PETA’s Porn Charade: to Return to Tried-and-True Misogyny & Sizeism?

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By Ashley-Michelle Papon

Almost a year after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) disclosed their intention to defend our beastly bedfellows by showcasing the virtual bedroom habits of our kind, the activism-after-dark site has finally gone live.

Well, they DID go live for a little while. After a brief time courting notoriety with a walk on the wild side, the spotlight-hungry animal rights group apparently rickrolled the nation. The previously pornographic promo has been replaced with a pessimistic paragraph that suggests the entire adult display was nothing more than a charade. When users enter www.PETA.xxx into their browser, they are directed to the following:

NOW THAT WE HAVE YOUR ATTENTION: We know that there’s more to life than sex and that you have multiple interests. Now it’s time to see a few PETA videos considered so “hardcore” and so “offensive” that no TV stations have dared to run them. PETA believes that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any way. At PETA, we use every available opportunity to share this message—we always have and always will.

You don’t say, PETA.

Nobody would question that PETA takes “every available opportunity to share” their message. The site was executed with the same intention that motivates everything PETA does: to generate plenty of buzz and headlines. In fact, to say PETA engages in shock marketing is an understatement; they’re practically the Howard Stern of advocacy advertising.

So what makes the site so surprising isn’t even the content of stern finger shaking juxtaposed with videos of animal torture. It’s that PETA hasn’t taken to the tabloids to brag about their bait-and-switch tactics. There’s no way to know for certain when the content swapped sex for substance, but porn poster boy Ron Jeremy’s inclusion was announced on June 5 so it’s a safe bet that the change is a relatively new one.

Without any kind of paper trail, it’s difficult to discern the true motivation behind PETA’s brief dabbling in debauchery. But the explanation provided so far seems contrary to everything PETA stands for, if not a total departure from their well-documented tendency to troll for attention.

One can only wonder if they may have ultimately decided that the man who still holds the Guinness World Record for most appearances in Adult Films and also carries the nickname “The Hedgehog” might not be the best person to sell ordinary Joes and Janes on the vogue in vegan lifestyles.

Especially given Jeremy’s size. Some eternal optimists might have felt compelled to give PETA a virtual kudos, given that their history of fatism is inarguable. One need only remember their brilliant idea to purchase gigantic billboards encouraging Floridians to “lose the blubber” by going vegetarian and therefore, somehow save the whales in the process.

Appearances can be deceiving. Jeremy may be a person of size, but PETA’s fat hatred has always uniquely targeted women. It’s not merely a coincidence that fellow adult entertainers Sasha Grey and Jenna Jameson have joined Jeremy to showcase the sultry side of eco-consciousness. It’s a calculated decision which sends a distinct message to men and women. It tells women that their only hope of being thin, attractive, and ultimately desirable is to engage in a vegan lifestyle. Conversely, the message that men receive is that regardless of how they look beforehand, adopting a vegan lifestyle will make them irresistible to hot women.

Screenshot of the short-lived PETA XXX site

Which also explains why Jeremy’s endorsement deal wasn’t an exclusive gig; Grey and Jameson had previously signed on to sell the sex angle of sustainability. However, there can be little doubt that some mainstream credibility was lost by relying on the likes of Jeremy to be mouthpieces for the cause.

In fact, as Mark Arena of PR Verdict noted following the confirmation that Jeremy would be participating in PETA-sponsored porn, the organization was opting into permanent exclusion from any serious dialogue about animal welfare and food sustainability. It’s amazing that they had any to begin with, given that they’ve been found to kill 95 percent of the animals in their “care,” but sex sells, and PETA’s $37 million budget allows for the president of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk and her cronies to sell a lot of it. Oh, and violence. Especially in recent years, something that Newkirk makes absolutely no apology for. Ever.

Neither message is particularly empowering, or even honest. After all, when was the last time you selected a sex partner based on their dietary considerations? Probably never. However, PETA’s most reliable marketing tool has been misogyny. Their advertisements have always focused on executing fat shame against a backdrop of sexual exploitation. If we imagine a world influenced by PETA advertisements, animals are free to exist without interference from human beings, while human women are hotter than ever in their reduction to simple blow-up dolls that just happen to have a pulse. Well, scratch that; pulse optional.

Which brings us back to the lack of attention paid to the site shift. Is the lack of fanfare indicative that PETA’s tactics are finally getting so tired, they don’t even expect their supporters to check the site regularly to see the content change? Something in the quiet redesign suggests failure, or at least a resignation, on the part of the same people who like to tell women we’re nothing more than a political means to a sociopolitical end.

Only time will tell if this is the last we hear of Newkirk and the gang. Based on their track record, it’s highly unlikely.

Related Content:

PETA and Porn: Exploit Women, Not Animals

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Comments

  1. I’m a vegan and I am really sick of PETA. I have never heard anyone respond to a PETA campaign by saying that they made a good point, however, many a time heard people state that they want to eat a beef burger just to annoy them- and I don’t blame them. I don’t know how they justify exploiting women under the guise of “morality”. PETA do more harm to the cause than good. They portray vegans as judgmental, preachy freaks and their only concerns are which celebs they can get to strip off and judging everyone; which only seems to appeal to the ignorant and piss off everyone else.
    I must say though that their views and behaviour are not reprehensive off all vegans and allot off us are against PETA. Please don’t let their behaviour tarnish you’re view of vegans and the animal rights cause.

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  1. [...] “It tells women that their only hope of being thin, attractive, and ultimately desirable is to engage in a vegan lifestyle. Conversely, the message that men receive is that regardless of how they look beforehand, adopting a vegan lifestyle will make them irresistible to hot women.” PETA’s Porn Charade: to Return to Tried-and-True Misogyny & Sizeism? – Adios Barbie [...]