[The video originally in this post was removed from YouTube—the above is a photo from PETA's 2012 "Running of the Nudes."]
People think it's funny when I tell them I went vegetarian at 15 in order to impress a boy, and the hilarity continues when I confess that my veganism came about for the same reason five years later. What can I say? Sometimes feminists do silly things to prove their political dogmatism. A year after I broke up with Vegan Boy, I read The Sexual Politics of Meat. I was wavering in my commitment to a cruelty-free lifestyle and needed a feminist kick in the pants--and I got just what I was looking for.
Late this year Carol Adams' groundbreaking work will be re-released, twenty years after it first made waves in feminist and animal rights circles. It's unfortunate that such a smart critique (albeit not entirely trouble-free) has been ignored or dismissed over and over again by PETA's co-founder and president Ingrid Newkirk. The media savvy Newkirk knows just how to get attention: by having people (usually women) take their clothes off in public. Its current T&A campaign entitled Running of the Nudes: Out With the Old--In With the Nude intends to protest the Running of the Bulls during the annual festival of San Fermín in Pamplona, Spain on July 6th-14th. Getting an early start to this year's Running of the Bulls protests, PETA held a sit-in yesterday in opposition to today's bullfights at the trocadero in Paris. Yes, there were naked women.
Mostly, I just think this tactic is tired. I'm over PETA using nakedness in general, and naked women in particular (in addition to other shortsighted and offensive theatrics), in order to get its message across. It's clear when you watch PETA's videos of the "nude news conferences" that the vast majority of the people paying these naked ladies any mind are men. But it's not clear if anyone really gives a hoot about anything but their hooters. Most community organizers can tell you that an action isn't worth repeating unless you can prove you've gotten the desired outcome. So where, pray tell, are PETA's factsheets on their own effectiveness? Buzz is just chatter if you've nothing to show for it.
I think I'll send Newkirk a copy of The Sexual Politics of Meat once it's re-released. Better yet, perhaps I can facilitate a conversation between the two. Who'd like to see Newkirk square off with Adams? It'd make a pretty fabulous media event, don't ya think?
Photo by Patrick Kovarik
Update: In the few hours since this post went live, I came across something even more disturbing: Che Guevara's 24-year-old grand-daughter has apparently teamed up with PETA to do a nude ad using Che's legacy as, um, inspiration--though it comes across more like a mockery to me. Can you imagine what this Argentine Marxist revolutionary would say about his iconic image being used to inspire people to "join the vegetarian revolution" with a picture of his naked heir in a carrot-filled ammunition belt and a military beret?! How revolting!
Update: Just one day later this story about PETA's response to the fly "execution". And I'm not even seeking this sh*t out!