Chapters two and three of Every Twelve Seconds, by Timothy Pachirat, begin to more directly challenge the reader. Whereas Pachirat used much of chapter one to lay out his argument about the organization and opaque qualities of the slaughterhouse which effectively utilize and perpetuate “racial, gender, citizenship, and education hierarchies that coerce others into performing dangerous, demeaning, and violent tasks from which we all benefit,” he uses chapters two and three to provide graphic descriptions of the duty and consequence of each individual worker’s participation in two different areas of the slaughterhouse (9). One of the major themes to which he keeps returning is the façade, or fabrication, of what events actually take place in the transition from life to kitchen table, which is the end goal of the whole meat-industry.
Pachirat is very interested in analyzing the architectural organization of the site. The layout of the building, which he says could pass as a local community college, successfully acts to “separate the industrialized slaughterhouse’s zones of privilege from its zones of production” (27). Drawing on phrases like “mastery of perception”, he paints a picture of secrecy (32). The reader is clearly meant to feel uncomfortable by having all of this killing hidden from sight, largely I would argue because for most people not knowing what goes on in the production of their food would be their preferred manner to go through life. Chapter two focuses on the fabrication room. The name alone underscores the innate deception involved in the way the meat is displayed to the consumer. The whole goal of the fabrication department is to turn what was a living animal into something homogenized and unrecognizable.
In chapter three, Pachirat focuses solely on the operation of what is called the kill floor. Although the management attempted to sanitize the language by calling the action “harvesting”, kill floor stuck. He lays out intricate floor plans for the reader, including an appendix of specific duties of each of the 121 jobs on the kill floor. He devotes a large section of the chapter to a description of where exactly the animals are killed. It becomes evident quickly though that there is not one definite location in which this occurs. Although “technically, it is the severing of the carotid arteries and jugular veins that kills the cow, which will die somewhere in the electrical stimulation and bleedpit area”, any cows that manage to escape the bolt gun are shot with a .22 rifle. But of course, these animals are not wasted. They are added to the assembly line (or I should say disassembly line) along with the cows that did not try to make a run for it. The layout of the kill floor is such that many of the operators, and consequently actions that are taking place, are out of each individual’s line of sight.
His descriptions of cuts and punctures generally are accompanied by a description like: “a narrow but forceful geyser of blood often spurts out, sometimes hitting the worker in the eye” (68) or “a drizzling red and green liquid screen of blood and vomit” falls onto the floor (55). Made evident by these examples, Pachirat is clearly trying to do more than explain what happens on a day-to-day basis inside the walls. He is always circling the idea that every single aspect of the slaughterhouse and what occurs within it is constructed in a particular fashion so that the minimal amount of people actually have to be involved in not only killing the animal, but in watching the carcass’ progression from a cow to a chiseled piece of meat.
Adams’ article analyzes the overlap between the meat industry and pornography. Along with describing the ways in which females are objectified not only within the world of porn but also in our everyday lives, he describes meat as being turned into a “mass term”. Like Pachirat, Adams recognizes the crucial aspect of homogeny in selling meat as an object, instead of as a subject that was once alive and breathing. The images he shows repulsed me from the second I looked at them. But why, exactly? I think it really is all about females being objectified. It’s more than just being compared to an animal. There is a somewhat subconscious understanding that to be compared to an animal is to be minimized and disrespected. So what does that say about our attitudes towards animals? If this comparison is so distressing to me, why don’t I care more about the way chickens and cows are treated? When I argue that “I’m not a piece of meat”, what am I really saying? I’m not intimidated by a literal cannibalistic consumption. What I’m referring to is the homogenization and to some extent fabrication that both Pachirat and Adams refer to.