Equality for animals not women
by lx.1234 on February 27, 2017 - 4:08pm
As an organization that advocates for equal rights between humans and animals, one would think that PETA would portray women to be equal to men. Instead, many of their ads show women depicted as sexual objects or seem to encourage violence toward them. The advertisement above, diffused in 2010, shows a scantily clad celebrity, Pamela Anderson. This advertisement compares Anderson to an animal by covering her body in paint markings that mimic a butcher’s diagram and with the caption that reads “All animals have the same parts”.
The advertisement definitely promotes the idealized body. The woman depicted has curves, perfect skin, and large breasts. Her hair has clearly been groomed and she wears heavy makeup around her eyes. In a world where media shapes people’s mind, life, and emotions, this ad will surely have an influence on girls’ perception of their bodies by leading them to think that this is the perfect body. “We get conditioned to think this is what people should look like”, explains Katie Couric who has spent the majority of her career working in the media industry. It will encourage women to get surgical procedures because they will feel insecure about their features when compared with this celebrity, who is considered to be alluring to men. Indeed, “American women end up spending much more money on beauty and the pursuit of those ideals and these myths than on their own education”, according to expert Gigi Durham in Miss Representation. Because of these idealized feminine beauty standards, women become shameful of their bodies since these standards are so hard (almost impossible) to achieve. Consequently, this phenomenon is accompanied by psychological problems such as eating disorders, bipolar depression, and sexual dysfunction (Corstese 61).
PETA uses the model’s body and her sexual appeal to grab attention most likely from males. She is completely disregarded as a person as she is reduced to a series of fetishized body parts. Basically, her personality and sentience are completely annihilated which consequently makes her worthless. She is compared to the way we pare down animals and turn them into meat to be consumed.
Anderson is also staring right at the camera with a playful expression on her face. She is shown in a submissive position, not on her feet, making her at the mercy of the viewer. Her legs are spread which represent sexual availability. She is vulnerable and made to look passive. This enforces the concept that women are objects of sexual desire and that they must always look alluring and ready to please men. This causes many problems in young girls. “The pressure to conform to the provocateur image can result in depression, eating disorders, and poor academic performance.” (76) Girls self-objectify which leads to lower self-confidence. They will feel disempowered, discouraging them from pursuing ambitious positions, based on Caroline Heldman’s statements in Miss Representation. This acts as a snowball effect since having the opportunity to see women in power is hugely influential on younger girls. Adolescent girls are at the age where they develop their sense of self which is why this type of ad is especially dangerous for them.
The woman portrayed above isn’t pictured because of her morals, but because of her body. PETA uses a barely clothed woman to grab attention. Therefore, they are selling a body, not an idea. Anderson fulfills the patriarchal view of a “sex object”. PETA could definitely use other advertising techniques while still conveying the exact same message. Instead of using a naked woman, they could incorporate images demonstrating cruelty towards animals or statistics which could actually convince people to become vegetarian. I would focus more on the moral aspect of vegetarianism rather than on sexualizing and degrading women. Including pornographic images of women should not be used as an incentive to stop consuming meat. We should be respectful to all life and not be hypocrite with such an important message on the line. It is degrading to preach respect toward animal life while being so disrespectful to women.
Cortese, Anthony. “Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising.” Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising, Third Edition. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008. 57-89.
Miss Representation. Girls' Club Entertainment, 2011. DVD.