Mysogenic thinkers often say that men are the only real "persons". Women are supposedly all the same and you cannot find real personality in women. According to them, all women are aimed at caring and the household, they cannot think, and by nature they are inclined to please and serve men. "Women belong in the kitchen". With that they are inferior and ambivalent creatures: although maternal and attractive, they are first of all the slaves to Adam, the real person. This sexist image of women has been officially outdated in the western culture at least. But everywhere there is still discrimination when it comes to other creatures, and especially animals.
In speciesism, which means the discrimination on the basis of animal species, animals are seen - just like women in sexism - as practically identical members of their species, instead of as unique individuals. They are also seen as second-rate creatures you can use as slaves, and that are replaceable with other members of their species. Animals are killed for the most trivial human whims, and this is legitimized - as it were - by making them out to be as low and unimportant as possible. It is specieist humor when pigs for instance advertise their own meat. Referring to economical interests is enough to maintain the torture of animals in factory farming and other forms of systematic exploitation.
Within the hierarchy of sexist ideology, prostitutes have very low standing. They are confronting the sovereign sexist man with sexual needs that he doesn't mind enjoying in secret at all, but that they try to deny in normal social relations. Prostitutes have something rebellious, especially if they are not "protected" by a pimp and make a living for themselves. In this, they are like wild animals that do not need man to survive. Prostitutes show that they can support themselves and that they only need men as needy customers. For heterosexual sexists, prostitutes prove that men are not superior to women.
Within the Christian tradition we know a woman that as of old is represented as a converted prostitute, Mary of Magdala or Mary Magdalene. Recent films about Jesus of Nazareth show her as a strong, independent woman who harbors contempt towards her male customers. Only Jesus knows how to soften her, and gets her to give up her old life to become one of his followers. Mary washed Jesus' feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. An act that seems to be a sort of sanctified stylization of the usual services to her former customers. She had probably massaged them without the real love she feels for Jesus.
By early Christians, the former prostitute was called the (first) apostle among the apostles, which indicates that she had a special bond with Jesus. Apocryphal sources go as far as stating that Jesus had some kind of erotic love connection with Mary Magdalene, or even that they were married.
Within some western occult traditions it is even taken a step further: Mary Magdalene wasn't a normal commercial prostitute, but a temple priestess for a mystery deity. With this background, she had ideological importance to the shaping of esoterical movements within Christianity. These orthodox and heterodox (occult) images are further apart than is apparent at first glance. The unofficial image of Mary the Prostitute shows that she was converted from her life as an independent woman to a chaste life following a man, now matter how prominent she was with the disciples. Mary the temple priestess - according to some occult sources - contributes a great deal to the secret doctrines of early Christianity as an EQUAL to Jesus, so without submitting herself to him.
In a sense, these visions are like the moderate as well as the radical movements in the emancipation of colored people in the US. Although Mary Magdalene in Christianity is seen as valuable in both visions, in the official vision the point is that she essentially still adapts to the ruling value of male superiority. Even though this was a special man who approached her as a person - more than was usual, and according to those around him even outrageously so. Within occult traditions we see a Mary Magdalene who basically rises above the oppression of women. Her background as a temple priestess is seen as a positive thing that she can be proud of, instead of a source of shame. Her independence is the basis for emancipation and equality.
When we return to speciesism, converted Mary can be seen as a symbol of a moderate attitude in which "toughened" resistance is given up and people look for another type of "man", another type of power figure. This moderate attitude is also found in animal protectors who negotiate with the exponents of speciesism. They are happy with the smallest adaptations of reality, without there being a thorough revolution. One example is the incomprehensible satisfaction about the term "intrinsic value" which has formed the basis of animal rights since 20 years (only in Dutch laws), but that hasn't led to court cases, let alone to an improvement of animal welfare.
Mary Magdalene the independent temple priestess may be a symbol for a much more interesting type of resistance: a form that doesn't only presuppose a form of servitude, but also thinking along about a radical change of reality. speciesism can be limited by negotiations with those in power. But it can only be conquered by an egalitarian philosophy that frees animals from the injustice they are structurally subjected to. This egalitarian philosophy means that animals are given equal basic rights to people, namely the right to the freedom to behave naturally. And that not the animals, but people who feel unjustly superior and who want to violate these basic rights are limited.
Mary Magdalene as a converted prostitute is the woman who voluntarily subjects herself to a good man. Mary Magdalene as a priestess herself subjects a corrupted reality. This Mary Magdalene is an equal woman who attacks injustice radically, at the root. That is an image that supporters of animal liberation can work with.

Contribution by Bert Stoop and Titus Rivas