PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has a long history of sacrificing basic human respect for drawing attention to violence against animals. Adland (among many other blogs and websites) has written about this and put together a list of what they consider PETA’s most sexist advertising campaigns. These include placing an almost naked woman in plastic wrap covered in what appears to be blood, with the label of “Human Meat,” as well as placing a naked pregnant model in a cage in Covent Garden. Recently, Bitch Media brought attention to PETA’s shock tactics, including comparing the treatment of animals to the atrocities of the Holocaust. Bitch Media focused primarily on PETA’s “My boyfriend went vegan” campaign. In a commercial for this campaign we see a girl walking around with a neck brace and are informed that she is suffering from “my boyfriend went vegan and knocked the bottom out of me.” She appears unhappy and in pain. The commercial continues to show that, by going vegan, her boyfriend “can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star,” resulting in sex that is “painful” (in their own words). We are informed that for her, “it is too late,” and they advocate for the audience to research how to go vegan “safely.” Intimate partner violence is a serious issue and PETA makes light of this violence with the sad music and serious voice over.
Another PETA campaign I have recently discovered online mocks trans people for the sake of animal rights. This one is titled “Fur is a drag” and shows individuals in drag protesting fur coats. Let me be clear: dressing in drag or employing trans individuals for a campaign is not inherently wrong or offensive. Dressing in drag in this context, however, with the implication that “drag” is something bad, mocks trans individuals. PETA wishes fur coats to be seen as despicable and violation of basic rights and they equate this with dressing in drag, playing on connotations of the word “drag.”
Comments below the article confirm such interpretations. For instance, “Hanne” writes, “Hahaha brilliant! I mean it shows how stupid it is to wear fur and that I’t looks pathetic too wear it.” “Hanne” has interpreted this campaign to show how “pathetic” it looks to wear fur because the individuals in drag are intended to be viewed as “stupid” and looking “pathetic.” This campaign confirms gender norms implying that cis males and cis women should dress in corresponding gender clothing and anyone who lives outside of these social expectations are “foolish,” just like those who wear animal fur coats.