The controversy over PETA’s ads should be unsurprising to anyone who follows the organization; they have made a name for themselves by producing ads that demean and sexualize women in the name of animal rights. In 2009, they tried to run a Super Bowl ad called “Veggie Love” which NBC declined to air, despite a $3 million offer, because it was too sexually explicit for TV. The theory was that the whole ad was a stunt, and that PETA just wanted the publicity without actually airing the ads.
This year, they have another ad (which I haven’t posted because it’s NSFW, but you can see by going here), which models itself as the “casting session” for the first. In it, women are shown posing in bathing suits and fondling, licking and caressing a series of (often-phallic) vegetables. The tagline, “Vegetarians have better sex,” drives home the message that these women’s bodies are just sexualized tools for promoting a vegetarian diet.
PETA has also employed shameful scare tactics, like an ad which tells people to go vegan because “eating meat and dairy makes you fat.” There, playing on insecurities about body image is the vehicle for their message, rather than sticking to emphasizing the healthiness of a vegetarian diet.
I was a vegetarian for many years, and I am very sympathetic to PETA’s message. But I can’t respect any organization that shows such a blatant and repeated disregard for women, and is so willing to repeatedly employ sexualized, objectified female bodies as a publicity stunt. If you want to take a tour of PETA’s past offenses, here’s a slideshow.
Photo from Flickr.