Carol J. Adams (born 1951) is an American writer, feminist, and animal rights advocate. She is the author of several books, including The Sexual Politics of Meat (1990) and The Pornography of Meat (2004), focusing in particular on what she argues are the links between the oppression of women and that of non-human animals.
Adams has published around 100 articles or entries in journals, books, magazines, and encyclopedias on vegetarianism, animal rights, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. She was inducted into the Animal Rights Hall of Fame in 2011.
Adams was born in Texas. As an undergraduate at the University of Rochester, she was involved in bringing women's studies courses to the University's course catalog. She graduated from there with a BA in 1972, and obtained her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School in 1976. She was executive director of the Chautauqua County Rural Ministry, Inc., Dunkirk, New York from the late 1970s to 1987. Adams lives in Texas with her husband, the Reverend Dr. Bruce Buchanan, and is a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, where her husband is an associate pastor.
Adams recalls hearing of the death of her family pony in a hunting accident while at Yale, then eating a hamburger that night. She concluded that it was hypocritical for her to mourn the death of her pony, yet have no problem eating a slaughtered cow. She became a vegetarian that night. She is also a pioneer of feminist care theory in animal ethics.
The Sexual Politics of Meat discusses how, especially in times of shortage, women often give men the meat they perceive to be the "best" food. She also discusses the connections between feminism and vegetarianism, and patriarchy and meat eating, historically and through the reading of literary texts. This describes what she calls the structure of the "absent referent", which in this context is that, "which separates the meat eater from the animal and the animal from the end product."
She is the author of several other books, including Living Among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarian's Survival Handbook. This book advises vegetarians to ask if they are at peace with their own vegetarianism and provides communication skills for avoiding abuse while dining with meat-eating friends, family, and coworkers who may be hostile. Her book The Pornography of Meat explores her thesis that United States culture conflates women and meat by analyzing its verbal and visual imagery.
The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory. Continuum, 1990. ISBN 0-8264-0455-3
Barker, Leslie (1990-01-26). "The sexual politics of meat: Writer finds a link between vegetarianism and feminism". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2009-02-16. "So were her experiences in Dunkirk, N.Y., where she and her husband developed a hot line for battered women. Many callers spoke of feeling "like a piece of meat.' Other women said their husbands had beaten them because they didn't serve meat with dinner. And some said their husbands had killed the family pet. The implicit warning: "You could be next."" (Restricted access.) Abstract.
Vlitos, Paul (2003-09-12). "The Pornography of Meat". Times online (London). Retrieved 2009-02-16. "Adams's new book, The Pornography of Meat, collects some of the material in support of her ideas that she has been sent by admirers of her work. [...] When it was picked up by right-wing media pundits in the United States as the epitome of political correctness gone mad, Adams was mocked as the woman who believes that cows have the same rights as women. In the United Kingdom, Auberon Waugh suggested in the Sunday Telegraph that "Carol J. Adams" did not exist, and that The Sexual Politics of Meat was a deliberately provocative piece of satirical sophism written by a male academic."[dead link]
McCarthy, Colman (1990-07-24). "Of Meat and Machismo". The Washington Post. p. E3. Retrieved 2009-02-16. (Restricted access.)
Menaker, Daniel (2005-01-02) An Alt-Cabaret Diva, The New York Times. (Restricted access.) "Paralleling the elided relationship between metaphor and referent is the unacknowledged role of fragmentation in eating flesh", from The Sexual Politics of Meat p. 60