When did it become cool to wear fur again?

by Suzanne Pope - 9 July 2012

There was a time not long ago when fur was dead and sexy young women went naked rather than wear fur. It was cool to care, and the beautiful people did.

Skinned, dead or alive. Photo: AFP

So what happened? Why is fur sneaking back into shops?

Certainly not because the industry has become less violent and bloody. If anything it has become worse since China became a major exporter. China has no animal protection laws and anything goes.

The worst footage has to be from the Swiss Animal Protection organisation in the Chinese province of Hebei. Racoon dogs are held by the back legs and bashed against the ground. They are then skinned, dead or alive. The image of a skinned dog lifting his bloody head and blinking will be etched in my memory forever.

What must it feel like to have the skin ripped off your body while still fully conscious?

A PETA investigation in China shows rabbits screaming in pain as they are repeatedly and ineptly given electric shocks to stun them. The paws of some rabbits are cut off while they are still moving and clearly alive. In France, rabbits that have supposedly been stunned still blink and struggle after their throat is cut. They are not stunned and still feel pain.

Ignorance can’t be an excuse for supporting this cruelty. It’s easy enough to google “fur cruelty” and you’ll find any number of YouTube clips that document these horrors in graphic detail.

It is heartbreaking to see truck loads of dogs and cats in China squashed into wire cages on their way to slaughter. Some dogs still have collars, showing they were once pets. Around two million dogs and cats are killed for their fur.

But why mention dog and cat? Importation of their fur into Australia was banned in 2004. However, In February 2011, Humane Society International commissioned two experts to analyse an expensive fur jacket labelled as rabbit. It turned out to be dog. On June 25 this year, Today Tonight in Adelaide demonstrated further mislabelling of fur.

They randomly bought seven fur items in various shops. Professor Adrian Linacre of Flinders University conducted DNA analyses of the fur and found five of the seven contained cat. These items were either not labelled or labelled as rabbit, and shop assistants had no idea what the fur was, in some cases claiming it was faux.

The mislabelling isn’t entirely surprising given that the cheapest way of producing a furry garment is to round up dogs and cats. Cheaper even that manufacturing good quality synthetic fur. What is more surprising is that we have a law that is obviously being flauted with impunity. Customs are failing to detect an illegal import, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is failing to take action against what is misleading and deceptive conduct on the part of fur retailers.

Would consumers still buy that fur if they knew it had come from animals like their own Fido and Kitty, and that the treatment of Fido and Kitty to produce the fur was so cruel that in Australia it would have resulted in prosecution? Do the people who buy fur have Fidos and Kittys, or is that the root of the problem, that they have no empathy or concern for others?

A very perceptive letter in the Age recently commented on the legions of fans who donned outlandish costumes and flocked to Lady Gaga concerts. The writer wryly noted that it was a relief to have role models like Gaga who demonstrate that the only person we need to love is ourselves.

And then of course there is that doyenne of narcissicm, Kim Kardashian who happily wears fur, even though she has been shown video footage of the cruelty involved. Kylie Minogue has been spotted obliviously wrapped in furry self-love.

Why do we admire such self-centred people? Is it part of a new ethos of ‘it’s all about me’? Perhaps it is. A recent survey called “What matters to Australians: our social, political and economic values” found the biggest change between 2007 and 2012 was a dramatic drop in concern for environmental sustainability. The authors concluded that the results showed “a relatively conservative society concerned with local issues that influence its members’ daily lives.” The future of the planet obviously isn’t local enough.

So, if you want to show the world that you’re not affected by all that soft-hearted stuff of save the world and stop animal suffering, fur’s just the thing for you. It proudly announces that you don’t give a shit.

Animals can't speak out against cruelty. But you can! 
Click here to help get fur out of Australia: www.animalsaustralia.org/take_action/get-fur-products-out-of-Australia

Photo: Peta/Karremann

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