Sexy Meat, No. 4: Portrait of the meat as a sex pot.

December 28th, 2009 12:17 pm by Kelly Garbato

Update, 2/8/10: These lovely ladies are now shaking their meaty bits on Suicide Food!

Update, 1/7/10: In the comments, Cara pointed out that the cow isn’t in leaning on a bar counter as I first thought, but into a car window. She is indeed a prostitute – a “street walker,” if you will – picking up a john (that would be us, the viewer!). In this context, I think it likely that all three “food” animals are dressed as prostitutes from different decades: the ’80s, the ’50s, and the ’20s, maybe?

Just when I thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse.

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To date, all of the advertisements involving “sexy meat” that I’ve dissected have depicted, literally, “meat” – i.e., dead meat. While this conflation of sex with death and violence is incredibly disturbing, the advertisers’ motives for doing so are obvious: clearly, they want us to think not of the living, sentient beings these corpses used to be, but of the delicious, succulent foodstuffs that they have been processed into. Objectified, the animals are things to be bought, sold and consumed. Worse still, they are absent referents – invisible, erased beings whom we aren’t meant to consider at all.

In this context, I’m not sure whether these advertisements for Martini Bitter are more or less disturbing than those for Rachachuros and McCormick seasonings or the DIY tutorial for making bikini-clad turkeys.

Each image depicts a living “food” animal dressed to look like an “easy” woman.

From top to bottom, we have:

Martini Bitter - Beef

“Beef”: In a smoky, hazy (read: seedy) bar or night club, a cow leans suggestively on the counter, as if to order a drink or “pick up” the man standing next to her – that is, the man behind the camera (hello, male gaze!). Her hoofs – which, somewhat suggestively, resemble the tips of two penises* – are crossed loosely at the wrists (ankles?). She’s white, with a full head of flowing white hair. However, the lighting in the bar casts a soft pink hue on her fur.

We know that the cow is a “she” because her body has all the trappings of femininity: she wears a tight blue dress, complete with cleavage and plunging neckline (instead of multiple udders, the cow has been enhanced with two D-cups!); her outfit is accessorized with multiple necklaces and bracelets; and she carries a pink purse slung over one shoulder. (In fact, her garish pink purse doesn’t quite obscure the subtle curve of her ass; you can spot it, hiding in the shadows – if you dare!) The cow wears makeup, too: a hint of pink eyeshadow and lipstick. Sadly, the makeup might be the most tasteful aspect of this “artwork”!

All in all, the “beef” ad has a very ’80s feel about it. Possibly the cow is just a “loose,” liberated women, looking for a one-night stand; or perhaps she’s a (*ahem*) “working girl.” Either way, the viewer is meant to understand that she (*gasp*) enjoys sex – and quite a bit of it, at that.

Martini Bitter - Pork

“Pork”: In contrast to the cow, our dear pig looks to be a flirty secretary or ’50s pinup girl rather than a more modern woman (a “working girl” in the 9 to 5 sense?). Dressed in a cute, frilly green blouse/skirt combo, she sits atop a desk; whether it belongs to her, her boss or her husband, we know not. She leans back suggestively, one hand (also very penile in nature) resting on the desk, supporting her, the other bent back behind her head. Maybe she’s about to give the (male) audience a playful flick of her brunette hair, or perhaps she’s treating us to a better view of her breasts (which are more of a B cup to the cow’s D; could this be because our pig comes from a more innocent time?).

Again, we perceive the pig as “female” because she’s extremely “feminine.” In addition to the clothing, she wears her hair long and pulled away away from her face with a red ribbon. She sports matching red pumps and a “tasteful” pearl necklace. Her posture, too, is “feminine” – submissive and compliant, the perfect servant/secretary!

This lady might look classy, but she’s still “easy” – her knee-length skirt is pulled up, revealing a generous portion of her “meaty” thighs. Remember the good ole days, when there was more of women to love! How did they say it?: “More cushion for the pushin’!” Or, in this case, “More meat for the teeth!” Indeed.

Martini Bitter - Mutton

“Mutton”: Our third and final ad takes us back even further in time, to a turn-of-the-century brothel (or a modern-day retro replication?). The sheep is either a prostitute (*cough*whore*cough*) or, perhaps, a burlesque dancer (*cough*whore*cough*) – but my money’s on the former.

In comparison to the cow and the pig, the sheep is butt nekked! Yes, silly, she has a full coat of fur (“wool”) – but that’s no more concealing in this context than a handlebar mustache! She’s a lady sheep, and as such, the only human/woman clothing she’s wearing is a red feather boa and black knee-high fishnets, decorated mid-thigh with a matching red rose. Her face is made up with copious amounts of eyeshadow, lipstick, rogue and mascara – clearly she’s a (*ahem*) “performer” of some sort. Completing the vintage look are a large red feather perched atop the sheep’s head and a thin pencil cigarette clutched in one hoof.

Her belly may say “lamb chops,” but her come-hither look practically screams “cheap sex.”

Each of the ads carries the same tag line and logo: next to a bottle of Martini Bitter, the copy proclaims that the product “Makes food taste that easy.”

Of course, as some readers noted at Ads of the World, a bitter is a digestive aid:

A bitter is an alcoholic beverage that contains herbal essences, has a bitter or bittersweet flavor, and is typically flavored with citrus. There are numerous brands of bitters, which were formerly marketed as patent medicines but are now considered to be digestifs rather than medicines.

Bitters are principally used as digestifs and as flavorings in cocktails.

Bitters commonly have an alcoholic strength of up to 45% ABV but are normally consumed only in small amounts as a digestif or when added as a flavoring agent (similar to vanilla flavoring, which is also dissolved in alcohol).

In this context, Martini Bitter makes “meat” (taste) “easy” – as in, easy to digest. The advertisers play up this angle by depicting the “meat” as “easy” women (who are apparently also “meats” to be “tasted” and eaten). However, this comparison – as opposed to the outright zoophilia hinted at by other AOTW commenters – does not detract from the ads’ tastelessness.

No, there are still two glaring problems, namely:

1 – The dehumanization and objectification of nonhuman animals. While the animals in these ads are clearly alive, we are not to recognize their sentience, individuality, or personhood – but their potential as a main course.** They are not whos, but whats – except that they are whos, and grossly anthropomorphized and sexualized whos, at that!

2 – The dehumanization and objectification of women – or, more accurately, the dehumanization and objectification of certain “kinds” of women. Women who either enjoy sex for sex’s sake or, worse still, are sex workers*** are fodder for jokes about rape, enslavement, violence, murder and dismemberment: “Food animals are women! Women are whores! Whores are things to be bought, sold and consumed! Hardee har har!”

Women – not “even” sluts, prostitutes, pinup girls, burlesque dancers and other assorted sex pots – are not “meat.” Neither are nonhuman animals. And sex is nothing like slaughter and butchery.

[Previous posts in the series: One, two, three.]

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* Yes, I realize that cloven hoofs – hoofs split into two toes – do naturally resemble the head of a penis. That said, I think the similarity has been exaggerated in these ads; for example, the toes are soft and rounded rather than sharp and angular, better fitting with the male anatomy. In particular, the pink tones in the first image enhance the parallels; the cow’s hoofs resemble penises in both shape and color/texture.

** A motive belied by the ads’ respective titles: instead of “Cow,” “Pig,” and “Sheep,” we have “Beef,” “Pork,” and “Mutton.” To be fair, I don’t know whether Martini Bitter or AOTW named these ads – but I don’t think it much matters, either way. If the former, Martini Bitter is driving the point home; if the latter, message:received by whomever did come up with the ad titles.

*** This isn’t to suggest that the two are mutually exclusive, mind you.

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7 Responses to “Sexy Meat, No. 4: Portrait of the meat as a sex pot.”

  1. veganprimate Says:

    For some reason, the sexualized images of animals bother me the most. It’s almost a non-logical visceral reaction that makes me sick to my stomach.

    The thing is, if these pictures had been doctored up to make the animals look like black people during the period of slavery or jews in a concentration camp, all hell would break loose. In fact, they know all hell would break loose, which is why they would never attempt it in the first place. But hardly anyone bats an eye at images like these. Indeed, they make it to print. Sickening. Sexism and speciesism are the last oppressions that it’s OK to joke about in polite company.

  2. Cara Says:

    I think the cow is supposed to be a “working girl”; she’s leaning into a car window and offering herself to the male driver.

  3. Kelly G. Says:

    @ veganprimate – I think you’re right; appalling as are “food” animals made to look like caricatures of “femininity,” the corpses of “food” animals dressed as such are infinitely worse. Like omni torture porn or something.

    @ Cara – Good call! I totally missed that. Possibly each ad is supposed to depict a prostitute from a different decade, then? (In which case, the ads are even worse than I initially thought.)

  4. Royce Says:

    Does this even make a successful ad campaign?

    Also have you ever seen Carol J Adams’ slideshows they are full of images like this, apparently anthropomorphized pig-women are very popular for advertising little barbeque restaurants.

    Also I didn’t get the penis thing upon first looking at the images, but now I can’t not see it. Though perhaps the pink lighting only makes it more obvious for some folks ;)

  5. Kelly G. Says:

    @ Royce – Yes! I’ve never been lucky enough to catch one of her slideshows live, but she offers a ton of examples in The Pornography of Meat. It’s amazing how little advertisements have changed in the past 40 years.

    And the more I stare at the cow, the stronger my feeling that they’re about to break into song. Hypnotic!

  6. On Queen Bees and Featherless Chickens » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] part “sexy meat,” one part zoo porn, with a little child sexploitation thrown in for good measure, these ads […]

  7. Cristina Fern´┐Żndez Says:

    For some reason, the sexualized images of animals bother me the most. It’s almost a non-logical visceral reaction that makes me sick to my stomach.

    The thing is, if these pictures had been doctored up to make the animals look like black people during the period of slavery or jews in a concentration camp, all hell would break loose. In fact, they know all hell would break loose, which is why they would never attempt it in the first place. But hardly anyone bats an eye at images like these. Indeed, they make it to print. Sickening. Sexism and speciesism are the last oppressions that it’s OK to joke about in polite company.

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