Why fur may be the most serious animal rights issue to consider

Ironically, this comes on the heels of a post I started a while ago and just published today citing an article which claims fur as anathema to the every day person.

I really really really hate to say this, but fur is very much acceptable in our society. I live in a pretty progressive city. But I know that when I go to the theater for a classical concert in the winter, I will see attendees in everything from fur lined gloves to full length fur coats. And no one will be waiting outside to throw red paint. A lot of these attendees are older, and some of them were probably in their young 20s when fur was everywhere as a status symbol. But middle aged women and younger wear accents of fur on their person.

I’ve accepted this, because, really, what can I do? (Actually, I strugle every time I see someone wearing fur. I want to go up to them and ask – do you know where that came from? But I know that it will come off accusatory and it won’t do the cause any good to make people defensive (again, in the above post!).) Anyways, last night, I saw my usual array of fur wearers (and leather, and cashmere, and silk), but I saw something out of the ordinary. The soloist soprano wore a fur wrap. She had a beautiful red dress on, and for each of her three entrances, she wore a different jacket or wrap over top. First, it was a sparkly silver jacket, the final one was a matching red jacket, and the middle one was a fur wrap.

I couldn’t look at her without feeling nauseous for the rest of the show. Is that an extreme reaction? Let me explain to you why I care so much about fur.

Factory farming is, without a doubt, the animal rights issue most affecting society, the environment, and of course, the animals. Animal research is probably next, followed by cosmetic and commercial animal testing and use of animal products. But all of these have a level of detachment from society – in their terms, presentation, and in the visibility of the way the animals are treated. Factory farming and animal testing happen behind closed doors. Leather is a product from an animal, but it doesn’t remind the viewer of a cow.

Fur has NO detachment. Whereas we call pig meat, “bacon,” we call fur, “fur,” mink, “mink,” fox, “fox.” There is no linguistic attempt to hide that you are purchasing a dead animal. In its presentation, again, there is no detachment. Sometimes you will see fur dyed a different color. Sometimes it will be used to accent various clothing items in such a way that you can’t tell its origin. But really, most fur is sold looking just like the hide of a dead animal. In its name and in its presentation, people can claim no ignorance for what they purchase. Thus, fur is the most unavoidable symbol of society’s disregard for non-human animal life.

I suppose it’s worth mentioning that many people are doing this in the name of fashion, because committing such sins for a meager cause gets people riled up But I understand doing things in the name of fashion, and I don’t really think it’s a meager cause. People are judged by what they wear, and if you want to be perceived a certain way, then you dress a certain way. If fur means decadence and elegance, then you wear fur so you can display those same traits. What I don’t understand is why society imbues wearing a dead animal with any connotation other than cruelty.

Until we accept such an obvious symbol of unjustified disposal of animal life as wrong, how can we expect people to pay any heed to the more hidden animal rights issues?

For my part, I’m going to write to the soprano soloist, explain that I was offended by the fur, and ask if she could please be aware of the power she has as a performer to set forth certain ideas about what is glamorous. I will enclose links to a few faux fur websites. Who knows whether she will pay any attention, but at least I’ll have done what I can.

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2 Responses to Why fur may be the most serious animal rights issue to consider

  1. Gina says:

    If the soloist had been wearing faux fur, would you be able to tell? I don’t know if I would be able to tell the difference between real and fake fur, especially from far away in the audience at a concert. I don’t know if wearing faux fur would set a better example if the people who see her still think it’s real fur, but maybe most people can tell the difference and I’m just not very fashion-conscious.

  2. ecofem says:

    1. It looked like real fur, and it had little feet hanging off the side. It is possible that it was fake, but I feel like she would have said something if it were. And in the interview I watched, she was wearing a coat with a feather collar, so I’m guessing she doesn’t have a problem with animal products. I sent her a facebook message though, so maybe she’ll respond saying it was fake fur. That would be awesome.

    2. I struggle a lot with that question of where to draw the line.
    Faux fur exists, but if it looks like real fur and isn’t clearly labeled, then you send the wrong message. Same with my pleather purse I carry everywhere. To people who know I’m vegan, I show that there are vegan alternative. To people who don’t know I’m vegan, it just looks like leather. Mark has even made a comment about the (clearly vegan) leopard print gloves my grandma gave us, saying that it perpetuates the idea of wearing animal skins.

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