PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is a fairly well-known organization, and it is known to be a radical animal rights group, often going to many extremes to “help” animals. However, many investigations show that PETA is responsible for euthanizing and carelessly disposing of large numbers of healthy and adoptable animals. The organization refused to comment on these investigations in years prior, but they are not afraid to claim outrage over celebrities with their dogs’ nails painted, nor are they afraid to use blatantly misogynistic ad campaigns to promote veganism or to end animal cruelty.
Many of the advertisements used by PETA show hypersexualized and suggestive images of women in varying degrees of dress, and these ads are often accompanied by a sexualized slogan. My question for PETA is this: How is putting women on display for your benefit any different than putting animals on display in places for profit? (By the way, PETA is actively campaigning against Sea World.) How can members of PETA support the use of these advertisements?
This BBC article discusses the issue surrounding an anti-dairy PETA billboard containing an offensive and highly pornographic slogan with an equally inappropriate image. A representative of Resist Porn Culture spoke out about the use of these advertisements. BBC reported, “Lisa Marie-Taylor, from Resist Porn Culture, said adverts of this kind were inspired by the pornography industry, which she said depicts women as ‘subservient and often brutalised beings.‘”
The issue with these advertisements extends to two levels: 1) the support of a distorted and hypersexualized view of women and 2) the projection of that image to young and impressionable minds via public advertisements.
PETA claims to have a conscious about the ethical treatment of animals, but what about an ethical treatment of women? Can they blindly accept this as a normative representation of women and outright deny the exploitation of women for their own gain? It’s time we stop letting PETA equate women’s sexuality with animal rights, and it’s time to start saying no to pornographic and heteronormative billboard campaigns. It’s slightly ironic and ridiculous to say this to PETA, but women aren’t pieces of meat. It’s time for us all to speak up against PETA about how these are far from “tongue-in-cheek warnings.”