by GUTS  

After publishing our first issue, we received a letter about the image we chose to accompany the editor’s note in issue 1. A reader took issue with the image we used, which resulted in an email exchange. At this point, GUTS does not have a form to display letters to our readers, and  so this is our first attempt to create an open forum for this kind of discussion. In an effort to expand this exchange into a conversation, we ask that you consider contributing to this debate in the comments section below or by emailing us at editors@gutsmagazine.ca


Dear Editors,

I am writing about the image attached to the “editorial note” of the first edition of GUTS. I am extremely disappointed and surprised by the graphic image of violence against a fish being used to illustrate “GUTS.” As many feminists have shown, thinking about the political impacts of our relationships with animals (not to mention environmental implications) is incredibly important as we move forward in the feminist movement to think about intersectionality.

The photo is unnecessary, does not advance any sort of argument in relation to the note, and uses the life of a fish to illustrate “guts” which could be illustrated in so many other ways which would not promote violence. Many people have written about how the link between the ways we relate to animals and patriarchy are entwined not to mention that a majority of animals who are killed by humans whether for “meat,” milk, eggs or by-products are largely female. The continuation of the exploitation of female bodies.

If you are interested in taking the time to learn about these connections I can suggest the following readings:

 While you may not agree with these ideas and philosophies, there is no need to use a fish’s life to illustrate a point (whether done well or badly).

As the upcoming issue of GUTS is one which deals with ideas of labour and work, I think it would be wise to consider the ways in which the labour and literal bodies of animals are implicated in the work and lives of humans. I was going to share the call for papers, but at this point I unfortunately don’t feel as though GUTS is a publication that I can support.

-Katie MacDonald

Dear Katie,

Thank you for your email. Your criticism is welcomed and we think it will prove useful for us as we prepare for our second issue.

You raise some important issues that we admittedly have failed to address in Issue 1. We have to agree with you that killing and consuming animals is, in many ways, reminiscent of the contemporary acceptance of the exploitation and oppression of women. Perhaps the most jarring point of your criticism is, for us, your point about the needless use of a fish’s life for our editor’s note. We want to clarify that the contributors who submitted these images were learning and teaching each other how to catch, gut, and prepare a fish while living in rural B.C this past summer. While the image was initially chosen as a piece of art, we now realize that it was an oversight to not provide some context (and make sure it is clear that we did NOT kill a fish for the purpose of our editorial note!)

We chose this image for a couple of reasons.  The image of the woman gutting a fish makes explicit the violence inherent to women’s domestic labour. Women, whether they are vegan, vegetarian or omnivores, often find themselves voluntarily taking up the domestic work necessary to ensure that their dependents are able to be productive citizens and workers in the world. This is often represented as a woman’s happy preparation of wholesome food for her hungry family. The editor’s note image is radically not this. Also, considering that it is extremely difficult to care for others without relying on violent, exploitive, or oppressive modes of consumption, the discomfort this representation of domestic labour might create is, we think, productive.

We conceived of GUTS as a magazine interested in deconstructing, analyzing, and rethinking the colonial, patriarchal, and capitalist systems that rely on and reproduce gender inequality (along with many other forms of exploitation). This means opening things up and seeing the messy insides that shape (and sustain!) us. Meat eating culture is entirely dependent on hiding the mode in which animals are killed in order to reproduce a meat consuming market. In order to understand this specific system, it is incredibly important to see what the process of killing looks like, a process that we are all implicitly contributing to. We feel that the image of the gutted fish effectively conveys the larger intention of the magazine: to make visible the systems, economies and institutions that permit and reproduce such violence, brutality, exploitation, and injustice everyday.

Thank you, once again, for providing us with your feedback and these valuable resources. While we realize that you are not too impressed with our publication right now, we want to encourage you to consider submitting this email as a “letter to the editors”, or some variation on this form, to continue this discussion. Your points about our editorial choices are clearly relevant and topical and we would like others to have the opportunity to participate in this conversation.



Since the initial response to the image, the editors and Katie have been having a discussion about the photos. We continue to think about certain questions including:


– Are these images productive, in the way we imagined them to be, or are they simply perpetuating the ongoing exploitation of animals’, and in turn women’s, bodies?
– How are differing forms of exploitation connected, and how do we talk about this without equalizing them?
– Does the meaning we imagine these images to have, as suggested above, pale in comparison to other contexts (i.e. patriarchal violence) read into the images?
– Is showing the violence of the “meat” industry productive to changing patterns of consumption, or does it result in finding more “ethical” ways to eat animals?
– How do we conceptualize the role of culture in these discussions?


Clearly there is a lot to think about and we invite you to think through these questions with us.



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