Animal Rights Activist Profile: Amanda Houdeschell
Q: What inspired you to first get involved with activism and to join DxE?
As a survivor of sexual violence, I know what it’s like to be violated and abused with no regard for my personhood. When I discovered the horrors behind farms’ closed doors, I knew that I couldn’t contribute to the defilement of other beings’ bodies when I myself was still recovering from what had been done to me. Eating animals is direct exploitation of animals, and so I chose to take direct action to combat the injustice.
Q: What is your favorite or most accomplished moment in activism or other DxE activity?
During a march organized by the Cleveland chapter, three of us had our heads sheared in protest of the wool industry. We were held down, blood was poured all over us, and our hair was violently shaved off. This was a big sacrifice, and was probably just as emotional for me as either of the times that I’ve been arrested. But it was definitely worth it, because the plight of sheeps' is often ignored, by both the general public and animal advocates. Whether domesticated or free, overpopulated or endangered, all animals deserve our protection.
Q: Are you a part of any working groups or unique activism in your chapter and how do they influence your activism?
I joined both the blog and social media teams recently, and I’m looking forward to what we will accomplish. I am also organizing the first National Animal Rights Day in Cleveland this year, which has been an immense undertaking, but one that I’m sure will have an important impact.
My partner and I are also launching a new project in the next few months called Species Revolution. Our objective is to develop anti-speciesism education, through leafleting, tabling, presentations, and the occasional protest. This idea grew from my ever-increasing feeling that anti-speciesism, rather than veganism, must be the goal of the animal rights movement if we hope to ever achieving total animal liberation. We are still in the beginning stages of Species Revolution, but I think it has the potential to become crucial to the fight against animal exploitation.
Q: How do you stay motivated as an activist?
I concentrate on the survivors. The first nonhuman person I see every morning is Vendetta, the betta fish my partner and I rescued from a pet store. Vendetta is the living, breathing reminder of normalized violence against animals. Every time I look across the room and spot him swimming around his tank or resting on his hammock, I feel restored. I dream of a world where every animal’s story ends like V’s did, and I will not stop fighting until that becomes a reality.
Q: What advice would you give to new activists?
Focus your energy on a few specific activities, instead of dabbling in a dozen of them. As the saying goes, “It’s better to do one thing well than ten things poorly.” I find that the more I research a subject, the more interested I become; the more interested I become, the more successful I can be at a campaign. When I was a new activist, I went to as many protests as I could and handed out leaflets without even reading them first. Now, as someone who is pursuing a lifetime of activism, I am making sure that my actions are strategic and precise. Seeing quantitative change as a result of advocacy not only helps the animals, but also prevents activist burn out as well.
Q: Why Animal Liberation?
Nonhuman animals need us to do more than merely boycott their abuse; they need us to confront speciesism at every turn. If this atrocity was occurring against humans, people would storm vivisection labs, tear down circus billboards, and overturn every last eating contest table. We must start treating this like the dire situation that it is. The animals do not have time for us to do otherwise.
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