It’s been 12 long years since I initially became aware of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Back then, I was a high school senior, watching Carrie Underwood sing country tunes on American Idol while wearing a “V is for Vegetarian” t-shirt. The Oklahoma country girl came from a cattle ranch, and I wondered, what is up with this girl?
Fast forward to her big Idol win and her fast track to country music stardom, the country crooner was now not only promoting a vegetarian lifestyle, but she blamed an “incident” on her parents’ ranch as the reason why she decided to go meatless. And while her record sales climbed, so did her donations to groups like HSUS.
READ: What do Carrie Underwood, HSUS & Obamacare have in common?
It didn’t take much digging to discover that HSUS had become an animal welfare group in name only. The animal rights activist organization willfully takes millions of dollars from donors, and sadly, less than one-half of one percent of those donations actually help to keep local shelters open and accessible to animals in need.
Instead, the lobbyist group uses those donations (an estimated $210 million worth) for bloated salaries and pension plans and to remove meat, dairy and eggs from the dinner table. In fact, according to HumaneWatch.org, John “J.P.” Goodwin, HSUS director of animal cruelty policy, came right out and said as much. He was quoted, “My goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture.”
It goes without saying, but I’ve been at odds with HSUS for more than a decade; they are duplicitous in their messaging and actions, and their agenda is more about ridding the world of animals (both livestock and pets) versus helping improve animal welfare as they claim. And they are good at what they do. Through litigation, lobbying, lawsuits and outright bullying, they’ve been incredibly successful in their efforts.
Yet, karma has a way of catching up with those who do wrong.
Surely, you’ve read about sexual harassment scandal that has plagued the office of HSUS. To recap, HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle and HSUS vice president Paul Shapiro were accused by multiple female employees of sexual misconduct. The HSUS board of directors initially chose to stand behind Pacelle in light of these allegations, and the donor response was immediate with many pledging to discontinue gifting money to the organizations. Ultimately, both Pacelle and Shapiro resigned.
READ: HSUS CEO resigns after sexual harassment allegations surface
Since then, HSUS has been under more scrutiny with its reputation quickly dwindling.
According to HumaneWatch.org, “The charity has now lost its accreditation from the Better Business Bureau’s charity-accreditation arm, the Wise Giving Alliance (BBB WGA). This news comes after Charity Navigator downgraded its rating of HSUS to just 2 stars out of 4—including a lowly 1 star for financial metrics, indicative of financial waste at the nonprofit. Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE), which recommends animal-rights nonprofits, has also pulled its approval of HSUS.”
Last week, I wrote about a survey of college students that revealed a perceived link between eating meat and predatory sexism. I was flabbergasted at the survey findings and struggled with a way to respond to this notion.
READ: Survey links sexism with meat eating
It seems, at least before the HSUS scandal broke out, that feminism and veganism made likely companions, cohorts in a greater movement to rid the world of oppression of women and animals.
Yet, it’s this collaboration that has likely made victims of many women. As the hashtag #MeToo began trending this year, so did the hashtag #ARMeToo (animal rights me too), which brought to the forefront the women who have fallen trap to the sexual assault and harassment culture in the animal rights movement.
Krystal Caldwell, for medium.com, recently created a timeline of the #ARMeToo developments as they appear in media, blogs and group statements. From a blog post titled “The second class status and exploitation of women in the animal rights movement. Ten questions,” to a Washington Post article titled, “The HSUS’ sexual harassment scandal just won’t end,” it appears this issue has been ongoing for years.
READ: A timeline of the #ARMeToo movement
Heck, even in light of Pacelle and Shapiro’s ugly and embarrassing transgressions, a female HSUS board of director, Erika Brunson, blamed the victims, telling Politico the women should, “Get tougher, don’t go around whining, saying you’ve been sexually harassed.”
HSUS has bullied me in the past for blogging about their activities, so I’ve been quietly watching this matter unfold. However, as a female committed to actually caring for livestock and pets, I don’t believe I can remain silent any more on this issue.
Strong men don’t bully, coerce, threaten or attempt to overpower women, and strong men, don’t attempt to rid the world of cattle, hogs, horses, sheep, dogs and cats. Strong men know that women and animals deserve respect, and more importantly, strong men recognize that not just women, but all humans have a higher value than an animal.
Women have a place at society’s table, in the workforce or wherever they chose to be. And animals, when under the proper care and ownership of a person, provide for people, whether that’s in the form of companionship from a pet or as a meal or by-products from livestock. Neither should be used as a pawn to get what you want, take money from kind-hearted people or bring to life inappropriate fantasies that should never enter the workplace in the first place.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.