Trapping Now Called “Free-Range” Fur
Thanks Vice Magazine. You always amaze me with your liberal façade that hides a super-conservative agenda. In a recent piece by Jenni Avins entitled “Free Range Fur: Is It Still Murder If You Trap It, Skin It, and Sew It Yourself?“ the author says that trapping “has the potential be the fashion-industry equivalent of sustainable, free-range, farm-to-table meat.” If, by this comparison Avins means that it’s as much a total farce as sustainable, happy-meat, then I agree! But really? I thought biomass PET, cellulose-kombucha “leather”, and organic hemp-linen blends were slightly more sustainable than a toxic bath of chemicals preserving an animal’s pelt who was indiscriminately snared by a trap that clutches whatever unlucky creature (dogs, cats, birds, you name it) stumbles across it? But even if I ate grass-fed happy-meals, this sort of comparison would send up a freaked-out red flag.
The “I’m OK with it, I did it myself, therefore it’s OK” mentality can not be tested in too many cases without its glaring faults becoming crystal clear. Many people who do awful things do so themselves and feel perfectly justified, as history has shown. But in this case, the author can’t really claim she did it herself. There was no struggle to witness, no “dispatching” of the animal. No shrieking. She skinned an already-dead fox and made a vest out of it. Whoop-dee-do. Perhaps her perspective would be different if she had killed the fox herself and had to look into his or her living eyes, desperate to get away, and say to herself, “this is really worth it for a vest. I have no other way to stay warm. I must take this life”.
Avins brushes over any animal rights concerns with a simple “I’m not buying it”. But it isn’t just PETA, one academic, and activists who will splatter blood (and when was the last time this actually happened?) who are opposed to fur, as she would have us believe. Even the editor of Alaska Magazine has recently slammed the fur trapping industry as excessively cruel. And this is not Avins first foray into the world of fur trappers. She wrote a similar article for New York Magazine back on January 8th, 2012 called “He Kills it: On the hunt with a local muskrat trapper”.
The reality of trapping, as recent undercover investigations by Fur Bearer Defenders and others have shown, is by no means an idealized scenario. But you won’t find any description of a trapped animal in the Vice article. Avins dupes the reader. She provides no account of what happens during the trapping and killing, which is the pinnacle of the anti-fur debate.
Avins dupes the reader. She lures us in with “I went hunting to see how difficult it would be to transform dead animal skin into haute couture”, yet did not participate in or provide any account of what happens during the trapping and killing, which is the pinnacle of the anti-fur debate.
It is only an “ethical gray area”, as the author suggests, when we refuse to validate the perspective of the victim, and instead, view them as an object in the same way that any perpetrator who commits violence against a powerless victim objectifies them.
It is only an “ethical gray area”, as the author suggests, when we refuse to validate the perspective of the victim.
Most people do not see animals like a fox or raccoon as capable of valuing their own lives – at least not enough to outweigh our desires to wear them or make money on their pelts. Don’t get me wrong, if I was living off the grid in the arctic circle eating blubber, I’d have no problem wearing fur. But I also wouldn’t have to worry about an insatiable fashion industry obfuscating my clothing and turning it into a symbol of power (or ironic working class values). And while so many Hipublicans (those who Vice has been credited with giving an identity) may invoke irony, Political-correctness-backlash, and romantic native rationalizations of food and clothing, the truth is that most simply don’t need the fur to survive.
This is the part of the process that Avins missed. This is what trapping looks and sounds like:
What happens to the carcass? No one eats fox or raccoon meat. She never answers that question, which pokes another big hole in the farm-to-table comparison. Avins spends a night “wondering whether there was a raccoon shrieking under the moon, its leg caught in one of my traps,” which is probably a good sign that what is being done is cruel and weighing on her conscience.
In the end, our author gets a very well-crafted vest out of the ordeal, and feels love for everyone who helped her out in this adventure, including the foxes. But I’d argue that if she truly loved the foxes (and not in that creepy, serial killer sort of love where you have to control IT and kill IT and own IT), she’d find some other way to keep her torso warm.