welfare in improving the “humaneness” of their products. The
Nonhuman Animal advocacy movement seeks to address concerns with welfare by advocating
industry reform. Ultimately, these shared goals mean that the two parties often cooperate for
mutual benefit. As neither position challenges the property status of other animals, this paper
argues that neither position is properly equipped to extend moral consideration to Nonhuman
Animals. This paper also suggests that the shortcomings of advocacy groups reflect a desire to
cooperate with state and industry out of self interest, which necessitates that they compromise
goals and marginalize radical alternatives to Nonhuman Animal exploitation.
Wrenn, C. (2013). The Role of Professionalization Regarding Female Exploitation in the Nonhuman Animal rights Movement. Journal of Gender Studies [Online] 24:131-146. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/09589236.2013.806248.
Adams (2004, The pornography of meat. London: The Continuum International
Publishing Group Ltd), Deckha (2008, Disturbing images: PETA and the feminist
ethics of animal advocacy. Ethics and the environment, 13(2), 35–76), Gaarder (2011,
Women and the animal rights movement. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press),
Glasser (2011, Tied oppressions: an analysis of how sexist imagery reinforces
speciesist sentiment. The Brock review, 12(1), 51–68), and others have criticized
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for sexually exploiting young
women in outreach and fundraising efforts. This article extends these critiques in
addressing the problematic relationship between objectified volunteer female activists
and Nonhuman Animal rights organizations (Animal Liberation Victoria, Fish Love,
LUSH, and PETA). These organizations have largely professionalized and have
consequently refocused their priorities on fundraising for organizational maintenance.
An exploration into the social movement literature on the phenomenon of
professionalization casts the use of young women’s bodies for financial gains in a
more troubling light. The Nonhuman Animal rights industry that exploits the sexuality
of female activists ultimately exploits archetypes of women as nurturers and
temptresses. These groups also utilize women’s vulnerability by targeting female
consumers and their sensitivity to body image. This article places female
objectification within the logic of social movement professionalization. These
organizations merge advocacy with capitalist interests to the ultimate disadvantage of
women and Nonhuman Animals alike. The exploitation of female stereotypes and
ultimately the female body, it is argued, is ineffective in challenging ideologies of
oppression as both a practical and a theoretical matter.
Wrenn, C. and Johnson, R. (2013). A Critique of Single-Issue Campaigning and the Importance of Comprehensive Abolitionist Vegan Advocacy. Food, Culture and Society [Online] 16:651-668. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2752/175174413X13758634982092.
A popular tactic in the professional nonhuman animal rights movement is to utilize species-specific or issue-specific campaigns to increase public concern, motivate participation and extend movement support. This article challenges this traditional tactic of moderate nonhuman animal organizations in critiquing the issue-specific approaches to abolition advanced elsewhere and calls for a holistic abolitionist method that requires advocates to relinquish confusing piecemeal campaigns and instead challenge the underlying problem of speciesism in order to influence lasting and meaningful social change. The article applies Francione's radical theory of nonhuman animal rights, which recognizes the importance of vegan education in challenging this oppression. This article makes an argument for the role of radical motivation tactics in social movements as instrumental in reaching desired social change goals in a social movement environment that has largely professionalized.
Wrenn, C. (2013). Resonance of Moral Shocks in Abolitionist Animal Rights Advocacy: Overcoming Contextual Constraints. Society and Animals [Online] 16:651-668. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/15685306-12341271.
Jasper and Poulsen (1995) have long argued that moral shocks are critical for recruitment in the
nonhuman animal rights movement. Building on this, Decoux (2009) argues that the abolitionist faction of the nonhuman animal rights movement fails to recruit members because it does not
effectively utilize descriptions of suffering. However, the effectiveness of moral shocks and subsequent emotional reactions has been questioned. This article reviews the literature surrounding
the use of moral shocks in social movements. Based on this review, it is suggested that the exploitation of emotional reactions to depictions of suffering can sometimes prove beneficial to recruitment, but successful use is contextually rooted in preexisting frameworks, ideology, and identity.
It is concluded that a reliance on images and narratives might be misconstrued in a society
dominated by nonhuman animal welfare ideology.
Wrenn, C. (2012). Applying Social Movement Theory to Nonhuman Rights Mobilization and the Importance of Faction Hierarchies. The Peace Studies Journal [Online] 5:27-44. Available at: http://peacestudiesjournal.org/volume-5-issue-3-2012.
This paper offers an exploratory analysis of social movement theory as it relates to the
nonhuman animal rights movement. Individual participant motivations and experiences,
movement resource mobilization, and movement relationships with the public, the political
environment, historical context, countermovements, and the media are discussed. In particular,
the hierarchical relationships between factions are highlighted as an important area for further
research in regards to social movement success. Specifically, the role of counterframing in
subduing radical mobilization and the potential aggravating factor of status contamination is
Wrenn, C. (2012). Abolitionist Animal Rights: Critical Comparisons and Challenges within the Animal Rights Movement. Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements [Online] 4:438-458. Available at: http://www.interfacejournal.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Interface-4-2-Full-PDF.pdf.
The abolitionist movement is an emergent and radical approach to nonhuman animal rights. Calling for a complete cessation in nonhuman animal use through the abolishing of property status for nonhuman animals and an adoption of veganism and nonviolence, this approach stands in stark contrast to mainstream approaches such as humane production and welfare reform. This paper describes the goals and stances of abolitionism; the basic debate between abolitionism and other nonhuman animal rights movements; and the current state, challenges, and future prospects for abolitionism. It is argued that abolitionism, as developed by Francione, is the only morally consistent approach for taking the interests of nonhuman animals seriously. Further, it is suggested that the newness of the abolitionist movement and the
mainstream nonhuman animal welfare movement’s dismissal of abolitionism has thus far prevented any substantial abolitionist success.
Wrenn, C. (2011). Resisting the Globalization of Speciesism: Vegan Abolitionism as a Site for Consumer-Based Social Change. Journal of Critical Animal Studies [Online] 9:9-27. Available at: http://journalforcriticalanimalstudies.org/issues/.
Globalization has exacerbated speciesism both socially and economically. Veganism and its
subsequent labeling schemes have arisen as an important political site of resistance to
growing non-human animal inequality. This paper explores globalization‘s impact on nonhuman animals, veganism and vegan labeling, as well as important divides within the modern
non-human animal rights movement in regards to utopian and pragmatic approaches to
alleviating growing speciesism.