The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are at it again. Last year they were turning heads with their ads featuring naked Playboy models protesting fur. This time they're running TV ads that compare teenage girls to cats and dogs.
The ad opens with a surly teen girl sighing loudly as her parents plant themselves on her bed wearing "We need to talk about sex" expressions.
Mom: Honey, we need to talk ...
Dad: ... about sex. We think you should be having it sweetie.
Mom: A lot of it.
Dad: Get out there and nail everything you can!
[ ... ]
Teen girl: What if I get pregnant?"
Dad: So what? You should pop out all the kids you want! We can leave them in the shelter, dump them out in the street ... it's really not important.
The ad closes with, "Parents shouldn't act this way. Neither should people with dogs and cats."
Tana Ganeva over at Alternet concludes that this ad is better than previous PETA ad campaigns, but only because it isn't as overtly misogynist as the others. I don't really give a shit. PETA can go fuck themselves. I say this as both a vegetarian AND an animal lover.
When PETA's Playboy campaign launched last year, my favorite anarcha-feminist and vegan, Jon Grindell, had some good things to say over at G-Spot Magazine:
That said, the animal rights movement stands to lose solidarity with other social justice movements if a single issue paradigm prevails. PETA is the largest animal rights organization and provides an immense amount of resources raise the issue of animal suffering. Supporters range from anarchists to celebrities, religious leaders to atheists. The point shouldn't be lost that animals are voiceless and are forced to shed their skin when caught for days in leghold traps in the freezing cold. If they are still alive, they will be gassed, or anally/genitally electrocuted to death. There are a bevy of ways to convey the suffering of animals to a vast array of individuals without legitimizing patriarchy.
Much like their supporters, PETA's employees have a wide range of ideologies with the central theme being that of compassion for animals. A former housemate of mine who once worked for PETA had challenged my feminist ideals by saying that it is commendable that I stand up for womyn like herself, but it's not like womyn are routinely being tortured to death and have their flesh eaten by the billions. A statement such as this implies privilege. Another former employee identifies as a feminist, as does the president of PETA. She let me know that during her employment with PETA, she had an incident with a male staffer and he was promptly fired.
But if the goal is to reduce animal suffering by any means necessary is PETA succeeding? If a few people of the dominant worldview have their eyes opened to animal suffering, is it worth proliferating patriarchal norms? Aren't capitalism and the state complicit in subjugating animals as mere "dollar signs to the industry?" It is important to recognize total liberation as a mindset that will take the form of an action to free ourselves, all of us, from oppression.
Someone working at PETA must have caught onto the fact that the organization needs to make more allies. And so in addition to the campaign that compares teenage girls to household pets, they're currently trying to sell themselves as a "gay-friendly" organization. They've got a new billboard up in NYC that features the fabulous Lady Bunny, which reads, "Sometimes bright big packages contain dirty little secrets." Sweet! Now transwomen are included in the list of womyn PETA loves to hate. Could you get anymore "Crying Game" than this ad? I guess this means they're trans-inclusive? Can someone please dig up PETA's position on a United ENDA? Oh wait . . . they don't do other issues. Oops! My bad!
Here's how the ad is described on PETA's blog. You're gonna love this!
Lady Bunny joins other gorgeous pin-ups, including Pam Anderson and Imogen Bailey, who have protested the well-documented abuse of chickens who end up in KFC's deceptively pretty buckets of breast meat. However, only Lady Bunny can talk about there being "more than meets the eye" (regarding animal welfare, of course).
I've cocktailed at enough gay bars to know firsthand what happens "when queens attack"--and it ain't pretty. After all, who wants to upset a burly guy who has spent an hour squeezing into a size 3 dress and a pair of high heels?
I don't know who this Sean Conner is, but can someone please give him a clue? The press release that we got yesterday from PETA was laughable. It actually said:
According to PETA's Senior Vice President Dan Mathews--who was named one of the most influential gays in the country by Out magazine last year--not only does embracing the gay community make PETA gay-friendly, it also establishes animal rights in a community known for setting trends.
Just because you have a homo at the helm doesn't really mean shit to me. I mean, just look at the HRC. Just because you take it up the poop shoot doesn't mean that you get what it means to be a part of the LGBTQ community. I'm gonna circle back to the quote from Jon Grindell. PETA needs to get its head out of its ass and figure out what real coalition building looks like, rather than pitching ads that exploit homo- and trans-phobic tropes.
(And just so you know, Sara, I'm not eating pork rinds as I write this post, even though I loved the suggestion. But I am thinking about the orgasmic vegan banana cream pie I had this weekend at Lovin' Spoonfuls in Tucson. In my opinion, that's the way to win people over. Feed them a vegan cupcake or some pie and they're yours!)