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January 18, 2010

Fur issues

I've been thinking about fur lately. It's one of those trains of thought that simply will not go away, as if my mind were saying: "Write this down! Sort this out! Get to the bottom of this!" over and over and over. Especially after my mom showed up at my door with a rabbit fur vest for me.

Rabbit. My mother informed me yesterday that "We don't eat rabbit," because we used to have a live one. But that didn't stop her from buying rabbit fur the week before. And when she gave it to me, we had the following conversation:

"What's this, Mom?"

"It's rabbit."

"It's RABBIT!?"

"It's rabbit!!! :-)" (Yes, you could hear the smiley at the end of her spoken sentence.)

"But Mom, it's rabbit."

"Well, just tell people it's mink."


Now, with a few notable exceptions, I usually think my mom has good taste and style. Plus, the vest fits, it's warm, and I recently added "It's cold outside," to my list of all-purpose excuses. (The list also includes "At least I don't smoke." and "I was living in Lier when I did that.") But since I'm a nerd who sees over-analyzing as a hobby, my brain won't stop internally debating how to feel about this recent addition to my closet. So far, I have come to the following conclusions:

1. Wearing fur sends a message. It says: "I'm ok with the fact that what I am wearing used to be alive." But so does wearing leather and silk.

2. In many cases, fur also sends the message: "I spent A LOT of money on something that makes me look box-shaped." (This vest doesn't; the opossum coat my mom tried to make me borrow, does.)

3. Fur is expensive. So is foie gras, another luxury item associated with animal cruelty. "Sacrificing" the things you can't actually afford, is not sacrificing. I'm not going to earn any karma points by pretending that I don't have a car because of the environment. I don't have a car, because I don't need one and I can't afford one. I rarely eat fois gras, because I can only rarely afford it. I had never seriously considered buying a fur coat in the same way I've never seriously considered buying a pair of Prada pumps or a Burberry trench coat: I don't have that kind of money.

4. I've heard people argue that wearing fur, even vintage fur from the 30s, is an indirect support of today's fur industry, because it keeps the look of fur in fashion. These same people suggested wearing realistic-looking faux fur. How does that not keep the fur look in fashion? People who claim to have made up their minds are clearly just as confused as me. "Don't get me started on fur. It makes me so angry," one friend warned when I mentioned my difficult gift. I glanced at her new suede coat and changed the subject.

5.  Faux fur is not as warm. And it either looks nothing like fur or exactly like fur, and I think either one is screapy*. It is simply not an alternative in my opinion.

6. I've worn fur before (right), so I fail already.

7. Ideally, I would know the costs I inflict on the world whenever I choose to consume anything. How happy was the hen who laid these eggs? Exactly how did this turkey die? What are the working conditions of the people who made this cheap t-shirt? Was this imported fruit transported in the best way possible for the environment? Given that I don't know these answers, I am probably making the wrong decisions all the time, leading to uneccessary suffering. Who says that dying to become a fur vest is worse than dying to become Christmas dinner?

After reviewing this evidence, it seemed I had two choices, if I wanted my own actions to make sense. I could wear the fur. Or I could give up a whole bunch of my favorite things: all my boots, my preferred breakfast, my kimono, the only pyjamas I really like, traditional Thanksgiving - did I mention bacon?

So I wore it just long enough to realize a drawback I had forgotten: Rabbits shed their hair. So did my new vest. I will be returning it.

* Screapy: From scary and creepy. Something so stupid and off-putting that it kind of scares you. It's in Urban Dictionary now, but I made it up before I started this blog. I should mention that I was living in Lier at the time.

This is Part 1, in which an ethical dilemma turns up literally on my doorstep, in the form of a white rabbit fur vest. Continue to:

Posted by Julie at January 18, 2010 11:52 PM

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I have a very definite position on fur: I can't afford it.

Other than that, I'm not aware of how they treat their animals, and Eivind said they're kind in Scandinavia. For all I know, he might be right (since I can't afford it, I don't have to care).

When it comes to rabbit fur, and leather coats, and woolen sweaters it's even simpler. You shouldn't feel bad about wearing that. Since you're not a vegetarian or a vegan, wearing the skin of the animals we eat means that we're not wasting any part of the animal. It's good, not bad! So there.

(and this post made me laugh, by being witty. Go you!)

Posted by: Martine at January 19, 2010 7:11 PM

Posted by: Eva at January 20, 2010 1:53 PM

Silke har aldri vært levende, silke er noe silkeormen lager, og kan sammenlignes med å bruke ull fra sauer. Så kimonoen er frikjent...

Posted by: Marie at January 22, 2010 10:43 AM

Marie - De fleste silkeormene dør i prosessen. Det var i hvert fall slik på silkefabrikkene jeg var på i Kina. PETA frikjenner verken kimonoen eller dundynen: http://www.peta.org/mc/factsheet_display.asp?ID=121

Posted by: Julie [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 22, 2010 4:43 PM

Eva - Jeg jobber faktisk med et lengre svar til deg, som sannsynligvis blir en egen Fur Issues part 2 bloggpost.

Posted by: Julie [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 22, 2010 4:44 PM

Hehe, du kunne jo tenke deg at jeg kom til å reagere, gal som jeg er. Men pelsdyroppdrett er en ting jeg virkelig er opptatt av. Pelsdyroppdrett får meg til å lene mot abolisjonisme (http://ikkemennesker.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/abolisjonisme-er-ikke-en-utopi/) og det er jo ganske ekstremt. Jeg er spent på svaret ditt.

P.S. "Pelsdyroppdrett er fælt men det er kjøttindustrien og fattige barn i Afrika også - jeg orker ikke å forholde meg til alle vonde ting i verden" er ikke et argument. :)

Posted by: Eva at January 22, 2010 9:58 PM

Et argument er at minken er et rovdyr som har vært i fangenskap i knappe 100 år. Den har svært mange, for ikke si alle, av sine instinkter inntakt - i motsetning til kuer, grise, sauer som ikke lenger ville klare seg i den ville naturen på grunn av avl.Det er en stor belasting for disse pelsdyrene å leve i bur.

Posted by: Monica at December 6, 2010 1:22 PM

Monica - Godt og viktig poeng. Spørsmålet er i hvor stor grad det gjelder kaniner. Eller, for å si det på en annen måte, hvis jeg skulle la være å gå med kaninpels fordi det er unaturlig for kaniner å være i bur, kunne jeg heller ikke hatt kanin som kjæledyr i bur. Og det var jo nettopp fordi jeg hadde en levende kanin at jeg ikke ville gå med en død en, før jeg i det hele tatt begynte å tenke gjennom de mer logiske argumentene.

Posted by: Julie at December 6, 2010 1:45 PM