Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Same old sh*t from PETA

Ethical, my fully clothed ass.

I fully support an animal's right to go through life without ending up on a pizza. But more than that, I fully support a woman's right to go through life without being constantly exposed to commercials that capitalize on a total misrepresentation of her sexuality, and in the name of "doing good," no less.
I think that PETA's cause is a worthy one, and I applaud them for being able to follow a really basic rule like "sex sells." But it's really not acceptable to further one cause while setting another one back; it's really not acceptable to promote vegetarianism by objectifying women and reducing their sexuality to... seriously, is that woman about to have sex with broccoli?
PETA says that these women are "unable to resist the powers of veggie love." Just like I'm unable to resist the urge to throw up a little in my mouth.


At January 29, 2009 at 1:50 PM , Blogger Claire said...

I felt the need to throw up a lot in my mouth! Not only is that ad offensive but I'm not particularly sure it sells vegetarianism very well.

- Claire Angyal

At January 30, 2009 at 11:44 PM , Blogger Robert McGibbon said...

Weird. I think she was going to have sex with a broccoli...

But seriously, I don't really think we have a right to go through life without being exposed to commercials we disapprove of. In fact, didn't you voluntarily search out that commercial just so you could comment on it?

Their right to say whatever they want trumps your desire not to be offended in my opinion.

Beyond that, I think Peta is doing a great job of recruiting people into the movement they represent. I don't see them denouncing meat-lovers; instead they're offering reasonable suggestions for things that individuals can do in their own lives (don't wear fur, don't eat meat) without passing judgment on those people. Maybe feminists could take some tips.

Robert McGibbon '11

At February 1, 2009 at 3:41 PM , Blogger Mike said...

"I don't really think we have a right to go through life without being exposed to commercials we disapprove of."

"How about a sense of nuance?"

Indeed. Surely there is a difference between commercials that we disapprove of because they are boring and commercials that we disapprove of because they are couched in prejudice and a history of discrimination.

Furthermore, if feminists were to "take some tips" from PETA, what social identity groups would you suggest they denigrate while recruiting people into the movement?

At February 1, 2009 at 10:52 PM , Blogger Robert McGibbon said...

1. Lots of things deserve disapproval, Mike, but whether or not we disapprove of something has has little bearing on our right to be sheltered from it. Do we have a "right to go through life without being exposed" to tasteless/discriminatory speech? That's a tricky question (that obviously depends on the specific case) about the boundaries of the 1st amendment protections. In my opinion, the way the commercial was couched in prejudice was enough to make it disapproval-worthy, but it wasn't enough to make it worthy of censorship.

2. When I said that the feminist movement could take some tips from PETA, here's what I meant: I think the feminist movement does a bad job of marketing itself, and I think PETA is doing an okay job. I was thinking specifically about the Chris Matthews piece mentioned in the next post (, in
McEwan's paragraph is symptomatic of what I think is wrong with feminist advocacy:

"That misogyny still plagues the American news media is not up for debate – at least not among people with the merest faculty for critical thought, the basic ability to count the numbers of men and women hosting, reporting, and guesting on news shows, or even in possession of eyes or ears and the capacity to point themselves in the direction of MSNBC's daily politics show Hardball."

Does rhetoric like that make you want to be a feminist? No. not at all. It's all about denouncing people. It's about passing judgment without anything constructive to say. It's is about tearing down instead of building up. And while it might be preaching to the choir well, it's not convincing people to become feminists.

In contrast, if you look at the tone of these PETA ads, you don't see them denouncing meat eaters. That would be easy for them to do - most people eat meat. They aren't vilifying butchers - god knows they might want to. Instead, they're talking about something you can do to be a better person (not eat meat, not wear fur).

Sure, PETA has done their share of denouncing. Throwing paint on fur coats is a good example. But look how much flak they've caught for that. It might rally the base, but preaching to the choir is not the way to advance a movement. That is a tip I think feminist advocacy groups could take.


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