PETA offers Up Another Few Doses of Misogyny in the Name of Animal Welfare.
I remember sitting in a women’s studies class almost seven years ago looking at a PETA ad that objectified women and having a very in-depth discussion about why this was a very concerning practice for a so-called progressive or left-leaning organization. (for yet another look at an organization that claims to be left-leaning but also includes misogyny as a regular business practice, see this post). I’m pretty sure I even remember there being letter writing campaigns… some sort of organized response… And yet PETA continues to astound me with their incredibly objectifying ads. Why is it that sexism seems to be the last frontier? The message from PETA is alarmingly clear – it’s okay to objectify women and treat them like you treat the animals we’re trying to save, as long as you stop treating animals like that.
The first such ad from their recent releases featured Alicia Silverstone naked emerging from a pool talking about not eating animals. (She is, as I said, naked, and a feast for the eyes – yes, please do pay very close attention to the disturbing, often overlooked, similarities in wording between the phrases used to talk about women and those used to talk about the animals that are consumed.) If you click on the link above to the PETA site about the ad, you will also notice some very submissive shots of Alicia around the page. I think it is amazing that we have stars who are speaking out about animal rights and about the importance of eliminating animal products from out diets. I am, however, dreadfully ashamed about PETA's insistence on using women's bodies to sell that idea the same way corporations use women's bodies to sell products. Ironically, it appears that Texas has pulled the ad - presumably due to it being a bit indecent. I may not agree with their reasons, but I do agree that this ad should be pulled.
The next ad released was about the ABCs of animal birth control. Now, I know what you are thinking, "The ABCs? So, it's going to be modeled after an elementary school classroom or something simple like that..." Not even close. Well, maybe it is close if you are a hormonal adolescent having sexual fantasies during class. For this ad, we have the illustrious Dita Von Teese (seriously, I couldn't make this up). The LA Times may have captured it best with their opening paragraph about the ad:
A new ad features burlesque queen Dita Von Teese as the teacher of every schoolboy's dreams: She's cinched in by a powder-pink corset, wearing stilettos and fishnet stockings -- and well aware of the effect she's having on the apt pupil sitting at her feet.
I don't even feel like I should have to comment about why that's wrong, it is wrong on too many levels. This is a woman who has apparently been in Playboy and other similarly progressive (yes, that is sarcasm) publications. We cannot continue to let organizations that are based on the rights of one group (animal or human) exploit other groups to further their cause. I am a vegetarian and have been for almost 5 years now. I consider it a very important part of my life and part of a progressive belief system that will lead us all to a better world. Treating women as sex objects does not fit into that worldview.
PETA's contact info proved as elusive as their sense of morality, but you can find some of the options here. I'm going to read over said options myself so I know where to send my thoughts... There is a spot to report cruelty to animals. Since humans technically are animals, I suggest using that link and explain to them all about this evil organization that is using animals in horrendous ways and saying it's for a good cause. PETA will love that.
Oh, and if you haven't already done so, please read Carol Adams' The Sexual Politics of Meat. I've mentioned it before and will continue to do so until everyone, including PETA, reads it.