Warning: Contains pornographic images; not safe for work.
If you recall, PETA launched a pornography site a couple of years ago, interweaving graphic scenes of violence with sexualized images of women. Totally healthy and coherent, right? Fortunately, they removed the images of women, and the porn site is nothing more than short video clips of factory farms. Still, people come from titillating images of sexually objectified women, and they are exposed to graphic violence. The disturbing connection between sex and violence is left in tact.
Either way, PETA porn is back under a new project they call “Veggie Love Casting Session.” In my opinion, this is hands down the most obscene material to ever be produced by PETA with the well-intentioned donations of people who genuinely care about animal suffering.
On the website, various clips of women performing sex acts on vegetables are featured. In the commercial, women are paraded in front of the camera and inspected for their audience like slaves on the auction block, like human meat ready for consumption. The project is led by men, and you hear the men in the background calling the shots, directing the women to “show us how much they like” their assigned vegetable, then laughing at her humiliation at the end of her session. Photos of the women are listed at the bottom of the page where viewers can rate them with a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down,” objectifying them blatantly.
PETA even manages to mimic the disgusting prevalence of racism in pornography. The only African American woman featured is shown animalized, crawling across the couch to some broccoli where she devours it with no hands.
Many would see this and argue that these women are doing this “by choice” and they’re “enjoying it.” To some extent, that’s probably true. But, that argument misses the point. Consider what shapes those choices: an environment that sees women as sex objects and resources for male enjoyment. Women are under immense pressure to perform the gender roles they have been assigned. Under patriarchy, women are socialized to be servants to men. Women are groomed as little girls, taught that providing sex and pleasure for men is both expected and required of them. Women are given so few opportunities in this world to achieve and succeed based on their skills, knowledge, and other dignifying qualities, sex work is one of the only options available to them. It’s an option that’s not even on the table for men. Pornography and other forms of sexual exploitation, by the way, tend to target especially vulnerable women, like those from low income backgrounds or abusive families, those with little occupational or educational opportunities, and those who are suffering from addictions. Pornography hurts all women, but it particularly hurts at-risk women.
When visitors are finished viewing videos of women performing sex acts on vegetables, videos of Nonhuman Animals being beaten and killed pop up . . . because nothing is sexier than exploited women juxtaposed with dying animals. Really, though, that’s what sexuality has become: Subjugating and hurting the vulnerable for the pleasure of the privileged. Seeing someone humiliated and suffering for our enjoyment has become sexy.
PETA is sexualizing the degradation and humiliation of women. PETA is sexualizing the exploitation of vulnerable people. PETA is sexualizing violence against women. PETA is sexualizing oppression.
The research is overwhelmingly clear: Pornography leads to the degradation of women, the objectification of women, the dehumanization of women, and violence against women. It leads women to internalize this devalution, and women begin to objectify themselves. It disempowers women, it leaves women susceptible to domestic violence, it feeds rape culture. For more information on how pornography hurts women, check out The Price of Pleasure (be warned, it is extremely triggering and graphic). This video can be found online to view for free if you do a little searching.
I argue that sexist advocacy is a despicable insult to our serious social justice movement. PETA kills animals and symbolically kills women. Please, for the love of anything good in this world, never donate to PETA again, and don’t let your friends and family donate either. You don’t need PETA to make real change for Nonhuman Animals: Promote veganism peacefully, support trap-neuter-release, support vegan animal sanctuaries, support your local shelter, adopt, fight oppression of all kinds. RESPECT EACH OTHER in our fight to end speciesism.
By Corey Lee Wrenn
This post was originally published on The Academic Abolitionist Vegan on May 11, 2013; this version has been edited.