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An Ecofeminist Politics of Chicken Ovulation: A Socio-Capitalist Model of Ability as Farmed Animal Impairment
journal contributionposted on 2024-01-29, 04:18 authored by Yamini NarayananYamini Narayanan
Abstract Through a combined ecofeminist, and critical disability philosophical analysis of the commodification of female farmed animal reproduction, the paper conceptualizes ability as a socio-capitalist construct that can carry the potential for harm. Patriarchal farmed animal capitalism relies upon the idea of naturalized ability of farmed females to be hyper-reproductive/hyper-ovulatory/hyper-lactative. This paper frames the introduced condition of hyper-ovulation in “egg” hens, or the amplification of their ability to lay through selective breeding, as reproductive impairment, and an act of violent patriarchal commodification and capitalization of female reproduction. Impairment, then, functions not just as disability, but also as ability. Focusing on our rescued chickens, the paper argues that such intentionally bred hyper-fertility manifests for individual hens in its least harmful form as chronic illness with the likelihood of everyday pain and inflammation, anxiety, and metabolic hunger; and in its most harmful form as a life-threatening condition. It then examines the subversive ecofeminist politics of using contraception for chickens in a fraught attempt to restore a closer pace of avian ovulation cycles that existed prior to their selective breeding. In allowing infertility to be restored to hen bodies, chicken contraception highlights the disappearance of intentionally introduced reproductive impairment to materialize the patriarchal-capitalist ableist construct of hens who naturally ovulate daily. Ideas of normal and natural can also thus operate in the service of ability. Ultimately, the paper positions the infertile hen as central to a fuller feminist resistance to the governance and control of the female reproductive body.