As the movement to end animal exploitation has evolved throughout history so has the terminology surrounding our struggle: From the “animal welfare” of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) to the development of “animal rights” by writers such as Lewis Gompertz and Edward Nicholson.
With the publication of his book of the same name in 1975, Peter Singer coined the term “animal liberation”. His usage of the word “speciesism” in this text led to it becoming an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1989 (though the term was created by Richard Ryder in 1970).
Since then other terms have sprung up to define different currents within the animal movement. The “Abolitionist” approach, as favoured by Gary Francione and Tom Regan, argues for an end to animal ownership, much in the same way Abolitionists fought against the Slave Trade in an attempt to end the ownership of Blacks by Whites.
“Protectionist” or “Animal Protection” has also cropped up as a new term to describe our movement though its usage dates back to as far as 1635 in Ireland with the passing of animal protection legislation that prohibited pulling wool off sheep, and the attaching of ploughs to horses’ tails. Modern Protectionists favour gradual change for the benefit of the animals with the end result being complete abolition.
We at Baring Teeth favour the term “Animal Liberation” as we feel it best describes our approach to tackling animal exploitation. We see parallels between the struggle for animal liberation and the fight for Black Liberation or Queer Liberation. We do not define Animal Liberation as merely the act of liberating animals from places of cruelty (as the Animal Liberation Front does) though we do not dismiss this as a vital tactic.
We see Animal Liberation as a philosophy that advocates for the end of animal use for human need (i.e. abolition) but also the rejection of the anthropocentric world-view that places humans above other animals and nature. It is the incorporation of humans into the struggle for animal liberation, because humans are animals too. It is the struggle against speciesism and all other forms of oppression. It is the understanding that all these oppressions are interlinked and therefore must be combated together if we are to ever achieve true liberation.
We aware that some people are worried that the term “Animal Liberation” may be seen as too “extreme” or have negative connotations but we argue that what we are advocating is extreme. We are fighting for the emancipation of all animals from exploitation. We are calling for a social revolution to remove the oppressive systems that dominate and control all life on this planet. If that’s not extreme, then I don’t know what is.