A quick Google image search for “peta ad” will bring up a lot of images — most of them featuring naked, skinny white chicks. Some are cheesy Playboy-esque poses with hot veggie babes posing alongside cuddly animals. Their rejected TV ad used women in the same way that those Axe Body Spray ads do — to prove that if you do what the ad tells you, hot chicks will totally dig you. Others demonize the natural female body — if you have natural human “fur” (i.e., pubic hair), it’s Not Attractive. Still others use women’s bodies as stand-ins for animals, to show how those animals are abused. The abused women are still hot, naked, white, and sexy, again tying sex with violence, and sexualizing the abused female body.
They also infamously show Rudy Giuliani wearing a milk moustache with the words, “Got Prostate Cancer?” And then there are the fat-shaming ads (as a side note, I lost 10 pounds when I started eating meat again). Note that men’s bodies are used when PETA is mocking them for being fat and therefore ugly.
I agree with a lot of PETA’s goals. I wish we were less dependent on meat-food. I think the meat industry is abhorrent in their treatment of animals. I think there need to be stricter regulations when it comes to animal testing — especially cosmetic testing, which is largely unnecessary at this point. I think we need to raise awareness about animal abuse in all its forms.
But I object to the tactics that PETA uses. This doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize that PETA has been very successful in getting animal rights into the greater cultural consciousness and discussion. It doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize that PETA has done some very good things on behalf of animal rights. It doesn’t mean that I don’t support animal rights as a cause.
It does mean that I think their campaigns are sexist and racist, and that they’re willing to sacrifice the dignity and the rights of one group in order to make the case for the rights of another. As I wrote in the comments to a previous post, would we argue that it would be acceptable for feminists, in trying to demonstrate how cultural requirements of femininity are harmful to women, to take a critter, wax off its hair, put make-up on it, put it in a dress and make it walk in high heels?
Actual PETA ads below the fold. Trigger warnings abound. And I’m not even putting the Holocaust on your Plate ads in there.
Women’s bodies are gross unless they undergo painful hair-removal to make the dudes happy:
Abused women are teh hotness:
Sexy girls love animals:
Interestingly, this looks a whole lot like the cover of The Sexual Politics of Meat.
Mocking someone’s physical appearance is the best way to denounce fur-wearing:
Feeding into more racist stereotypes: Asian people eat cats and dogs
Whose body parts represent “meat” again?
Don’t be a fatty! Fatties are gross!
And then there’s this lovely demonstration: