PETA Doing What It Does Best: New Ad Likens Rape Survivors to Cows

What this conversation proves is there are no blacks & whites, and PETA needs to rethink its campaign strategy. 

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Representational image of poultry in a dairy farm. (Photo: iStock)

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has a reputation for campaign advertisements that shock. From mass public demonstrations by naked volunteers with demonstrational blood on them to talk about animal slaughter, to models posing in the buff, advocating giving ‘fur the cold shoulder’, PETA knows how to get a point across and the conversation going.

With its latest campaign ‘Don’t participate, Go Vegan’, PETA has stirred up the controversy pot once again by comparing treatment meted out to animals in dairy farms to sexual assault faced by women.

Be that as it may, a conversation has definitely been sparked about both significant issues.

The Provocation

The sombre monochrome ad begins with a group of women recounting what seems to be their experience of a sexual assault: “One man held me down, while another man touched me.” With tears in their eyes and pained voices, these women continue to tell the story of their assault, until the very end, when they reveal they’ve been talking about forceful artificial insemination of millions of animals in dairy and meat farms.

The ad concludes with a hard-hitting message:

Every year, billions of animals are born into the meat, egg and dairy industries. Almost all of them are a result of forcible artificial insemination. Almost all of them are a result of rape. Don’t participate, go vegan.  

The Retaliation

At this provocation, Twitter did what Twitter does best – debate vociferously. Several women came forward to chastise PETA for comparing victims of sexual assault to pigs and cows, thereby dehumanising their painful experiences and consequent brave survival stories.

PETA’s Counter-Reaction

It took little time for the social media savvy non-governmental organisation to get on top of the discussion and put their two cents out, doubling down on their stance.

Further extrapolation on their controversial stance came when Ingrid Newkirk, PETA president gave a statement to The Huffington Post which in all honestly, is something to pick one’s brain about.

It is rape when someone sticks their hand into a vagina or rectum without permission. Every decent person abhors and denounces sexual abuse of women but we cannot blithely accept the sexual abuse of other females who happen not to be human but have the same vulnerability to pain.
Ingrid Newkirk, President, PETA 

While it is somewhat crass to fall back on an already-victimised group to champion the cause of another – after all, to be compared to livestock is nothing but patronising – but the truth remains what happens to those cows and pigs is technically rape in that their vaginas are forcefully penetrated, they are forcefully inseminated. Can we really turn our eyes away from millions of such atrocities daily and call it ‘not rape’? Yes, humans are sentient in a way cattle is not; yet raping them calls into question the very humanity which PETA is being accused of obliterating.

PETA’s Dubious History of Name Calling

For all the due credit to be given to PETA for touching a raw nerve – perhaps not in the best way – but touching it anyway, the organisation has a rather problematic history of name-calling to promote relevant messages of animal rights.

For instance:

In other instances, they have openly fat-shamed, by associating fat women with whales. Other low blow includes asking people to go vegan to be “proud of [their] body scans” or simply sexualising women in skimpy bikinis holding boards asking people to go vegan or find out about cruelty in dairy farms.

PETA’s Save the Whale campaign created news for fat-shaming. (Photo courtesy: <a href="http://www.nutritionunplugged.com/2009/08/lose-the-blubber-ad-is-low-blow-from-peta/">Nutrition Unplugged)</a>
PETA’s Save the Whale campaign created news for fat-shaming. (Photo courtesy: Nutrition Unplugged)
PETA has built a reputation for using anti-semitic, racist, sexist, misogynistic, fat-shaming as devices to promote their cause. (Photo courtesy: <a href="http://www.thefrisky.com/2015-01-28/peta-made-me-do-it-the-7-types-of-sexist-peta-ads-that-turned-me-to-meat/">The Frisky</a>)
PETA has built a reputation for using anti-semitic, racist, sexist, misogynistic, fat-shaming as devices to promote their cause. (Photo courtesy: The Frisky)

In a drastic campaign, PETA even turned to racism when they sued SeaWorld under the 13th amendment, comparing the torture to orcas to those to African slaves. The 13th amendment was the one that ultimately freed the slaves.

While their latest campaign raises a very significant and prevalent issue of animal torture on an unfathomable scale, there is a way things need to be done. While no one is denying the cruel plight of the cows in the dairy farms, to simply say they mean well, and it’s all for the cause doesn’t suffice. There’s enough pain in the world; one shouldn’t have to stamp on others to make a point.

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