In Poor Taste: PETA's Meat Market

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that PETA’s new campaign isn’t sexist. I’m just saying that it’s not as sexist it might be. I’m saying that, if PETA really tried, it could be more sexist. We’re given a generic topless celeb sporting bikini line beard with the caption ‘Fur Trim: Unattractive.’ Sure, the campaign capitalises on women’s socially inculcated hatred of their own bodies; sure, it uses mindless objectification to get its point across; sure, it works on the assumption that women will only consider acting humanely towards animals if said action makes them more shaggable into the bargain: but I still feel let down.

I mean, ‘Fur Trim’ hardly holds a candle to their campaign in February of this year, in which a young woman in a neck brace, wearing only underwear under her coat, hobbles home with a bag of groceries. She is suffering from a syndrome called ‘Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom Out of Me.’ The message is crystal: go vegan, boys! You’ll bang your girlfriend so hard that she sustains a serious injury. And who doesn’t love to see the woman in their life wearing a sexalicious neck support? Nobody – that’s who! Now that’s the kind of misogyny I’m really after. I can’t imagine ever wanting to support any animal rights charity that doesn’t accompany its medicinal message with the spoonful of sugar that is sexual violence against women.

The ‘Fur Trim’ campaign is also marginally less demeaning than PETA’s fat-shaming 2009 ‘Save the Whales’ offering, which encourages women to ‘Lose the Blubber,’ and thus avoid the horrific crime of not being thin on the beach, by (you guessed it) going veggie. It’s slightly less offensive than the time they asked Ben and Jerry’s to use breast milk to make their ice-cream. It doesn’t set my teeth to grind quite as much as their transphobic ‘Fur is a Drag’ stunt, and it’s got nothing on their strategy of placing a naked pregnant woman in a pig pen in the middle of Covent Garden on Mother’s Day. Worse, PETA has used the Trim campaign before. Vintage fur! Clearly, PETA (Osama chocs notwithstanding) are off their game. And this is a travesty. For who will protect the fluffy-wuffy wittle sea-kittens if not they?

And so, I have decided to give freely of my time and marketing genius to suggest some future campaigns for PETA. I’m not proposing any radical new approaches, simply building seamlessly on what has gone before:  

1. PETA should assemble its pleather poster girl, porn-star Jenna Jameson, its lettuce bikini wearing Playboy Bunnies, and the myriad other inspirational female role models it uses in its advertising campaigns for a veggie hot-dog sucking competition. (The women from its Girl on Girl Make Out Tour can take it in turns to suck the same one.) At the end, the crowd assembled will be asked to suggest more acts that the alluring semi-naked females might perform with a veggie hot-dog. If members of the public sign a contract, promising under pain of disembowelment that they will never eat meat again, then Jenna and friends will make all their sausage dreams come true.

2. Other PETA campaigns have delicately hinted at the moral parity of killing animals and killing women. This advert, intended for the Super Bowl, in which a fur-clad woman is bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat is a particularly cryptic example. But I feel that the exact sameness of killing women and killing animals could be brought into higher relief. Here’s the pitch: two men are out hunting. One of them spots a pheasant and shoots it. The hunters laugh maliciously as the feathered darling falls to the forest floor, before picking it up and tying it to a stick. One of them says ‘I see another one.’ The camera spins around to reveal his prey. It is a naked supermodel. He shoots it. We watch as her hot vegan bod crumples into death. The men pick up her corpse and tie it to a stick. Caption: ‘Just a Dead Bird?’

3. Women = Meat. Simple message, right? But how best to get it across? Supermodel endorsement has worked well for PETA in the past. But the problem is that those pesky models come with opinions of their own and thus tend to backtrack on their animal rights assertions. PETA needs a way of exploiting supermodels’ sexiness and scaring them into submission at the same time. Here’s my idea: We walk through an abattoir. Half-carcasses of cattle swing from side to side like punchbags. One of the meaty pendulums slowly spins to reveal its fleshy side. It is half a dead naked supermodel. The camera pans down over her five red toenails and over her blue nipple. When we reach her semi-cranium, its long locks hanging gorily yet glossily to the cement floor, the model opens her long-lashed eyelid and says ‘I’d rather be killed, butchered, and suspended upside-down by a meathook than eat beef.’ 

I believe that any of these advertising strategies would be phenomenally successful in creating the kinds of humane and loving people that empathise with the suffering of their fellow creatures. But I also think they’d work best in conjunction with a renaming strategy. How about: ‘PETABOOB: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals But Outrageous Objectification of Babes.’ Come on PETA – give it to me. Harder! Faster! More! Make me scream. Make me gag. There can’t be any other way to promote animal welfare, can there?