I SPONSORED A PUSSY: Cabbage Chicks and the Politics of Vegan Sexism

Cabbage Chicks

Sexist advocacy is normalized within the Nonhuman Animal rights movement. Most readers are likely aware of the infamous PETA campaigns that use the naked bodies of women to grab attention, but sexually objectifying vegan women “for the animals” might now be the status quo. Case in point: the Cabbage Chicks.

In 2013, a grassroots group based out of Milwaukee tabled the city’s PrideFest featuring two young white women, topless save for a pair of cabbage leaves glued to their breasts. Their nudity was exploited as a teaser to attract visitors, and they awarded stickers to those who took the bait and donated. The stickers read: “I SPONSORED A PUSSY.”

When criticized, the organization insisted that it was unaffiliated with the campaign. Apparently, these women came up with this idea on their own to “help draw attention” to the tent, and “they had fun doing it.” The organization’s president assured that dressing up in vegetable costumes was “empowering.” PETA takes a similar position in response to feminist critique.

Cheers to them, of course, if they indeed had fun and felt empowered, but this is far from an individual act. Naked protesters frequently represent an organization, and organizations clearly condone these stunts by promoting the women’s semi-nude images on social media accounts. Individualizing women’s protest, however, removes culpability and risk. When campaigns succeed, the organization can reap the benefits. When they falter, the individual volunteers can be blamed.

Defending the Campaign

What if men get naked sometimes, too? One organizational representative noted that one man also took his shirt off and helped out: “There was a male dressed up as well, not sexist.” Yet, in our deeply sexist society, the bodies of men and women are not interchangeable. Men’s bodies are interpreted differently, generally in ways that empowers them and reasserts their dominance. Women’s naked bodies have yet to be divorced from the larger structure of degradation and sexual objectification. Again, PETA also deflects with this false equivalent when pressed by feminist critique.

The organization’s president also stated: “I’m not completely making the connection on how this is any different than wearing a swimsuit at a public beach.” Of course, beaches can be sites of oppression for women as well, but for the most part, wearing bathing suits on the beach is not going to draw attention to women in the same way wearing cabbage leaves in an information booth would. While PrideFest is arguably much more nudity-normative, it should be considered that women dressed as food reinforces the notion that women are consumable commodities (isn’t treating vulnerable persons like edible things exactly what activists are hoping nonvegans to get move away from?). The double entendre of the “I SPONSORED A PUSSY” sticker only reinforces the misogynist message.

Contextualizing the Campaign

This stunt is only one of several other problematic campaigns. In another, they had a young woman stand by the side of the road with meat cuts drawn on her naked body. The organization suggested that it was less problematic because it’s “not really sexy,” but using a naked woman’s body to emulate violence against animals is arguably worse.

In another campaign (not staffed by the organization itself, but promoted on its Facebook page), two bloodied women lay prostrate on the ground with a metal pipe by their bodies. A man in black (drawing on the imagery of the stereotypical rapist or murderer) stood over top their “corpses” brandishing a woman’s animal hair coat. This campaign targets female consumers (the primary wearers of “fur”) by drawing on imagery of violence against women. The organization’s response? “AWESOME! Thanks for all that you do for the animals! <3”

The PETA Effect

I share this incident to demonstrate that something systemic is at work here. The use of naked or nearly naked young women (usually white and always thin) and the use of women’s bodies as stand-ins for dead Nonhuman Animals are both increasingly popular tactics resulting from the hegemonic presence of PETA. As the largest Nonhuman Animal rights organization, PETA has the cultural power to define what types of advocacy are popular, expected, and legitimate. Ultimately, PETA is reflecting popular advertising techniques from the business world, those that are developed by men for patriarchal purposes (i.e. “sex sells”). In other words, it is not simply about women’s personal “choice.” Instead, there is a more powerful movement structure working to narrowly define what choices are available to female activists.

Regardless of individual women’s choices, activists should be concerned about the larger implications for women as a demographic. Western society trivializes and even condones rape, and according to RAINN, an American is sexually assaulted every 2 seconds (most of these are victims are women). Psychological and sociological research has shown that sexual objectification of women and trivialization of violence against women is correlated with the devaluation of women and increased violence against women. It even leads women to self-objectify and achieve much lower levels of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is important, not only in fighting against one’s own oppression, but in feeling worthy enough to participate in social movements . . . including Nonhuman Animal liberation.

What is more, this kind of advocacy does not solicit the desired effects. The tools of misogyny only build more misogyny.

Criticizing these tactics isn’t about policing women’s behavior. Vegan feminism is instead responding to the rape culture that Nonhuman Animal rights organizations perpetuate to the detriment of women. Organizations must accept responsibility for the wider implications of this type of advocacy. Nude campaigns are mostly legal, just like rape jokes are legal, but that does not exempt them from criticism. Shutting down well-meant discussion about the hurt that sexist advocacy causes women is problematic. It is also indicative of how toxic the Nonhuman Animal rights movement has become for women and other vulnerable groups. The bottom line is that activists cannot articulate a clear message of anti-oppression for other animals so long as the movement uncritically exploits and aggravates the oppression of other vulnerable groups.

Here’s a radical notion…what if women didn’t have to be sexy cabbages to advocate for the end of violence against animals? What if women got to be persons? I think a person makes for a better activist than a cabbage any day.

 


Corey Lee WrennDr. Wrenn is the founder of Vegan Feminist Network. She is a Lecturer of Sociology and Director of Gender Studies with Monmouth University, council member with the Animals & Society Section of the American Sociological Association, and an advisory board member with the International Network for Social Studies on Vegetarianism and Veganism with the University of Vienna. She was awarded Exemplary Diversity Scholar 2016 by the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity. She is the author of A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory.

whyveganism.com

The Woman as Sexy Dying Animal Trope

Women crouch in filthy cages, dressed in rags, looking around in fear; promo image for "The Herd"

Too frequently in anti-speciesism advocacy, women become stand-ins for Nonhuman Animals suffering from extreme human violence and degradation. It is not by chance that women predominate in these roles. Women are selected (or self-select) because it culturally “makes sense” to audiences that sexualized violence will be aimed at women. If men, a relatively privileged group, were to substitute the vulnerable and suffering Nonhuman Animals, it just wouldn’t compute.

Women are regularly subject to violence and degradation, so they become the “natural” choice when staffing campaigns. Women in the audience, too, are familiar with the normalcy of misogyny, and perhaps social movements hope to trigger them into supporting the cause by tapping into their fears and traumas. Such a tactic begs the question as to how aggravating inequality for women could reduce inequality for other animals.

Consider the vegan advocacy film, The Herd. Status quo misogyny predominates, and there is arguably nothing that sets this film apart from standard sexist and violent horror movies except the good intentions of the filmmakers. The script is exactly the same: young, thin, white women, naked or nearly naked, are sexually brutalized for the titillation of the audience.

I ask activists to consider how replicating violent, misogynistic media could, logistically, disrupt oppressive thinking about other vulnerable demographics. Further, I believe it is ethically problematic to contribute to a culture of woman-hating in a world where actual violence against actual women continues to happen so frequently that it can only be described as normal. Images have power, and these images should be used responsibly in service of social justice. It is both unwise and immoral to capitalize on sexism to advance anti-speciesism.

In the video linked below, I have compiled a number of images to illustrate the woman as sexy dying animal trope. This is a pattern that extends across a number of organizations, notably PETA, but also LUSH Cosmetics, 269life, and others. Consider what it means when activists instinctively position women as representatives of speciesist violence. Consider also the privilege afforded to men who are less frequently used, but also the dangers in positioning them as abusers in protest scenarios. In a society where violence against women is still not taken seriously, it is unclear how movement audiences could be expected to take violence against animals seriously through misogynist imagery of this kind.

 

 

ARationalApproachtoAnimalRights

You can read more about gender politics in the Nonhuman Animal rights movement in my 2016 publication, A Rational Approach to Animal Rights.


Corey Lee WrennDr. Wrenn is the founder of Vegan Feminist Network. She is a Lecturer of Sociology and Director of Gender Studies with Monmouth University, council member with the Animals & Society Section of the American Sociological Association, and an advisory board member with the International Network for Social Studies on Vegetarianism and Veganism with the University of Vienna. She was awarded Exemplary Diversity Scholar 2016 by the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity. She is the author of A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory.

whyveganism.com

Fifty Shades of Chicken

TRIGGER WARNING: Contains graphic descriptions of rape and violence against women and other animals.

NOT SAFE FOR WORK: Contains graphic sexual language and disturbing images of violated animals.

Roasted chicken corpse bound in twine

Vegan feminists argue that oppression is intersectional. In particular, the ways in which women are exploited and harmed are very similar to the ways in which other animals are. A shining example of this intersection is found in Fifty Shades of Chicken, a cookbook that parodies Fifty Shades of Grey (a best selling novel which glamorizes submissive sexuality and violence against women).  Fifty Shades of Chicken, a book “for chicken lovers everywhere,” takes this disturbing subject matter to another level of degradation.

Throughout the book, a chicken’s body is used to replace that of a woman, and she is referred to as “Chicken” or “Miss Hen.”  The choice of “chicken” was not accidental.  Chickens eaten by humans are almost always female.  The body parts of chickens (breasts, legs, thighs) are often applied to that of human women, and human women are often called “birds,” “chicks,” “chickens,” or “hens.”

The cookbook features several images of a muscled, shirtless man dominating a chicken’s corpse with weapons, kitchen utensils, and binding (twine). In one image he is shown sodomizing her with an upright roasting device.  In others, he is shown penetrating her with a baster and shoving cream into her bottom with his fingers.  Most of the photographs of the finished “product” show the bird’s body splayed and ravaged.  She is posed pornographically to mimic a defiled human woman.

Man in an apron firmly places a chicken's corpse onto a funnel

The chef known as “Blades” sodomizes “Miss Hen” with the “erect member” of a vertical roaster.

The recipe titles are also disturbing:

  • “Popped-Cherry Pullet”
  • “Extra-Virgin Chicken”
  • “Please Don’t Stop Chicken”
  • “Jerked Around Chicken”
  • “Mustard Spanked Chicken”
  • “Cream-Slicked Chick”
  • “Chile-Lashed Fricassee”
  • “Skewered Chicken”
  • “Steamy White Meat”
  • “Bacon Bound Wings”
  • “Dripping Thighs”
  • “Thighs Spread Wide”
  • “Chicken Thighs Stirred Up and Fried Hard”
  • “Red Cheeks”
  • “Pound Me Tender”

And my favorite:

  • “Hog-Tied and Porked Chicken”

It is a regular smorgasbord of entangled oppression, violence, sexism, and speciesism.

These recipes are inextricably representative of rape culture.  Sexualized violence is presented as normative, the female body is objectified as a passive recipient of male desire and aggression, and the obligatory obsession with virginity and female purity is highlighted.

Shirtless, heavily-muscled man prepares to bind a chicken's corpse on a cutting board

Chapter Two, “Chicken Parts and Bits,” literally reenacts the fragmentation of the female body into consumable pieces which are wholly divorced from the person they once belonged to.  This objectification erases personhood and makes exploitative consumption all the more palatable.

The recipe instructions also entail graphic violence, domination, and control:

Much pleasure and satisfaction is to be had from tying up your bird.  Not only does it show your chicken who’s boss, but a tight binding ensures the chicken cooks exactly how you want it–evenly, moist, and tender.  It also closes off the chicken’s cavity, so the juices swelling within can’t spill out, at least not until you’re ready for them.  (p. 34)

Using large, strong kitchen shears and a confident hand, forcefully cut the backbone out of the chicken; first cut along one side of the backbone, then cut along the other side until it releases, then pull it out.  Gently spread the bird open, pressing down on the breast to flatten it (see Learning the Ropes).  Massage the flesh with 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt. (p. 116)

Position the chicken’s nether parts over the vertical roaster’s erect member and thrust the bird down.  Tuck her wing tips up behind her wings, behind her body.  Tie her legs together with a piece of butcher’s twine or cooking bands […] (p. 120)

It reads like a manual for serial killing.

Several gruesome pornographic narratives were included to preface the recipes and work the reader up into a hot bother for the pleasurable consumption awaiting them.  Take this example from “Backdoor Beer-Can Chicken”:

‘Hush,’ he says.  He smile and holds up a beer can.

‘Yes, baby, have a drink, I’m sure you need it.’

‘Oh, no, this is not for me, Chicken.’  He quirks his mouth into a wicked smile.

Holy f***…Will it?  How?

I gasp as he fills me with its astonishing girth.  The feeling of fullness is overpowering.

He rests me on the grill and I can feel the entire world start to engorge.  Desire explodes in my cavity like a hand grenade. (p. 137)

Or this story from “Flattered Breasts”:

Suddenly he seizes me and lays me out on the counter, claiming me hungrily.  His fingers pull me taut, the palms of his hands grinding my soft white meat into the hard granite, trapping me.  I feel him.  His stomach growls, and my mind spins as I acknowledge his craving for me.

‘Why must you always challenge me?’ he murmurs breathlessly.

‘Because I can.’ My pulse throbs painfully.

He grabs a fistful of kosher salt.

‘I’m going to season you now.’

‘Yes.’  My voice is low and heated.

He reaches for a rolling pin, then hesitates, looking at me.

‘Yes, please, Chef,’ I moan.

The first blow of the rolling pin jolts me but leaves behind a delicious warm feeling.

‘I.  Will. Make.  You.  Mine.’  he says between blows. (p. 62)

These narratives often present the chicken’s corpse as a willing accomplice. This is quite telling, given that she was beheaded and drained of blood days before she arrived in this man’s kitchen under saran wrap. This narrative of willingness is ubiquitous in rape cases and pornography. Even girls and women who are drugged or unconscious are frequently considered “willing.” It is therefore not surprising that a decapitated corpse, in the case of Miss Hen, is depicted as consenting.

As with other females, Miss Hen’s sexuality is strictly controlled and meant only for male entitlement. The relationship of domination that makes consent an impossibility, privileges men, and leaves women and Nonhuman Animals in a position of subservience is obscured.  Instead this chicken is “free-range,” implying that she has a choice in the matter.

What is worse, these actions are supposedly done out of “love” and for her pleasure.  It is not enough that women and Nonhuman Animals submit to male superiority, they must also be seen as enjoying their subjugation.  If the consumer was made aware of the immense suffering that lies beneath the surface of pornography, prostitution, exotic dancing, dairy, “meat,” “leather,” zoos, horse racing etc., the pleasure of that consumption would be challenged.  Previously unexamined oppression would come to light. What a buzz kill.

This book takes the male fantasy of ultimate control over a humiliated, submissive woman to its full fruition.  Men cannot legally coerce women into obliging sex slaves through force and fear.  They cannot legally fragment women into their body parts, strip them of their identity and self-efficacy, or pulverize and consume their bodies for sexual gratification (though more men than we like to admit do).  However, men can have the next best thing–they can humiliate, torture, dismember, and objectify a female Nonhuman Animal for pleasure. He can molest her, sodomize her, rape her, bind her, break her, “pork” her, and “slick” her with cream to the point of physical arousal and salivation.

Whether the victim is human or nonhuman, the script is the same. Control over the vulnerable is sexualized; domination and power is hot stuff.  And it’s completely legal, with full support from a patriarchal society.

He continues to fondle my liver with his fingertips until I can’t stand it.

He gently places my quivering offal into a skillet where some softened onions are waiting for me.  Holy f****** s***…we’re cooking in the middle of a party?  Everyone’s mingling and chatting, but I am not paying attention.  He stirs my insides with a deft wooden spoon, around and around [ . . . ] (p. 103)

As traumatizing as this book is on its own, what is perhaps most upsetting is the complete lack of criticism from the general public. The book racks up rave reviews by Amazon users who are beside themselves with laughter, folks who can’t get over just how darn clever this book is.  Violence against women and Nonhuman Animals is often trivialized, masked by humor, downplayed, and made more or less invisible…but surely, the triggering offensiveness of this book could not be ignored?  Not so. At the time of this writing, Fifty Shades of Chicken enjoys a whopping 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

The message could not be clearer:

Women=Nonhuman Animals=Sexualized=Dominated=Meat=Objects of Pleasurable Consumption

and

Nonhuman Animals=Feminized=Sexualized=Dominated=Meat=Objects of Pleasurable Consumption

. . . and apparently this is a hoot.

 


This essay was based on the work of vegan feminist Carol Adams.  For more information, check our her comments on Fifty Shades of Chicken posted on her blog.  See also the book’s promotional video on YouTube depicting a bird’s corpse being bound and cooked by an imposing looking  man accompanied by music and narration intended to convince the audience that the assault is “sexy.”

An adaption of this essay was published in 2013 in Relations: Beyond Anthropocentrism 2 (1): 135-139.

You can read more about intersections of sexism and speciesism in A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory (Palgrave 2016).


Corey Lee WrennDr. Wrenn is the founder of Vegan Feminist Network. She is a Lecturer of Sociology with Monmouth University, council member with the Animals & Society Section of the American Sociological Association, and an advisory board member with the International Network for Social Studies on Vegetarianism and Veganism with the University of Vienna. She was awarded Exemplary Diversity Scholar 2016 by the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity. She is the author of A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory.

whyveganism.com

How Farmers are Making Dairies Sexy for Men’s Health

Young white woman naked in a wheel barrow; she is covered in hay and wearing very large pump red heels

Macra na Feirme, a farmer’s association in Ireland, is creating a pornographic calendar to raise awareness about mental health problems and suicide in the farming community, particularly that of young men.

This project is gendered, as pornography predominantly involves the display of women’s bodies, while farming is masculinized. Women are the objects on display, while men are the subjects of concern.

Advertisement for Macra; A pair of legs and the top of a skirt is visible, a woman is sitting on a bail of hay in high heels

Calendar sales will go to the mental health non-profit Walk In My Shoes

What is interesting is that the campaign seeks to challenge unrealistic masculine gender roles (which discourage boys and men with depression from seeking help or admitting weakness), and yet those same roles are protected by framing the campaign in clear scripts of patriarchal dominance.

Importantly, the centering of men’s experiences also makes invisible the multitude of research that shows clear correlations between the sexual objectification of women and women’s higher rates of depression, anxiety, and self-harm, as well as lower rates of self image and self efficacy.

But more is going on in these images–we’re also seeing the romanticization and sexualization of speciesism. In one image, the Rose of Kilkenny (Ireland’s version of Miss America), poses seductively with a milking device. An instrument of torture for the Nonhuman Animals involved, but a very naturalized symbol of power, domination, and the pleasurable consumption of the female body for humans who interpret the image.

Woman in red high heels with legs exposed holds a milking device in the middle of a dairy, with the back ends of cows lined up on the machines visible in the background

What’s also made invisible is the relationship between mental health and participation in systemic violence against the vulnerable. Yes, the campaign seeks to bring attention to the emotional challenges associated with farming, but no connection is being made to the relationship between hurting others and the hurt one experiences themselves. Slaughterhouse workers, for instance, are seriously psychologically impacted by the killing and butchering they must engage. Dairy workers, too, are paying a psychological price for their participation. This isn’t just about “farming” in general, this is about speciesist practices in particular. Speciesism hurts us all: Nonhuman Animals in particular, male farmers as a consequence, and women who are objectified and hurt in a society where the exploitation of feminized vulnerable groups is normalized.

Indeed, I find it interesting that, for women who want to participate in a social movement, the “go to” response is so often to get naked or make pornography. It is a powerful statement about the gender hierarchy in our society and the limited and often disempowering choices available to women. Ultimately, it speaks to a considerable limitation on our social justice imagination.

 

Thank you to our Hungarian contributor Eszter Kalóczkai for bringing attention to this story.


Corey Lee WrennMs. Wrenn is the founder of Vegan Feminist Network and also operates The Academic Abolitionist Vegan. She is a Lecturer of Sociology with Monmouth University, a part-time Instructor of Sociology and Ph.D. candidate with Colorado State University, council member with the Animals & Society Section of the American Sociological Association, and an advisory board member with the International Network for Social Studies on Vegetarianism and Veganism with the University of Vienna. She was awarded the 2016 Exemplary Diversity Scholar by the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity. She is the author of A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory (2015, Palgrave Macmillan).

Demande-t-on le Respect et la Justice ? Ou juste des chamailleries ?

Content Warning:  Discute de pornographie et de sexisme
Not Safe for Work:  Contient du langage grossier et des sujets explicitement sexuels

Translation by Christophe Hendrickx. See more French translations of critical vegan essays by grassroots activists by visiting his blog, La Pilule Rouge. The original English version of this essay can be found by clicking here.

 

By Corey Lee Wrenn, M.S., A.B.D. Ph.D.

PETA a posté sur Vegan Feminist Network aujourd’hui en réponse à mon article qui déconstruit leur campagne « Veggie Love Casting » . La campagne dépeint des jeunes femmes en bikinis et hauts talons effectuant du sexe oral et autres actes sexuels sur des légumes « pour les animaux ». Le communiqué est reproduit ci-dessous. J’ai mis en évidence les passages problématiques et les analyserait plus bas.

Les femmes intelligentes et sensibles qui ont participé dans ce clip ont choisi de le faire car elles soutenaient l’idée et voulaient agir pour aider les animaux. PETA les admire pour cela et ne leur dirait jamais qu’elles doivent se comporter d’une certaine manière afin d’avoir l’approbation de quelqu’un d’autre. PETA applaudit tout ce que les gens font pour aider les animaux et tente de montrer quelque chose qui plaise à tout le monde.

Tout le monde n’approuve pas les tactiques de PETA – et on peut choisir de ne pas montrer nos vidéos si c’est le cas – mais nous serons certainement tous d’accord pour dire qu’il est plus efficace de concentrer notre temps et notre énergie sur les abuseurs d’animaux plutôt que de nous chamailler.

Si vous souhaitez en apprendre plus sur les autres campagnes de PETA, ou visionner nos publicités comprenant des hommes, vous pouvez visiter le site www.PETA.org. Merci encore pour tout ce que vous faites pour promouvoir le véganisme et pour faire de ce monde un meilleur endroit pour les animaux. 

A white woman deep-throating a cucumber.

Une image de la campagne.

PETA déclare ne pas avoir dit aux femmes d’agir de cette manière, mais c’est une justification malhonnête. De toute évidence, PETA a mis au point la campagne et a engagé les participantes. Ce n’était pas un mouvement populaire spontané pour la promotion du sexe avec des légumes pour les animaux non-humains. En parlant de cela, est-ce qu’avoir une relation sexuelle avec des concombres ce que sont supposées faire les femmes si elles veulent aider les animaux ?

D’une certaine manière, PETA a raison de dire qu’on ne « dit » pas aux femmes d’agir de cette manière. C’est parce que PETA normalise le militantisme sexiste comme militantisme adapté aux femmes. Les militantes s’engagent de plus en plus dans le mouvement pour les droits des animaux avec la connaissance de ce qu’on attend d’elles (Gail Dines désigne ce phénomène de socialisation comme « prête au porno »). Les campagnes pornifiées sont aujourd’hui normalisées dans l’imaginaire politique du mouvement. Elles sont considérées pour acquises comme étant utiles, malgré la recherche psychologique sociale démontrant que ce n’est non seulement pas efficace, mais également contre-productif.

Les tropes incorporées dans la réponse de PETA visent à protéger cette normalité et méritent donc qu’on s’y penche.

1. Choix

Le “Choix” est un concept qui fonctionne généralement pour détourner l’attention sur le problème de l’inégalité structurelle et qui place la responsabilité sur l’individu·e. Il masque les privilèges et renforces l’oppression.

Les femmes « choisissent » de travailler dans le porno car une société patriarcale leur offre des options extrêmement limitées. Les femmes font ce « choix » car elles grandissent dans une société qui leur inculque que leur valeur est liée à leur attractivité sexuelle et leur disponibilité sexuelle (au contraire des hommes à qui on enseigne qu’ils peuvent réussir grâce à leur force, leur leadership, leur intelligence, leur esprit, etc.).

The Girls Gone Wild tour bus. Depicts two blonde white women, reads "Do you have what it takes?"

La plupart des actrices porno proviennent de milieux défavorisés et/ou de foyers violents et ont des carrières extrêmement courtes (environ 3 ans, une durée qui a fortement diminuée). La grande majorité des actrices porno gagnent très peu d’argent. Nous parlons ici de quelques centaines d’euros pour chaque film, avec une proposition de film toutes les quelques semaines environ. Une fois qu’elles ont « tout fait », elles sont usées, et n’ont plus d’utilité pour l’industrie. Ça vous dit quelque chose ? C’est exactement la manière dont les humains traitent les poules pondeuses et les vaches laitières : comme des ressources sexuelles périssables. Les femmes continuent à consentir d’effectuer des actes sexuels de plus en plus dégradants, douloureux, ou dangereux afin de rester dans la course le plus longtemps possible. L’industrie expose les femmes à ces conditions de travail précaires et dangereuses sans aucune sécurité garantie. Si c’est là le « choix » qu’ont les femmes, il y a quelque chose qui cloche réellement avec notre système de travail.

Je ne blâme pas ces actrices (militantes?) qui travaillent pour PETA. Elles font juste leur travail, et essayent de gagner leur vie. Certaines se sont peut-être même amusées et ont aimé participer. Au lieu de cela, je blâme le patriarcat qui élève les femmes comme ressources pour les hommes. Je blâme un mouvement social qui est supposé être basé sur la paix mais qui à la place exploite les vulnérabilités des femmes pour la levée de fonds. Sous le patriarcat, les règles du jeu penchent en faveur des hommes au détriment des femmes (et des autres populations vulnérables, dont les animaux non-humains). Toutes les femmes sont des produits d’un patriarcat qui les incite à croire : « Votre valeur sociale = Votre disponibilité sexuelle ».

Le “choix” s’appuie sur un ensemble très restreint d’options définies pour les femmes par le patriarcat. Si nous voulons avoir une discussion sérieuse sur le « choix », je suggère que nous obtenions une réponse claire de PETA quant à leur choix intentionnel de femmes pour la levée de fonds et l’attention des médias, et la raison pour laquelle des femmes sont placées disproportionnellement dans des scénarios dégradants, souvent (même si pas dans ce cas-ci) en simulant la souffrance et la mort horrible d’animaux non-humains. Comme dans toute pornographie, les campagnes de PETA sexualisent l’humiliation et la violence envers les femmes.

2. Viser un large public

Les personnes susceptibles d’être attirées par la pornographie ne seront probablement pas intéressées de s’investir sérieusement dans la justice sociale. La pornographie consolide l’oppression et renforce la notion que certaines personnes sont des objets de ressources pour d’autres, plus privilégiées. C’est loin d’être le genre de structure qu’on est en droit d’attendre pour remettre en cause le spécisme. Pour rappel, la recherche démontre que les campagnes de PETA repoussent en réalité les téléspectateurs qui peuvent aisément reconnaître que les femmes sont rabaissées.

3. Critique de la culture du viol comme de la « Chamaillerie »

Une femme sur 3 sera violée, battue, ou abusée d’une certaine manière une fois au cours de sa vie. Cette violence est fortement liée aux médias misogynes, et PETA non seulement crée mais promeut les médias misogynes. Décrire la critique féministe de cette violence systémique comme étant de la chamaillerie est insultant et banalisant. Faire front contre la violence que j’endure, contre la violence que des millions de femmes endurent, n’est pas de la chamaillerie, c’est de la justice sociale en action.

4. Hommes contre Femmes

Nous ne vivons pas dans une société post-genre/post-féministe. Les corps des hommes et des femmes ne sont pas vus ou traités de manière égale. On ne peut pas simplement déclarer : « Nous utilisons aussi des hommes ! ». Ca ne compensera pas la misogynie utilisée dans la majorité des actions de PETA. 96% de l’objectification sexuelle présente dans les médias inclut des femmes. Les femmes sont également bien plus susceptibles d’être victimes de viol, d’abus sexuels et de violence conjugale. Il est injuste de balayer les représentations sexistes des femmes juste parce que le corps d’un homme est utilisé de temps à autre.

Cet argument est particulièrement absurde dans le cas de PETA. Les publicités de PETA mettant en scène des hommes représentent dans l’ensemble des hommes qui sont aux commandes de leur espace social, et leur pouvoir ainsi que leur statut sont renforcés. Certaines de leurs affiches représentent des hommes ridicules. A nouveau, il n’y a aucun sexisme sérieux en jeu. Nous trouvons ces affiches idiotes car les hommes sont rarement objectifiés sexuellement et représentés dans une position soumise. Les hommes ne sont pas affichés dans des positions sexuelles soumises ou comme victimes de violence, seules les femmes le sont.

Prenez par exemple cette image d’un acteur de Bollywood militant pour PETA. Remarquez le regard confiant face à l’objectif, son pouvoir sur la situation, et sa capacité de contrôle l’espace autour de lui et de créer du changement. Remarquez cette posture qui affiche la confiance.

Indian Bollywood actor freeing birds. He is shown giving direct eye contact to the camera and displaying his power and strength.

En revanche, examinez cette affiche typique de PETA représentant une femme nue. Elle est montrée dans une position soumise, vulnérable, pas sur ses pieds, à la merci du téléspectateur. Ses yeux ne font pas directement face à l’objectif, mais le regarde au contraire par le bas. Elle caresse doucement le lapin; il n’y a pas de contrôle sur son espace. Ses fesses sont relevées pour suggérer la disponibilité sexuelle.

Reads "I'd rather show my buns than wear fur." Shows a naked white woman prostrate on the ground touching a rabbit.

L’argument que le sexisme n’existe pas dans les campagnes de PETA car des hommes nus sont aussi utilisés de temps en temps est un leurre.

Nous ne pouvons pas mettre fin à l’objectification des animaux non-humains par l’objectification des femmes. Nous ne pouvons pas mettre fin à la violence envers les animaux non-humains par la violence envers les femmes. Il est temps de décoloniser le schema militant.

Les informations fournies sur l’industrie de la pornographie dans cet essai sont tirées du documentaire, The Price of Pleasure.

 

Corey Lee WrennMs. Wrenn is the founder of Vegan Feminist Network and also operates The Academic Abolitionist Vegan. She is an instructor of Sociology and graduate student at Colorado State University, council member with the Animals & Society Section of the American Sociological Association, and an advisory board member with the International Network for Social Studies on Vegetarianism and Veganism with the University of Vienna. In 2015, she was awarded Exemplary Diversity Scholar by the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity. She is the author of A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory.

PETA Sexualizes Woman’s Death in Canine Heat Exhaustion Campaign

Trigger Warning: Post contains misogynistic audience responses to campaign discussed. Also contains discussion of violence against women (specifically abduction and murder).

Not Safe for Work: Post contains misogynistic audience responses that utilize vulgar language.

Elisabetta Canalis in low cut tank top sweaty and passed out in the front seat of a car

By Corey Lee Wrenn, M.S., A.B.D. Ph.D.

With summer upon us, leading animal welfare organization PETA has been drawing attention to the dangers of locking dogs in cars with a commercial featuring model Elisabetta Canalis dying of heat stroke. PETA’s promotional website graphically describes Canalis’s death, calling it a “scorcher”:

As the car heats up, Elisabetta experiences the agonizing symptoms of heatstroke. As panic and anxiety set in, Elisabetta’s condition deteriorates rapidly with the addition of excessive thirst, lethargy, lack of coordination, and a rapid heartbeat. Scared and alone, she desperately attempts to escape the car, which is quickly heating up like an oven.

Essentially, the video shows a scantily clad Italian supermodel locked in a car against her will where she suffers and dies. PETA exclaims: “Italian supermodel Elisabetta Canalis knows what it means to be hot!”

Nowhere in the commercial or on the promotional page is a dog ever shown. At all points, the “dog” referred to is the woman. Even the tip sheet listing appropriate actions for dogs found locked in cars shows an image of Canalis dead in the front seat.

PETA flyer for canines in cars: "If you see a dog locked inside a hot car: 1. Quickly take down the car's make, model, color, and license number, and have the owner paged in the nearest buildings. 2. Call local humane authorities or the police immediately; don't hesitate to call 911 if the animal is in distress. 3. Don't leave the scene until the situation has been resolved. 4. If you can't find the owner, the authorities are unresponsive or too slow, and the dog's life appears to be in imminent danger, find a witness (or several) who will back up your assessment, and take steps to remove the suffering animal from the car. 5. Wait for the authorities to arrive.

PETA defends the sexualization of this woman’s violent death because “sexy celebs” attract more viewers.

Twitter user asks PETA, "Can you explain why you chose a young, scantily clad model? Why you chose to maek her suffering and death sexy?" PETA responds: "Sexy celeb starred in vid so we'd reach more pple. 420k on YouTube have gotten important message thanks 2 Elisabetta Canalis"

If attracting more viewers is the goal, it’s certainly working. But if educating the public on Nonhuman Animal issues is the intent, the message seems to be lost on many. For example, the top two comments on the commercial’s Youtube page read: “Again, PETA has to resort to over sexualization in order to get their message across” and “Wouldn’t have happened, if she stayed in the kitchen.”

PETA-Summer-Scorcher-Top-Comments

Similar comments characterize the public’s response:

dog damn! I have never realized how sexy it was to let a dog closed in a car for a few minutes!!!

I want to get trapped whit (sic) that dog in the worst summer day god ever create (sic) if you dont (sic) mind.

i think this video is a great lesson to all women everywhere on the dangers of leaving the kitchen.

yay im going to do this to females, thank you peta for the idea

Women=dogs

mmm let me get in that car too n heat thangs up a bit more /licks lips

I bet this ad would have been cooler if she de-robed!

This did not teach me or change my mind on anything about animals…just made me want to fap it

never leave ur bitches in the car…got it…

This video has backfired in 2 ways: 1, I now regard women as dogs, 2, now I have a heat exhaustion fetish

And yet PETA insists the model is sexy, not her suffering and death. The point of the video, it reassures, is to “show how wrong it is to lock a living being in a car.”

Twitter user to PETA: "This advertisement draws heavily on imagery of violence against women, and you sexualized it. I believe it was intentional. PETA responds: "Sry u feel that way, that wasn't the point of the video. There was no violence, other than the extreme heat in the car."

More likely, the point of this video is to exploit sexualized violence against women to bring attention to PETA. Depicting a panicked woman locked in a car against her will is drawing on imagery of kidnapping, rape, and murder, an all too common occurrence for women. I can’t even say I’m convinced this is intended to draw attention to dogs when dogs are completely absent from the campaign.

Elisabetta Canalis PETA Car

PETA’s intentions may be good, but its facilitation of rape culture is unmistakable. A lot of money and time goes into advertising campaigns—these images were intentionally chosen to trigger particular cultural knowledges. It is not an accident it chose a “sexy” woman pounding on the windows in a desperate attempt to escape as she dies trapped in a car. The sexualization of rape and violence against women is a cultural norm, it’s something we respond to.

But aggravating violence against woman is not a valid justification for advocating on behalf of dogs or other animals. As evidenced in the viewers’ responses, trivializing the oppression of women to challenge the oppression of other vulnerable groups is not effective. People tune in for sexy misogyny, and exactly what they get.

 

This essay originally appeared on Feminspire on May 28, 2013.

 

Corey Lee WrennMs. Wrenn is the founder of Vegan Feminist Network and also operates The Academic Abolitionist Vegan. She is an instructor of Sociology and graduate student at Colorado State University, council member with the Animals & Society Section of the American Sociological Association, and an advisory board member with the International Network for Social Studies on Vegetarianism and Veganism with the University of Vienna. In 2015, she was awarded Exemplary Diversity Scholar by the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity.