PETA deserves contempt for exploiting women, writes MELINDA TANKARD REIST
PETA needs to be renamed.
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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would more accurately be described as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals But Not Women.
While the group calling itself the world's largest animal-rights lobby protests loudly and sometimes violently against the use of animals as meat, it has no hesitation in treating women that way.
The pro-animal lobby's latest stunt is to offer a free picture of model Vida Guerra naked for each donation over $5.
That's right, give us five measly bucks and we'll pimp you a "full new naked ad!" PETA is now acting as a distributor of soft-porn images.
PETA has a long history of using porn-like images of women to promote its anti-animal-cruelty work. This raises questions about the organisation's understanding of the words "ethical treatment".
While its manifesto opposes the use of "living creatures" for entertainment, it's apparently OK if the living creature is a woman in a lettuce bikini. Or if she is a naked cover girl or "video vixen" such as Vida Guerra.
A recent campaign showed models getting up close and personal with vegetables.
"Why don't you pick a vegetable and show us how much you love it," the casting director instructed a swimsuit model.
This was is just one of many of PETA's creations that denigrate women and reduce them to objects for sexual fetish fantasy.
In 2006 PETA portrayed women as party animals with udders instead of breasts. In the Milk Gone Wild clip - a play on the "Girls Gone Wild" genre in which women are encouraged to flash their breasts for the camera, women are shown as eager to rip off their tops and expose themselves to a large male crowd who urged them on, chanting at them to reveal their breast/udders.
The "udder babes" then squirt milk on the faces of the enthusiastic men.
Women are reduced to milk-producing cows flashing grotesque milk-spurting udders - all in the name of animal liberation.
Other campaigns have featured topless Sydney women in cages protesting KFC, women in flesh-coloured bikinis covered in fake blood wrapped in cellophane with the label "flesh" on the wrapping, like meat in a butcher's shop, a dead naked woman as a stole and various naked and stripping images of a range of celebrities recruited for the cause, including Pamela Anderson and a Playboy Playmate.
An anti-rodeo advertisement depicted a young topless woman rolling in the hay with the slogan "Nobody likes an 8 second ride".
Other sexualised images show naked women in shackles in a campaign against circuses.
Big Brother housemate Brigitte Stavaruk was approached by PETA to strip because of her "big assets" and Australian pop star and actress Sophie Monk was filmed naked on a bed of red chillies for the cause. It seems women have to take their clothes off to prove they really care about animals.
Fortunately, vegans and other animal-rights activists have spoken out against PETA's sexist approach.
Vegansaurus!, a vegan eating-living guide based in the San Francisco Bay area, described the vegetables-as-phallic-symbols ad as "softcore porn masquerading as an anti-animal-cruelty video".
Another well-known vegan blogger asked: "Are there exceptions in the vegan manifesto about how living creatures aren't to be exploited for our entertainment?"
PETA's behaviour harms the animal-rights cause. It also undermines campaigns against objectifying and exploiting women.
Those who care about both animals and equality for women should send their five dollars - or more - elsewhere.
- Melinda Tankard Reist is a writer, speaker, media commentator and women's advocate.