Was PETA neglected as a child? Was it deprived of attention as a young, burgeoning organization?
Why else would poor PETA feel the need to keep crying out for help by flaunting its half-naked celebrity supporters in compromising, often-sexist positions? To save the animals? Nah…
Once again, the ever-demure, painfully shy Pamela Anderson is causing a ruckus by baring her body in a controversial ad for the organization. Imagine!
Pam recently traveled to Canada and managed to piss off the world’s most notably polite population with her new poster for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). The ad features the critically acclaimed actress (seriously, she was brilliant in Borat) in a skimpy bikini and marked up like a butcher’s diagram.
To clear up any confusion regarding where Anderson’s most prized possessions are located, her parts are clearly labeled with helpful tags like “breast,” “leg,” and “rump” while the ad declares, “All Animals Have the Same Parts.”
Truly effective advertising, right? Aren’t you flooded with inspiration to go out and treat animals ethically? (Because if you need further motivation, check out last year’s thought-provoking, compassionate plea from PETA to “Save the Whales.” After all, who says campaigns should be tasteful and intelligent? Oh, most people? Nevermind then…)
In any case, officials weren’t so touched by the new poster’s wholesome message. Authorities denied Pam a permit to unveil the ad at a Montreal event, deeming the image sexist. An official explained, “It is not so much controversial, as it goes against all principles public organizations are fighting for in the everlasting battle of equality between men and women.”
You’ve gotta hand it to that eloquent, anonymous authority. There really isn’t anything contentious about a stripped-down former “Baywatch” star seeking attention (I’m looking at you, David Hasselhoff). But the absence of controversy doesn’t translate to an inoffensive result.
PETA’s senior vice president Dan Matthews proclaimed, “I think that city officials are confusing ‘sexy’ with ‘sexist.’” Touche, Mr. Matthews. Because really, who doesn’t find a woman seductively emulating a slab of meat sexy (barring frat boys, perverts and lunchmeat enthusiasts)?
As for Pam, she responded, “In a city that is known for its exotic dancing and for being progressive and edgy, how sad that a woman would be banned from using her own body in a political protest over the suffering of cows and chickens. In some parts of the world, women are forced to cover their whole bodies with burqas — is that next? I didn’t think that Canada would be so puritanical.”
Perhaps envisioning the entirety of Canada’s female population clad in burqas is a teeny bit hysterical, Pam? I get what she’s saying, and I understand that censorship is a slippery slope. But no one’s telling her to put her assets away (she can go use them in Montreal’s burgeoning exotic dance scene if she likes), but is it really effective to use them in a “political protest”?
It’s not really an issue of Puritanism; it’s an issue of using sex for shock value and assuming women can only assert authority by baring their breasts.
So while I always appreciate PETA’s mission and Pam’s passion for the cause, I can’t really get behind all the attention-grabbing insanity. Here’s a thought: show me a picture of an actual animal deserving ethical treatment in one of your ads, and I might take your organization seriously.
And no, “animals” sporting bikinis and barbed wire tattoos don’t count, despite any anatomical similarities.
— Michelle Konstantinovsky is a student at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and an avid admirer of shiny objects and preteen entertainment. It would be nice if you visited her website: www.michellekmedia.com. Also, she may learn to use Twitter more effectively if you follow her @michelley415.
As an animal rights activist, I agree with you–and I know that many of my friends feel similarly uncomfortable with PETA’s antics. That said, people don’t realize that PETA actually still does a lot of very important work that we don’t hear about. (2009 alone: http://www.peta.org/mapofaccomplishments/) And the argument that the public doesn’t often pay attention to animal rights issues definitely holds merit, so I can understand to some degree why PETA sometimes chooses such ridiculous tactics. One of the main goals in a lot of their advertising is simply to receive media coverage, thereby exposing greater numbers of people to important issues. But what message most end up leaving with, I don’t know.
Anyway, their too frequent lets-disrespect-women-to-make-a-point schtick (enthusiastic though said women) makes me extremely uncomfortable and I feel like it’s unnecessary and insulting to rely on it. Fortunately, though, it’s no longer the early 80’s, and there are some really fantastic organizations out there–Vegan Outreach, Mercy for Animals, and Farm Sanctuary, for starters–who have also made great strides in animal rights, and all without the exploitation of anybody else. And so I choose to support groups like these instead of PETA.
Thanks a lot for this blog post. 🙂
Would you feel differently about this ad if it included a male model, comparably dressed and positioned and marked-up in the same way? Or if PeTA used male models just as often as female models?
Michelle, you are SO funny! I loved this!
Great article! I’m an “older” female animal rights’ activist, with a less-than perfect body BTW;) I’ve never gone naked in my activism, or feel necessary. I do alot of fur protesting out here, in Chicago, IL during our brutal winters, and it would not be a good thing anyway! We get our point across with graphic signs, educational literature, loud chants, and us girls all wear our warmest winter gear.
Sabrina, I would feel the same way if a male model was used – because he shouldn’t have to rely on his looks to get across an important message either. Also Michelle makes a good point that in many of these ads we don’t actually see the animal that is being harmed, only a half-naked celebrity. We are already inundated with images of half-naked celebrities in the media that one more doesn’t really stand out or make me sympathize with their cause. I think PETA would get more respect and more support if they made their list of accomplishments more visible in their ads, as Canaduck pointed out. Now they are just a joke, it seems like few people take them seriously and they are just known as the people who do the nude ads. Exacerbating this problem is that celebrities (especially women) seem to jump on the bandwagon and do a PETA ad whenever they want some publicity for themselves, not the ethical treatment of animals.
UGH PETA really drives me crazy.
But clearly they feel they can do it given the larger context of unhealthy media images of girls and women.
The Healthy Media for Youth Act might be a light in this very dark tunnel, how. The bill (H.R. 4925) encourages healthier media images of girls and women for the benefit of all youth. It is currently in the U.S. House of Representatives and needs your help to get out!
The Healthy Media for Youth Act would do three things:
1. create a grant program for media literacy programs
2. facilitate research on the health effects of media images
3. set up a National Taskforce on Girls and Women in the Media which would create voluntary standards for more girl-positive media.
Sounds good right? Certainly, PETA would be encourage to change its tactics! If you want to support this bill, visit http://www.girlscouts4girls.org. Girl Scouts has drafted a letter that you can modify and send to your Member of Congress urging her or him to cosponsor the Healthy Media for Youth Act.
STAND UP FOR GIRLS AND WOMEN TODAY!