Thursday, January 21, 2010

PeTA’s 2010 State of the Union and the Sexualization of Black Women

The following video includes full female nudity and may not be acceptable for work.

Once again PeTA reveals that its true objective is not ending cruelty to animals but debasing women.  When we consider that there has never been a female president, putting a woman in this mock situation and showing her stripping off her clothes to the cheers and jeers of a mostly white male audience is highly problematic.   Black women in particular have been historically constructed as Jezebels.  Our femininity is often soundly rejected, unless the goal is to paint us as sexually depraved.

If PeTA cared about how Black women have historically been treated, it would never have staged a mock up with one taking off her clothes in front of cheering White men.   To justify the rapes that occurred in the slave cabins, Black women were said to have tempted White men with our uncontrollable sexuality.  Even though the power dynamics clearly favoured the White male slave holders, it has him that was constructed as powerless. This ad  promotes the idea that Black women exist to perform for White men thereby asserting that Black women's bodies are ultimately consumable for the purposes of sexual pleasure.

PeTA recently ran an ad featuring Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Tyra Banks.   They used the first ladies image without prior approval causing the White house to demand that PeTA cease and desist.  Simply because someone does not wear fur, does not mean that they support PeTA.  It never occurred to PeTA to ask beforehand because it does not value women’s bodies and after viewing this video, it is even more clear that they put even less importance to the bodies of WOC and how they are perceived.

At the end of the video, PeTA has shocking images of animal abuse.    If their real desire was to end animal cruelty, these images are more than enough to make a significant point.  The truth is, PeTA’s objective is to paint all other marginalizations as secondary to that faced by animals and that is why they routinely features ads that are sexist, homophobic, racist, transphobic etc.,  The oppression Olympics engaged in by PeTA only serves to reify the very same hierarchy that PeTA claims to be against.

PeTA is simply a predatory organization whose message gets lost because it is intent upon reductive tactics.  It is their belief that any publicity is good publicity and therefore; they will not acknowledge that continually demeaning marginalized bodies is not only harmful but extremely dangerous.  If certain groups are not seen as human, it is much easier to target them for violence, hatred, rape etc.,

I have been asked why I always spell PeTA with a lower case e and the answer  is quite simple,  they can never be understood to be ethical as long as they continue to  use such reductive tactics to get their message out to the public.  No PeTA ad I have ever seen, has convinced me of anything other than the fact that isms hurt people.