Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 6: PETA, PMS & Michael Pollan

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

First and foremost, a few links from Sociological Images. Due to time constraints, I went a month or so without reading the blog, so it’s time to play catchup.

Ejaculation Imagery in a Dutch Creamer Ad

In which the milk of an (s)exploited mother acts as a stand-in for semen; at commercial’s climax (pun most definitely intended), said semen is “accidentally” spurted all over the face of a unsuspecting woman. About as classy as it is original!

Do You Love Animals? Do You Have Lady Bits? Take Off Your Clothes!

Lisa examines a series of UPI photos of a PETA event that took place on Capitol Hill in order to protest/celebrate National Hot Dog Day. The photos feature two bikini-clad Lettuce Ladies – serving soydogs alongside two fully-dressed male PETA members – and the slideshow of ten pictures includes four boob/crotch shots. “Gender parity” my dimpled ass.

PMS = A “Sea Of Suffering” For Everyone In The Land

Oh boys. These commercials from the California Milk Processor Board are so dreadful, I’m actually struck speechless. Luckily, Sarah Haskins is on the case:
 


 
Milk – i.e., the bodily secretions of tortured and grieving mothers – tames unruly hair! It conquers PMS (and PMS-induced tsunamis)! It cures depression, acne, lesbianism and spinster aunt-ism, even!

Ah, milk!: the elixir of the patriarchy / kyriarchy / megatheocorporatocracy.

(More below the fold…)

Sexy Meat, No. 2: Flirty Fish & Beefy Chicken

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Updated, 11/18/09: Ben @ Suicide Food has an absolutely pornirific take on McCormick’s sexy fish centerfold.

It’s been a few months in the making, but here’s entry No. 2 in the “Sexy Meat” series. This set of advertisements from McCormick is unique in that it features explicitly female and male “meat.”

Let’s start with the female, who is represented by a flirtatious fish (again with the fish, oy vey!).

McCormick - Fish

The ad above features an obviously female fish: she has oversized, cartoonish eyes; long, lush eyelashes (seemingly curled, even); and wispy fins, one of which she touches to her lipsticked, collagen-enhanced lips in a flirtatious gesture. She rests, splayed out, on a platter, as if being presented for your pleasure and consumption. Not as if; exactly like. Her tail is raised in the air, giving the appearance of an arched back (or raised buttocks? It’s hard to tell; she’s a fish, after all!). An anonymous, faceless consumer – also obviously female – hovers above, pouring a stream of McCormick’s mustard on the fish’s head. The scene vaguely resembles a, ahem, money shot.

Though not relevant to determining her gender, it’s worth noting that the fish’s skin is gruesome in appearance, to say the least. She appears to have grilled or roasted, to the degree that her scales are almost unrecognizable as such; they’re dark tan in color and even bear dark burn marks from the grill. And yet, she seems so happy and…aroused.

The text reads, “Tu comida se va a poner más buena,” which Google translates into “Your meal will bring more good”…though I’m guessing that’s rough at best.

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 1

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Life Is Beautiful (1997)

I’ve decided to start a new feature (yet another!) on easyVegan.info. In “Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs,” I’ll highlight blog posts and news items that examine the various ways in which speciesism parallels or intersects with the oppression of marginalized human groups. In a word, intersectionality.

Previously, I was linking to these stories in my weekly weekend activist posts, but since they’re easily overlooked in a sea of links, I’d rather give ’em their own home. Deconstructing the patriarchy is hefty shit, yo!

So let’s get started, posthaste:

Stephanie @ Animal Rights @ Change .org: Pregnancy at Slaughter: What Happens to the Calves?, Part 1 and Part 2

Over the past few months, I’ve spent some time examining how modern animal agriculture subjects female animals to especially brutal and prolonged exploitation, turning their reproductive systems against them. Their children suffer greatly, too; the daughters of “dairy cows” are enslaved in the same conditions as their mothers, while brothers and sons, an otherwise worthless by-product of milk production, become “veal” calves; females born to “laying hens” become egg machines as well, eventually replacing their “spent” mothers, while males are simply disposed of in garbage bags and wood chippers; and so on and so forth.

In “Pregnancy at Slaughter: What Happens to the Calves?,” Stephanie turns her attention to the fate of newborn calves and late-term fetuses at the stockyard, where their mothers are faced with imminent slaughter. As she explains, some fetal calves die with – inside – their mothers, while others are harvested for use in “science.”

If you eat “meat,” drink milk, or wear leather, you’re complicit in this species-, sex- and age-based atrocity.

Stephanie @ Animal Rights @ Change .org: Women, Girls, and the So-Called Achievement of Killing

Following up on an earlier criticism of Feministing for celebrating a woman bullfighter as a feminist hero, Stephanie laments the pseudo-feminist news coverage of Teressa Groenewald-Hagerman, a 39-year-old Kansan whose major “accomplishment” is being the “first woman in the world to shoot an elephant dead with a bow and arrow.”

As Stephanie and others have noted, Groenewald-Hagerman’s slaughter of an elephant – someone’s father, brother, son, partner, friend – is no more a feminist victory than Aileen Wuornos’s unprecedented killing spree.

Elaine at Vegan Soapbox also weighs in:

Teressa was “inspired” to kill an elephant after a male friend said “women could never draw such a heavy bow.” But archery is NOT necessarily a hunting sport. My grandmother was an archer and she did NOT kill. She shot targets, not animals.

In order to prove the male “friend” wrong, Teressa needed only to show strength and skill, not a barbaric blood-lust.

Indeed. Sex-based discrimination in athletics (or any field dominated by men, for that matter) is a pervasive problem; the solution, however, does not lie in the slaughter of even more marginalized beings.

Vegetarian Star: Dan Matthews: Get Obamas Naked, Madonna Is Middle Aged Witch

PETA’s Dan Matthews on Madonna:

I was a fan of Madonna in the 1980s but she became this middle-aged witch who thought her style should be defined by wearing fur coats and eating foie gras. We had a long argument over her glamorising bullfighting in her music videos.

While I agree that many of Madonna’s actions are reprehensible, let’s not pretend that 1a) “witch” isn’t a G-rated euphemism for “bitch”; 1b) “bitch,” when used as an insult, isn’t misogynist; and 2a) “witch” isn’t also a sex-based slur, inasmuch as one never hears a man so insulted (e.g., “You warlock!”); 2b) “witch” isn’t also ageist and lookist, inasmuch as (bad) “witches” are conceptualized as old, wrinkled, ugly, scraggly, disagreeable, hideous creatures.

Alternatives one might employ instead of “witch”: killer, butcher, murderer, social carcinogen, Madge the Bunny Slayer. Lose the -ism in favor of creativity – you get the idea.

And also: fuck you, Dan Matthews.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Myth of Lost: Solving the Mysteries and Understanding the Wisdom, Marc Oromaner (2008)

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Fun theory – but could we lose the sexism, please?

four out of five stars

Spoiler alert: This review contains spoilers for LOST through Season 5, as well as a brief description of the theory set forward by Marc Oromaner in THE MYTH OF LOST.

Like many diehard LOST fans, Marc Oromaner is convinced that he’s found the answer to LOST’s mysteries. In THE MYTH OF LOST, Oromaner shares his theory about the island and its supernatural properties. He also explains how and why the Losties, the Others and the DHARMA Initiative found their way to such a strange world.

The crux of Oromaner’s theory is that the island isn’t a “real” place at all. Rather, it’s virtual world, and most of what the audience sees on LOST is actually a computer simulation. The Losties, the Others and the DHARMA Initiative are actual people in the “real” world, who have entered the computer simulation for various reasons. Some are psychologists, scientists and computer programmers (the Others, the DHARMA Initiative), who “live” on the island in order to ensure that the program runs as intended and/or perform research. Meanwhile, other individuals (the Losties and the Tailies) have either been committed to the program, for example, to serve a prison sentence (Sawyer, Kate) or have voluntarily entered the simulation in order to work out their “issues” (Jack, Sun, Jin, Claire, Rose, Bernard) – for a hefty fee, of course. Still others have been thrown into the program against their will; Desmond, for instance, might have been placed on the island by Mr. Widmore in order to keep him away from Penny. Once the castaways’ issues have been solved, they’re “killed off” by the program, after which they reawaken in the “real” world.

Naturally, the scientists and researchers realize that they’re part of a simulation, whereas the castaways truly believe that they’ve landed on a mysterious island. To this end, their memories of the crash are false, programmed into their minds by the makers of the simulation. Many of the castaways’ “flashbacks” may be similarly implanted.

Oromaner incorporates many of the larger pieces of LOST’s puzzle into his computer simulation theory, including the numbers, the Black Rock, the four-toed statue, the whispers, Walt’s seeming astral projection, the smoke monster/security system, time travel, the Adam and Eve skeletons found in the cave, the island’s fertility/pregnancy issues, etc.

Oromaner wrote THE MYTH OF LOST during Season 3, and published it in September ’08. As such, his theory only covers LOST through Season 3 – and he does a pretty good job of incorporating and explaining the various aspects of the show up to this point. However, throughout Seasons 4 and 5, you can see his theory unravel, particularly vis-à-vis the flashforwards in Season 4, and the real-time action in Season 5. Even so, THE MYTH OF LOST is a fun exercise, if you can take the book for what it is – namely, a slightly out-of-date book on LOST. (Which is a BIG IF, considering some of the other reviews posted on Amazon.)

Oromaner’s theory itself deserve five stars, however, he loses major points for engaging in casual sexism. For example, he constantly refers to the women actors’ bodies in juvenile, beer commercial-esque terms. Sure, this might not *seem* like a big deal, but as a woman, I encounter this type of objectification everywhere: in television shows, tv commercials, ad campaigns, at the movies, in the grocery store, at work, online – everywhere. One of the many reasons why I love LOST is because Abrams & Co. treat the women just like the men – namely, like human beings. As a woman and a LOST fan, listening to some fanboy drool over Kate, Claire and Juliet is the last thing I want to do when reading a book about LOST theory.

Secondly, Oromaner offers his opinions on what “issues” the castaways might be “working out” in the computer simulation. In Kate’s case, he surmises that she needs to “embrace her femininity” and stop trying to act like “one of the guys.” The best way for her to do this, Oromaner says, is to have a baby and submit to authority. Um, ‘scuse me!? Does Oromaner actually mean to suggest that women who aren’t sufficiently “feminine” – i.e., donning frilly dresses and makeup, mothering children, obeying male authority, etc. – are somehow defective and in need of treatment? Seriously!? What is this, 1945?

Finally, and most insultingly, Oromaner discusses mythological archetypes and categorizes each of the characters accordingly. His breakdown includes Heroes (Jack, Locke, Sayid, Desmond and…Boone!?); Damsels in Distress (Kate, Claire, Sun, Penelope, and possibly Rousseau); Wizards (Boone and Eko in their spirit forms; Walt’s doppelganger); Tricksters (Hurley, Charlie and Walt); and Mavericks (Sawyer, Jin, Michael, Shannon and Juliet).

That’s right: Oromaner defines useless idiot Boone as a Hero, while kick-ass Kate, Sun, Penelope and Rousseau are all silly lil’ damsels in distress. Remember, Oromaner’s analysis includes events through Season 3 of the show. At this point, Jack had been forced to rescue Boone from drowning in the ocean, thus resulting in another castaway’s death – even though Boone is supposedly a lifeguard. Boone also proved useless in retrieving his sisters’ asthma medication, whereas Kate was at least able to eke out the truth from Sawyer. The same sister who, in the “real world,” conned Boone repeatedly. Ultimately, Boone died of stupidity, blindly following Locke’s instructions to climb into a plane dangling, headfirst and by vines, 25 feet off the ground.

Meanwhile, Damsel Sun accompanied Heroes Jin and Sayid to the Others’ camp by sailboat, in order to save Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Hurley – and shoots and kills Other Colleen in the process. We also learn through flashbacks that Sun isn’t the diminutive little wallflower that she appears to be; in fact, she’s somewhat conniving and manipulative, and had a hand in her husband’s corruption. Penelope, another so-called Damsel, spent years tracking down her lost love Desmond, defying her father’s wishes. (Ultimately, Penelope rescues Desmond and the other survivors, though this doesn’t happen until after Oromaner penned THE MYTH OF LOST.) Rousseau has done a mighty fine job of protecting herself over the past 16 years, evidenced by the fact that she’s the sole survivor of her research group (the rest of which were men).

And then there was Kate. Even though Kate’s gotten herself into more than a few pickles, oftentimes this is due in part to Jack’s stubbornness and (sometimes misguided) attempts to protect her. Kate is athletic, tough, smart, cunning, strong-willed; she doesn’t need a man to look out for her. Kate’s “issue” isn’t that she bucks authority, rather, it’s that men keep trying to impose their will on her. On more than one occasion, Jack commanded Kate to stay put, even though she could have been of great use on the mission at hand. Placing the blame squarely on Kate for tagging along against Jack’s orders misses the point – namely, that he wouldn’t give such orders to Kate if her name was Kevin.

Either way, in what world/computer simulation does Oromaner justify classifying BOONE as a HERO and KATE (et al) as a DAMSEL!? Does not compute – unless you add a healthy dose of misogyny to the equation.

There’s also the little problem of gender distribution – no men are classified as Damsels, even though a few are in need of rescue at various times (Boone, Charlie, Walt, Desmond; of these, Charlie and Desmond are rescued by women, so-called Damsels!). Of the seven women mentioned, five are categorized as Damsels. Men are somewhat equally distributed among all of the archetypes, save for Damsel, while women only fit into two of the categories.

Taken together, these three issues are quite offensive to this female LOST fan. As an atheist, I also found Oromaner’s New Age God-talk eye-rollingly and mind-numbingly silly and boring, but most of this is confined to the first and last 10-15 pages, and thus is fairly easy to avoid. Oromaner’s arrogance is another drawback; he continually asserts that this is how the show “should be” or “must play out” in order to “stay true” to mythology. Sorry, but I’ve loved the show thus far, and will trust LOST’s writers and producers – the same writers and producers who have created a mystery so stunning that it’s inspired so much fan speculation, ahem – to dream up a satisfying ending.

These complaints aside, I quite enjoyed Oromaner’s theory, even though it’s been discredited by the subsequent two seasons. In fact, I think it speaks to the theory that I only knocked off one star for some extremely unfortunate and off-putting issues evident in THE MYTH OF LOST.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Little Boys are natural born killers (?)

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

As a follow-up to Sunday’s disturbing series of ads for Hobie Kayaks (Truth in Advertising: Fishermen are stone-cold killers.), today I have an ad campaign for the Little Boys line of “gourmet” “sausage.” Apparently, this New Zealand-based company thinks that little boys are natural born killers.

Here we have two mischievous little rubes, about to decapitate a helpless chicken:

Little Boys - Chicken & Herb Sausages

Or, in the words of The Inspiration Room, “One boy with a chicken and herbs, the other with a small axe. What possibly could they be up to next?” Such inappropriately cutesy language to describe animal abuse, dontchathink?

(More below the fold…)

ARA PSAs: Attack of the Killer Cosmetics

Monday, January 5th, 2009

I love this series of anti-vivisection ads from the Australian animal rights organization Animal Liberation:

Animal Liberation - Lipstick

(More below the fold…)

Dear Ms. Newkirk,

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

A “real” feminist wouldn’t employ such a silly argument in defense of PETA’s campaigns, whether sexist or not:

MJ: One question I did have. I really do appreciate the work PETA has done but it has gotten a lot of criticism for using women in some of its ads. A lot of times in bikinis, or scantily clad, I think there was a striptease campaign that came online recently. What do you say to people who criticize PETA and say that it’s not women-friendly, that it denigrates women?

IN: Well, it’s rubbish because the organization is run by a woman, who is me. I marched in the earliest of rallies, I am an adamant feminist, but I’m not a prude and I think you can go to the beach and see people who are in less than you can in a PETA ad.

Let me guess: you also have a Black Friend ™, such that none of PETA’s campaigns could possibly be racist, either?

Seriously, this is such a ridiculous argument that I need only two words to refute it: Ann Coulter. Women are not immune from misogyny, you see. Sometimes, they’re even more vicious in their hatred of other women than are their male peers; because of the common (mis)perception that “women cannot be sexist,” women are oftentimes granted license to act in an even more misogynistic manner than their male counterparts. It’s not often that you hear a man argue that women’s suffrage was a mistake – yet Ann Coulter has posited as much, and she still manages to get speaking gigs.

You go on to say:

Our people are all volunteers, no one has asked a woman to take off her clothes. I’ve done it myself, we’ve all marched naked if we want to, and I think that it’s very restrictive and in fact wrong. I would expect someone in, say, Iran to tell us that we should cover up, but I don’t expect women or men in this country to criticize women who wish to use their bodies in a form of political statement, to tell them, you need to cover yourself up. There’s this idea of ‘naughty bits’ and I just think it’s funny more than anything else. It’s not sexist, it may be sexual, but no. No woman has ever been paid to strip. She has decided to use her body as a political instrument. That’s her prerogative and I think it is anti-feminist to dare to tell her that she needs to put her clothes back on.

Certainly, I agree that it’s “anti-feminist to dare to tell [a woman] that she needs to put her clothes back on”; however, there’s a difference between allowing your supporters to use their naked bodies as “political instrument[s]” and taking advantage of your [female] supporters’ willingness to get naked for the animals by playing into cultural stereotypes regarding gender roles, beauty, sex, class, race, etc. As I noted in my defense of your “Breast is Best” campaign, PETA does have a despicable habit of pornifying women in their photo/print campaigns while simultaneously portraying men as full human beings, complete with agency and personalities.

In PETA’s world, women are more likely to pose in the nude than men; and, if you were to objectively compare the PETA print campaigns which feature nude men and women, you’d see that the portrayals are drastically different. Strip away PETA’s logo and slogans, and the women’s photos look like they were pulled straight out of a recent edition of Playboy. Young, white, thin, feminine, (conventionally) attractive women are displayed on all fours, backs arched, gazes vacant, faces and torsos turned away from the camera, submissive in posture, ready for a good fuckin’. In contrast, the men’s shots are fun, funny, inspiring, humorous, and full of personality.

Yes, you can be sexual without being sexist; just look at these campaigns featuring naked men as proof:

PETA (Steve O 1)

(More below the fold…)

Sierra Club: Tell the EPA to Keep Gender-Bending Toxic Chemicals Out of Our Water

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

Via the Sierra Club:

Tell the EPA to Keep Gender-Bending Toxic Chemicals Out of Our Water

Male fish with eggs? Cases of such “intersexed” fish have now been documented from the Potomac River to the Pacific coast. Yet the EPA has not taken sufficient action to protect our waters and our health from these gender bending chemicals. Many countries and private companies have already taken action and switched to safer alternatives. It’s time the EPA followed suit.

Tell the EPA to keep gender bending chemicals out of our water!

——————–

Tagged:

A taste for flesh, in the flesh

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

An interesting study, conducted by Cancer Research UK, suggests that children “inherit” (at least in part) a taste for meat and fish from their parents. In contrast, a preference for fruit and veggies wasn’t linked to nature, but to nurture: the more a child’s parents encouraged herbivorous eating, the more kids expressed enthusiasm for nature’s candies.

From the BBC:

Children largely inherit their taste for high-protein food like meat and fish, research suggests.

However, Cancer Research UK found a liking for vegetables and puddings was less likely to be fixed, and more the result of the menu provided by parents. […]

Lead researcher Professor Jane Wardle, of Cancer Research UK’s health behaviour unit, said it was not clear why environmental factors were more influential in determining preferences for fruit, vegetables and puddings.

She said it might be down to the greater variety of choice available in these categories – unlike in meat or fish.

“It might be that children who witness their parents show enthusiasm or distaste for certain types of vegetables or puddings are likely to follow suit.

“Or it might be that if a particular food is always available children learn to like it.

“For instance if a fruit bowl is always full of bananas children might think of them as being a favourite food.”

Professor Wardle said the findings suggested that parents could have a profound impact on their children’s dietary preferences – and steering them towards healthy options could set a blueprint for life.

“Finding out more about why children like and dislike foods is important in helping us understand the problems of obesity.”

Additionally, the researchers examined gender differences in food preferences:

The Journal of Physiology and Behaviour study also found girls were more likely to enjoy vegetables than boys.

Might this have a little sumthin-sumthin to do with the stereotype that “real men” eat meat, while the womenfolk are expected to suffice on tiny sparrow’s portions of lettuce and broccoli?

(Crossposted at Hell Food.)

From the mouths of blamers…

Monday, June 5th, 2006

“I saw a commercial on TV last night wherein a hot skinny woman in her 20s takes a tiny ladylike bite of an ice cream product and pretty much has an orgasm. She closes her eyes and is contorted by some kind of sexy rapture attack, presumably because the ice cream has unlocked the mysteries of her G-spot for the first time. Fatty frozen desserts made from tortured factory livestock have that power over women.

“I wish regender.com worked on video. The idea of a commercial where a male model ejaculates over a tiny ladylike bite of cheap ice cream makes me laugh and laugh.”

Twisty Faster: gentleman farmer, spinster aunt, patriarchy-blamer