PETA’s Vasectomy Campaign Hurtful to the Infertile
Numerous couples struggle in silence with infertility, never talking openly about how desperately they are trying to have a baby. The emotional pain of wanting a child that they can not easily conceive takes a toll on their relationships with their friends, families and even their spouses.
So when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced that they would be holding a contest for a free vasectomy during National Infertility Awareness Week later this month, how could it be seen as anything other than a callous mocking of the infertility community?
Keiko Zoll, who writes at Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed, and serves as the Advocacy Committee Chair for RESOLVE of New England, says the problem is not with the contest itself, but rather with the fact that PETA has chosen to run it during NIAW, a week dedicated to sharing facts and busting myths and misconceptions about infertility.
Zoll explained “[t]hat PETA has specifically stated this campaign is ‘in honor of’ National Infertility Awareness Week strikes such an insolent, cruel tone with our community.”
She went on to point out that “NIAW is hardly a ‘celebration’ of being infertile, as PETA would have the public believe with this ridiculous publicity stunt. Their campaign makes a mockery of NIAW at the expense of a valid medical patient community of over 7.3 million people in the United States alone.”
PETA, who “apologized” via Facebook, stated that they weren’t trying to offend anyone but were simply trying to reach the “many people who wish to be sterilized,” even though that likely isn’t any of the people who would be interested in National Infertility Awareness Week. But the offensive nature of the campaign was worth it to them in order to get the free publicity. “We know that this offer might raise a few eyebrows,” said PETA, “but it will also raise awareness by generating the kind of media coverage of the cat and dog overpopulation crisis that money could never buy.”
In some ways, this is emblematic of PETA’s inability to know where to draw the line. A neutering campaign with a free vasectomy winner could have garnered the attention of the media on it’s own, and still had some of the traditional shock value that is a PETA trademark. But by tying it to the infertility community, they added in the element of utter tastelessness and unnecessary offensiveness that sadly also defines the group.