Thursday, February 16, 2012

PETA: An Equal Opportunity Exploiter

Perhaps you've seen or heard about the new PETA ad promoting veganism that suggests violent, painful sex that hurts women is somehow a good thing:

The woman in the ad is shown in a neck brace and has trouble walking. She gets home and takes off her coat to reveal that she's only wearing her underwear. Her boyfriend asks if she's "feeling better" after he painfully wounded her during sex. PETA suggests they can prevent accidents like this from occurring by giving you advice on how to go "go vegan" safely. This obviously tongue-in-cheek phrase ignores the fact that the ad centers on demonstrating a man's increased sexual aggressiveness as a great thing, regardless of what that means for the woman on the receiving end of that aggression. 

I wasn't even going to comment on this video because (as I've talked about before) PETA's continued degradation of women has ensured that I won't be taking anything they have to say seriously anytime soon. 

But then I watched last night's Daily Show and saw this:

Not content to just completely ignore women's rights in their campaigns, PETA demonstrates that they are equally willing to exploit racial injustice for media attention. They filed a lawsuit on behalf of five SeaWorld orcas that said they should be freed under the 13th Amendment's abolishment of slavery.

As Wyatt Cenac cleverly displays through mockery (around the 4:00 mark), this argument is ridiculous. (Cenac points out that the PETA representative herself has a dog who she walks on a leash, which would clearly be a violation of her dog's freedom. He then brings in his lawyer to file a complaint on behalf of all of the animals pictured on PETA's website because they were photographed without their consent.)

While I appreciate the humor Cenac used to derail this argument, it's not enough to make me ignore how insulting the lawsuit (which was thrown out) was to begin with. It belittles the impact of slavery and makes a mockery of the countless people who died under that oppressive mark on our history. It also trivializes attempts to alleviate current racial inequalities and attempts to dehumanize people who were slaves and--by extension--people of color by equating them with animals.

I am against cruelty to animals, and I support legitimate attempts to address those concerns. I see nothing legitimate in what PETA does other than to support current systems of racial and gender oppression.

1 comment:

  1. Came here through a few links you posted on Feministe. Been poking around your site. Really enjoy your posts! I like how you tie issues together. Good insights.