Peta the PITA

A friend pointed me toward a controversial PETA advertisement. The ad uses sexy, scantily-clad women to sell the message of vegetarianism.

I’ve got a mixed reaction to this. On the one hand, PETA exists basically to draw attention to a pro-veg message in support of animal rights. They accomplish this by attempting to integrate into the “mainstream” in many different ways. This means that PETA is going to look like the mainstream they’re breaking into, complete with all of its flaws and problems. They are the single-issue, surgical strike team for promoting veganism, everything else is secondary. Admittedly, I don’t see many other animal rights organizations running advertisements on national television, or hanging up billboards on the side of highways, or using national mass media. Like it or not, PETA is one of the most effective organizations at recruiting new vegans. My concern is about what else they’re doing, along the way.

Also, they didn’t run their best campaigns by hiring strippers. However, I did clap, smile, laugh, and nod my head in agreement the first time that I saw the commercial.

Being a veggie or supporting AR is not mutually exclusive with any other form of social consciousness. There are no rules against being both a feminist and a vegan, or fighting both racism and animal abuse. Those various groups actually tend to overlap, demographically. So… it would really be OK with their home team if PETA didn’t use the attention-grabbing tactic of naked chiXX0rs to sell vegetables. I appreciate that they’re dispelling the myth of vegetarians being a mixture of hippies and marmish librarians in favor of “vegan == hott”. It’s actually somewhat humorous and flattering to me, and I applaud them for stabbing in that direction however misguided their tactics. But I’m a vegan already, and we’re not really shocked or surprised by research indicating that vegans have better sex. And I can’t help but think that they’re projecting an image that not every vegan finds appealing and representative.

Also, seriously… have they not taken a look at 20-something vegans lately? No dyed hair, no piercings, no goths, no sandals or steel-toes, no tie-dye, no patchouli, no tofu, and no intellectuals discussing random topics? What sort of vegans does PETA actually know? Would it be horrible if they picked up a few 24-yo punk vegans in grad school and showed them off instead of the cheerleading squad dressed in Vicky’s secret? Gosh, how horrible that would be of PETA if they promoted the image that veggie == intellectual == hott, instead.

PETA completely ignores a very large facet of animal rights, the notion that living beings are not objects to be exploited for profit. Or to denigrate others indirectly, by implying that only blonde hotties are fit to be vegan. That people don’t need to learn about the reasons for vegetarianism firsthand with an open mind, and can simply find a comfortable place on the couch without being bothered with that whole “thinking” thing. This is precisely why some vegans don’t like PETA, or don’t take PETA seriously. They dumb down a message that’s already simple and effective, when it’s actually given to people interested in changing things directly. Animal rights is not just Joe Six-pack eating his peas instead of grabbing another pork chop, that’s just a nascent beginning, and even then only if it’s for reasons actually related to animal rights.

Monday ~ February 2, 2009 by b

Posted in news,veg | 6,712 Comments | blog@goodtofu.org

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