I'd Rather Go Naked... Than See More of These PETA TSA Ads

PETA has long been known for offensive, weirdly sexist, and lazy advertising. Their sexism-is-OK-because-it's-for-animals tactics are tired as can be, yet they seem determined to stay the course. Case in point: Their latest campaign revolves around the much-reported-on new TSA screenings, and it is chocked full of sexism, misinformation, and size discrimination (surprise! but not really). First, the video, which apparently PETA is lobbying to play at airports during the holiday travel season:

In addition to the above video, which relies on porno tropes to sell the idea of not wearing fur (and apparently not wearing pants either? Could Pamela Anderson not find any pants that weren't made of fur?), PETA has a print ad to go with this campaign:

Hm. So, according to this ad, being vegan means several things that being vegan does not actually mean. Among them: veganism gives you a conventionally thin, pretty body; veganism will make you "proud" to walk through a body scanner; the reasons women become vegan have to do mainly with physical appearance; etc. But hey, veganism is sexaaay so forget about the debate over the TSA scanners or the fact that this ad promotes discrimination on several levels and just get naked already!!!

I get that PETA is trying to be all subversive and clever with these ads (and that they're trying to get attention, which I am giving them by writing this), but this is just another in a long line of bullshit campaigns that objectify women in order to promote animal rights. Newsflash, PETA: The two are not mutually exclusive.

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i agree with you 100%. i wish

i agree with you 100%. i wish there were an equally famous face for veganism that is NOT PETA. what bothers me most is, like you pointed out, that the issue of body scanning has just been accepted here, controversy and rights infringment and sexist undertones aside. like the fact that my crotchless panties are leather was ACTUALLY the reason i was so peeved about the full body scan. i was just embarrassed. wrong, wrong, wrong.

I know they don't have nearly

I know they don't have nearly the same wide reach as PETA, but I have been really impressed with the work of Mercy for Animals. They seem to be gaining momentum (especially here in the midwest) and do a lot of great work. They are a wonderful group to support and hopefully someday they will overtake PETA as the face and voice of animal rights.

why care about fame?

Why should there be an "equally famous" face for veganism? Why can't it be a grassroots movement based in moral consideration with nothing to do with popularity (which "fame" is just a concentrated version of)?

Fame Draws More Eyeballs

Like it or not, having famous people in commercials tends to both get more media coverage and to draw more eyeballs than those without them. There is a grassroots movement based on the moral considerations, but the meat pushers are working hard to get the young to have positive pavlovian associations with their products deeply embedded in their subconscious minds - and many of those young minds are already afflicted with Attention Deficit Disorder as a result of their exposure to television and internet advertising to such a great extent that they might not be able to follow this sentence. Celebrities like Pamela Anderson in advertisements like this one may be more likely to capture their full attention.

fame monsters, etc.

slithers-
by famous, i mean "widespread," "well-known," "popular." i would LOVE to see veganism get popular! i don't think of popularity as necessarily a bad thing. i think CLIQUES are bad, eg. the clique of skinny, blonde, white, plastic-surgeried vegans PETA's building, but, as is pointed out above, getting attention is something to aim for.

A wonderful advocate for

A wonderful advocate for veganism is the Buddhist monk and poet Thich Nhat Hanh. I am reminded of him, because in a way he is a famous person. But unlike most of what is used in PETA campaigns, his words are pure and full of compassion for all beings.

Shock value

I agree about the weirdly sexist ads and the myth that going vegan will make you skinny. It's all for shock value, I guess, but I wonder if it does anything for their cause.

I'm an animal-lover but I have never supported PETA. I don't agree with their agenda or their tactics.

Clap, clap, clap. I'm so

Clap, clap, clap.

I'm so sick of PETA. Just, so sick. I hate how they ride on coattails to reach people, yet in the process are marginalizing a serious issue of privacy etc.

Their whole attitude is gross.

I'm proud to be vegan, but wish PETA would change their tune and stop giving us vegans a bad rep for being sexiest pigs (among many other things).

THANK YOU! I thought all of

THANK YOU! I thought all of this too when I saw PETA's newest ad on going vegan. I think my first thought was "Really?..." I've grown extremely tired of PETA's antics, and the way they try to promote going vegan. I swear, you go onto Google and type in PETA under images and you would think that you just typed in "Playboy magazine." I hate their TSA ad because it promotes the idea that as long as you are thin you will have confidence to show off your body, which seems to then infer that if you are not thin that you should be ashamed of what you body looks like and turn vegan. It's like I get they want to make going vegan appealing to people in the sense that it can be a healthier lifestyle, but they are going about it in the wrong way.

I do agree that "whaaay,

I do agree that "whaaay, nakkid people!" is definitely lazy advertising (sex sells, we get it already), but I have to disagree with some of the criticisms in this article.
For one, I personally don't agree that this advert is sexist against all women: it's Pamela Anderson! She has made a career, a living and a name for herself out of her figure and her sex appeal. This is in itself sexist - Would a man be able to make his sex appeal his whole identity? Probably not - but I don't think by featuring a woman so iconic in her position as a sexual icon, PETA is insinuating that all women deserve to be similarly objectified. If the advert featured hordes of air hostesses wiggling through the airport with "cockpit" written on their tiny porno sex outfits, then I could see the problem. Similarly PETA have also featured many half naked hunks in their "Ink not Mink" campaigns, but this doesn't mean that they think all men should strip off at every opportunity to show off their tattoos and rippling flesh.
As you said in the article, PETA put out these sort of cheap, predictive adverts to get attention, but then you seem to dismiss this reason as important almost as soon as you say it. PETA are probably the best known animal rights charity. Yes, for many people they will be known more for their provocative adverts and their controversies rather than their beliefs and aims, but this does not invalidate that many people have been exposed to the many different types of suffering of animals through their campaigns. In a society dominated by glossy, attention-grabbing adverts to promote and sell, I think that charities have to adapt to not be swallowed up and ignored.
The notion that it's terrible for an animal rights advertisement to use slim, conventional bodies in their adverts is unconvincing. I find it irritating that if someone is interested in one issue, then they must be interested in all. So as PETA are interested in animal rights, they must also be sensitive to issues to sex and size. These really aren't their issue. They didn't use any people of colour or with disability in the advert, but this doesn't seem to a problem. It's not fair to project personal interests onto a group, and say they're discriminate for not addressing these.
Lastly, as I said previously, PETA are competing in a society full of advertisements, which, sadly I agree, feature thin, conventionally pretty people - it's naive to think that if PETA suddenly started featured unconventional body types in their adverts (whether they be larger, coloured, disabled or hideously ugly), that it wouldn't muffle the intended message of animal rights. I imagine if they used, for example, people in wheelchairs in many of their adverts, then people would focus on that instead.

And as for the "veganism is sexaaay" complaint - I do agree that veganism being sold as a fashion statement rather than a moral belief is annoying, but as the majority of the meat eating population seem to think that if you're vegan, you MUST be a socks and sandals wearing loser, I can't complain too much about anything which proves that, actually, vegans can actually also be conventionally sexy too. Much the same as, while I think feminism should be appreciated as a human rights movement, I wouldn't argue too much if people were forced to realise that feminists aren't actually the hairy-legged, butch chicks a lot of people seem to think we are.

Yes, but also no.

Hi KatieA,

I agree with you that PETA has gotten a lot of attention for their campaigns, but from my perspective most of it is for being d-bags, not for being a reputable animal rights organization. I guess you could argue that any publicity is good publicity, but I don't think that's the case with PETA.

As far as objectifying women goes, I don't think it's any more justified when PETA does it than when AXE Body Spray does it. In fact, considering that PETA is supposed to be a compassionate organization, it irks me all the more that they don't seem to have a problem with sexism. Yes, Pamela Anderson is an outlier as a representative for all women, but what about the naked woman in the video? What about the woman in her underwear (who is faceless, I'll note) in the print ad? I think they are meant to represent women in general, and they're doing so in a manner that I find problematic.

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

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I know that PETA have got a

I know that PETA have got a bad reputation, and personally I don't support or donate to them, although not for the reasons in this article. I do however think that through their massive presence - even if a lot of it is for being d-bags - that they do bring animal rights into the foreground. Yes, many people will see these campaigns, criticise them, and move on, giving no other thought to animal rights, besides, possibly, aren't PETA annoying. But I do think that for many people PETA can expose them to animal cruelty, which they can then read more about, and get involved with the movement. I am a vegetarian, and I support many different animal rights. In the beginning a lot of this was in part to PETA. They are such a famous and, for many people, popular charity, that they were impossible to miss. Since then however I have moved on to lesser known and more reputable animal rights charities. These charities I might never have discovered, or been motivated to discover, if it hadn't been for the exposure to cruelty which PETA provided. I realise that many people will be motivated to find out about animal rights by themselves, and for them PETA must be not much more than an irritant, but personally I think if it encourages even a minority of people to become involved in these issues then it's a good thing.

As for PETA being a compassionate organisation - I can see your point, but my earlier argument about caring about one issue does not mean that you have to care about all. I'm a member of my university's women's group, but this does not mean that I have to be involved or have any sort of opinion on other groups within the university. I think that caring about one issue and not addressing another should not make the former redundant. However, this is irrelevant as I don't think that PETA are a sexist organisation.
In the film a man is also shown in his boxers, and another completely naked. The naked man is ripped and muscular, with several shots of his sex pack and chest. The advert does not focus entirely on women. And no, I don't have a problem with the naked man either. I can't criticise PETA for continually promoting a provocative image: for people like me and you who have been exposed to PETA for a while, these adverts can seem tiresome, but there will always be new people to find out about PETA for a first time.
I think that saying in the print ad the women is faceless is reading into it too much: the advert promotes a healthier vegan body, and not covering your body in animal products. The woman in her underwear - again, done to get attention, not an aim on PETA's part, I think, to negatively objectify women - represents people's bodies as a whole. I think, especially with a face on photograph, if the woman's face was photographed, then her position as a representation as the body of a vegan following would be undermined and distracted from.

KatieA, you say: "I find it

KatieA, you say:

"I find it irritating that if someone is interested in one issue, then they must be interested in all. So as PETA are interested in animal rights, they must also be sensitive to issues to sex and size. These really aren't their issue."

So if you care about one oppressed group then it's ok to stomp all over another oppressed group?!

Don't you think the message that PETA is trying to get across would be better received if they were sensitive to these issues, and others? Why do you think they get a pass on what is the right thing to do? Why does PETA really find it so hard to be... respectful and polite?

Think about how many people were offended by the slavery, lynching and holocaust comparisons that PETA has used in its campaigns. Think about the media response to those campaigns.

Do you think that if they had been a bit more sensitive that those campaigns may have been better received? Do you think if people weren't confronted with something that was offensive that they might be willing to engage with the issues at hand?

There's nothing wrong with trying to grab some media attention but the actions that PETA use in order to do so are on the whole nonsensical. Their entire strategy with presenting animal rights as an issue that humans should care about is confused to the point of being practically incoherent.

I was addressing these

I was addressing these advertisements directly. I'm not a huge follower of PETA, and to be honest, I wasn't aware of the slavery, lynching and holocaust comparisons, which I do think are incredibly insensitive and in bad taste.

However, in response to THIS advertisement, I think it's annoying that people are getting all up in arms because PETA used Pamela Anderson and scantily clad girls. As I've said before, Pamela Anderson is a massive pop culture icon, and so I don't think having her parading around in silly costumes equates objectifying all women. In some of the responses to this advert people have been posting nasty comments about Pamela's image, blonde hair, fake boobs and heavy make-up. I find these sorts of comments in a feminist debate undermine the whole argument: women should be allowed to dress how they want, and if a woman chooses to have blonde hair and big boobs, over, say, a brunette crop and boy-ish figure, does not mean that she deserves to be continually criticised and slated by the feminist community. These sorts of comments only further the stereotype that feminists are ugly women who hate other women who are conventionally attractive to men. And, yes, I know people will say their problem with Pamela being in the adverts is not because they're jealous, but because it makes it appear as if PETA are promoting this image as the only acceptable one, but I don't agree with that at all: I think they use Pamela because she's a massive star, and due to her sex symbol status she's perhaps not someone that people who automatically assume is interested in these sorts of issues. I also think they probably use Pamela because she's not afraid to parody the image surrounding her - say, for instance, wearing silly hot pants as part of a daft costume - a joke which seems to be lost on lots of people.

I also don't think it's fair to point out the naked girl in the advert and say that it's sexist, when this advert also contains men in their underwear and a completely naked man.

As for the size debates, which for some reason have exploded around these advertisements, it reminds me of the "Vote for your Sexiest Vegetarian" competitions that PETA run. The winners of which have been, from what I remember, slim, conventionally attractive people. People are acting as if the preference of this sort of body type is something that evil old PETA is promoting alone - considering the winners in these competitions, voted for by millions of regular people, I think it's fair to say that, generally, the public do just prefer slim, conventionally attractive people.

And I hardly think that by having an advert with naked people in it, PETA are "stomping all over an oppressed group". I imagine if the naked people in this advert were fat, then people wouldn't be making such a big deal over it.

"I also don't think it's fair

"I also don't think it's fair to point out the naked girl in the advert and say that it's sexist, when this advert also contains men in their underwear and a completely naked man."

It's sexist too, because they're using sexuality and sex to "sell" a product. It's not about targeting one sex.

"As for the size debates, which for some reason have exploded around these advertisements, it reminds me of the "Vote for your Sexiest Vegetarian" competitions that PETA run. The winners of which have been, from what I remember, slim, conventionally attractive people. People are acting as if the preference of this sort of body type is something that evil old PETA is promoting alone - considering the winners in these competitions, voted for by millions of regular people, I think it's fair to say that, generally, the public do just prefer slim, conventionally attractive people."

Please read tasha fierce's blog series here. just because a group of voters vote a slim person as "sexiest vegetarian" doesn't mean that people prefer "slim, conventionally attractive people." Nor does it mean that it's acceptable to only use one body type in advertising. People have their own judgments regarding other people.

And one more thing, just because Pamela Anderson is in this video, and because she happens to be a "sex symbol" does not make it ok to exploit people for their bodies.

Proud vegan, proud PETA hater

This. All of this.

Also, has anyone seen the PETA ad featuring some naked football player holding a football over his goods? Am I not the only one who thought "a football is called a 'pigskin,' is leather" when I saw that??? The folks who create and sign off on the PETA marketing have some serious problems making even the most basic connections.

Yes! So weird!

I have seen that ad: https://secure.peta.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=3429, it features Chad Ochocinco, which I think is a weird choice. As is the football, for the reasons you mentioned. It's called a pigskin! Come on!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

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Vegetarianism is a feminist issue

I would like to point out that vegetarianism is definitely a feminist issue, although not necessarily an issue for every feminist.

This makes the point better than I ever could:

http://www.amazon.com/Sexual-Politics-Meat-Feminist-vegetarian-Anniversa...

PETA's antics are all about

... getting men to become vegan, pure and simple. It never ceases to disturb me that a woman is running this show (Ingrid Newkirk) and in her position she should know much better than stoop to these degrading lowest-common-denominator levels just to get some men to think twice about what they eat. The vegan men that I know did not become vegan because of PETA. They became vegan with their own moral conscience ... and they are especially not fans of sexist and degrading images being shoved in their faces 24/7 by a media machine that seems to insist that all men think and act alike.

By the way, good book suggestion. Here's the Powell's link to it

http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9781441173287-0

as I don't encourage anyone to shop at the behemoths that are amazon.com and other chain stores. Keep your local bookstore open by shopping there in person or online this holiday season. Thanks from a community shopper and activist!

to clarify

When I spoke of men in my comment I meant heteronormative men.

if the link doesn't work

Just do a search for "The Sexual Politics of Meat." Sorry if it's not working for anyone. It worked when I put it up.

Not just about men . . .

Unfortunately we all know that women eat this crap up with a spoon. They aren't selling Cosmo to enough men to keep the advertisers happy.

I HATE that PETA advertises

I HATE that PETA advertises that if you're vegan, you're going to be thin, fit, and healthy. As if being vegan will help you lose weight. Well, it won't. One of my friends is vegan and he's got a belly. He's not thin and fit. I was vegetarian and involuntarily vegan (I couldn't have iodine, and wouldn't you know it, dairy is full of it) and I didn't lose a ton of weight. Plenty of my friends are vegetarian and they're not thin and fit. Potato chips are vegan.

Oh and regarding the TSA scanners, it's also insulting that only thin, fit, healthy people would be "proud" to walk through the scanner, as if fat people wouldn't be because they're fat. And, it's also insulting that just because you're thin, you'd want to show off your body and let TSA screeners basically see you naked.

Oh, and I love the nipples in the ad. Classy.

huh?

This has got to be one of the most nonsensical and pointless ads I have ever seen. Good job advertising department PETA!

What a bunch of mumbo-jumbo!

Oy vey.

Veganism will also clearly pay for my breast augmentation.

How PETA can claim to be anti-fur/meat/leather (because killing animals for human convenience is wrong) but avidly pro-kill-shelters (because non-kill shelters are inconvenient to find) is just beyond me. Not to justify the pro-fur stance but how on earth does that logic stand up?

NOT ONLY is this ad typical

NOT ONLY is this ad typical of PETA's tactics, it also ups the bar for miscellaneous racism in their ads too. Way to go, PETA, for getting the hat-trick of oppression - fatphobia, misogyny, and racism in one fell swoop! I would be totally unsurprised if they started working in transphobia into their ad campaigns next.

I DO love when activist movements gain momentum, but when they gain momentum by being single-issue and replicating the oppression they claim to oppose (let alone become entirely defined by what you buy, not how you think about it), I have to pause and wonder if it is strategically worthwhile.

Seriously PETA make me sick

Seriously PETA make me sick to the stomach. I'm sick of their sexist airbrushed soft porn bullshit supposedly promoting veganism. Most of their advertising is actually MUCH MORE offensive than the regular shit we have to put up with. What's with that! It's such a joke. And they use all these single issue campaigns like leather, fur, desexing pets, just so they can have smutty ads with Dita Von Teese and Pamela Anderson. Is it even shock value? Oh look, another woman naked/in her undies/'come hithering' at the camera. It just makes me feel tired and sad that an organization promoting veganism uses the same sort of tactics as a strip club. I don't think I know any vegans/potential vegans who are interested in that sort of shit. Most of them are much more engaging and enlightened than the reach of these ads. Whatever happened to CLEVER advertising campaigns! Moreover, what the fuck is wrong with something that reaches out to people on a cerebral level? Veganism is about making an informed choice, so why shouldn't they be using an INTELLIGENCE approach to reach people? Are there any vegans who give a shit about PETA anymore? Is there anyone who actually believes the 'being hot and getting naked and airbrushed and put on a billboard is true liberation' crap that Ingrid Newkirk is spouting? Not me!!!!

From a marketing standpoint...

I hear a lot that PETA is lazy in its advertising, and I certainly agree 100 percent. In fact, any company that uses sex or sexiness or what's perceived to be sexy to sell its product is being lazy. Look at condom advertisements - many of them are not explicitly sexy, they are just funny - and they seem to be doing alright.

What I wonder is whether these ads are even effective for PETA. Are more people converting to vegetarianism because of them, or are they just going, "yay boobies!"? Are there donations up? I'd like to talk to their marketing and advertising department to see how they're tracking the successes of these campaigns, if they are.

Whoops.

I see I committed an egregious there/their error there. Let this be an admission of my great shame.

I've actually contacted PETA about this...

Not about this specific ad, but about their advertising / marketing campaigns in general. About six years ago, I wrote PETA and aired many of the points being raised on this thread. To my surprise, I got a quick, comprehensive and thoughtful response. The gist was this: yes, we realize that our tactics are often not well thought of, but it furthers awareness and has increased donations, etc. I still don't like their advertisements, but I appreciated that they took the time to explain the rationale to me. Great discussion here!

Veg*ans should be proud of their bodies, but in a different way.

I was a vegetarian throughout college and definitely gained weight, despite the fact that I didn't sit around eating pizza and potato chips like a lot of college vegetarians do. Vegan friends of mine encountered the same problems. It's definitely misrepresenting veg*ism if PETA is trying to equate it with thinness.

There could have been a much better message to this ad. I WAS more proud of my body as a vegetarian, despite the weight gain, because I knew that no animals were killed to fuel it. Vegans and vegetarians can walk around knowing that their lives did not come at the expense of an animal's. Was PETA angling for this message, but inadvertently convoluted it with some sex appeal garbage? Maybe I give them too much credit.

Did I miss it, because I

Did I miss it, because I don't remember seeing an article on Bitch's blog/feed about the Actual problems with the TSA scans - like all the sexual assault victims being retraumatized? That seems a lot more important to talk about right now, because we need to actually do something about it.

We all know that PETA makes sexist ads. It's like beating a dead horse (ironic simile to use there, I suppose.) Why not focus on attacking the ACTUAL horrible INVASIVE TSA regulations which disproportionately traumatize women who have already been traumatized?

Not mutually exclusive

Anonymous,

First of all, we did in fact cover the TSA scans here on the blog a few weeks ago: http://bitchmagazine.org/post/douchebag-decree-americans-for-truth-about...

Second, even if we hadn't, your comment would still be derailing. Saying that "there's more important stuff to talk about" is a form of something we call the Genocide Fallacy: http://bitchmagazine.org/comments-policy. Basically, you're implying that we should stop focusing on pop culture so that we can start focusing on "actual problems." We're a pop culture blog, so that criticism doesn't really work in this case. Also, the two (pop culture and actual problems) are not mutually exclusive.

Our mission as a media organization is to provide a feminist response to pop culture. PETA's sexism may be a given to you personally, but that doesn't make critiquing it irrelevant in this space.

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

I'd Rather Go Naked... Than See More of These PETA TSA Ads

Well, congratulations. PETA just got all the public attention they long for.

They already had it. The

They already had it. The point of this blog (specifically the Douchebag Decree) isn't to ignore pop culture that Bitch doesn't agree with, it's to criticize it (as in, like you know, critique). It's about highlighting awareness, not give them free publicity. The whole "any publicity is good publicity" is a lie. If this means more people will stop donating to PETA and actively protest them and their methods, then PETA suffers. If Bitch decides not to talk about PETA and their advertising because they don't want to give them free publicity, then they're doing their readers a disservice. I think it's morally imperative to discuss these things, it's bringing awareness where you can actually do something (instead of, say, a stupid internet meme like posting the color of your bra and how it supposedly raises breast cancer awareness, same with saying where you like to put your bag but say it in a vaguely sexual way).

And we see the PETA ads everywhere. Bitch isn't giving them anything besides a much-deserved criticism.