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State of the Union Undress- PETA


xveganjoshx
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i know, it's bad for our ( or PETA's ) reputation ( the one that we probably never had ), but the video is so insane ( or crazy, retarded, i don't know the right word )..that even meat eaters will promote the video in order to make fun of PETA..

in the end, a lot of people will watch the video..

it works, but it's not good for our reputation..

and personally, i think PETA should try to promote ''physical'' activism, instead of wasting their money w/ shitty campaigns.

 

and you're right veganpotter.

 

veganpotter, do you know vegans who use steroids?

 

I don't know any pro vegan athletes that use steroids for sure but I can guess Martina Navritolova may have(I hope not), there was a vegan stage winner in the Tour De France in 1989 who likely used(amphetamines were very popular), and there is now a vegan on a pro tour in Europe that is probably using. Its pretty darn near impossible to stay or even get to that level clean. Carl Lewis who was vegan during the season was also likely dirty even though he would never admit it(who would?). Peter Hussing(a super heavyweight boxer) was competing when testing wasn't even remotely a scare. Debbie Lawrence 5k race walking champ is also a maybe. A lot of this is my speculation but being in the world of elite athletes even when I was 18 just shows how dirty things must be when you go up to the next level.

 

Anyway PETA does tons of physical campaigns and most of there money goes to that and leafleting. Thing is they go so much damn money and they've gotta spend it. If they don't people won't give them money if they don't see them using it. They have so much money that they try to promote veganism through every route...its just that the media doesn't recognize the quiet campaigns.

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okay...i am a woman, and i dislike peta's tactics on portraying women as sex objects. i of course do not mean that women dont have or shouldnt have free will. but ive burt hurt by porn. i have been sexually abused and raped and child porn was taken of me. sorry to be so graphic, but im trying to get my point across. there are still women who feel, in the US at least, that they are still treated as second-class citizens. we still in general get paid less than men in the US; one in 4 are abused. many female sex or porn workers do openly choose to do so--but many come from abuse backgrounds, homelessness, and/or financial desperation. and whether or not the woman intends it that way, her image will be used. there's not even a catchy phrase to justify the nakedness--like "dont wear fur--wear your own damn skin." its just in hopes that men will listen because she is stripping. but frankly they are only going to watch the strip and not listen. the woman's body again becomes meat--a "piece of top grade ass." which is interesting that animals can be viewed in exactly the same way.

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I'll start by saying I have no problems with nudity or sex in anyway(I'm a kinky bastard and there are naked pic of me on the Internet) Nor do I think the woman was pressured(although it's possible.)

 

That said I don't think this video does anything positive. I doubt it'll get anyone to change their dietary habits and I think this sort of activity is counterproductive as it aleinates a lot of people who could be on 'our side'

 

Beyond that I also think it objectives and commodifies women's bodies. Basically this video shows the women's body in exchange for people to watch scenes of animal abuse and her about some thing PETA has done. But if the problem we are dealing with is the fact non-humans animals are commodified how does treating a human the same way help? It doesn't - in fact it does the opposite, it says that commodifying life and bodies is alright. Beyond that we have to look at the wider social context that this actions exist in. It's not happening in a vacuum, we live in society that treats women's bodies as objects. This is why people often see sex as some sort of exchange rather then a loving act(or a bit of fun )

I think that objectification of women's bodies is a key facet of sexism and also a key factor reinforcing sexism. Look at all the ad campaigns and how they present women and how these campaigns effect women(eating disorders, low self confidence, a 'need' to use beauty products to look good and fit in) Also women are presented as mostly passive and for men's benefit.

Women aren't passive. Women don't exist for men to fuck. Animals don't exist for people to eat.

Let's end the commodification of life. Not reinforce it. In the end that's only counter productive.

Edited by Wobbly Lifter
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People are all different and if a million people saw this video at least 1 would become vegan...even if its due to stupidity. Thats better than nothing, regardless of how it makes a volunteer look.

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I'll start by saying I have no problems with nudity or sex in anyway(I'm a kinky bastard and there are naked pic of me on the Internet) Nor to I think the woman was pressured(although it's possible.)

 

That said I don't think this video does anything positive. I doubt it'll get anyone to change their dietary habits and I think this sort of activity is counterproductive as it aleinates a lot of people who could be on 'our side'

 

Beyond that I also think it objectives and commodifies women's bodies. Basically this video shows the women's body in exchange for people to watch scenes of animal abuse and her about some thing PETA has done. But if the problem we are dealing with is the fact non-humans animals are commodified how does treating a human the same way help? It doesn't - in fact it does the opposite, it says that commodifying life and bodies is alright. Beyond that we have to look at the wider social context that this actions exist in. It's not happening in a vacuum, we live in society that treats women's bodies as objects. This is why people often see sex as some sort of exchange rather then a loving act(or a bit of fun )

I think that objectification of women's bodies is a key facet of sexism and also a key factor reinforcing sexism. Look at all the ad campaigns and how they present women and how these campaigns effect women(eating disorders, low self confidence, a 'need' to use beauty products to look good and fit in) Also women are presented as mostly passive and for men's benefit.

Women aren't passive. Women don't exist for men to fuck. Animals don't exist for people to eat.

Let's end the commodification of life. Not reinforce it. In the end that's only counter productive.

 

Excellent post! You hit all the nails on their heads here. I totally agree. Fantastic!

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People are all different and if a million people saw this video at least 1 would become vegan...even if its due to stupidity. Thats better than nothing, regardless of how it makes a volunteer look.

 

Potter, this is a very poor argument for too many reasons.

I don't see how making a couple people vegetarian could help the vegan movement, if it occurs at the expense of comodifying a whole sect of historically mistreated individuals. These kinds of programs are self-defeating. They only serve to further polarize the AR community, and we really don't need any more of that.

 

Furthermore, if this kind of promotion of veganism is acceptable, what dare I ask is unacceptable? I don't even want to imagine what might define the fuzzy boundary of unacceptability if this kind of promotion is okay .

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People are all different and if a million people saw this video at least 1 would become vegan...even if its due to stupidity. Thats better than nothing, regardless of how it makes a volunteer look.

 

What about the millions of feminists who should be our allies on this issue but who are turned off AR from this shit. Turning one horny dude vegan is not worth losing that.

 

And what xveganjoshx wrote. Or do animals matter more to you then people?

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Beyond that I also think it objectives and commodifies women's bodies. Basically this video shows the women's body in exchange for people to watch scenes of animal abuse and her about some thing PETA has done. But if the problem we are dealing with is the fact non-humans animals are commodified how does treating a human the same way help? It doesn't - in fact it does the opposite, it says that commodifying life and bodies is alright. Beyond that we have to look at the wider social context that this actions exist in. It's not happening in a vacuum, we live in society that treats women's bodies as objects. This is why people often see sex as some sort of exchange rather then a loving act(or a bit of fun )

I think that objectification of women's bodies is a key facet of sexism and also a key factor reinforcing sexism. Look at all the ad campaigns and how they present women and how these campaigns effect women(eating disorders, low self confidence, a 'need' to use beauty products to look good and fit in) Also women are presented as mostly passive and for men's benefit.

Women aren't passive. Women don't exist for men to fuck. Animals don't exist for people to eat.

Let's end the commodification of life. Not reinforce it. In the end that's only counter productive.

So women have no choice in the matter? I don't think you give women enough credit. To me it sound like you believe that women are somewhat handicapped and thus really can't work or function in society without yours or mine protection, blessing, knowledge and morale. Again, I don't know where you find these women?

Also the description of the context varies widely and it is not a given that you description is the right one. My view of the world, for example, probably varies a lot from yours. One of the tactics from the left have always been to sound credible by having positions in academia (as the dufus that wrote the article) and thus trying to "prove" certain patterns in society solely by being credible scientists. Alot of young naive people unfortenately buy these simplifications of reality because they are convenient.

Also drawing all these connection between sexism, "speciesism", capitalism, or whatever else one could muster up in ones fantasy is counterproductive for the goal one have in each of the areas. It's convenient and simple though so it attracts some attention. But since I don't agree with you in most issues (probably) I'd say keep it up! I do get a little ticked though when the far left movement tries to monopolize the issues that are important for me too (as in equal rights among the population and animal rights).

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So women have no choice in the matter? I don't think you give women enough credit. To me it sound like you believe that women are somewhat handicapped and thus really can't work or function in society without yours or mine protection, blessing, knowledge and morale. Again, I don't know where you find these women?

Also the description of the context varies widely and it is not a given that you description is the right one. My view of the world, for example, probably varies a lot from yours. One of the tactics from the left have always been to sound credible by having positions in academia (as the dufus that wrote the article) and thus trying to "prove" certain patterns in society solely by being credible scientists. Alot of young naive people unfortenately buy these simplifications of reality because they are convenient.

Also drawing all these connection between sexism, "speciesism", capitalism, or whatever else one could muster up in ones fantasy is counterproductive for the goal one have in each of the areas. It's convenient and simple though so it attracts some attention.

 

First please don't put words in my mouth. I NEVER said women don't have a choice. In fact I said I didn't think she was presuured, which would imply I view it as her choice. Then again when you don't have valid points it's much eay to accuse people of things they didn't say - even if they basically said the opposite.

When did I say women need our "protection, blessing, knowledge and morale"? Oh wait I didn't! In fact a few years ago I would have been saying the same things as you, but then I got educated by women! Hearing the points of view from a number of women in my life has really opened my eyes on this stuff. The people fighting against sexism are mostly women, I just try to support that struggle. They need our support not our "protection, blessing, knowledge and morale"

Sure my description isn't " a given" if it was I wouldn't really have to say it would I? That doesn't mean I'm not right

I have no position in academia and my education is in physics so don't pull out that anti-intellectual nonsense because it doesn't even apply here.

 

It's interesting you don't think there are connections between varies forms of oppression and exploitation considering they all have the same root, viewing one group as less then another and thus viewing it as ok to treat them worse, treat them like an object (like thinking it's ok to eat meat or rape women). Also no connection to capitalism? Then why are the groups that fight so hard against AR funded by capitalist? Why do women get paid less? Wait I think I have an idea! It's because sexism and speciesism(why'd you put that in quotes?) are profitable. But there's no connection - none at all. At least when we bury our heads in the sand. Drawing these connections may be "convenient and simple" but that's because they exist. It's not counterproductive to draw these connections - it's counterproductive not to as they have a similar nature and function. Reinforcing the commodity status of one group isn't going to help end the commodity status of another.

 

In the future when you respond don't put words in my mouth or make absurd accusations. But you wouldn't have much to say then would you?

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I do get a little ticked though when the far left movement tries to monopolize the issues that are important for me too (as in equal rights among the population and animal rights).

 

Get ticked all you want but I'm not trying to monopolize anything. Viewing legitimate views and debate as an attempt to monopolize is kinda silly though. I'm super happy when right wing people help unionize places, fight sexism, or support AR. Just seems a little inconsisant with their views about the economy. Fair enough though most people's views are inconsisant to some degree. At least one of your accusations is fair, I am 'far left'.

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I do get a little ticked though when the far left movement tries to monopolize the issues that are important for me too (as in equal rights among the population and animal rights).

 

Get ticked all you want but I'm not trying to monopolize anything. Viewing legitimate views and debate as an attempt to monopolize is kinda silly though. I'm super happy when right wing people help unionize places, fight sexism, or support AR. Just seems a little inconsisant with their views about the economy. Fair enough though most people's views are inconsisant to some degree. At least one of your accusations is fair, I am 'far left'.

Yeah, ok. Sorry. I usually get a lot of things like you can't belive in equality if I believe in a free market and don't believe in the ghost called patriarchy.

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When did I say women need our "protection, blessing, knowledge and morale"? Oh wait I didn't! In fact a few years ago I would have been saying the same things as you, but then I got educated by women! Hearing the points of view from a number of women in my life has really opened my eyes on this stuff. The people fighting against sexism are mostly women, I just try to support that struggle. They need our support not our "protection, blessing, knowledge and morale"

Sure my description isn't " a given" if it was I wouldn't really have to say it would I? That doesn't mean I'm not right

I have no position in academia and my education is in physics so don't pull out that anti-intellectual nonsense because it doesn't even apply here.

The thing that usually separarates my view of equality (for any given "group") with the left is that I do want to get rid of all discrimination from the state but at the same time I don't belive in actively putting one "group" against another. In fact, I do believe that this is one of the fundamental things that gives us ineaquality in the first place. Usually leftish people talk about freedom but then runs for the state to get their views by force (at least until the revolution comes).

The academia thing is always applying since it often gives the theoretic foundation to the leftish movement by giving credibility to statements that may have little scientific backup. The blogger uses this tactic when he gives his points. He clearly states that he has a high academic title and uses a language that makes it sound like science. People fall for it all the time (e.g. Atkins, Mercola, Weston Price) and thus it is an important point.

Also no connection to capitalism? Then why are the groups that fight so hard against AR funded by capitalist?

Capitalism is two individuals exchanging values by mutual free agreement. It's not everything that is evil in the world even though this is a popular view among leftish people. This is what I meen with oversimplyfying things. You take a word that is real, change the meaning of it so that it illustrates a problem that is easily solved and then gives the solution. It's dangerous because it stops reflecting reality and thus doesn't solve anything. It has cost alot of lives through history.

Why do women get paid less?

There are women who earns alot more than me and thus it's not a sex thing. Some women earning less than some men probably have multiple reasons that are different from case to case and thus should be solved in a case by case fashion. I do however agree that it would be much easier and more convenient if the patriarch ghost actually mirrored reality. If you believe it does than more power to you but if you go to the state and ask then to use force to support one "group" against another it becomes dangerous.

 

And can you go easy on the , I realised that you think I was stupid with the first .

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What about the millions of feminists who should be our allies on this issue but who are turned off AR from this shit. Turning one horny dude vegan is not worth losing that.

 

And what xveganjoshx wrote. Or do animals matter more to you then people?

 

What about the millions of feminists around the world that believe in freedom of showing their bodies...there are more of those than women...or people in general that want to be vegan. And yes animals mean more to me than people do when the people are volunteering to do something(this is why groups like the ALF exhist because they are willing to spend their lives in prison for animals...is that wrong???)...I wouldn't mind animals being food if they wanted to be.

 

As for women earning less than men on average I think for the moment it is justified in the US. Up until 2 years ago more men graduated and enrolled in college than women and therefore the working class of men should be making more than women at the moment. However 2 years ago women finally beat men in enrollment and graduation rates. And I'm hoping in 15yrs this will show once these women finally work in the same fields as men(not that they aren't already) but there "should" be more women then men. In this case women will hopefully be making more than men(I'm very much looking forward to that...I wanna see how much men complain about women then)

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Saying that this video gets results which are 'better than nothing' isn't much of a reason to do it; there could be better things to do than this, other campaigns. To compare it to 'nothing' isn't a fair comparison, because I don't think people are saying Peta should do nothing, just that this is perhaps inappropriate.

 

I agree with others who are saying that it's like using the woman's body as a means of promotion, I think that's what makes me feel sad whilst watching it, that this woman probably does really care about what she's saying, and this is the point that she's come to, and it's a strange composition.

 

I don't think it's the end of the world though. Also maybe it has worked out, I don't know if there is even a way to tell if it's worked. Maybe it will work in terms of getting the name 'Peta' in people's heads, so that they will research it later. I think it's good to experiment with campaigns to see what will work. If this falls flat on its ass, then presumably Peta won't release further videos like this. If it has a good response, I guess it might be worth persuing, if it is going to help animals.

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The thing is they do other campaigns. They promote veganism in every way imaginable. Its just that this is something people really noticed...its like abortion. Nobody pays attention to the mild campaigns for or against abortion...only the stuff thats a bit out there gets press. Even though even the most radical on either side of these movements also campaign quietly as well. And yes...those pictures of babies being aborted do get people to not get abortions...even though its radical it works for the agenda they are trying to push forward. It scares off many(I know it does for me) but I can't say its unsuccessful because that wouldn't be true.

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The thing is they do other campaigns. They promote veganism in every way imaginable. Its just that this is something people really noticed...its like abortion. Nobody pays attention to the mild campaigns for or against abortion...only the stuff thats a bit out there gets press. Even though even the most radical on either side of these movements also campaign quietly as well. And yes...those pictures of babies being aborted do get people to not get abortions...even though its radical it works for the agenda they are trying to push forward. It scares off many(I know it does for me) but I can't say its unsuccessful because that wouldn't be true.

 

Bringing abortion into this is a horrible idea because abortion theory/moral permissibility/law is an extremely complex issue that is not very good at being used as an example. I know vegans who have very different stances on this issue, it's just doesn't do an argument very well to relate to it.

 

While we're on this aside, which I hope isn't very long, I'd like to say that showing people pictures of babies being aborted isn't radical and isn't about shock value to get press. It's showing people the exact procedure they are considering doing. That's not radical.

 

A woman stripping has nothing to do with promoting animal rights, that's why that is different and "radical" (really just pathetic though). I couldn't even listen to what she was saying because I was so distracted by the stripping, it eroticized the murder to the animals that were shown in the stills alongside it and is just completely stupid for reasons outlined above already.

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When did I say women need our "protection, blessing, knowledge and morale"? Oh wait I didn't! In fact a few years ago I would have been saying the same things as you, but then I got educated by women! Hearing the points of view from a number of women in my life has really opened my eyes on this stuff. The people fighting against sexism are mostly women, I just try to support that struggle. They need our support not our "protection, blessing, knowledge and morale"

Sure my description isn't " a given" if it was I wouldn't really have to say it would I? That doesn't mean I'm not right

I have no position in academia and my education is in physics so don't pull out that anti-intellectual nonsense because it doesn't even apply here.

 

The thing that usually separarates my view of equality (for any given "group") with the left is that I do want to get rid of all discrimination from the state but at the same time I don't belive in actively putting one "group" against another. In fact, I do believe that this is one of the fundamental things that gives us ineaquality in the first place. Usually leftish people talk about freedom but then runs for the state to get their views by force (at least until the revolution comes).

The academia thing is always applying since it often gives the theoretic foundation to the leftish movement by giving credibility to statements that may have little scientific backup. The blogger uses this tactic when he gives his points. He clearly states that he has a high academic title and uses a language that makes it sound like science. People fall for it all the time (e.g. Atkins, Mercola, Weston Price) and thus it is an important point.

Also no connection to capitalism? Then why are the groups that fight so hard against AR funded by capitalist?

Capitalism is two individuals exchanging values by mutual free agreement. It's not everything that is evil in the world even though this is a popular view among leftish people. This is what I meen with oversimplyfying things. You take a word that is real, change the meaning of it so that it illustrates a problem that is easily solved and then gives the solution. It's dangerous because it stops reflecting reality and thus doesn't solve anything. It has cost alot of lives through history.

Why do women get paid less?

There are women who earns alot more than me and thus it's not a sex thing. Some women earning less than some men probably have multiple reasons that are different from case to case and thus should be solved in a case by case fashion. I do however agree that it would be much easier and more convenient if the patriarch ghost actually mirrored reality. If you believe it does than more power to you but if you go to the state and ask then to use force to support one "group" against another it becomes dangerous.

 

And can you go easy on the , I realised that you think I was stupid with the first .

 

Oh would you please give up this childish left-right nonsense! All people don't fit into these two over-referenced groups. I have noticed that most of the time when people don't have an argument they just say things about "the other side". Grow up. Get over the cliche, neat designation of people into two groups. It's old and childish, and doesn't add anything to the discussion at hand, it only distracts people with nonsense stereotypes about "the other side".

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Who said the women are being used or abused ? You make it sound like they have no choice in the matter !!

 

It really annoys me that people assume women who take off their clothes to promote something/model do so under pressure or are being exploited. Its their bodies to do with as they please and I for one would happily strip off for PETA if they asked me ..

 

does that make me used and abused

 

NO !

 

Give women of today some credit for actually being able to make choices about THEIR body and what they do with it

 

Rant over

 

You didn't read Gary Francione's blog post.

 

I have been critical of PETA’s sexism from the very beginning of these campaigns in the early 1990s. And every time that I have raised this issue with various PETAphiles, including Ingrid Newkirk, I have been told that there is nothing wrong with these campaigns because the women involved participate willingly and that it is an expression of feminism to go naked “for the animals.” That is as ridiculous as saying that the African-American actors who perpetuated racist stereotypes in blackface comedies in the 1920s and 1930s were striking a blow for racial equality. The fact that this exploitation is “victim approved” does not mean it is not exploitation. It just means that sexism is so pervasive in our society that many women are blinded to it. That should come as no surprise.

 

Also:

 

This is probably an exact copy of the thread that came before, and the same idiotic responses are still being spewed by people who are supposed to critique hegemony in media, not roll over for a treat from it. So I'm going to say what I did before:

 

First off, there are major differences between the ways that men and women are percieved. While they are both judged on appearance (to different degrees), I think you'll find, if you look, that a man's appearance translated into worth is judged upon how "manly" he looks. That is to say, whether he has long hair or no hair, whether he has a dead animal's skin as a jacket or not, etc. etc. Meanwhile, women are judged by how "fuckable" they look -- by their thinness, how clear and poreless their skin looks, so on and so forth. For men, "manliness" is an attribute that defines your position in the hierarchy; for women, their "fuckability" defines what kind of status you're going to get from the people (read: men) in the hierarchy. As a woman, you are not, in and of yourself, allowed into Patriarchy. You're the lowest rung. You're a toy to be used for sex.

 

PeTA obviously does not only not care about this, they encourage this kind of thinking for the sake of publicity. You'll note, of course, that all the "sexiest vegetarians" are thin (women) or muscular (men). But these things are percieved differently. For a man, even if you're not an alpha-male, you have worth in your work and such. For women? Not so much. Women's primary worth is defined in terms of their body rather than in their mind. (This, actually, has not changed, only warped. Instead of having to remain chaste to be a Good Woman, women have to be one of the "cool, liberated" girls and tout themselves as "sexy".) If you ever wonder why the occurrence of eating disorders has gone up massively, look no further than the fact that women's weight loss attempts and successes are the topic of endless conversation and praise, and that this plays in with society's perception of women's worth as primarily hinging upon their body that makes women think that the greatest success they can achieve is to be thin.

 

Off from that tangent, I go to my next point:

 

You will find, when you look at the softcore pornography PeTA spews out like they have sexist dysentery, that the pictures of women and men are not the same. If you look, you will see that men are often shown in "strong" poses, such as with their arms crossed over their chests, or in a similarly "manly" pose. Meanwhile, women are portrayed in stereotypically "sexy" poses; come hither chic. This is not a mistake. Women are portrayed in vulnerable poses while men are not; the men retain all their bodily and sexual autonomy, while women offer it up to the viewer.

 

My next point is to agree with LIP and point out that you are engaging in a strawman. Critiquing the hegemony inherent in media is not sex-phobic; rather, we are trying to reclaim a sexuality that is not dictated to us by aforementioned media. We do not think that women are "dirty" or that they aren't allowed to express their sexuality. You'll note that I started a "draw yourself naked" thread in Freak Sex; art is intimately tied to my sexual expression. Images of "perfect" women who want endlessly to sexually please men in the ways men want, however, is not art; it's a contrived mindfuck for both sexes. You may find those bodies artistic, but unless you want me to pose for them, a short, obese woman, then you're not admiring the beauty of women's bodies at all, just the pieces of women's sexuality that please and titillate you. (And my point would be proven about PeTA's sexism when they flat-out refused to let me pose for one of their ads because I am a short, obese woman.)

 

Also read this article, please.

 

No one's saying that women are mindless robots. That's a Straw Feminist, and whoever says that we are saying that should take a fucking reading comprehension course. We are, however, saying that women have grown up around the commodification and objectification of our bodies -- so we see it as "normal".

 

P.S.

 

I'd like to say that showing people pictures of babies being aborted isn't radical and isn't about shock value to get press. It's showing people the exact procedure they are considering doing. That's not radical.

 

Actually, as the vast majority of abortions are done at a time when the fetus is about the size of a raspberry, the abortion pictures aren't "radical", they're just plain incorrect. Most aborted fetuses can't be photographed well, as they're just a glob of flesh at that point, the differences in shape mostly immaterial, and most importantly, abortion procedures are private (for obvious reasons, like pro-forced birth terrorism), and the fetus is considered medical waste afterwards and is incinerated. That's right. The Silent Scream is a complete, total fake.

 

By the way, if you're going to argue against commodifying women's bodies, you'd better get your shit together and stop trying to repress women, too. That shit don't fly with real Feminists, buddy.

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I've read a number of discussions about PETA's sexist actions and there are some things that I see come up repeatedly.

 

I often see the response that women take part willingly. The implication is that it is therefore not sexist. This argument relies on the assumption that anything a woman does cannot be sexist against women or cannot be supportive of societal sexist attitudes. I think that assumption is completely without validity. Women can be sexist. Women can buy into sexist attitudes and act in ways that further them. They can do this of their own "free will". I use quotes because we all are influenced by societal attitudes about all sorts of things and though we think we are acting of our own free will, that will is subtly and perhaps unconsciously influenced by those societal attitudes. It's easier to see this if we look at societies or traditions that seem obviously sexist to us--for example, female genital mutilation or rules/laws in some coutries that forbid women from leaving the house without a male relative. We would look at that and consider those things harmful to and oppressive of women. However, many of the women who are subject to these things take part in them of their own free will, defend them, and even pressure other women to conform to them. The fact that women do this does not mean that these things are not sexist.

 

Second, I often see men who criticize or analyze these kinds of things being accused of being paternalistic towards women. I also think that is completely unjustified. If we are all equal, why shouldn't a man be able to analyze and criticize the actions of women in exactly they way they would the actions of a another man or the way a woman would the actions of another woman. Women's actions are not pure or perfect. Women sometimes make wrong decisions. We sometimes make decisions that are harmful to other women, or to men, or to society. We shouldn't set up a situation in which as long as women are acting "freely" whatever we do is OK. If women are equal, then that means that we can make mistakes, can be blind to what influences our decisions, can act in ways that are selfish--to our own benefit at the expense of others--just like men can. And any member of society, men included, should be free to call us on it.

 

I think that both of my points can be summed up pretty simply. Whether women take part in these campaigns "of their free will" is completely beside the point. It has absolutely no bearing on whether the campaigns are or are not sexist. Whether a woman chooses "freely" to do something has no bearing on whether it is right or wrong to do it or whether the action is harmful or beneficial to society and the other people in it.

Edited by FormicaLinoleum
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Thank you, Liz. And I want to take a point of yours and run with it, namely the repeating phenomenon of the Pedestal.

 

The Pedestal has been a repeating pattern throughout history. In the early 1900s, women got the vote by putting women on a pedestal -- motherhood. It was wrong that those who were raising the next generation of lawmakers didn't have a vote; suffragettes campaigned for women's right to vote on the basis that women were mothers and therefore their say mattered. (Source: For Her Own Good by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English.)

 

That set the backdrop for what was to come next. Women's "maternal instincts" were idolised, for that was what made them better than the brutal, manly business world. But that idolisation had a major downside: women's "maternal instincts" were sacred, and so they weren't allowed to journey into the workplace because -- among other things -- they were too fragile and delicate, more suited for dealing with physically and financially ineffective children than the rough, tough realm of economics. Women became trapped on the Pedestal.

 

Today, women's "choice" is idolised. But you'll note, of course, that a woman's choice to not have sex (ever, until marriage, or with a certain man or woman) is often maligned. She becomes a prude, frigid and man-hating. If she chooses to fight against the institutionalised sexism within the sex industry and everywhere else, she is mocked, saying that all she needs is to "get fucked". (I for one find it very odd, but telling, that a word meaning "sex" has also come to mean destroying something.) It is only the cases where women "choose" to "empower themselves right out of their clothes" that are defended. Everyone else is afraid or ashamed of their bodies, a right-winger, or a sexual fascist.

 

So by making the choices of women sacred, we put them onto another kind of Pedestal, where the consequences of their decisions cannot be discussed because it's her "choice", thus making self-improvement and -reflection impossible. It enforces a peculiar kind of crippling narcissism; that whatever choice a woman makes cannot be questioned, ever.

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