Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Kim Hollingsworth ARZone Interview
Kim Hollingsworth is an advocate for other animals who lives in New South Wales, Australia. Kim has experienced the best and worst of humanity, and works tirelessly to improve the lives of every individual she comes into contact with. Kim is well known for her courageous stand against oppression and discrimination in the NSW Police Force, and elsewhere, and now devotes her life to saving and rehabilitating horses that would otherwise be discarded by humans.
ARZone: Why did you make the decision to live vegan in the 90’s, and why is being vegan important to you? Were you vegetarian first (and if so, for how long) and did your awareness of animal ethics develop or change over time?
Kim Hollingsworth: I always loved cows and realised when I was 8 years old that the chop on my plate was a sweet cow hacked to death. Our family dog became very fat from me sneaking out all my chops to him! I loathed even ants being killed, so wonderfully fascinating was nature, I could never understand how anyone would want to destroy these creatures that were so gentle and kind. I was vegetarian until my 20's when I was whining about how terrible I felt wearing leather shoes and belts while working as a model. I will never forget a vegan man named Keith who with a big smile waved his hands like a magician indicating his plastic belt and plastic shoes! The Vegan Society helped me to evolve, but Keith set the ball rolling! The insects in my childhood garden were my best friends. . .they were harmless, loving creatures that were continually under attack by humans - as was I.
There was a lot of controversy last year when a Perth butcher began selling the flesh of dead horses for human consumption. Do you believe that killing horses for use as food is in some way more problematic than killing and eating cows or other animals? Do you think some humans feel no remorse when they eat a cow or a chicken, but are repulsed by the thought of eating a horse and, if so, why do you think that is?
Humans are guilty of speciesism - and project their own guilt with excuse after excuse for causing such agony to animals. Cannibals would find their children socially acceptable snacks, but the corpse munchers are hypocrites and blissfully in denial of the sheer terror an animal feels when about to be murdered for their oral pleasure. Their human children and beloved pets are for some reason immune to being slit open for dinner . . . selfishness prevails and festers in many small minds.
Some advocates for other animals believe that riding horses is a form of abuse, and that in order for a horse to allow humans onto their back, their spirit must first be broken. Could you please explain your thoughts on this?
I know a horse is a prey animal and many experience abusive methods in the human pursuit of riding. I believe a certain amount of conditioning by humans persuades a horse to believe that the often unnatural moves they are performing are "right" - until their injured bodies say otherwise. I always befriend the horse first and if he/she objects to being ridden, I respect their wishes. I have always been very vocal about this and been sacked by top establishments because of it. I like to think of every horse as my best friend. All my rescue horses choose their own path in life. . .if they clearly find being ridden offensive, then I simply never allow them to be ridden again. The first question I always asked kids I instructed was, "So if you were a horse today, how would you feel?" Those kids all walked their horses around the big hill that hot day. It is for some horses a broken spirit, for others a kindred spirit.
You’ve done a lot of work to rescue equine beings, yet I’ve read online that you also rent horses for human amusement. Do you think that other animals have a right not to be used by humans, and if so, is it wrong to rent horses?
I do not rent out my horses. They have always been "Free under Deed of Release". I believe it is better for me to have total control, than to abandon the horse. I have worked as a riding instructor and a trail guide. I was the one sacked by these establishments for putting the comfort of those "rented" horses first. I was the trail guide who refused to saddle up old, tired horses and called my boss a "brutal c*nt!". I was the riding instructor who screamed "These horses are fucking bored shitless and too old and I am not fucking riding them in circles again!" I am proud of my interaction with "rented" horses. I was sacked for saving two of them trucked off to the doggers who made the bosses over $100,000 each. My behaviour as a riding instructor was secretly loved by staff, openly loved by horses and clients - and too much for any boss to handle.
You have been doing some amazing rescue work with horses over a number of years. You seem to work mostly alone, and cover most of the costs involved yourself. How do you manage to do as much as you do, without financial support? Also, do you think we need big groups like Animals Australia, the RSPCA and PeTA, who seem to garner almost all of the donation money from the general public - would that money serve other animals better if it were donated to people who do the kind of work you do?
As they say, do what you love and the money will follow! The infamous "Mr. Anonymous" from Harness Racing has paid for the rescue horses' feed several times, and several owners have sent a gift with their donated horses, while RANVET has sponsored me and provided much needed nutritional supplements en masse. I have supportive vets who have performed $20,000 procedures on rescue horses, because they know I am good for the money. I love every horse with my whole heart and I work hard, spend all my money on them - and will sleep when I am dead!!! I never ask for money, but horse lovers often want to help with goodies. . .and it does seriously make the rescue horses' lives so much better when I can treat them with gifted items. Anyone who donates to an organisation that euthanises animals for no reason is paying for murder. Propoganda is a powerful influence on some who mean well, but end up paying for the very act they are against.
Some advocates for other animals believe that virtually all interactions between human and other-than-human beings necessarily result in exploitation. They suggest that the very best thing we can do is just “let them be”. Do you believe there is any place for other animals in the lives of humans?
I love leaving animals to be as close to their natural state as possible if it means they will come to no harm. There was a trail riding horse named "Becky". She was ancient and still on the trails. The bosses kindly sold her to me for $100. Becky never wanted to be touched once she arrived with me. I rendered her basic as non-intrusive care as possible and let her be. Early one morning, she was ill. Before the vet arrived, she took ten steps backwards, then walked 50 metres to me, put her head on my shoulder, and died in my arms. There is a place for humans when the animal decides, not the other way around.
Kim, you work alone a lot of the time, but you also do a lot of work interacting with others in your rescue work. Do you ever feel that others (particularly males) assume they can manipulate you based on your gender? If so, how do you deal with that? Also, do you think it’s a problem in society in general or more prevalent in the animal advocacy community?
Lol, I was a hooker, so any man who thinks he has manipulated me has merely had his ego stroked by a Cheshire Cat! Retract your claws and softly stroke. But seriously, I honestly have never experienced effective gender based manipulation against me. . .probably because I took on the Police Force - and in the end had bigger balls than all of them put together. So chauvinist pigs really have no effect, no matter what motivations they have. I can look at a male and know instantly what he is like in the bedroom, and that always makes me laugh when he tries to conceal his inadequacy with sexist insults towards women. As a hooker, I am immune to it. What I actually find is most men are lovely and supportive. One had tears when he asked if I could rescue his horse. He was just beautiful. . .and so is his horse. Stallions and mares both have their places in the herd. . .and as peacockish as Stallions are, we all know who really rules the herd! Sadly, some people in all facets of society challenge this due to their own inadequacies.
In what ways, if any, has the human corruption you have witnessed affected your views about the commodification of other animals and veganism?
It is all ego and greed which results in self-strangulation in the end. I was fucked over by a totalitarian Police Force. My whole life I was dominated by figures of authority. I dared to fuck them back. I know what oppressed animals feel like. That's why I specialise in dangerous horses. I love a little heart that fights back, even if it means certain death.
A friend of mine, Gordon Newman, famously exposed police corruption in Britain in the 1970s - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_%26_Order_(UK_TV_series) This created a political storm, especially when he revealed (in his “faction” novels) how police would visit brothels and known prostitutes looking for “freebies” as well as other dodgy dealings. I imagine there’s much more to what you know about police corruption than has ever been made public. Is that so, and do you have plans to publish more of what you know?
Gordon was right! I was sacked just after I asked why a Commissioned Officer could go to brothels, but I couldn't. I have had several lucurative book deals, none of which were right at the time. One day, I will surprise everyone and allow them into my mind! I still have to fill my heart with more animals before I can cope with exposing my mind!
Given your background, what is your opinion on what many people see as male domination in Western culture and do you think it affects how humans relate to other animals?
There is a definite need for many males to just drop the testosterone attitude. . .ego fulfillment and greed at the expense of animals does not make your cock any bigger. In fact, us ladies and gay guys love a male who has the balls to show he isn't afraid to love an animal whose life he could extinguish! Setting an example would mean more animals enjoy life instead of experiencing death.
Kim, there has been some recent debate in the animal advocacy community in regard to a new PeTA ad. The ad shows a woman left battered and bruised after sex with a boyfriend, a man who has newfound energy as a result of recently becoming vegan. [http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/cutline/does-peta-ad-featuring-young...] Some advocates suggest this ad is harmless and funny, whilst others suggest that because all forms of oppression are linked, the ad is not only offensive to oppressed and objectified women but that the ad also further entrenches and makes “normal” the continued oppression and commodification of other animals. Do you have an opinion on this, and do you believe that ads like this are dangerous or just a bit of fun?
I think PeTA may be clever, because those Neanderthals who have never pondered about this subject, will now sit up and think. No publicity is bad publicity. To me, it has created controversy, which creates interest, which leads to thought, argument and perhaps a life-changing moment for one or many animals.
In the last decade, governments around the world have seemed to escalate the use of police action to deal with activists and advocates, often labeling them terrorists. From your perspective, is there a crackdown on the AR movement happening and if you think there is, why do you think it is happening?
There is a crackdown in general on all legal matters. Police Forces have evolved for better or worse, which, I am not sure! Any human defending an animal or insect is never a terrorist - the only act of terrorism comes from those stopping him.
You suggest that, in a sense, caring for a horse saved you at a difficult time in your life - was it purely the need to feed and care for the horse, or something deeper than that?
I was suffering from severe Post Traumatic Stress as a result of joining the NSW POLICE FORCE and the treatment I got for blowing the whistle on entrenched corruption. I was laying on the floor in desperate squalor, barely able to move, in deep depression. This 4 year old Thoroughbred sacked by Warwick Farm and deemed too dangerous to ride arrived on a truck to stay while my father fought her future out in court. My father won the case and got to keep her. I was warned never, ever to ride her. I suddenly found something worth getting up off the floor for. She was full of grain mix, rearing and kicking and squealing! She didn't give a fuck! I had met a kindred soul who bucked the system. So I stood on an old chair, put a handtowel on her, and climbed on her back. She never hurt me. But years later when I asked my ex-boyfriend to ride her, she took one look at him, reared sky high and flipped on her side. I suddenly knew why Warwick Farm sacked her! And I suddenly knew why I had to sack the boyfriend. We are still together - me and the horse!
Kim, each year the National Parks and Wildlife Service in NSW trap hundreds of wild brumbies in the Australian Alps in southern NSW, claiming they are “feral pests”. In 2010, 150 brumbies were slaughtered and ended up as dog food. Last year was different, but there were still hundreds of brumbies stolen from their homes in the bush and taken to the same saleyards. Could you please explain why the NSW Parks and Wildlife service do this, and what you’re doing to help these brumbies that made last year so different?
NSW Parks and Wildlife are of the belief that the brumby is a threat to the native flora and fauna. The brumby is breeding successfully at around a 90% survival rate. A reduction in numbers is what the authorities want. I do not consider any creature a feral pest, excepting some humans. I called NSW Parks and Wildlife with a view to I don't know what, because I was just fuming they were going to kill them! I spoke to NSW Parks and Wildlife's Steve Horsley who made constructive suggestions as to how I could save some brumbies. I had never even seen a brumby - and I saved 46!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL. Steve Horsley, through example, taught me a lot about how to be proactive and how to cooperate - and he bent over backwards to help me save those 46 brumbies. Even the RSPCA gave their blessing as to how we conducted the rescue. The media covered the event, and instead of the saleyards being the death of the brumbies, our cooperation meant this time they secured their lives. I couldn't have done it without him and those kind souls who act as carers to these brumbies. What is funny is I never actually got to whinge and whine to NSW Parks and Wildlife. . . I was too busy working with them saving brumbies!!!!
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