Barnyard hens from around the country are leading the fight for reproductive freedom using the oldest trick in the activist book: direct action. Pro-choice activism is a growing trend among domesticated fowl and more hens are choosing not to stay home on their eggs, instead opting for investigating the ground over there, poofing up their feathers, or gettin’ in deep on a corn cob. These fearless leaders are saying enough is enough and refusing to let farmers tell them what to do with their beautiful, feathery bodies. We sat down with five of these courageous hens to learn about how they’re paving the way for reproclucktive justice!
Lucy, a young Lakenvelder from Iowa, was fed up with being told to sit on a nest for 21 days just to fulfill society’s expectations of how a hen should live. The first time Lucy got up and walked away from her freshly laid eggs she was nervous, but soon felt a wave of relief and empowerment wash over her. “Defying societal expectations is never easy,” she admitted, “and some of the other hens judged me, called me selfish, unchickenlike, a cock-blocker. But I had to do what I thought was right for me and hopefully it makes things easier for future generations.” Now, she’s pursuing a degree in anthropology!
Tina, a grey silkie from Washington state, she cites political instability and environmental concerns as her motivation for eschewing motherhood. “It’s just irresponsible to bring chicks into this world without knowing that they will grow up to have access to fresh grass and clean air. Sure, things seem OK now, but what about three months from now when my chicks are grown?”
Nancy, a middle-aged Rhode Island Red, has been practicing grade-A pro-choice activism since laying her very first batch of eggs. “I knew that I never wanted chicks, so it was an easy choice for me.” She maintains a deep gratitude for her irrepressible right to choose and wishes that every hen could walk away from an unwanted eggnancy so easily. Nancy has also been an advocate in ensuring that the movement is inclusive, devoting time to letting neighboring ducks, turkeys, and even crows know that removing their shackles is as easy as getting up and moving away a little bit.
Dinah, a Sicilian Buttercup from New Jersey, has devoted her life to touring the New England countryside teaching the tools of critical resistance to flocks of young hens. She decries the right-wing ideologues who think that eggs deserve the same rights as chickens yet simultaneously oppose programs that benefit mother hens and working broods. “In this economy, most families need two feedwinners to survive. How can these so called ‘pro life’ hardliners claim to care about the well-being of eggs when they don’t care about policies that benefit chickens at large?”
A rising star on the barnyard activism scene, Penelope is a two-year-old Cornish game hen who refuses to brood for political reasons. “Chickens have an opportunity to amplify these issues and direct focus to the criticality of reproductive agency in the broader fight for equality,” she noted, nibbling the head off of a grasshopper. “The expectation of brooding perpetuates an oppressive pecking order that traps generations of hens in a cycle of laying, sitting, and chick-rearing, preventing them from achieving their full potential There’s a vicious double standard for hens and cocks. Society stops viewing hens as valuable once they age out of egg-laying, while cocks get to enjoy glory and success long into their comb-over years. This is one way of fighting back”.