Thursday, July 4, 2013

Everyday Vegan Sexism: PETA Says Eat Women, Not Animals

Launching into a post for "The PETA Files" with a discussion of Martin Luther King Jr., PETA demonstrates how much they care about vulnerable populations by having women at gay pride festivals dress like food and hold signs that say "Eat me!"  Of course the Lettuce Ladies were there, also holding "Eat Me!" signs.

So we have women, who are considered objects to be pleasurably consumed by the privileged (men), inviting others to treat them as objects to be consumed.  This is intended to draw attention to how it's wrong for the privileged (humans) to objectify and consume Nonhuman Animals.  I'm not buying it.

Let's also consider that "Eat Me!" is a phrase generally used by men as a way of reasserting their dominance.  It's sexualized language that is intended to clearly define who is in power and who is meant to be submissive.

There's something to be said to how this type of campaigning reinforces rape culture.  PETA is replicating the notion that women are objects of the male gaze, the property of the privileged, and things to be consumed.  But don't worry, the women want this, they're asking for it.

Why frame this in the rhetoric of Civil Rights and Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy?  Would King have women hold up signs that say "Eat Me!" to free the oppressed?  I think King was more interested in drawing attention to the personhood of the oppressed, and less interested in further objectifying them.

From the blog:
PETA has been hitting gay-pride festivals across the country to show our support for the rights of all individuals to be free from discrimination, harassment, and harm. 
If that's true, PETA should put their money where their mouth is and immediately put an end to their naked campaigning, their depictions of violence against women, and their facilitation of rape culture.  What I think they mean is that non-female individuals deserve to be free from discrimination, harassment, and harm.  Women are so low on the social ladder that most don't even recognize their plight.  Women are not even regarded as a minority.  Women's oppression is made invisible.

Image from the Memphis Sanitation Workers strike in 1968.
African American men are holding signs that read: "I AM A MAN."
King had traveled to Memphis to support the strikers and was assassinated there.