Oppression takes many forms
In the aftermath of the horrendous murders at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, the UK arm of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) published a statement that in part said:
Violence is a social issue, and violence to animals and human beings are interlinked. Yesterday’s losses are being felt by all compassionate people, including those who stand for animal rights. We at PETA stand with Charlie Hebdo in rejecting oppression and violence in all its forms.
I applaud PETA for making this statement but also challenge them to stand by these words in relation to their own campaigns. Reject oppression and violence in all its forms.
PETA, do you understand how your representations of unrealistic body shapes can contribute to unhappiness, depression and feelings of alienation for individuals and whole sections of society?
The projection of a slim body type as the ideal is insulting, unrealistic, hurtful and alienating for tens of millions of vegan activists who do not look like this.
Your campaign images designed to ridicule and shame millions of humans are a form of oppression and violence.
PETA, do you see a correlation between hyper sexualisation of women in your campaigns and wider media and the normalisation of the commodification of women in the real world, as well as the staggering amount of physical and sexual violence perpetuated against women?
Your campaigns utilising images of women in sexually compromising situations are perpetuating oppression and violence.
PETA, are you aware that countless vegan activists want you to stop using sexist, exploitative, body shaming and divisive tactics in your campaigns?
Here are some words from just two of those activists:
“Overall I agree with PETA’s mission wholeheartedly, but I think their often sexist and fat-shaming campaigns cross the line of decency and detract from the AR message that they’re trying to promote.” – Quarrygirl.com
“PETA’s sexist, racist, and body-shaming campaigns do the opposite of spread compassion. Knock it off, nerds.” – Laura Beck, Vegansaurus.com
PETA, did you know that potentially millions of people want to join you in your fight for animals but not at the expense of other social justice issues?
Here are some thoughts on our fight for social justice.
Yes, we know you are desperately racing to stop cruelty to non-human animals.
We are too.
But we are also in a desperate race to stop violence against women. We are in a desperate race to stop debilitating and crippling self-esteem issues. We are in a desperate race to stop body shaming. We are in a desperate race to stop the normalisation of alienating humans based on their appearance. We are millions of people strong and we want to stand beside PETA but are currently unable. We want to stop all kinds of violence, subjugation and perpetuation of negativity.
We know there are individuals within PETA that agree with this sentiment. Please stand shoulder to shoulder with us in our request. You are not losing anything by rejecting outdated campaigns that perpetuate harm to people. You will be gaining millions of supporters who are more than willing to fight alongside you in your quest to end animal exploitation and suffering.
We are committed to improving outcomes for animals and humans alike.
Veganism is an extension of the fight for social justice, not a reason to suspend it.
To repeat the quote from the PETA statement: reject oppression and violence in all its forms.
If you are reading this and would like to see PETA put a stop to sexist and body-shaming campaigns, please voice your feelings in the comments below and share this story with PETA USA and PETA UK via Twitter.
Extra note: this is not an attack to diminish the crucial work PETA has carried out for decades in the name of compassion. You can support the important work they do without supporting some of their tactics. In fact, it is the voices of PETA supporters and campaigners that are most needed when it comes to this issue.