Back in the day I felt sorry for battery hens. Didn’t we all? Caged up, cooped up, there only to live then die then feed others. Feed us? Barely able to move, stuck in the seeming eternity of waiting until the real eternity of the end.
But like most of my sympathies, if I was honest, it was a thing apart from me. A musing or a faux outrage designed to virtue signal when I shared a meal with a friend I wanted to become more than a friend. Or a post on twitter, designed to gather likes and follows, costing me nothing but a few seconds of my time.
For hens were lesser beings. Inside, that is what I believed. We all believed that – let’s be honest. Even those who didn’t eat them, in their heart of hearts, saw them only as lesser forms they were protecting.
I didn’t know back then there were already other forms of entrapment, encagement, that weren’t designed just for hens. Back then, it was hidden, a delicacy known only by the ‘elite’. The menu, had we seen it, would have seemed an obscene joke – unable to be believed. What to make of adrenalized baby blood, heightened by trauma and fear, or the spinal fluid of young and vital ‘donors’? Or human flesh, prepared by the finest chefs?
It couldn’t be real, could it? No-one could consume that. No-one could become addicted to it. No-one could come to need it just to survive.
But they could, and in time we came to learn the harsher truth. It isn’t only between species that hierarchies exist. When they finally ‘came out of the closet’, the cannibals ruled. They’d spent centuries building their wealth and power, on the blackmail and blood of others. And they’d showed us all the time, in movies and stories, of their design.
They said that made it our fault. We were complicit. It ‘entertained’ us. It fed them. We were the true dissolute, enjoying it vicariously. And they – they the virtuous – only did it because it was necessary to live.
That proved – did it not – that they truly were the elite?
Now, we’ve been rounded up and live in tiny cells, squashed together, counting the days of our youth as markers of the final end. I’m not that young anymore. I’m not that fit. Eventually it is the abattoir for me I suppose.
And I will welcome it. For the freedom from captivity. For the end the pain. And for finally, finally, ceasing to be just another battery hen.
(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018