"PETA is about as feminist as it gets."

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Over the weekend, PETA’s Bruce Friedrich was the featured guest on ARZone’s weekly live guest chat. (You can find a full chat transcript here.) While the primary focus was on veganism and welfare reforms, a few participants dared question PETA’s feminist cred – specifically vis à vis its sexual objectification of women – with, ahem, interesting results. Case in point: Friedrich’s assertion that “PETA is about as feminist as it gets.”

My initial instinct, of course, was to pen a 10,000 word, line-by-line rebuttal of Friedrich’s statements, but just the thought damn near gave me an aneurysm. So not worth the stress! Instead, I decided to pop the vegan maraschino cherry on my Anti-Feminist Vegetarian Bingo card.

The game? It’s on like Donkey Kong, bitches!*

Bingo Card (Anti-Feminist Vegetarian Bingo 1) - Bruce Friedrich's AR Zone chat

Anti-Feminist Vegetarian Bingo: Bruce Friedrich/ARZone Live Chat ed.
FYI: A plain-text version of this card, complete with links to refutations and debunkings, is available here.
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SO CLOSE! We were SO CLOSE to scoring a big fat sexist bingo! Next time, maybe. Probably. Most definitely.

Anyway, let’s take a look at of some of the “feminist” nuggets Friedrich dropped during the chat. The “hits” are labeled with the appropriate square; the non-hits, to be incorporated into v.2!

Square B-1: “Sex sells.”

Regarding our use of sex in our campaigns:

[…]

2) Sex sells and isn’t offensive to most people. That’s the super-brief reply to that question.

Oh, the old “sex sells” cliché! Such a classic, that one.

99.9% of the time, when people say that “sex sells,” what they really mean is that women’s sexualized, dehumanized, objectified, dismembered, and all-around pornified bodies sell. Or, put more succinctly: “sexism sells.”

Speaking of GQ magazine’s recent Glee spread, Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency breaks down the difference between “erotic or sexual images, stories, and video of people engaging in healthy sexual lives and experiences” and “the patriarchal objectification and sexualization of womens’ bodies.” (Transcript here.)

The images in which PETA trades don’t commonly involve healthy depictions of female agency and sexuality, but rather women posed and performing for the male gaze; usually invisible or implied, but sometimes – as with PETA’s 2011 soft-core porno/Super Bowl ad, which is discussed in more detail later on in the chat – fully present, leering, sneering and degrading. Almost all of PETA’s naked women ads are suggestive of mainstream pornography, what with their emphasis on thin, white, conventionally attractive models, bent and contorted into submissive postures, vulnerable, vacant, and ready for a good fuckin’. Bonus points for faux lesbianism for het male enjoyment!

(More below the fold…)

Consuming Women, No. 5: Il Corpo delle Donne, Il Corpo delle Animali *

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Best known outside of Italy for his role as prime minister – or, more accurately, the many sex scandals surrounding his prime ministership – Silvio Berlusconi is also “a successful entrepreneur” (as Wiki so nicely puts it). In 2010, Forbes magazine ranked him the 74th richest man in the world (and the 3rd richest in Italy), with a net worth of $9 billion. While he started out in construction, much of Berlusconi’s wealth comes from his vast media holdings, which encompass “television, newspapers, publishing, cinema, finance, banking, insurance, and even sport.”

Not surprisingly – given both his own conduct, as well as the media culture in which we live – much of what Berlusconi trades in is women. Young, white, conventionally attractive, eminently fuckable, and oftentimes objectified and humiliated women. Italian television has a reputation for routine sexism and misogyny – most commonly expressed in its gratuitous displays of women’s naked or scantily clad bodies – and the programming on Berlusconi’s channels is no exception. (In fact, Berlusconi acts as a lightning rod for much of this criticism. Just today, for example, Italians saw anti-Berlusconi protests in Milan.)

Writes Tom Kington in a piece appearing in The Guardian, circa September 2009:

After a summer of sleaze in which Berlusconi has been variously accused of “frequenting minors”, sleeping with an escort girl and holding debauched parties at his Sardinian villa, a feminist backlash is gaining momentum. The target is not only Berlusconi but the wider culture of a country in which a prime minister could survive such allegations.

According to Chiara Volpato, an academic at Milan’s Bicocca University, matters hit rock bottom when Berlusconi’s lawyer said his client would never pay for sex with an escort because the prime minister is merely an “end user” of women: “The choice of language really summed up how far we have sunk.”

This summer a group of academics, including Volpato, persuaded 15,000 people to sign a petition asking the wives of world leaders to boycott the G8 conference in Italy in protest at the plight of women in Berlusconi’s Italy.

The most recent sex scandal – involving the exchange of money for sex, most notably with a then 17-year-old girl – served as a reminder that I’d yet to blog about Il Corpo delle Donne (“Women’s Bodies” or “The Body of Women”; embedded at the top of the post), a short indie feminist documentary about sexism in Italian television. In it, director Lorella Zanardo narrates a veritable clip show of misogyny, all of which appeared on daytime and prime time Italian television:

(More below the fold…)

Anti-Feminist Vegetarian Bingo: We treat women like pieces of meat.

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Update, 12/27/10: The bingo cards now have their own page, y’all! View all four cards (and counting) on one page, complete with plain-text versions and links to debunkings and refutations.

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Anti-Feminist Vegetarian Bingo

 

Naturally, I couldn’t single out speciesist feminists without also going after their sexist counterparts, i.e., anti-feminist vegetarians; that just wouldn’t be fair!

(And vegans! I used “vegetarian” throughout the card only because this is the larger of the two groups, numerically speaking. Vegans can be and oftentimes are just as sexist as vegetarians, so feel free to generalize this card for use on vegans, too.)

Besides, these groups are two sides of the same coin – the main difference being whom they dehumanize, objectify and exploit.

Of course, as with Speciesist Feminist Bingo, you can also use any one of the many Anti-Feminist Bingo cards on your sexist vegetarian friends/acquaintances/trolls. But if it’s an animal rights-themed challenge you want, Anti-Feminist Vegetarian Bingo it is.

To those who cannot view the image: make the jump for a plain-text version of the card. Links to debunkings and refutations forthcoming.* (As are additional cards and series. Racist Vegetarian Bingo, anyone?)

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian – or, heck, even an omnivore – and find yourself perpetuating any of the injustices on these here cards, for the love of dog, stop!

(More below the fold…)

ARA PSAs: Women, Men and Fur

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

After January’s “fur hag” post, I’d like follow up with several examples of anti-fur ads that I like – albeit, with a few caveats.*

While I’m rather ambivalent when it comes to PETA’s nude “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur,” “Turn Your Back on Fur,” (and similar) campaigns, I quite like anti-fur ads which depict fur as the bloody, murderous mess that it is. (In theory, anyway…hence the forthcoming caveats.)

For example, this recent series from IndyAct:

IndyAct - Stop the carnage 01

IndyAct - Stop the carnage 02

IndyAct - Stop the carnage 03

Each ad features a thin, white, conventionally attractive, stylishly dressed woman, decked out in a fur coat which once belonged to various animals. The knife-wielding women are covered in blood spatters – bright red blood, everywhere. The woman in the first ad is, inexplicably, rubbing the knife along her chin, as if in contemplation of fellatio (?). Needless to say, I prefer the other two ads in the series.

(More below the fold…)