From: grEEn strAwbErrY <strange_fruit@...
To: lIst rAw vEgAn <raw_vegan@...
Subject: [rAw vEgAn] How to hit narcissists with the anti-fur message
Date: Sun, 02 Jan 2005 19:19:13 +0100
How to hit narcissists with the anti-fur message
by Irene Muschel
Here we are, 30 years after the publication of Animal Liberation by
Peter Singer and Man Kind by the late Cleveland Amory marked the
beginning of the modern-day animal rights movement, and it is impossible
to walk anywhere in New York City, still the global hub of the fur
industry, without seeing people in fur coats, jackets, accessories, and
especially fur trim. Stores that never sold fur before are now selling
it, often without identifying the animals it came from.
The labels just say, "Real fur, imported from China," or "Genuine fur."
This could be dog or cat fur. Although importing dog or cat fur garments
is illegal, items priced at under $150 are exempt from the federal
requirement that furs be accurately labeled. I am left with feelings of
despair and anger that the animal rights movement has failed so
miserably in this area, through the use of futile, self-defeating
tactics, the absence of vigilance, not monitoring what works and what
does not, and rigidly refusing to change methods to become more
successful. What is going on here?
If the empirical evidence exists that the old protest methods have not
discouraged wearing fur, why are animal rights groups--in a panic
reaction to the resurgence of fur-- spending vast sums of donor dollars
doing more of the same? Several factors contributed to the continuing
torture and killing of animals for the vanity of fur-wearers, but at the
top of my list is animal rights movement support for fake fur.
Fake fur was first introduced as an alternative to real fur nearly 50
years ago by the late Lady Dowding, the founder of Beauty Without
Cruelty. No longer prominent in the U.S., Beauty Without Cruelty was
among the first organizations to campaign vigorously against wearing
fur. National chapters are still influential in India, South Africa, and
other parts of the world. Cleveland Amory endorsed the BWC anti-fur
campaign long before he started the Fund for Animals, and before he
wrote Man Kind; so did Christine Stevens, the late founder of the Animal
The idea behind fake fur, which arrived amid an advertising-driven tide
of enthusiasm for plastics and other synthesized materials of all kinds,
was that people might be more easily dissuaded from their desire to wear
beautiful animal skins if they were made aware of the availability of a
comparable alternative. Remember that this campaign approach was
introduced just as nylon, Naugahyde, Fibreglas, polyester, polyethylene,
and Styrofoam won consumer favor, nearly 20 years before the rise of the
environmental movement made "natural" a selling point, and several years
before the 1959 Walt Disney animated
film 101 Dalmatians demonstrated that fur-wearing could be attacked
The leading animal welfare and animal rights groups of the 1970s and
early 1980s vigorously promoted fake fur with no evident application of
critical thinking, while real fur sales soared to new highs every year
from the mid-1960s until the fur sales crash of 1988-1989. The crash,
during which U.S. retail fur sales plummeted to half of the 1988 volume
by 1991, immediately followed a change in message from "wear fake fur"
to "don't wear fur, or anything that looks like fur."
This winter PETA, relentless in the fight against fur, has an enormous
lighted billboard in Times Square, showing a beautiful woman wearing
fur, captioned "Fake it--for the animals' sake." When I saw it, it took
my breath way. It gives spectacular visibility to a pro-animal message
where thousands of people can see it all day and all night. The
great--but why that image?
Promoting fake fur is a major tactical mistake, we should know by now,
because it encourages more people to want to wear fur. It looks like
real fur and has all of the same associations with beauty, fashion,
glamour, status, and money, in an era when plastics long since lost any
fashionable cachet. Promoting fake fur glues together the perception of
wearing animal skins with the hope of personal enhancement.
People who might never think of buying fur are seduced into doing so by
this linkage. The animal rights movement should be working to debunk the
seductive connotations of fur, rather than strengthening them.
Advertising should promote the concept that wearing fur, real or
otherwise, makes the wearer look ugly, odd, crazy, inappropriate,
desperate for attention, and cruel--like Cruella, the only prominent
fur-wearing screen personality from whom the fur industry has struggled
to disassociate itself.
Fake fur takes as a verity that people will want to wear animal skins
and that this attitude must be accommodated. Yet there is nothing
encoded in our genes about wanting to wear fur. As advertising promotes
it, so advertising can discourage it. Our message should be that the
only place an animal skin is admired and appreciated is on the animal.
Animal advocates should never promote the idea that animals have
attributes that people should want and take away for themselves. That is
exactly what fake fur does. It resonates with the human history of
killing animals for food, clothing, and shelter, echoes the
current practice in some parts of the world of torturing and killing
animals to enhance health or sexuality, and subtly adds to all this the
idea that wearing fur will bring other personal benefits.
Fake fur hinders activism. Many animal advocates are now afraid to
approach people wearing fur because they do not know if it is real or
not. If they do approach a fur-wearer, often the response is a quick,
dismissive "It's fake," even when it clearly is not, from the look of
the garment and the attitude of the person wearing it. So, all dialogue
Another failure of anti-fur campaigns is adequately addressing the issue
of who is wearing fur. People who wear fur either do not know about the
cruelty involved in obtaining it, or do not care. For people who do not
know, pro-animal organizations offer an enormous amount of information,
including fact sheets, graphic photos, and literature, all available on
some excellent web sites. Every aspect is covered. However, activists do
not appear to understand that this information has no impact on
narcissists, who do not care.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by
the American Psychiatric Association, lists as the traits of a
narcissist "a grandiose sense of self-importance.preoccupied with
fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal
love," who "requires excessive admiration, has a sense of entitlement,
lacks empathy," and "shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes."
This is exactly the sort of person toward whom most fur ads appear to
Pictures of leghold traps and skinned animals have no impact upon this
kind of person--who is, nonetheless, vulnerable to other anti-fur
tactics, which lower the status-enhancing value of fur. What kind of
advertising have animal rights groups created in recent years to target
this prominent type of fur-wearer? None! On the contrary, they have
nurtured the narcissists by promoting their self-aggrandizing
The message that fake fur can make one beautiful convinces the
narcissist that only "the best," i.e. real fur, can provide a feeling of
superiority. A different theme must be created for such people. The
locations where anti-fur messages are placed need to be considered.
Having lived in New York City all my life, I have never seen any
sustained, highly visible anti-fur advertising in any middle class or
upper class residential neighborhood. This is amazing to me. People
strut in their furs to stores, restaurants, schools, churches,
synagogues, etc. with total impunity. There is no counterforce. It is as
if there were no
animal rights movement. There are, of course, activists who do on
occasion engage in protests at events where fur is common, and set up
tables distributing anti-fur literature. But all of this is sporadic and
limited. The overwhelming majority of fur wearers never see these
messages. How do the leaders of the animal rights movement expect these
people to learn?
In order to be successful, anti-fur campaigners must saturate middle and
upper class residential neighborhoods, to affect people where they live
and most want to impress neighbors and friends. Huge anti-fur billboards
maintained on buildings and telephone kiosks in residential
neighborhoods on a permanent basis would be a constant reminder of the
facts of fur to
those who are capable of caring, and with a different message could
attack the status of fur as perceived by narcissists. The anti-fur
message must be repeated year-round. The feverish activity that now
occurs during "fur season" is not
sustained or pervasive enough to make a lasting difference.
Just as a healthy individual must have the ability to evaluate his or
her own life in order to live more successfully, a healthy cause must
examine itself constantly, monitoring its tactics and effects, if it is
to succeed in its aims. The cause cannot grow unless the leaders attempt
to understand the dynamics of why people do what they do and thus
what works and what does not.
Editor's note: U.S. retail fur sales, adjusted for inflation, have
actually not increased in dollar volume since stabilizing in the
mid-1990s at about 30% below the peak level sustained in the mid-1980s.
Fur sales in the winter of 2002-2003 came to $1.7 billion, equivalent to
$1.3 billion in 1990. However, there has been a significant change in
the U.S. retail fur-selling strategy.
Furriers a decade ago tried to compensate for the collapse of the middle
income market by pushing the most costly furs. The current strategy
represents a return to the marketing strategy of the 1970s and early
1980s, which aimed at high volume sales of low-priced furs to first-time
buyers, with the idea of getting new buyers of inexpensive furs to
upgrade to pricier garments later. The cheap furs of the 1970s and early
1980s used trim from rabbits, muskrats, and nutria. The cheap furs of
today use imported furs of unspecified origin--and often these furs are
unacknowledged byproducts of the Chinese and Korean dog and cat meat
Cuz animals are cool,
And so many people are cruel!!!!!!!
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