I just finished telling a friend of mine that PETA had not done anything disgusting in a while when I came across their latest campaign. Featured in Their Turn over a new leaf advertisement is Elizabeth Berkley of Saved By The Bell. If you find this new look inspiring, PETA has even created a step by step instruction to create your own lettuce bikini. According to the instructions if you stay in the shade, you can even turn this into a great salad at the end of the day. Well whoo hoo, who wouldn’t want to snack on wilted lettuce that have been wrapped around girly bits for hours .
I suppose I should be thrilled in that they are actually showing a woman with her bits and pieces covered however, the tag line and the approach make it appear that women are nothing but a tasty buffet waiting to be snacked on. That’s right, if you just give up the beef, some hot looking blonde chick will offer herself up to you in full. Go ahead, try vegetarian cause the real salad that PETA is selling isn’t garden, or Cesar, it’s pussy.
For all of you who are quick to argue about the agency of the women involved, stop and ask yourself why the images are predominately of half naked white women in overly sexualized poses. PETA seeks to affirm a hierarchy in what is deemed beautiful, while reminding these women that the only purpose their beauty serves is for the visual pleasure and stimulation of men. This is old school sexist patriarchy at its finest and it is a tactic that PETA repeatedly returns to.
PETA continually refuses to acknowledge how damaging its advertising campaigns are, under the guise of any publicity is good publicity. While these advertisers might draw the attention of a horny toad, how many will really pay attention to the message that PETA is trying to send? To be intentionally offensive and reductive of others means that there are large sections of the population that will completely disengage because they cannot stand to watch already marginalized groups be “othered” at every turn. Animal rights is an important issue but so are human rights. Until the day when PETA can acknowledge that humans deserve respect as well, they will continue to fail to make real effective changes to the ways in which people view animal rights.