More ineffective advocacy from PETA

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First they paraded half-naked women around in cities (including Charleston, right across from the building where I teach) holding signs that said “I’d rather be naked than wear fur” (Link NSFW). Then they had the “vegetarians have better sex” commercial that the Super Bowl refused to air (Link also NSFW). Now PETA is at it again. Their latest campaign to save the animals by exploiting women is called the “Sexiest Vegetarian Next Door” contest (You guessed it, Link NSFW).

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To enter, you must be a vegetarian or vegan. To win, PETA members have to vote for you because they think you’re attractive. Men can enter as well, but the silhouette in the logo is clearly female.

I have a radical suggestion for PETA. Instead of taking a page from the book of beer commercials and arguing “attractive people do this so you should as well”, why don’t you try to convince people that your side is the right one by using reasoned, respectful argument?



  1. Jose Palazzo · March 4, 2010

    I think you do have a point and I respect it. But… if we want to save this planet from the abuses of humankind, should we keep using reasoned, respectful argument, or appeal to the rather simplist mindset of the millions of idiots who comprise the bulk of our species? (I haven´t got a final answer myself after 30 years of activism…)

    • WhySharksMatter · March 4, 2010

      Show me one person who has been convinced that saving the environment is important as a result of radical activism, Jose.

    • Sam · March 4, 2010

      This isn’t really radical activism. Sexist to be sure, but I wouldn’t say it’s radical. It’s actually kind of conventional activism with a sexist twist, because it’s really just an attention thing.

      Far from convincing people, I think this will actually be counter productive to their cause because loads and loads of horny, horny teenagers (this is a phenomenon unrelated to hungry, hungry hippos) will log on to the site to see submitted pictures and they’ll just ignore PETA’s message, reinforcing the ignoring that already goes on. It’ll probably whip up the masses that do follow PETA, but that’s about it for the positives.

    • Jose Palazzo · March 8, 2010

      I think you should ask the millions worldwide that do support organizations like PETA or Sea Shepherd. Seems to me that they are pretty convinced… and to me they do qualify as persons. 🙂

    • Sam · March 9, 2010

      I addressed that.

      “It’ll probably whip up the masses that do follow PETA, but that’s about it for the positives.”

    • Mike Lisieski · September 15, 2010

      I find that radical activism is often inspiring, and it’s convinced me to care about a number or issues I was otherwise apathetic about, although I often disagree with people’s activities in the name of said activism (especially when they’re ill-informed or violent.) Keep in mind that “radical activism” as a category encompasses thinks like the movements led by Ghandi and MLK, or the animals rights movements within and without academia that are responsible for the presence of animal use policies in institutions and (some) industry research. What you mean by the word “radical” is probably not “radical”, but something more like “outlandish,” “extreme,” etc.

      Also, you offer a very easy argument to come back against, by asking for a single (albeit empirically un-confirmable [spelling?]) counter example. Couldn’t Jose just say “me”? Presumably he’s more of an authority on his own experiences than any of us.

    • WhySharksMatter · March 4, 2010

      Also, calling the people who we need to convince that we’re right “idiots” is probably not the best move strategically. People don’t tend to agree with you when you insult them.

    • Jose Palazzo · March 8, 2010

      Maybe, but I refuse to bow to political correctness as part of my personal expression. If you can call other NGOs/activists sexist and the like, I am also entitled to call the bulk of humankind by its actual main trait: idiocy.

    • Southern Fried Scientist · March 8, 2010

      I think it’s hilarious when people declare “i refuse to bow to political correctness” to justify willful ignorance and incompetence.

    • Jose · March 15, 2010

      Given the reply of your blog´s buddy below, it seems he DOES need more walks on the beach… 🙂 So much to justify my earlier comment about humankind in general and ‘smart’ scientists in particular. 🙂 🙂

    • WhySharksMatter · March 15, 2010

      Jose, I think your argument would be stronger if you added more smiley faces.

  2. Sam · March 4, 2010

    How do they ensure you’re vegetarian or vegan for their online contest? Hahaha.

  3. Caroline · March 5, 2010

    As a women’s studies major, I don’t see this as exploitation: These women are choosing to utilize their bodies. In fact, I could say you, a male, saying this is exploitation of women is an attempt to remove their power.

    But I won’t, because to do that would be to be like you, who is only propagating our society’s unfortunate reliance on binary constructs: male/female, homosexual/heterosexual, etc. Look past the sex of these women, and see human beings standing up for a cause they believe in. And you’ll also see an organization like PETA that’s only major fault is that they are too progressive.

    And get more facts about the organization, as like most organizations they are multi-faceted and campaigns are not all they do: like being responsible for the largest seizure of exotic animals in U.S. history, animals that were living in utter hell.

    • Sam · March 6, 2010

      “But I won’t, because to do that would be to be like you.”

      You vs. I is a binary construct too. I understand what you’re saying, but you’re not actually going about it in a positive, helpful way. You’re just flaming him.

      And by the way, there’s got to be a reason PETA only used women identifying as the societal ideal of women in their ads, and polls only serve to reinforce the societal ideal of beauty.

      “And you’ll also see an organization like PETA that’s only major fault is that they are too progressive.”

      Actually, they’ve hindered a lot of progress. See their site. Sure, they’ve helped in some good things, but, overall, the world of environmentalism, animal rights et al. is worse off because of them. Their campaigns take the logic out of logical issues. Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely great that they busted the exotics place. However, in the overall scheme of things, they take the science out of environmentalism and animal rights so that they’re mass-marketed products. You lose a lot of the reasoning that way.

  4. Jae · March 8, 2010

    You are confused. PeTA has nothing at all to do with environmentalism except to undermine it.

  5. Mason Posner · March 9, 2010

    Unfortunately, I think it is pretty clear that “reasoned, respectful argument” does not sway many people. While many may not agree with PETA because they are already set against their opinions, the organization gets more press and is better known than most environmental groups because of their PR approach. And I imagine that PETA’s ad campaigns, because they get noticed and are entertaining, do sway people in the middle.

    The Shifting Baselines group takes a somewhat similar approach to addressing ocean conservation issues, and seems to be successful doing it (OK without the naked women). We need to entertain to engage, and then we can get the message across. Reasoned debate is not going to do it.

  6. Sean Kaur · June 17, 2010

    I always support the cause of PETA.~.`

  7. Luis Howard · September 14, 2010

    my friends and i are all members of PETA, we love to protect animals`”

  8. Mike Lisieski · September 14, 2010

    Activism is primarily about PR, not science. Think of the difference between politics and political/economic theory. *Science* is about science, and hopefully activists are sensible enough to use it well. When they’re not though, they can still do their job, which is mostly to get people motivated to act on feelings they already have rather than to change their stated positions on things.

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