Tuesday 12 May 2009

Humourless feminazi *1: fuck the animals.

I’m astonishingly late to this particular party, but it’s the sort of party that’s still going strong on Sunday night, people keep going to the shop to buy more booze, and the crazy kids who just won’t go to bed are lying around in little piles groaning in defeat. So let’s turn up the music again on PETA’s horrific advertising campaign.

A fuller explanation of the long-running campaign would include a skim over all of the ways in which the images used are ugly and vicious: equating women (not men, just women) with animals; portraying women as, variously, pieces of meat or brood-mares; offering nubile, willing pornstars as 'rewards' for vegetarianism; implying in no uncertain terms that the dignity of female human beings is less important than the autonomy of widdle bunny wabbits; the gross, boringly porny imagery; the constant rehashing of rape and murder fantasies; the incitements to violence against women.

But what's most astonshing to me is that the campaign just doesn't work. These images are supposed to shock - and in this day and age, seeing images of naked or half-naked women beaten up, abused, equated with meat, served up as tasty morsels, or tied up and having thick dribbling tubes shoved into their mouths is not shocking at all. It's commonplace. It's part of the language of contemporary pornography, part of the way we understand our entire sexuality, a secret and not-so secret code under-writing all gender-relations in this culture. If these adverts really were designed to shock, it'd be naked men in those cages, men shrinkwrapped and fetishised as murder victims, men explicitly phrased as no better than animals, without higher reasoning, worthwhile only for the way they look and (for so many pet owners) for how warm and fluffy they make us feel. Seeing Jodie Marsh's bottom is not shocking. Seeing Jenna Jameson's tits is not shocking. Given that the campaign continues to run, there must be something else going on here. What could it be?

Could it be that yes, in fact, PETA are explicitly trading on women's sexual autonomy to 'sell' animal rights? Could it be that PETA just don't give a fuck if women get raped, beaten, abused, used, if young girls grow up without self-respect, if young women develop eating disorders, mental health problems and low self-esteem? Could it be that this animal rights group doesn't give a crap about one half of the whole mess of human animals? If that's so, given that PETA actually kills 90% of the cats, dogs and other pets left in its care, I wouldn't take a desk job in their office.

In case it wasn't clear already, yes, I do think that women - and men, children and intersex people for that matter - are more important than animals. I don't get warm fuzzy feelings for 90% of the animal kingdom. I couldn't care less if pandas finally become extinct despite millions of pounds of national and international money being poured into trying to make them fuck. Sure, animal cruelty is bad, it probably shouldn’t happen, I’m definitely not down with the kitten-microwavers, but at the end of the day, I prefer people. Really. I think people are fantastic, and worthwhile. I’m behind animal testing, if it saves lives, which it does. I’d kick a hundred kittens in the face to save one AIDS victim. I'd shave several litters of puppies to save one junkie. I wouldeven inconvenience an asthmatic gerbil to save James Purnell.*

I find it stunningly hypocritical when people like PETA, who claim to have such massively bleeding hearts that they have to carry a little cup to catch the overflow, behave with basic disrespect towards their fellow humans. It’s not a new thing, of course. We’ve always found it easier to be humane to creatures that can’t talk back, creatures that don’t pose any real social threat to us, creatures that aren’t likely to call us out on our failings or break our hearts*. Maybe that’s why in the UK we had a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals (RSPCA, founded 1824) a full sixty years before we deigned to intervene to even try to stop people torturing, abusing or murdering their own kids (NSPCC, founded 1884).

On this picture – the offensiveness of which should not need spelling out, but hey, yknow, for the tired and unreconstructed, it’s a naked woman in a bag, covered in blood, pretending to be a piece of meat – Laura Woodhouse of TheFWord says:

55,000,000 animals killed a year for meat - how many women do you think are killed by male violence and oppression PETA? And do you give a shit? One of the comments under another photo in this set reads (in Spanish) ‘Now that’s the kind of meat I do eat!’

It's demeaning, it's degrading, and, as About-Face puts it, shows no compassion whatsoever for women, especially those who don't conform to narrow definitions of beauty.

This is one of a number of related things making me incredibly angry today. I've spent the past week writing an article for the Guardian about my time as a burlesque stripper, and writing it tapped into how very, very little stripping made me think of myself. Suddenly I'm getting growly at female objectification everywhere I see it, where last week I might have filtered it out, or ignored it, or just tried not to let myself get stressed over it for fear of being called 'humourless'. This, um, may or may not have just led to my picking a pissy little fight with Warren Ellis. Oops.

*Apart from when they die in various gratuitously horrible ways, like all of my sodding hamsters did. I really loved those hamsters, I took care of them, and the bastards repaid me by going bonkers, losing all their hair and vomiting up their intestines. That or having heart attacks on their cage bars so I found them the next morning hanging stiffly by their teeth, ripping my ten-year-old soul into little pieces in the process. I kid ye not.


  1. Sitting Bullshit12 May 2009 at 22:15

    Oh, come on!

    How dare you suggest that James Purnell is worth the life of any rodent, let alone a dear little gerbil!

    White woman speak with forked tongue!

  2. You're completely wrong on this one, Red.

    I am surprised and disappointed.

    All cruelty is bad whether inflicted human to human or human to animal. Cruelty demeans us as a species. Personally I would consider one Snow Leopard or Panda to be worth any number of fat, rich Americans and that the world is diminished by every extinction of any living thing from bacteria and slime moulds upward. In point of fact one of the most endangered species on the planet is man himself mostly because of ignorant anthropocentric attitudes like the ones you prate about and parade in public almost like some anti-heroic badge of (dis)honour.

    Shame on you.

  3. "quating women (not men, just women) with animals"

    I actually think they're equating animals with people.

  4. People ARE animals you fuckers!

  5. Why does that woman have her breasts on the side of her torso? Somewhat deformed if you ask me.

  6. As a vegetarian and previous animal rights activist, I agree with you 100% on this. I remember first seeing the PETA ad with Alicia Silverstone on it; it says "I am Alicia Silverstone and I am a vegetarian" with her conveniently positioned stark naked by a river. The fact that they were essentially comparing her body to a piece of meat to promote giving up meat is something I still can't quite get my head around.

    It makes me kind of sad; if these supposed counter-culture groups are promoting this kind of misogyny, I wonder what hope we have for the rest of humanity..

    I read an interesting quote the other day actually, referring to the international communities reaction to genocide (bear with me, there's a point here!):
    "if an organisation decided to wipe out the 320 mountain gorillas there would be still more of a reaction by the international community to curtail or to stop that than there would be still today in attempting to protect thousands of human beings being slaughtered in the same country"

    It seems like the same kind of emotionalised overreaction to the cutesey fluffy animals is pretty prevalent everywhere, and it's, if nothing else, ridiculous; these activists could be campaigning on so many other atrocities!

    [just as a side note; my username refers to my surname, I'm aware it looks hideously ironic when posting on this blog ^_^]

  7. Spot hit. Nice one. Next!


  8. Man! Even though Jodie Marsh has raised more cock than Bernard Matthews I'd still love to slip her a length of prime potent priapic pipe! Of course, considering where she's been and who she has been done by I'd have to boil her before bonking her, to ensure that she was disease free and non-contagious, but that's a price worth paying for a big-O IMO.

  9. ohh, I'm so happy you said it so bluntly. Try that surrounded by some german green-party members, and have an angry mob chase you...
    on the other hand: that's really nothing new you're telling here... IMO it's common practice for "animal rights" activists to have not that much respect for the homo sapiens (-> death threats against abusers of sweet fluffy animals quite commonplace. sure, they don't do it, but the
    mindset is enough...)

    also, was it peta, or some even greater maniacs, that had that campaign slogan "holocaust on your kitchen table"? (cos the sweet fluffies are being mass-murdered! just because of their being sweet and fluffy!)

  10. (oh also: who the hell still wears fur?! real fur I mean, from the sweet fluffies..., and testing baby shampoo on animal eyes is over, too... seems PeTAs only real issue left is promoting vegetarianism, with some raw human flesh, hmm)

  11. PETA can go to fuck. I'm vegan and as long as they depict women as wank fodder I hope they choke on a gazillion bacon sarnies.

    Yeah, women are groomed to put every fucker before themselves, even floofy kittehs and teh bunnehys---naa sod it PETA you've lost it, and I would rather snort soda crystals than give you support.

    Hamster Howie.

  12. I'm pretty sure Ellis is used to all kinds of things on the net by now.
    Go check Whitechapel, in case you're not lurking there occasionally already.

    But yeah, PETA are fuckers. The end does not justify the means, you might say.
    Fuckin hell, what happened to one hour ago? Of to bed, I've got a lecture tomorrow.
    Good to see you're still posting, take care!

  13. um, man is not one of the most endangered species on the planet. Or rather, if man is endangered, then it's because we've fucked things up so badly that *everything else is fucked too*

    now pandas, right? pandas are shit. if they didn't look so adowable we'd have let the fat, lazy, badly-adapted raccoon-bears die out a long time ago.

  14. I don't want to go into stereotypes, but I've had more than one conversation with animal rights activists where I came away with the impression that the activist didn't so much seem to love animals as hate humans.

    This seemed to be particularly the case when one gets onto the subject of animal testing for medical research. If I've suggested that if a few hundred or thousand animals died to produce a cure for AIDS (thus saving millions of humans) then that would be a price worth paying, quite a few of them started foaming at the mouth about how humans were vile and therefore not worth saving from AIDS.

  15. Well, let's face it. We have too many humans. Know what? A woman, or a man, probably is worth less in the long run than a panda. We're running out of pandas, while we've got around 3bn excess people.

  16. This really is a tenuous link Penny.

    Just sounds like two groups of socialist arguing over what is more important -- again.

    At the end of the day the probable reason men aren't used in these campaigns is because men aren't interested in it. They probable can't find men to do the adverts and they're not selling their cause to men.

  17. Neuroskeptic - maybe, but then why not use men in their anti-meat adverts?

    Penny. Not sure I COULD kick one hundred kittens in the face to save a sick person. But as a child animal-rights activist who became a teenager with a strong interest in protecting human rights, I agree with your general point that humans > animals.


    Poor kittens.

  18. Boddhistava: I think given our religious differences it's fine for us to agree to disagree on this one...

  19. Sorry - Boddhisatva. Bad Zen reader, no spoon!

  20. Goggles - well, this is the thing. I'm sure I'd cry while I was doing the kicking, because I'm a big softie, but I'd still do it!

    Also I'd have to wear some kind of plastic shoes as I'm hideously allergic to all cats, but THE POINT STILL STANDS.

  21. I also think it would be hard to kick the kittens but I'd happily let someone else do it.

    You're right though, it sucks as a campaign.

  22. Penny - perhaps PETA have been reading too much Carol Adams and taking the food/porn clichés a bit too literally?


  23. PS: You want a turf war? Savour the irony of this well-known feminist giving vegetarians a kicking (plus the replies).


  24. PeTA have been doing blatantly misogynistic/misanthropic publicity stunts for ages now. However it's not *always* women they exploit sexually.


  25. PS: You want a turf war? Savour the irony of this well-known feminist giving vegetarians a kicking.Christ, being called "humourless, judgemental" by JULIE BINDEL?????????

  26. There is so much love in your heart, Ms. Red.

    Why pretend otherwise?

    Silly girl!

  27. Crazy Jane (from Yeats not the Doom Patrol)13 May 2009 at 16:23

    Warren Ellis owns your ass Penny Red!

  28. last time I looked, I owned my own ass!

  29. You commend people to kick helpless kittens in the face and yet, in the same breath, condemn men who enjoy kicking a pussy when warehoused between the legs of a girl or a woman! I find your blatant prejudice and shameless double standards in regard to sexual preferences quite startling in this day and age! In my opinion this is blatant sexism at its worst! Utterly nescient and disgraceful! If you can kick mewling and defenseless kittens to death why shouldn't I continue to kick my wife repeatedly in the cunt albeit non-lethally?

    It's all good fun and grist to the mill.

    Like Bombay Duck one man's meat is another man's poisson!

  30. Julie Bindel's screed reminds me of one essential truth.

    Self-righteous, sneering carnivores are far more common than self-righteous, sneering vegetarians.

    If she hadn't gone into that place with an attitude problem, she'd have seen nothing amiss with the staff's attitude, because there fucking WAS nothing amiss with their attitude. "Seemed to believe" my arse- also, about her class baiting, I'm a vegetarian & I think I earn a wee fucking bit less than her.

    Seriously- did she feel better after spewing that one forth?

  31. Uh.... what about this one?
    They are clearly saying here that women are angels and that men are devils - why are there no men in heaven. Though on second thoughts, maybe it`s some kind of veiled threat - "alla yus wamen`ll be an haven suun, `cause we`re ganna kill yu". Yes that`s probably it.

    Also, there are lots of pictures of naked men included in their campaign (including a rather worrying sketch of Julian Clarey) so... what are you going on about?

    Only the cynical or utterly dehumanised could view this campaign as an advocation of violence against women.

  32. This PETA ad campaign fails on sooo many levels. Its treatment of women has been well documented by Penny. Its treatment of vegetarians is awful to. According to the ads all vegetarians are nubile young women of little brain who drop their clothes readily.

    Is this the image vegetarians really want?

  33. It is a well known fact that psychopaths, e.g., Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, often began their murderous careers by being cruel toward, torturing and killing small animals. Disdain and unconcern in respect to the welfare of living things is, psychiatrically, often the sign of a non-empathic, underdeveloped and immature personality. When people start caring more about their television reception post digital switchover than they do about the welfare of endangered species like Polar Bears and Pandas, or even domestic animals like dog and cats, what does that say about us as a species?

  34. Fucking PETA making me have this exact conversation so many times...

    PETA are not representative of animal rights in general, nor of animals. Since not even a single one of the billions of animals killed regularly by humans is a member of PETA, we shouldn't respond to their fucked up campaigns by rejecting the idea of animal rights.

    It's also concpicuously false that "We’ve always found it easier to be humane to creatures that can’t talk back, creatures that don’t pose any real social threat to us, creatures that aren’t likely to call us out on our failings or break our hearts."

    We have, in fact, quite clearly not found it easy, but rather exceedingly difficult, to be remotely humane to animals. Which is why we are so very not.

    Also, all of the animal rights philosophy or advocacy books I've read have focused on sentience, the capacity to rejoice or suffer, 'being the subject of a life', or something like that, not cuteness and fluffiness. It is in fact a distinctive feature of human abuse of animals that we attach great significance to whether something gives us 'warm and fluffy feelings'.

  35. Not sure about this from Julie Bindel: "But as an animal lover who agrees in principle with most reasons for giving up meat, I would rather not join that band of humourless, judgmental souls."

    Surely the answer to that is don't eat meat and don't be humourless and judgmental? Probably best not to describe this as multitasking.

    Anyway, I join the chorus of vegetarians against exploitations of humans. Not least because it's rubbish. All animals don't have the same parts. Jodie doesn't have antlers.

  36. Maybe the images are meant to shock precisely because they seem misogynistic and they seem to eroticise violence against women? PETA are pretty famous for aiming to shock.
    I am a vegetarian, and I do think there is a problem with people being unable to equate the nice juicy pork chop they're about to tuck into with an intelligent thing that was killed so they could eat it. I do think this ad campaign is pretty misguided though.
    I do agree with whoever said that PETA are misanthropic in general instead of misogynistic. They just seem to have their priorities all wrong. In my view human rights > animal rights, which is probably why I am a member of amnesty rather than PETA.

  37. @ David Floyd

    Jodie may not have antlers but that slutty, curvaceous, foul mouthed, oversexed, working class bitch never fails but to give me the horn! And then some!

    "Fuck the animals!"Isn't that called bestiality, Penny?

    Or is it zoophilia?

    Whatever, it doesn't sound nice to me. Eat all the meat you want you stroppy little shrew and die of colon cancer at an early age!

  38. "If you read any of my stuff online (just google 'Penny Red' if you can be bothered) you'll see that I've got a sense of humour."

    Probably not the greatest argument, you do come across as a bit humourless.

  39. Ok...Ok...Am I going to have to? Alright, yeah. I think so.

    I've pointed this out > ten thousand times, but it still isn't getting through. I'll try again:

    The reason they do this stupid shit is because all the stupid feminists make SIMPLY OUTRAGED posts about it, without realising your self-righteousness exacerbates, rather than alleviating, the problem. They won't go away if you keep on pointing at them, in fact you pointing is SORT of what the people organising the ADVERT campaign are hoping for.


  40. This PETA ad campaign fails on sooo many levels.Sorry, Paula, but it succeeds on The Big One: getting a metric fuck-load of attention towards their (moronic, animal murdering) organisation. Because there are a dozen posts on big-name blogs, probably scores more on smaller ones, whining and whining and whining about how terrible/nutjobish/absurd/demeaning/reptilian PETA are.

    In short: it works. Courtesy of the Ms. Red's of the world.

  41. "Ok...Ok...Am I going to have to?"Come on good G, why type that when nobody can interject? It's a bit rich to castigate self-righteousness in bold OR CAPITALISED text, but then wheel out this sigh-punctuated spiel.

    "The reason they do this stupid shit is because all the stupid feminists make SIMPLY OUTRAGED posts about it, without realising your self-righteousness exacerbates, rather than alleviating, the problem."Er, why would they roll out an entire advertising campaign to attract the specialist web demographic of a few (relatively) low-traffic blogs? Considering that their previous efforts have attracted general, mainstream media coverage, it'd be futile in the extreme.

    No, I'd say that their leering style - "Vegetarian vixen Jodie Marsh has been called "The Human Viagra"" - and Sun-a-like stunts - "Go vegetarian!” says stunning Jodie Marsh in a sexy letter of support to our boys" - is more to draw the attention of the soiled paper towel press.

  42. I'm a vegetarian and have been for a while. It's always pretty awkward when omnivores ask me why and I have to say 'for ethical reasons'. I find that it is more usually meat-eaters who are keen to argue about the ethics of their diet. I really don't give that much of a shit what their choice is and would rather they just shut up and eat. Of course, some vegetarians are sententious and smug, but I doubt there's many more or less than in any other group of people - socialists, anarchists, feminists, whatever.

    Julie Bindel's piece in the guardian is a lot of shit as well. Vegetarianism is a middle-class choice? Not really. Go to any developing country and it is the poor who don't eat as much (or any) meat. The consumption of meat by a growing middle-class in the developing world (as well as the more general consumption of it in the 'developed' world)and the increase in demand is a cause of rising food prices which affects the poor most severely. There's also the climate change issue to think about.

    Human rights > animal rights is probably true, but I don't think that being vegetarian or supporting Peta means you can't give a shit about people. Just the same as supporting a homeless charity in Britain means you can't give a shit about people in the rest of the world.


  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

  44. Sigh. You would think that, as a vegan (not a PETA member) and feminist, I would be used to being patronised by smug animal-users.

  45. "Ok...Ok...Am I going to have to?"Come on good G, why type that when nobody can interject? It's a bit rich to castigate self-righteousness in bold OR CAPITALISED text, but then wheel out this sigh-punctuated spiel.

    It was me being irked. I just don't see why the entire feminist movement is so blind when it comes to so obvious a ruse.

    No, I'd say that their leering style - "Vegetarian vixen Jodie Marsh has been called "The Human Viagra"" - and Sun-a-like stunts - "Go vegetarian!” says stunning Jodie Marsh in a sexy letter of support to our boys" - is more to draw the attention of the soiled paper towel press.

    Dual-function, perhaps. Certainly they can't be oblivious to the massive amount of trackbacks from enraged, finger-wagging feminists outraged at their "objectification".

  46. Agreed on all your anti-objectification points...not so much the kicking kittens points. Humans are sick and nothing is going to change that. BUT there SHOULD be a naked man being compared to a piece of meat, although even if that was part of the ad campaign i'm not sure it would be very effective-men will never understand exactly how it feels to be violated, threatened, abused, used, KILLED, and put down like women are regularly for no reason other than the fact that we have DIFFERENT ANATOMY. pathetic bastards. peta will stop at nothing to continue to push their radical ideals, even if it means appealing to the lowest of the low. i don't know how i'm not a lesbian. Also, I am absolutely certain i love animals more than most anyone i know or have heard of, and I didn't last longer than three months of vegetarianism. i suppose it's a nice idea, but as we all should know, eating meat is nothing to be reprimanded for!!

  47. Animal testing is a different issue, but eating animals is unnecessary in our society. Regardless of why we used to do it, we could stop today. It harms animals, people in the developing world, and the environment, and we only do it for trivial pleasure. That is unjustifiable. Eat something else. Go Vegan.

  48. worthwhile only for the way they look and (for so many pet owners) for how warm and fluffy they make us feel. Seeing Jodie Marsh's bottom is not shocking. can-c

  49. PETA fights for animal rights. I dont like what they do. So let me stab the first animal right in the neck, steal her babies, kill them too, skin them, eat their corpse, let the animals face eternal Treblinka in my hands.

    Yeah, very sane.


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