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PeTA: Where Only Women Are Treated Like Meat

by Nikki Craft Sunday, Dec. 09, 2001 at 10:40 PM

Historically, sexual stereotyping, exploitation and objectification have harmed women. The women at PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have the right to use their bodies. Do they pose nude? No, they're fake nudes. Do they even portray liberating images of women and nudity? No. They work with Playboy Magazine where women are herded like cattle in limiting, stereotypical mass media presentations; or PeTA covers the body of the Go Go's cowering in shame behind well placed banners.

The upper half of this PeTA advertisement (Kimberly Hefner less the dildo) originally read "to go vegetarian" appeared as a cut-out poster in "Stars & Stripes," the most widely circulated newspaper on military bases around the world. PeTA hopes to turn the men killing the people in Afghanistan, and around the world, into vegetarians.

PeTA Where Only Women Are Treated Like Meat by Nikki Craft

Historically, sexual stereotyping, exploitation and objectification have harmed women. The women at PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have the right to use their bodies. Do they pose nude? No, they're fake nudes. Do they even portray liberating images of women and nudity? No. They work with Playboy Magazine where women are herded like cattle in limiting, stereotypical mass media presentations; or PeTA covers the body of the Go Go's cowering in shame behind well placed banners. These advertisement campaigns are not any expression of courage expressed by the Go Go's or by PeTA or any of their members, either. Sure PeTA ought to be able to portray sexual images, though we hope they'd do a better job of it; and when they place one of the harem of pimp Hugh Hefner (the Afghani/Saudi men's sexism has nothing on him) in the public domain to promote their organization they will have to take responsibility for how it will impact all women.

Imagine instead their ad agency hunts up a "contrarian" African Amerikan to get on his knees before a white man, shine his shoes while shuckin' n jivin' with an Amos/Andy grin to make some message about vegetarianism. Should we be duped into taking such an advertisement seriously? Should we be expected to take it as "liberating" because it's framed as "protest" yet upon looking deeper it's just jacking up racial stereotypes and white privilege? Would we be expected to, could we take PeTA seriously? Yet some insist we ought to when they are jacking up sexual stereotypes, male privilege and conservative politics.

Another ad, PeTA claims they "deemed it too violent post-September 11" and banned it themselves. Would a network station even show this ad on television? Who knows.

However, their claim is still disingenuous because anyone can see the PeTA movie on their website with the push of a button and the right software. They say, we banned this!! Click here to see it. They list the ad film credits and the "banned" advertisement can be e-mail.

This ad, in my opinion their worst yet, shows the depth of the misogyny within the organization and their advertising agency. In the PeTA movie a woman is being beaten to death with a bat in the subway. As the man rips her fur coat off PeTA asks "What if you were killed for your coat?"

Some say they are waiting to see men sexually objectified in the PeTA ads, but I am waiting for them to make a movie where they show a man being beaten to death for his coat while he squeals like a pig at slaughter. It's not going to happen because PeTA's hatred is aimed at women.

It's particularly unfortunate because PeTA may be using this approach for cultural approval (it's mainstream acceptable to exploit women) and money, but most of the volunteers at PeTA are women; most of the people who deeply care about the well being of animals are women. PeTA's course of action, their body of work, is demeaning to them too, as it is to the women who are funding PeTA. It's a problem too when PeTA's website has programs aimed at children and vegetarianism, and juxtaposes these films with numerous playmate pornstar films. What kind of message is this to aim at children?

Why sidetrack the debate with false arguments? No one is trying to censor PeTA's legal right to discredit their cause. However, it needs to be labeled what it is: Reactionary bigotry and the cooptation of an organization.

Another concern of particular importance at this time is using sexualized women draped in red white and blue in pro-war/government advertisement and propaganda campaigns are a particularly volatile and dangerous patriotic fundamentalism. If you haven't checked in about how these forces are limiting people's civil rights lately you had better hurry up and do so? People are being slaughtered all over the world because of it.

PeTA's come out exorbitantly pro-war. Ingrid Newkirk is talking about how great the Armed Forces are, how "vegan" food is being dropped on Afghanistan, how the Army offers vegan options, and that PeTA had a link from their site. Wow! This is PeTA's idea of political success?

Using political critique and economic boycott to inform PeTA that transforming an Afghani into bloody pulp as long as you drop vegetarian dinner for his or her surviving family members doesn't pass for acceptable in our political analysis of world politics; and is, last I checked, not only our legal and political right, but if we feel strongly about it, our social responsibility.

It's long past time for true progressives, and I don't mean knee jerk mouth pieces for the pornography industry, to boycott this organization and tell them in no uncertain terms that even when it's done under the umbrella of animal rights that it's not okay to treat women like meat.


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