Author Interview

Dallas author’s landmark book finds new audience after 25 years

Dallas author’s landmark book finds new audience after 25 years

Sexual Politics of Meat book cover
Dallas author Carol Adams is releasing a 25th anniversary edition of her book The Sexual Politics of Meat. Photo via Caroljadams.com
Texas Veggie Fair, Carol Adams
See Adams (here, speaking at the Texas Veggie Fair) at the Wild Detectives on October 12. Photo by Marc Lee
Sexual Politics of Meat book cover
Texas Veggie Fair, Carol Adams

Author Carol J. Adams body-checked the meat-eating world in 1990 with the publication of her classic book, The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, which explores the relationship between men, women, and meat. Upon its publication, the New York Times called it "a bible of the vegan community."

With vegan dining now a rising trend, Adams has released a new 25th-anniversary edition of her groundbreaking work. She'll do a reading at the Wild Detectives bookstore on October 12, and have a conversation with artist Pamela Nelson.

Her book was among the first to suggest that masculinity and meat-eating are intertwined.

"Maleness, to a degree, is being defined by meat-eating," Adams says. "There are all these ways of saying men must eat meat. If a man is wearing a pink sweater and bringing out appetizers, he's not part of the man clan."

In her book, Adams argues that women and animals are exploited, whether it's restaurant ads depicting a pig as a female, or ads with women on all fours. She also believes that the entire meat industry depends on exploiting the reproductive cycle of female animals.

Adams says that one easy thing people can do to take a stand is to follow a vegan diet. "It's a nonverbal way of rejecting a masculine culture that is steeped in violence against animals and women," she says.

What many don't know is that Adams has lived in Dallas for 29 years. Her spouse, the Rev. Bruce A. Buchanan, is executive director of The Stewpot, a homeless shelter in downtown Dallas affiliated with the First Presbyterian Church. Adams also volunteers there.

"I had been an activist and worked for a nonprofit, and my feeling was I could write anywhere," Adams says. "I remember being shocked thinking I was headed south of the Mason-Dixon line.

"But Dallas has been a great place, and there are a lot of wonderful people here progressively engaged with a vision of change. A lot of people come to Dallas to reinvent themselves. It's a very interesting city."

Adams' book was far ahead of its time. What she observed Hustler doing in the '80s is now part of mainstream culture.

"One of the continual fetishes of meat advertisers is showing women with big burgers stuffed in their mouths," she says. "That's representing oral sex. It's a way of humiliating women. What can we not do if our mouths are stuffed? We can't talk. We can't be active participants in political culture."

But her book also continues to be discovered by new readers every day.

"Two weeks after my book appeared, I received my first piece of fan mail," she says. "It included a photo from Sweden, a sculpture in the middle of a town in which a man is handing a woman meat and they are both naked. 

"Ever since then, people have been sending me their examples of The Sexual Politics of Meat. I've received hundreds of images. People will stop and take a photo of a billboard, send me matchbooks and menus.

"Now people will tweet it, send it to me on Facebook, or e-mail. Sadly, our culture is still engaging in this."