Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fat-Shaming, Sexism, and Other Horrors from the Tom Regan Archives

TRIGGER WARNING: Contains graphic depictions and descriptions of violence against women.
NOT SAFE FOR WORK: Contains sexually suggestive images and adult language.

Last November, I traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina to visit the Tom Regan Animal Rights Archive at North Carolina State University. I'm conducting a content analysis of animal rights literature from the 1980s through today for my dissertation. While I was specifically looking for evidence of factionalism between professionalized non-profits and the marginalized radical groups, I couldn't help but take notice of some really problematic ads, articles, and tactics.  Enjoy these cringe-worthy finds from the Tom Regan vaults...


The exact moment when Compassion over Killing sold out. Earlier issues promoted radical activism and veganism. As CoK professionalized and became more dependent upon conservative funding, they switched to pricier glossy paper and vegetarian rhetoric.


Remember when PETA used to give away despoiled animal hair jackets to homeless persons? Far from altruistic, the intention was to damage the high status of "fur" by associating it with society's most undesirable and stigmatized. As you will see, PETA is pretty shameless when it comes to exploiting the vulnerability of marginalized groups for their gain.


I can safely conclude that PETA has been promoting weight stigma for at least 20 years now. Thanks to PETA for their important public service announcement that undoubtedly spared thousands of fat people from spontaneous combustion.

I actually remember receiving this issue as a young kid, which is pretty sad. This is the last thing 13 year old girls need to be reading.

Weird. Someone want to explain to me how I gained 30 pounds in my 14 years as a vegan?

If I had a pair of these sweet 90s jeans, maybe I'd have some incentive!

Animalizing Women

The level of misogyny in this Friends of Animals advert is truly astonishing.

Because institutionalized violence against animals, pleather suits, and masturbation are a logical combination.

Animalizing groups to degrade and otherize them is kind of defeating the purpose, isn't it?

Some of the earliest "lettuce ladies." Presenting women as food maintains women as commodities and protects patriarchy. This ad is especially problematic because the African woman is presented as "wild mushrooms." African women are often stereotyped as "wild" and "animal-like."

Annoying and Unnecessary Sexualization

Ethics, health, saving the earth?  Nah, the most convincing case for veganism is combating impotence.

Oh here we go, a woman whose existence doesn't revolve around her sexual availability to men . . . 

No, nevermind, more fat-shaming!

Reverse Sexism

... doesn't exist. Notice in the rare cases men are showcased, it is comical and rarely "sexy." This is because 95% of subjects who are sexually objectified are women, so when the roles are reversed, it is seen as so out of the ordinary it becomes funny.

Animal rights: Fighting patriarchy with patriarchy...PETA sells penis power over animal ethics.

PETA's Misogynistic Obsession with Women Who Wear Animal Hair though men don't wear shoes, jackets, belts, wallets, etc. made of cow's skin. We live in a patriarchy, so men don't make easy targets. Society already hates women and condones systemic violence against them, so anti-fur campaigns can cheaply cash in on misogyny.

Women are narcissistic and frivolous. 

Women are airheaded and ditzy. Here PETA awards a male reader for his astonishing skills in stereotyping women.

Violence Against Women

Here, PETA frames their misogynistic obsession with women as a "war," offering readers "ammo" and "combat tips." Remember, women are the primary persons wearing animal hair. Homicide is also one of the leading causes of death for women. Millions of women are also stalked, beaten, and assaulted every year.

Todd Oldham the misogynist reminds us, 'If you were a mink about to be vaginally electrocuted, you wouldn't think of anti-fur activists as bullies." 
PETA describes the ideal reaction to a woman alone in public wearing "fur":  have a man follow her and intimidate her. An excellent tactic in a misogynistic society where women are constantly harassed, bullied, beaten, maimed, raped, and killed by men. Tapping into misogyny is low-cost activism for an organization that doesn't understand  the meaning of social justice. Strange, I never saw any 'how-to's" for readers who come across men wearing jackets made of pig or cow skin.

Sexy Violence Against Women

PETA often draws on imagery of dead or maimed women to threaten women into compliance or to appeal to patriarchy. Most often, they are naked, nearly naked, wearing excessive makeup, or are otherwise posed in a sexual way. In a misogynistic society, sexualizing harm to women plays into familiar gender scripts that maintain male dominance and female subservience.

Women who wear "fur" risk fatal retribution.

Because human corpses are buried naked...and nothing is sexier than a young naked woman than a dead young naked woman.

The ultimate symbol of femininity merged with the ever popular imagery of bloodied women.

Compassion over Killing suggests women who wear animal hair should be killed and used as rugs.
Here a woman is animalized, sexualized, and brutalized. The message is supposed to be about ending animal abuse, but it draws on imagery of women being beaten into submission.

Again, associating sexualized women with death.

I don't think cowgirls are vegan...nor do I think they would be very effective at their job in Daisy Dukes and giant sun hats...

For anyone with a disability who would like text descriptions of the images, please feel free to email me at and I would be more than happy to accommodate you.