Why Fur is Not Off Our Backs

Oh dear. Yet another report proclaiming “Fur is back!” This time it’s The New York Times and “Fashion Feels Fur’s Warm Embrace.” “For the first time in more than two decades, more designers are using fur than not,” it says. Turns out that the furriers have “aggressively courted designers, especially young ones, to embrace fur by giving them free samples and approaching them through trade groups — sometimes when they are still in college.”

The animal rights movement is failing on the anti-fur campaign. And it should know better after decades of activity. The problem? The movement indulges the fur industry by framing the wearing of fur as a cruelty-free lifestyle choice issue. So, the mindset is that if fashion designers want to use fur, well, that’s their prerogative. If people want to wear fur, well, that’s their choice too.

Instead of framing fur as a personal lifestyle choice issue and essentially working with the fur trade in some sort of bizarre tango of anti and pro, the animal rights movement should be implementing a long-term strategy targeting the production of fur as a public policy issue. For example, where are the legislative initiatives regulating how animals are raised for fur and how they are killed? Use public sympathy for the way in which animals are raised and killed to get laws passed making the production of fur that much more expensive.

Sadly, the annual “Fur is back!” pantomime will keep occurring; animal advocates will keep wailing about why can’t we end fur?; and organizations will continue to use fur as an issue to attract attention and raise funds — well, all of this will continue to continue all the time we allow the debate about fur to be about personal lifestyle choice.

It’s time for the animal rights movement to grow up and get political.