Sexism and Objectification: PETA’s Advocacy Strategy for Animal Rights

Peta has been criticized recently in the news for their new birth control slogan, “Plan V”, which tells women they can lose weight through veganism to regain access to Plan B (Williams). However, this is not the first time Peta has used sexism to advance its views or associated veganism with a slender female body.

Photo Courtesy of Business Insider. 

Take for instance this advertisement featuring Pamela Anderson, that has accompanied much of the reporting on ‘Plan V’. This print campaign that circulated in 2010 emphasizes two common problems in Peta advertisements. Firstly, it sells the value of veganism through hypersexualized displays of female bodies. Seen here, Anderson, who is bikini clad and provocatively posed, is reinforcing to female audiences that slenderness is the ideal female figure (Bordo, 205). It also continues a long standing trend in advertising that sex, and specifically the female sex, sells. Secondly, it sells the value of animals rights through the fragmentation and objectification of female bodies. In the advert, Anderson’s body is sectioned off like pieces of meat you would find at a butcher’s. Hesse-Biber asks “how much does it cost to be preoccupied with parts?” (66). Killbourne, in her documentary Killing Us Softly 4, shows that fragmentation leads to objectification, a main contributing notion behind violence against women. This ad explicitly equates a woman’s body with meat, which could instill objectifying notions in the male audience viewing this ad. Overall, although Peta advocates for animal rights, we should really question at what cost is it’s message getting across?

Works Cited:

Bordo, Susan. “Reading the Body Slender.” Unbearable Weight. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Hesse-Biber, Sharlene N. “Selling the Body Beautiful: Food, Dieting, and Recovery.” The Cult of Thinness. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Killing Us Softly 4. Dir. Jean Kilbourne. Perf. n/a. Media Education Foundation, 2010. DVD.

Williams, Mary E. “PETA’s ridiculous new birth control stunt.” Salon 3 December 2013.



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