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Are some of PETA’s ads hurtful to women?

Filed under: Media

PETA’s “Milk Gone Wild” IM icon

The Vegan Vulcan just posted a pretty interesting open letter to PETA concerning its (arguably exploitive) use of women and their body parts in the name of promoting animal rights. She writes:

I became vegetarian many years ago, because it seemed a logical extension of my feminism. After reading Carol Adams’ The Sexual Politics of Meat, I realized that the way we look at meat in our society is the same way we look at women: as objects to be consumed, rather than as having individual personhood. I see PETA’s campaigns such as the “I’d rather go naked than wear fur”; “Sexiest Vegan”; and the whole “the running of the bulls/women in bikinis” stunt as doing the same thing as what meat-eaters do every day to animals: consuming, using, and treating as object that which should be valued beyond being an object.

As a woman, I feel marginalized. I feel that my body is merely a tool for PETA to achieve its ends, and that is not acceptable to me. Am I valued for my brains and my actions, or my ability to look good in a belly-baring lettuce-leaf costume?

Of course, Vegan Vulcan isn’t the first to express these concerns, but as of yet PETA hasn’t provided a decent excuse or word of repentance on the issue. Instead, we get more of this. As a fan of PETA and many of its efforts to get animal rights into the mainstream, I hope the organization will start listening to its offended constituency.

For futher reading, I recommend Ariel Levy’s recent book, Female Chauvinist Pigs, which smartly explores the appropriation of ranch culture by women. While it doesn’t specifically mention PETA’s “sexy” ad campaigns, it does offer some interesting perspecitve on the role they play in today’s popular culture.

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