I realize this post is probably beating a dead horse, seeing as most feminists probably already suffer from unendurable squeamishness at the thought of a PETA advertisement. Regardless, I felt compelled to talk about their recent fat-shaming campaign. In an attempt to protect the lives and rights of animals, PETA has consciously chosen to sacrifice the respect and dignity of women’s bodies, ignoring the relational ties that these two sets of oppressed groups have with one another. Using women as a sacrificial tool in an attempt to rally support for the animal-friendly movement is yet another example of the way that women are commodified in advertising as a mechanism for achieving increased consumption. Way to shore up support for capitalist-patriarchy, PETA. I’m sure that will do wonders for animal rights. NOT
According to a PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman, “Anyone wishing to achieve a hot “beach bod” is reminded that studies show that vegetarians are, on average, about 10 to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters…Trying to hide your thunder thighs and balloon belly is no day at the beach.”
Can someone please remind Tracy Reiman that 8 million people in the United States suffer from a myriad of eating disorders. PETA’s recent advertisement is contributing to a culture that values women for nothing more than their beauty. Fat-shaming is a mechanism for demonizing women who do not meet strict and unrealistic beauty standards, and absolutely contributes to a culture of violence against women. Commodifying women into products to be bought and sold conditions men, particularly young and impressionable, to believe that they are mere property. This is how violence against women is often justified; the fundamental belief that men have a right to consume them.
Not surprisingly, PETA’s press release never once mentions the health of men and women. They exploit women’s insecurities about their own bodies in an attempt to shore up support for a movement that will fail without a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of oppression.
A movement for animal rights is impossible in a world where women are valued as commodities. Patriarchy is a self-maxamizing logical system which hyperbolizes the agency and autonomy of its subjects. This hegemonic construal of agency and autonomy is the enabling principle of the exploitation of the other. The ability to dominate and control animals as well as the eco-system is driven by an economic rationality that assumes hegemonic structures of power, awarded full agency, have the right to exploit excluded peripheral groups who are denied agency and whose contribution is discounted or rendered invisible. PETA is simply perpetuating a system of thought that is at the root of animal exploitation.
Andrew (AJ) is a vehement progressive, youth activist, and reproductive justice organizer. When he's not busy with the movement, you can usually find him dancing in the club or watching trashy reality tv.