Skip to content

Faux Faux Fur

March 21, 2013

So the word is out that your $1,895 faux fur-trimmed coat from Neiman Marcus might not really be faux. In fact, the faux might be actual mink fur–or else raccoon, rabbit, or something called a raccoon dog (above). Interestingly, none of the numerous reports I saw on this story actually pictured a raccoon dog. A raccoon dog is a member of the wolf-dog-fox family, native to East Asia, where it is listed as a species of “least concern” and is even considered an “invasive species.”

So what are we to think of this latest revelation from DNA screening? The same pesky DNA that set free wrongly convicted prisoners, showed that female chimps hook up more with marginal males than with alpha, and revealed the false labeling of sushi fish in a high school girl’s science project.

On the bright side, haven’t we come a long way since the days when a woman’s greatest dream was a mink coat. When baby seals were skinned, and Greenpeace threw paint over them to prevent it. Now, enough people avoid animal skins to make plastic fluff more expensive.

But what if certain animals–the “least concerning” kind–have lives so cheap they are cheaper than fake fur?

A chance to think about the meaning of real and faux. Videogame violence isn’t “real,” is it. But does it encourage violence in the real world? Does wearing faux fur encourage the pursuit of faux faux? Is there something to be said for shaping our fantasies to support our reality?

  1. March 21, 2013 9:53 pm

    “Does wearing faux fur encourage the pursuit of faux faux?”
    By the same logic, does eating textured protein encourage the consumption of real meat? Or the eating of meat encourage hunting? I don’t think so, or at least not as far as I am concerned.

    The idea that fake fur may actually be real fur is disturbing. This is deceptive marketing. This is not unlike the horse meat adulterated beef scandal in Europe. I can only imagine the horror if fake seal skin turned out to be real.

    • March 21, 2013 10:13 pm

      Do you think these “fake” products occur all the time, or have they become more common? Is it just that now we have molecular tools to identify them? Should we have more regulation?

      • March 21, 2013 11:04 pm

        I think we have regulations, they just need to be enforced. It is interesting to think that the new tools exposes these products more easily. I suspect that the problem is increasing, in line with the rapid increase in global trade. This is made worse by Chinese businesses that seem to have very disreputable behaviors (e.g. contaminated foods and counterfeiting). The very Darwinian business practices that we have today will only make such problems worse, IMO, especially were regulations differ across countries and only a small number of inspections can be made in imported goods.

  2. March 22, 2013 7:08 am

    Somewhat surprised to see this post from the author of Daughter of Elysium. Presumably even the unpopular racoon dog does not value its own life cheaply. And even if it does, presumably it doesn’t want to be skinned alive, or anally electrocuted, or otherwise barbarously killed – and barbarous killing is the hallmark of the fur trade. Although you of course don’t advocate these things, your framing this as a simple cost-benefit problem is unfortunate. As Elie Weisel said, neutrality serves the oppressor.

    Unfortunately, the fur trade is alive and well — including the clubbing of baby seals. Fur coat sales might be down in the US but are still huge in Eastern Europe or elsewhere. And fur trim abounds.

    Animal activists, who have probably thought more about the “do fur and meat simulacrums do more harm than good” question than anyone seem to be split on meat, but most agree that fake fur is bad thing because it legitimizes a heinous industry and concept.

    • Frank Caesar Branchini permalink
      March 22, 2013 9:47 am

      Thank you so much Hillary for your comments. John Woolman, one of my Quaker heroes, once said that to “say we love God” and harm “the least creature moving by God’s Light” is a contradiction. Wearing fur from any animal is cruel and unnecessary. The fur industry has a long history of truly barbaric practices that should offend everyone who values kindness, peace, and justice: leghold traps which crush the legs of the trapped animals causing pain so extreme that some animals gnaw off their own legs in a desperate attempt to escape, sticking a metal rod into the anus of animals to be killed and electrocuting them, beating seal pups to death with clubs.

    • March 22, 2013 10:09 am

      Sorry, I removed the misunderstood sentence about the raccoon dog; it was meant ironically. I agree with Hillary about the fur trade, and that it’s shocking to think animals are given less worth than the plastic filaments of fake fur. I feel uneasy about wearing clothing with animal patterns, like “faux crocodile” etc.

  3. hillaryrettig356 permalink
    March 22, 2013 10:39 am

    Thank you both! Joan, you remain my lodestone on so much, ethically, so I knew where you were coming from but felt it was important to correct. (Ain’t blogging fun?) Frank, I love that quote.

    • Frank Caesar Branchini permalink
      March 22, 2013 5:09 pm

      Joan, thanks for the clarification. Hillary, I love the Woolman quote as well.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: