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PETA’s Animal Rights and Rape Culture

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From My Elegant Gathering of White Snows.

Eat Battery Farmed Chickens and Save Women: Challenging PETA’s Reinforcement of Rape Culture.

I know that this flies in the face of common sense and compassion but bear with me here. PETA’s campaigns are based on the idea that the objectification, sexualisation, and torture of women’s bodies are a great way to raise awareness of animal rights. They glamorise, romanticise and eroticise Violence against Women because they refuse to either acknowledge the construction of “woman as object” within the Patriarchy, or take responsibility for the harm they cause to women by their campaigns. PETA usually uses the bodies of young, thin, blonde, white women as a canvas for their protest. Whilst their protests garner public attention, it isn’t because people are interested in animal rights. PETA have become a spectacle; their message lost in medium of their protest. PETA also seem to have completely forgotten what exactly they have been campaigning for and instead have become obsessed with out-porning the porn industry in their objectification of tortured women’s bodies.

PETA’s newest campaign is called “Fur Trim is Unattractive” and it has been getting considerable amount of press for both the level of misogyny and the generalised nincompoopery within it. It isn’t a new campaign though. It is yet another recycled campaign designed to shock; despite being neither original nor interesting. It’s the normal “women with pubic hair are unfuckable” motif, as evidenced by the entire porn industry. One would have thought that an organisation who campaigns against the cosmetic industry’s animal testing practises might be aware of the links between pornography, the fashion-beauty complex, and the unnecessary torture of animals. One would be wrong. The very last thing PETA is, is self-aware. Nor do they care that they are supposedly campaigning to prevent the torture of animals by financially profiting from the torturing the bodies of vulnerable women in porn.

Whilst it is undoubtedly unpleasant, the “Fur is Unattractive” campaign is actually rather tame for PETA. Over the past few years, their campaigns and street protests have become increasingly violent and quite deliberate in their use of Violence against Women. They are no longer content with using the bodies of naked women or even carving up women’s bodies as if we were meat. This year alone they have had one advertisement, developed for the Superbowl, banned for having women simulate sex with vegetables; an ad which was only marginally less offensive from Voina’s ‘protest’ art involving women having sex with frozen chickens. Their second ad campaign this year, entitled ‘Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom out of Me’, should have been called An Ode to Violence Against Women: The Romance Period. It features a physically and sexually assaulted woman wearing a neck brace and covered in bruises because her boyfriend, newly vegan, has pounded her in every way possible. Apparently some of the unfortunate consequences of veganism and the subsequent “mind-blowing intercourse” are “sex injuries such as whiplash, pulled muscles, rug burn, and even a dislocated hip.” That isn’t sex. It is rape.

A third campaign developed this year to celebrate World Vegan Day involves a large number of men gyrating, in increasingly more violent ways, with vegetables in place of their penis. Surprisingly, nothing makes me want to give up bacon like a Dude with a cucumber for a penis, or so I’m lead to believe. I’m not entirely sure what PETA was aiming for with this but this is pretty much the definition of creepy:

“A cucumber has never looked so good – or so wicked. In honour of World Vegan Day, watch this spicy video that gives a wink to the sexual health benefits of going vegan by showcasing men enthusiastically and proudly showing off some healthy protrusions from their trousers.”

PETA have pretty much become a parody of themselves. It would be amusing if it weren’t for their constant perpetuation and perpetration of rape culture.

So, I say we start eating battery-farmed chickens to raise awareness of the objectification, sexualisation and torture of women’s bodies. After all, PETA doesn’t care how it raises awareness or who funds its campaigns, so why should feminists? PETA have gone so far as to develop their own porn channel to supposedly raise awareness of the abuse of animals. You don’t see feminist groups raising funds by offering to kill rabbits live on the web; perhaps we should.

I believe PETA’s advertising campaigns buy into the hyper-sexualised and hyper-masculinised culture in which women are treated as no more than Patriarchal fucktoys. PETA support, perpetuate, and perpetrate rape culture.

So, if PETA wants to reduce the discourse on animal cruelty to simply objectifying women as an advertising tool and encouraging rape culture, I’m going to start buying battery-farmed chickens.

Louise Pennington is a feminist activist, historian and writer with a background in education. Her personal blog My Elegant Gathering of White Snows is part of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network.

  1. i agree with your view of peta wholeheartedly – but i’m alarmed by your call to support the brutal industry that enslaves animals – and the battery farming industry is built on the exploitation of females for their reproductive capacity… that surely makes animal liberation a feminist issue…

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