No Guts, No Glory? Wakker Dier Makes a Snuff Film in the Name of Animal Rights.

Animal rights activists aren't typically thought of as being misogynistic, violent perverts, but maybe they should be. Well, at least the geniuses over at Wakker Dier should be. Wakker Dier (which means "Animal Awake" in Dutch) launched a viral video campaign last week, complete with a countdown to the unveiling of this video (Warning: The following video contains graphic violence):

Q: Was that snuff film starring a fetish model supposed to make viewers sympathetic toward fish? A: Yes. WTF???

This Wakker Dier video is a massive fail on so many levels that it's hard to know where to begin. To simplify, let's break it down into three parts: misogyny, violence, and animal rights (doesn't that sound like the name of an emo band?).

Fail Part I: Misogyny

This viral campaign enlisted the sexiness of famous Dutch playmate and fetish model Ancilla Tilia. Even if we take away the horrific gutting (it would be nice if we could, wouldn't it?), the fact remains that this woman's body was used to get attention in a way that objectifies her. Not only does she perform a strip tease in the video itself, but apparently the campaign leading up to it used her as a kind of teaser, implying that something sexy would happen if people continued to visit the Wakker Dier website. Since Tilia is a fetish model, there is no doubt that the promise of kinkiness was a big draw for certain viewers, which is weird in itself, since we're talking about a campaign to raise awareness of fish-gutting practices, not the opening of a new sex club.

However, fetish models aside, the real shock in this video comes from the out-of-control gutting scene. While we're still talking about misogyny, a "promiscuous" (i.e., sexual) woman being murdered in front of an audience of pervs screams "woman hate" pretty loudly. Which brings us to...

Fail Part II: Violence

A WOMAN IS GUTTED ALIVE IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE IN THIS VIDEO. How much more violent does it get? And how on earth does this raise awareness or sympathy for the fish? Are we supposed to feel so upset by this woman's brutal murder that we somehow transfer those feelings to the local trout farm? It's upsetting, of course, but it doesn't have anything to do with fish. And even if it did have something to do with fish, it's not okay. Making light of violence against women in order to make a point about fishing practices is offensive no matter which way you gut it.

Yet another layer in this multi-tiered cake of offensiveness is that of the lighthearted tone of the video. "Don't strip alive" has a tongue-in-cheek quality to it that is completely inappropriate given the subject matter. And not only does it make the horrific nature of the live-action murder even less acceptable, it also takes away from the intended message of the campaign. If we're making light of the brutal death of a woman (although she is just a stripper, you guys) then we're also making light of the brutal death of a salmon, thus weakening the argument that fish need our sympathy.

This campaign is an extreme example, but it's certainly not the first time that an animal rights group has pushed the envelope when it comes to violence or sex in an attempt to encourage people to equate human suffering with animal suffering. (Mandy wrote a blog post on that topic here a few weeks ago.) Which brings us to...

Fail Part III: Animal Rights

How on earth does this video encourage awareness when it comes to animal rights? Though Wakker Dier counts this campaign as "highly successful" (more at AdRants) they seem to be basing that claim on the number of hits the video has gotten on YouTube. This is somewhat of a false sense of success, then, since the clips on YouTube only contain the striptease/gutting, and not the follow-up video from Wakker Dier's website that explains the connection between the video and the plight of the fish. So basically, people might be tuning in to see a little T & A, or some sensationalistic violence (or both), but they aren't tuning in to learn about animal rights.

So where does that leave us? Sure, this video is an offensive failure on many levels, but there is also the idea that it has sparked some debate about animal rights. Does that make it a success as well, then? Or can a video that makes light of a woman being brutally murdered in order to drum up sympathy for fish just a big piece of fail no matter what? And is it okay for animal rights groups (or other activists) to use sensationalist tactics to raise awareness, even when those tactics are unbelievably offensive and gross? Discuss.

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Comments

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"snuff"

I do think it's tacky and tired the way the modern animal-rights movement keeps coopting the same sexist crap that's rampant in the rest of the media (Ingrid Newkirk, you know who you are) but I have to quibble with your use of the term "snuff film." A snuff film is a (mostly urban legend) phenomenon in which a person is ACTUALLY killed on camera. What Wakker Dier made is a horror movie.

speechless

I've been meaning to blog about this but wasn't quite sure what to say - i think you did a great job covering all the bases

It's just...hmm. We are supposed to compare this sexy woman to a fish - which doesn't make for a good campaign - since women and fish aren't very similar except that they're both alive - and since it therefore reduces women to fish - and i guess they're trying to say that fish are important and should be cared about, but just because you need to do it in this shocking way proves that nobody gives a shit about fish in the first place. which doesn't say a lot about women. or something.

It really doesn't make sense for animal rights awareness groups to exploit women's bodies when trying to tell the public not to exploit animals. peta is famous for this. the radical belief that women are people, hmmm

Objectification reclaimed

Before I begin to comment on this post, let me just point out that I like the entire idea of emancipation and the approach of the Bitch magazine. However, I've noticed a couple of times already such a lack of thought when it comes to issues such as objectification (especially with regard to animal rights).
First of all, let's discuss the video itself (i will discuss the topic of objectification separately). The article above represents a complete misunderstanding of this video that I just can't understand how the point managed to be missed so badly. There is indeed violence in the video, and there is indeed the whole idea of The Bodily being used. Yes, indeed, because the point is to make an analogy between the attractive body (= meat (this analogy I'll discuss in detail later)) and the way it can be - not only abused but even murdered. In an extremely violent way. The idea is indeed to shock, to show that such a violence is something we would never ever accept. But millions of those who eat fish do accept it. Because they do not consider the body of fish to be anything but that - the pure raw body, without any psyche or the sense of pain "attached".
The article says that the video shows misogyny. I really don't get how someone could interpret this video as misogynous: if it were misogynous the point of it would be to motivate the audience to kill fish in this way. But the message of the video is the exact opposite. The only way one could interpret such an analogy as misogynous is to say that a human body is something much more valuable than the body of a fish. However, that's quite an anthropocentric point of view and could easily be reduced to absurdity (namely, by showing a clear specieism, which - once accepted - can be used to further justify racism, since both viewpoints are rooted in the same type of arguments).
Now objectification. The whole idea of objectification is indeed problematic once it is taken in a sexist patriarchal context. However, I really don't understand why objectification necessarily implies sexism. If A implies B, that doesn't necessarily mean B implies A. Ironically enough, some feminist movements - including even Bitch magazine, the magazine which is itself based on the idea of *reclaiming* the word "bitch" - seem to be so conservative and blindly one-sided when discussing this issue.
So let's discuss the idea of objectification *as such*, i.e. independently of sexist contexts. What does it mean at all to objectify? To see someone as an object of a sexual desire. Now what if the person who is being objectified is a self-aware feminist who absolutely doesn't mind being seen as someone sexy? What if she/he enjoys in this, as much as she/he enjoys in seeing others as simply sexy, mainly because of their body? What, to make things even more interesting, this person is a male feminist? Would we still mind his wish to simply look sexy and be objectified? And what is the sense of the word "objectification" if the one who is being objectified isn't belonging to the social context which would imply discrimination? Obviously, in such a case there is a certain dialectics at place here, since the concept of "being used" isn't that simple. Here to-use and to-be-used constitute a free-willing sexual play. So if we take such a context into account, then we could ask: what is so wrong about looking sexy and being turned on by other sexy people? Is it maybe the fact that we have to like their mind and not only their body? Why? Is body something "dirty"? something that should be overcome? hmmmmmm :-/
The fact that there are some macho-patriarchal idiots all over this world who actually don't think there's more to a woman than her vagina, should not be confused with a different sort of motivation which stands behind certain relations constituting sexuality.
Now let us go back to the above video. The video certainly aims at the issue of objectification, but not the one in which women *are to be* objectified. The main issue here is *the objectification of beings which are being used as food*. The video shows how shocking it would be if instead of a female fish, there would be a human female "offered" to others and used and murdered in the same way. Of course, it would be nice to make similar shocking videos with male bodies, for example, with regard to what is being done to horses (when their testicles are removed) and similar things. So, as much as sexist objectification is present in this video, so much it is used to show the similar (though different) kind of objectification, which majority of humanity just doesn't even want to think about.
But what is this other kind of objectification? It is the one present in the concept of meat. Animals are *constantly* being objectified, but in a completely different sense than this term is used with regard to human females and their bodies. And the above video has as its aim exactly that - to show what it would mean to objectify and use and murder a human body, in this different meaning of the word.
One could ask: why is then a woman in the video and not a man? Aside from the fact that some sexy men also pose for Peta (just check it on their site), there is a clear reason why the video posted above includes a female stripper: the current society still identifies women with meat, and by condemning the abuse of the latter, the video actually has an emancipating character! It shows that neither is supposed to be abused in this way. For there is indeed something common to both women and meat: the way they are used and objectified (in the sexist sense of this term). The video thus not only shows the analogy between these two ways of objectification, but by making the association between women and fish, it condemns the objectification of the first ones as well.
One more thing. It could be remarked that women who strip are just a product of this sexist society in which they only think they have decided about something by their free will, while they actually haven't - they're just a product of the patriarchal culture. I agree this can indeed be the case. But, things aren't that simple,for not all contexts are necessarily such. Take, for example, Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill: she was stripping on shows in the context of radical feminism thus changing the meaning of "objectification" and allowing for sexuality *beyond* sexist contexts.
I'd like to argue that by saying that she was objectified in the sexist sense of the term, one is exactly advocating sexist values, since he or she does not allow for the possibility that a woman shows her body and does whatever she wants with it, without necessarily being stuck in a sexist cultural code. Objectification needs to be *reclaimed* on feminist grounds.

This is more than objectification—it's straight-up violence

This video is clearly using a sexy woman to reel people in (sorry, pun intended) to the issue of fishing practices, without respect for issues of connections between sex and violence. It's sensationalist at best and lazy 'education' at worst.

Wakker Dier built up to the release of the video promising a big surprise—which as we know, turned out to be the murder/gutting of the star stripper. On a basic level, I think it's extremely manipulative—I'm not watching 'The Sopranos' here—I'm watching a public service video on fishing practices and was certainly not mentally prepared in the least for this level of violence—especially toward a human being.

Then on top of the fact that they chose to manipulate on such an extreme level, they have also chosen to use a naked, traditionally attractive, highly sexualized woman, as the prey of the fisherman. Note it was not some guy working at a burger joint—I'll bet they never once considered using a man for this campaign. No, it was a nearly naked woman, who we watch get clubbed on the head, and then continue to watch her face as she is gutted alive (guts and blood are shown). Now, don't even try to tell me that this is not playing on fantasies of controlling and brutalizing women—of connecting sex and violence in to an exciting and thrilling duo. As Kelsey says—this PSA fits easily in to the snuff film genre.

And while I feel sympathy for the issue they are working to educate around, I feel almost too disgusted to do more research (at least with this particular organization) for fear of what other manipulations may be waiting for me on their website.

A implies B is equivalent to not-B implies not-A

I hate to put it in these terms but it seems for people here to get the point we need to go to some bases of (classical) logic :P The equivalence stated above (A implies B is equivalent to not-B implies not-A) is the idea underlying this video. Now replace A with "women-being-abused&objectified" and B with "fish-being-used&objectified". The relation here is not a simple implication since we have an analogy at place, but the idea is the same. And since the point of the video is to condemn such a fish abuse, you can easily see that by doing few step of basic logical operations, the video condemns abuse of women as well. The idea is: if fish were women, this is how it would look like to kill them for food. Why is this so hard to get... :-/

objectification of animals IS a straight-up violence

the above comment says: "This is more than objectification—it's straight-up violence". Objectification of anymals - which is THE point of the video - IS a straight-up violence... I've even explicated this idea above in my first comment, but everybody just keeps on rambling on, remaining stuck in their dogmatic borders of a feminism which lacks the basic ingredients of critical reflection :(

Finding someone sexy doesn't

Finding someone sexy doesn't mean you're objectifying them. If I'm attracted to someone, they're still a human being, and to be respected and treated as such. If I objectified them, they're nothing but a tool for me to use to my pleasure, their thoughts and feelings be damned. Using this woman's body to make a point about fish: fish aren't constantly objectified in the media, they aren't dealing with the mental and physical consequences of being reduced to nothing more than an object for men to use. They're just continuing that trend of objectification. Why not use a clothed woman, or a man? There's no reason not to, except that naked women = sex, and sex gets attention in this society. Why not use a woman whose body isn't what society dictates as an acceptable nude body? Why not think of a non-demeaning way to get your point across?

Why a naked woman?

Because fish are just as naked and because the society still does make the association between meat and women: but to use this analogy in the video doesn't mean to justify it, just like showing what happens to fish, doesn't mean to justify it. It's exactly the other way around. Why is this so hard to get?

i get you, still think this ad sucks

okay, so i *do* get what you're saying as i too have read sexual politics of meat, the dreaded comparison, etc (oh, english undergrad, you were fun times)... and i completely agree with the idea that, no matter how utopian it gets, until people can get with the idea that they must treat all living things with a proper measure of dignity and respect, there will always be some group of people a few turns of phrase away from subjugation.

i still have a problem with this tactic... using the language of oppression to fight oppression gets you nowhere. this ad is doing two things, only one of which appears to be working. it's using a sexualized woman to get attention/sell something and using images of violence against her objectified body to convey a message. it's telling that the company is using number of you tube views to gauge the success of the campaign... if they were somehow able to gauge how many people were actually intellectually affected, my guess is that the number would be zero.

for this to work, somehow we would have to find these images deeply incongruous; we would have to feel that a woman being gutted was something that was completely incomprehensible. the problem is, horrible violence against women is not that unusual ... it's shocking, on a visceral level, but not on an intellectual level. really, showing a fish being gutted would probably only gross most people out a little less, in terms of blood and guts. to have a strong reaction at the horribleness of the woman being gutted almost *requires* an anthropocentric point of view -- if you are horrified because it is a woman and not a fish, how does garner more sympathy for the fish? it really just highlights, for most people, how little they do care about other animals and how different they feel from them. they also feel exploited by these kinds of ads -- they are enticed into looking at them by their shock tactics, and then made to feel emotionally horrible by them. this doesn't invite self-reflection and thought.

in the end ads like this fail on a functional level. their core message i can agree with -- women and fish are the same in that justifying treating them like shit is, for many people, as easy as calling them an animal -- but their actual result -- more images of sexualized violence against women floating around -- not so much.

Personally

The grotesque nature of the video made me so nauseous that I didn't even watch past the beginning of the gutting scene. WTF?! This is awful. The message is lost on me because I end up being so upset about the literal murder of this woman that I don't even care that it's about fish. They didn't need to use a woman in this ad, much like PETA doesn't need to use naked women in their ads. This is disgusting. You're absolutely right, Kelsey, the intended message is entirely lost, and even if it weren't, this is still not an appropriate way to send it.

it is indeed awful! that's the point!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why is this not an appropriate way to send it? Because we should not be confronted with how awful it is for a fish to suffer? Because a female body is something much more and above a body of another animal? It is disgusting, YES, it's shocking, YES - but all that as much as the suffering of fish is. I just can't believe nobody on this forum gets the point... it's not only sad, it is disgusting.

Yes—I get the

Yes—I get the point—gutting fish while they are alive is horrible. I agree! But this article is not about agreeing or disagreeing with the ultimate message of the video, but rather, it's about the METHOD in which the point was made. Do you think it's okay to show whatever graphic/offensive imagery you want in order to make a point about a different issue? You're just trading one wrong with another!

on methods and euphemisms

Let me ask you in turn: why would showing such a material be wrong in itself? The fact that it shows violence? But hey, that's what happens to fish, exactly that! So why not to show it in a way that would remind the audience on the suffering fish go through? Why should we use euphemisms in such heavy issues? And finally, why is a woman *not allowed* to use her body for whichever ethical point she wants to make?

"Kathleen Hanna dances in a

"Kathleen Hanna dances in a strip club when she’s low on money. She says it’s no more exploitative than working as a waitress. When people ask her how she can come away from stripping with a clean feminist conscience, she retorts, cracking her gum, “They don’t get deconstruction.” Vail clarifies, “That’s just a fancy way of saying they don’t get punk rock." (http://www.cs.xu.edu/~tankgirl/twelvelittlegrrrls/articles/chicagoreader...)

reclaiming objectification includes using your body as you wish

It seems that there is an additional issue regarding objectification which is being misunderstood here. Reclaiming objectification does not only mean being sexy at home or with friends. It also means the freedom for a woman to use her body for whichever ethical point she wants to make. The fact that women seem to be using their body in the sign of a protest more frequently than men, does not mean that men are not supposed/free to do it. A self-aware woman who decided to let her body participate in a play which makes an analogy between an objectification of a woman and the one of fish does not at all have to do that out of a sexist based motivation. Interpreting such a decision of a woman as necessarily advocating a sexist framework means reducing her to this sexist framework. How ironic is that?

No means no.

On the one hand, we have the woman's decision to take part in the video. Second, we have women's reactions to it. The woman in the video can take part and feel the way she feels about animals rights. Sure, she may even feel empowered. That's cool for her.

However, I think it's unwise to ignore or dismiss the negative reactions women are having to this clip. While the intent of the clip may be to demonstrate the reality of animal cruelty, it's having the unintended effect of alienating women. This is particularly unfortunate if the intended audience of the clip is women. If the makers of this clip want to appeal to women who a) value female sexual empowerment and b) want to challenge animal cruelty, they've certainly missed the mark. To dig this clip, I think one has to distance themselves from the reality of sexual violence rather than connect with it deeply. As others have pointed out, the clip reduces the woman to a thing to be acted upon by the world, not a person to act in the world. And this is unfortunate if the objective of the clip is to spur people to act.

Can you co-opt sexual violence against women to demonstrate the gravity of violence against animals? Perhaps. Have the makers of this clip artfully achieved that effect in a way that is respectful of women and treats them as powerful actors in the animal right's movement? The peanut gallery seems to be registering a big "No!"

why does everyone reduce a female human being to her gender?

Ok, let's make a little mind experiment. Let's imagine the video was made with a male stripper. Let's say everything else remained the same. How would you react on it? There are two possibilities:
1. You'd attack it for showing the violence as well. However, in that case, somebody please give me an argument for why it is wrong to draw the attention to the violence that is *daily* present in our society, by comparing it to another sort of violence which would immediately shock the audience. The aim of the video is to show explicit specieism present in the majority of this humanity. Now if this were wrong, then so would be all those movies and fables which present this kind of analogies. For example, Orwell's 1984: the violence typical for the presented totalitarian system can indeed be used to remind us of the sophisticated tools of manipulation present in our society. Examples of this kind of analogical reasoning, with an aim to shock and remind us of what stands directly in front of our eyes, are endless. Conclusion: attacking the video itself (independently of a woman acting in the main role) can obviously be reduced to absurdity.
2. The second possibility: You wouldn't mind the video in case a man was playing the main role. Now in this case I must say there is a clear discrimination of a woman at place: a patronizing approach to a woman who is seen as unable to act independently from the sexist cultural framework.
The punchline is: by reducing the main actress of the video to her gender, we are (paradoxically enough) adopting the very sexist framework, which we are so hardly trying to reject.
And just for the record: I'm a woman as well - does that give me more credibility to complain, and if so, wouldn't that be a reduction of me to my gender?

Killing fish is ok , women is not

I absolutely have had enough of the animal activists. This time they have gone too far. Aboriginal and many others in Canada's north survive on fish and wildlife. It was powerful to be self sufficient. Are we supposed to buy only trucked in produce at huge cost and low quality or feed ourselves and survive. Drop these arrogant peta people off in the forest for a while and see what they eat. They are so OUT of it and far gone that they turn me off of their cause.

Food for survival

You have a valid point.

Humans need basic amounts of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, etc. In many places in the world it would be impossible or nearly so to achieve the levels of basic needs without meat unless you truck in the produce. Food is survival.

That does not mean killing is okay in a philosophical view point. Killing is killing, the act of taking life. But at the same time, we need to realize that those who can eat plants can do so safely from a nutritional viewpoint. In doing so it not only spares innocent animals harm, but it decreases greenhouse gasses from increased plant life and lowering the number of methane producing cattle, sheep, etc.

Human population has grown to the point that we do make a significant impact on our world daily. So forget the save the planet, it's survived worse than humans. SAVE OURSELVES. We are the ones killing off our food supply, raising temperatures to the point that more and more people are dying of heat related causes, overcrowding our lives to the point that we are having social and emotional breakdowns.

Okay I'm off the soap box.

As per how I would react if

As per how I would react if the stripper were a man: I have the luxury of not knowing. For whatever reason, groups like Wakker Dier and PETA use attractive hot young women in their campaigns. They don't depict old women, or fat women, or brown women, or disabled women, and they especially don't depict men. All of these groups experience sexual violence. Is Wakker Dier suggesting that the only sexual violence that matters happens to hot young white females?

If what you're getting at is that feminists should be as concerned with sexual violence against men and boys as they are about sexual violence against women and girls, I totally agree with you. I think a lot of feminists agree with you. They are troubled by under-reported sexual violence between male partners, prison rape and other forms of sexual torture, and even the more subtle forms of gender policing that men and boys experience (like being called a "fag" or "homo" if you do anything negative.) Many have made the case that sexual violence experienced by men is deeply connected to the sexual violence experienced by women and equally troubling.

But, what if someone created an anti-sexual violence against men PSA that showed a woman being raped, with the message - "Now, wouldn't that be awful if it happened to a man"? That'd be one fucked up, backward PSA. Equally fucked up is a PSA that shows a woman being gutted with the message "Now, isn't that awful when that happens to a fish." That's my point.

"Is Wakker Dier suggesting

"Is Wakker Dier suggesting that the only sexual violence that matters happens to hot young white females?" - How could that possibly be implied by this video, I really don't get. The video only makes the analogy and says absolutely nothing about any other form of violence. Such a reading-into it is totally misplaced.
My point was not at all that feminists should be concerned with the violence against men and boys (though I absolutely agree that they should; just I didn't have that in mind when I posted that comment). My point was that the whole fuss about this video is mainly due to the fact that the main actress in it is a woman (which represents a reduction of this actress to her gender: her political action is judged solely on the basis of her gender). And that I don't see why showing such scenes of violence for the sake of making an analogy is - as such - wrong.
Now to your question: let me make another thought experiment. Imagine there is world in which men are highly discriminated to the point of having absolutely no rights whatsoever, whereas the whole concept of human rights refers entirely and exclusively to women. So in this society, men are used as slaves, they are tortured, raped, maybe even eaten. Women, on the other hand, are completely protected by law. In such a society it would be more than great to make a video you suggested up here, since such a video would take the familiar (a woman), show the shocking part, and analogically lead to the conclusion that the same should not be done to men. The society we live in is obviously (and fortunately) not such a society, so your video wouldn't make much sense in it. However, this society is the one in which fish have the exact status like the one of men in this crazy imaginary world, which I described above. They have no rights, they can be tortured, abused, eaten. And therefore in our world it completely makes sense to show a shocking scene of what we *do not want to happen* (that is, a woman being brutally murdered) in order to make a conclusion, by analogy, that the same should not be done to fish either.
I just don't understand how is it at all possible to understand this video as an apology of women being murdered??????!!! I mean, really people, can you please just think a little bit?

As for PETA actions, just few links which prove your assumptions to be wrong:
1. guys: http://www.lettuceladies.com/broccoli_boys.asp
2. again guys: http://www.peta.org/content/standalone/sexiestvegetariannextdoor2009/Def...
3. sexy women over 50: http://prime.peta.org/contest-sexyveg-over50.php
etc.
Of course, it is more than desirable and important to have these kinds of videos with men as well (I mentioned one scenario above: for example, it would be good to make a similar video helping the society see the awfulness of horses castration).

yes

yes to all of this, and your previous post. also, your analogy is brilliant.

wish i had realized this was probably a troll before i took the time to respond before.

My main issue with the

My main issue with the commercial is that the same idea could have been covered without a strip-tease.

It could be a horror movie setup, where a terrified (fully-clothed) woman (or man) is brutally gutted.

Now, I don't mean to suggest that sexuality is just this horrible thing from which we should shield our eyes, or that women should hide their bodies, or that strip-teases are inherently dehumanizing and objectifying.

It's just that in Western media, there is SO MUCH portrayal of women this way. Music videos, commercials, television shows, movies -- there is so much more diversity in women than perfect bouncy breasts and insatiable sexual desire...yet this narrow niche takes up a huge portion of female media representation. And THAT is the problem...it gives a false impression of what is the "norm," creating unrealistic standards. It suggests objectification is good and the standard way in which women and girls should be treated.

Besides, the approach is ineffective. The main impression a viewer gets from this video is, most likely, a titillating strip tease followed by voyeuristically exciting violence. Yeah, I thought, hey, that sucks for fish, but I'm already sympathetic to the plight of animals subjected to cruelty. Really, what kind of message is this really going to get across to the stereotypical misogynist who doesn't give a damn about fish suffering? It's just entertaining him for 60 seconds...nothing more.

My response to animal rights groups...hey, I think a lot of what you're doing is great, but please...remember, there are other ways to get attention besides sex and the objectification of women's bodies.

If nothing else, will you be equal, and objectify a hot man for once?!?!!! Women like eye candy too!

Oh, and renu: As for the

Oh, and renu:

As for the "Broccoli Boys": It's one page with 3 guys on it. That's it. The "sexiest vegetarian" thing lists one more. That's hardly equal treatment, and it's an afterthought at best.

There's never a mainstream commercial, or video, or anything! depicting a male in any similar light, coming from these animal rights groups.

Again, it's the lack of diversity, it's the nature of their actions.

One little page called "The Broccoli Boys" on an entire site concerning the "lettuce ladies" is just insulting to our collective intelligence...

reply to Donna

Hey Donna, i'm glad i finally get to read a reply which gives some arguments (beside few points by Jordanb)!:) I think discussion on this issue is really important since on the one hand, sexist based objectification in media should definitely be criticized, while on the other hand, objectification itself is to be reclaimed. I completely agree with your point that the media requires much more of men appearance in this context. I listed few links from PETA's site with guys, but let me just add that these guys (from what i can see) are those who decided to send their own pics, and obviously women are statistically more willing to participate in such actions than men (i guess, the reason for this is to be found mainly in socialization practices, and i'm glad that there are at all men who decide to send their pics and allow for the "objectification" in this sense for the animal-rights movement - it's a step forward, i think; and the links i gave were not all there is from men on PETA's site, for example, Jamie Bamber posed naked for them, you can find this poster online, and he's looking quite sexy on it ;).
Now, back to the point of striptease. An important point to notice is that striptease in this PSA has also a symbolic value: it builds the analogy to what is happening to fish. It also has a function to attract the viewer in order to stay with the film till the end. If we just showed what's happening to fish, nobody would be watching. So, the main question is now: is this kind of objectification sexist based, that is, is it rooted in a sexist framework or not. Let me sketch out two possible ways which I find sensible when dealing with this question.
1. It is not sexist in the current language-game: I am not sure how i'd react on this video were it made 50 years ago, when feminism did not have a wide-spread language game. The same goes for the name of this magazine - "bitch": 50 years ago I guess it wasn't possible to reclaim this word so easily. Certain steps had to be done in that direction. Nowadays, however, I think we are witnessing certain changes in everyday language-games, specially in the youth culture. Just take the words like "bitch" and "slut": we have the reclaiming of the former one directly taking place in this magazine, while the latter term is used even in the positive sense to describe both guys and girls being kinky (there are, for example online tests checking out "how slutty you are" and both genders can do it and everyone is trying to score as high as possible :) Now, in such a context, I think we should start thinking about the reclaimed objectification as well. That is to say: our primary conceptual framework when interpreting PSA-s like the one above should not be a sexist one, but an emancipated framework which takes the actor/actress to be doing with his/her body whatever they want in order to help some good cause. In such a framework it becomes irrelevant which gender is performing, since both could be equally doing it. So while the western media keeps on using female body in a sexist objectifying way, we should take this context from them, reclaim it, and use it in an emancipated way. That's exactly what Kathleen Hanna did while occasionally dancing in a strip club.
2. the framework is still sexist, and it includes a sexist objectification: In this case, I think it is still important to make a difference between adds which simply use a woman's body to sell the product, and those which have a radical ethical purpose. While in the first one we have a clear case of sexist objectification (unless and until men are just as much present in such adds), in the latter case, i think the situation is different: we could see it as a *subversive way* for a woman to use her body in order to protect other beings, playing indeed with sexual desires and objectification; but protests using one's body have been done throughout the history of politics and should not be conflated with simple sexist adds. In this sense, I'm not sure we should condemn such PSA-s. I think a woman should be free to make a subversion of this kind.
So, my point is: objectification should be reclaimed, and people should be free to use their bodies in the way they like independently of their gender. And to this end I absolutely agree that media (and PSA-s) should start including men equally as women (I mentioned up there one possible PSA with a male actor). And as for PSA-s for a good cause: I think objectification needs to be discussed in a different sense than in the case of adds aiming at a simple sell-out.
I'd be interesting to hear what you think about this, since I find the whole topic quite complex, and yet, people seem to disqualify it without giving much thought to it. Cheers! :)

reply to Donna (part 2): on subversion

Hey, just a thought to add. Maybe I haven't sufficiently clarified the point of subversion. What makes a use of one's body subversive is the change of the context. So if we take the usual context of objectification and strip off the sexist part, and place such an objectification in a new context - then we can call such an act subversive. For example, if a woman starts dressing super-sexy at work: she is placing the objectification in a new context in which she is not the one who is seen as a simple sexy object over there, but she is the one in control of the situation, she decides to look sexy whenever she wants (and not only in a bar or on a stage). Moreover, she does it *in spite* of the dress code which is so often sexist: she dresses in the way sexists would call it "inadequate" since her clothes provoke horny men and "disturb" them in the time of work when they are "not supposed to be disturbed" (while in the pubs they are). She shows that a woman can be sexy AND smart, and that he sex-appeal is not her main attribute. In turn, men have to learn to deal with this on an everyday basis, and consequently, the objectification gets melted with this new context and thus starts loosing its primary sexist context.
I think the similar kind of subversion is happening in the PSA-s like the one above. The woman is using her body, shows the objectification part, and then places it in an entirely new context. She's the one who attracted the audience but then showed that her sex-appeal isn't there because of the horny audience who wants to objectify her. She has shown there is more to it, namely, the whole new context in which objectification has been placed. She thus shows she can use her body in this new context, just like the woman from the previous example shows the same at work. Subversion of the sexist language games!
(And that is also why such PSA-s should be distinguished from the simple commercials in which no subversion is involved).

Feeling stabby

As a vegan feminist, I'm all in favor of calling out animal advocacy orgs when they engage in misogyny, racism, homophobia and the like (including, at times, speciesism), but can we please do so without demonizing all animal rights advocates?

When you start off a post with crap like this

"Animal rights activists aren't typically thought of as being misogynistic, violent perverts, but maybe they should be."

how can you possibly expect those within "the movement" (however you define it) to keep reading with an open mind?

It's the equivalent of some tool at worldnetdaily opening a piece with "Feminists, what baby-hating harpies."

I get that you were most likely trying to be cute and stir up some interest, but c'mon already. Animal advocates get shit from all corners; is it really cool for the Bitch bloggers to needlessly poke at us too, particularly when Bitch seems to have a strong minority veg*n readership?

And, by the way, PETA isn't much of an animal rights organization; as a group, they tend to tout the work of Peter Singer, who's a utilitarian and thus an animal welfarist. Outrageous/offensive stunts do not a radical philosophy make.

Actually, I take that back.

It's the equivalent of some tool at HuffPo or an otherwise liberal blog opening a piece with "Feminists, what baby-hating harpies."

As in, it's not just hate and stereotyping, but hate and stereotyping found in unexpected places.

"When you start off a post

"When you start off a post with crap like this

"Animal rights activists aren't typically thought of as being misogynistic, violent perverts, but maybe they should be."

how can you possibly expect those within "the movement" (however you define it) to keep reading with an open mind?"

Actually, that's kind of the point: when you make a video that's trying to convince people about the welfare of animals, how can I keep focused on the message at hand, when I'm bombarded with graphic violence without warning? The message was lost, perhaps in the same way you claim that the message of this post was lost.

Bottom line: Just because they have a mission to save animals (one I am in agreement with), it doesn't mean they can ignore other social issues within their media. It's not a free pass.

Honestly, they are simply

Honestly, they are simply comparing that certain woman to a fish! Human beings and other animals being equal is basically what animal rights activist fight for, no? So if you say this is misogynist you are completely ignoring animal rights activists beliefs which is plain stupidity to me, have some empathy, people! But this isn't the only mistake you made, as a a girl who speakes Dutch herself levend strippen = disembowelling alive.

I think this commercial is indeed powerful from an animal's rights point of view. It teaches people to empathize with fish (being disembowelled alive).

Would you fins this sexist if it were, say, a Chippendale being "stripped alive"?

Enough of "animal rights."

I'm so sick of the phrase "animal rights." A right is the highest moral claim one can claim. Do animals have the right to vote, marry... I don't know, pay taxes?

I'm all for animal welfare, but please. They don't have rights. Treat them humanely, slaughter humanely, get meat/eggs/fish/dairy that's sustainable, free-range, grass-fed (etc), but don't tell me a cow has the same claim to "rights" as I do.

And, personally, call me a troll but I think that people who focus on "animal rights" are privilege-blind. In my personal experience they're white, middle-class, educated able-bodied "western-world" people. Can't you look around and see other PEOPLE who need your advocacy and support?

I may just spitefully eat beef until the day I die, after years of queer, reproductive-freedom and other political activism.

Enough hate

Yes you are a troll, but I feel I must give my opinion. I invite you to open your mind a tiny bit, and explore animal rights theory. Better yet, check out Carol J. Adams. As many people have their own personal meaning of "what is feminism?", I believe non-human animals have the RIGHT not to be tortured in factory farms, laboratories, circuses, etc. They have the RIGHT to live out their lives naturally and be treated with respect and care. They have the RIGHT not to be exploited for their bodies, as women are as well. A newborn calf has the RIGHT to drink his or her mother's milk, but instead they are separated day of, so humans can drink her breast milk and eat the baby as veal for selfish indulgence.

I suggest becoming familiar with a philosophy before judging with such hatred. I am not white, I did not grow up middle-class, but I am certainly educated, yes. And I am capable of caring about more than one thing. I believe in animals' rights, I also believe in human rights. All of us should be free from pain, confinement, and exploitation. Animals and people have the right not to suffer for our pleasure.

The fisherman was smoking as

The fisherman was smoking as well, did you see that? That's how you KNOW he is evil...

Wakker Dier Makes an Animal Rights Film to Awaken Us.

Wakker Dier is making the statement, "Stop just sitting and watching a worthwhile being being violated and brutally slaughtered!"

You wouldn't allow this to go on with a human would you?

The film is meant to make us stop being the detached watchers and become angry and involved and not just sitting and watching like the audience, getting up and leaving wordlessly, turning a blind eye.

A living being is not an object, regardless of species and it is not alright to sit ideally by and watch them be brutally and callously gutted and murdered.

The outrage is that the practice goes on at all. And yes, animals are beings; valuable, feeling, breathing and beautiful beings and I wonder why you disregard them and look down on them. shouldn't we be outraged that they are treated with the objectification and distain that some "morally superior" people feel for a person in a job such as stripper. The feeling that we are somehow "above" them. The person is being judged unworthy, so are the animals. Neither is unworthy.

A snuff film is meant to sexually arouse a viewer, this film is meant to stop viewing any life as being valueless and unworthy of protection.

The original poster is the one deciding this is about sex and sensuality rather than objectification and brutality. Perhaps that's an obsessive view for the author to examine. Take a look through the eyes of compassion and not anger.

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This is simply advertising as it should be !

To whiners, don't look, or do ads for subjects you think right...Oh, and stop whining.