Women in the media are relentlessly treated like nothing more than pieces of meat, presented as objects for the mindless consumption of the viewers, and for the financial gain of the industries behind sexist marketing tactics. Who would have expected that an organization could take the “women treated as pieces of meat” route so literally? Are we even surprised that it’s PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)?
Today in San Francisco, one of our workshop leaders, Ivette, was walking back to work from her lunch hour, and stumbled upon a horrific scene. Naked women (who were “attractive,” white, thin, and with large breasts, as usual for PETA) were sprawled out on the sidewalk in human-sized meat packaging trays, wrapped in cellophane, and covered in fake blood. (There were no men in similar poses.) Slogans such as “Meat Is Murder” appeared on signs, while other PETA members handed out pamphlets.
As atrocious and sexist as this scene is, this is nothing new for PETA. They continually sexualize women to promote their message, even if it sends out harmful sexist messages about women.
As a vegan, I can truly get behind PETA’s goals and messages; as a feminist, I cannot get behind their appalling tactics. I understand the importance of spreading knowledge about animal rights, but we cannot do so at the expense of human rights.
PETA truly presented women as pieces of meat in this protest today. There are countless other ways that animal rights organizations can spread their message without objectifying women.
If it were just about using humans to demonstrate the terrible ways that animals are treated, then why isn’t PETA using a variety of people for their “meat mimicking” demonstrations? Where are the men? The people of color? The women who are a size 12 or 18? I highly doubt that conventionally attractive, thin, white women are the only PETA members willing to participate in such an exhibition.
PETA claims it wants to use shocking methods to gain attention, which is understandable. PETA states in regards to this protest today, “The activists aim to demonstrate that all animals—including humans—are made of flesh, blood, and bone; that animals have the same five senses and range of emotions as humans do.” If this is the case, PETA, how about we focus on treating animals more like sentient, emotional beings, rather than treating women like unconscious, unfeeling objects?