Awareness going a step too far

Story by Emily Gresbrink

In late August, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) announced via its website that they would be launching a pornographic website. The .xxx page will feature both explicit content as well as animal abuse exposés, according to a Huffington Post article from September 21. Later that week — so, just a few weeks ago — the site was launched.

If you just shook your head and asked yourself, “How does pornography exploit animal abuse?” congrats! You’re not alone in that boat; I feel that way as well. I think it’s incredibly disturbing. Why in the name of everything holy would you use a naked body to exploit animal abuse?


Well, this statement from PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt (reported byThe Huffington Post as well) may explain it: “We live in a 24-hour news cycle world and we learn the racy things we do are sometimes the most effective way that we can reach particular individuals.”

Continuing, The Herald Sun published a quotation saying, “PETA’s sexy side displayed in galleries and videos will quickly give way to the sinister world of animal mistreatment uncovered by the group’s hidden camera investigations in a very different kind of graphic content.”

You know, I have a lot of thoughts running through my mind when it comes to this. Not only are you showing animals suffering (which is never good), but you are also exploiting the human body for profit.


Here is where I raised my eyebrows and asked myself, ‘But isn’t that what

Playboy and similar magazines do?’ We’ll get back to that in a second.

I guess the thing that bothers me here is the word “awareness.” I feel like PETA, in this case, is playing with our minds and gravely misusing the term “awareness”
through exploitation.


Awareness usually leads into a call to action — you know, making us aware of a problem or harm and getting us to fix it. Exploitation usually comes with a price tag or profit, either for the model involved or the company behind it.


The difference is you know exactly what you’re going to get with

Playboy. You know it’s for profit and you get what you pay for. Here, I strongly feel PETA is trying to cover sexual exploitation with animal abuse “awareness.”

And let’s be honest again: we all know animal abuse and “Food, Inc.” -type animal product sales happen, no matter how much campaigning, arrests or code violations happen. We see those really depressing Sarah McLachlan commercials with the teary-eyed puppies and scrappy kittens and want to adopt and love them.


But I don’t need to see a naked Pamela Anderson holding a bloody kitten to get the point across, folks. I get it already!


Oh, and one last sidenote:


Why is it that only women have been posing nude for PETA in recent (and forthcoming) ads?


A CBS article noted that PETA’s previous semi-nude/racy campaigns featured women and not necessarily men (they noted that the male celebrities have been mostly clothed).


Am I supposed to feel sorry for the hormone-stuffed turkey or the poor naked girl next to it?


Honestly, I’d feel more sorry for the girl. She thinks she is supporting a cause, this cause to stop animal mistreatment and create a world of vegans — But in reality, nobody wandering onto a porn site is going to be looking at the mistreated animal.


I’m not much of a feminist or hardcore “let’s throw paint on fur coats” animal rights activist, but I do have a soul and this whole issue really tests my patience with our culture. We’re all getting tricked by “awareness” that PETA is “creating,” when the only thing it’s making us aware of is that we are all falling for the (sad, yet true) statement, the bodies of attractive women as ogling objects — “sex sells.”


And, as The Sydney Morning Herald put it once in 2008, this pro-vegetarian group is treating women like pieces of meat. So, PETA: in a roundabout way, you actually are mistreating a living creature. Who’s doing the wrong thing now?

Emily Gresbrink is a junior print journalism major and Sports Editor at The Spectator.