Oppression takes many forms

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.

Bus Back

Proposed bus advert from PETA UK

peta whale

Design used for PETA billboard

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 billboard

Recent PETA billboard in UK

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.

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Written by fatgayvegan

  1. Thank you.

  2. YES to all of this. Weirdly, I published a post about this very same topic today, which had been languishing in my draft folders over Christmas. I hadn’t seen their statement about the Paris attacks but it’s pretty rich for them to ask for a rejection of “oppression in all its forms” while they put out such vile, misogynistic, fatphobic images.

  3. Indeed!

    I’ve also been sickened to see vegans uncritically applauding Charlie Hebdo for its periodic animal rights stances as if it erases the magazine’s Islamophobia and racism.

    • Racism? I haven’t seen one example of it (religion is not a race btw). Islamophobia? They were reacting to the oppression of freedom of speech by extreme Islamists, something that has proven to be all too valid. They levelled similar cartoons at the Catholic church. Charlie Hebdo is a magazine based on satire – it’s allowed to amuse, provoke and shock. They believed in the intelligence of their readers and their ability to make their own minds up.

      Their stance on animal rights was not just periodic, they had a weekly column dedicated to it (not the norm in France). Look up the work of Fabrice Nicolina, a writer shot and seriously injured in the attack. As well as being a passionate environmentalist he has a book – ‘gammon, the meat industry threatens the world’ and last year contributed to ‘The truth on meat’.

      I think I’ll continue to applaud what Charlie Hebdo stands for and, If I’m being critical, I don’t much care if you or anyone else is sickened by that.

      • Well put. You can opt out of religion, it’s a matter of choice, but cannot leave your race. The criminals who perpetrated the crimes in Paris and elsewhere recently were psychopaths and murderers masquerading as Muslms; their misguided beliefs are the end result of manipulation, grooming and deliberate obscurantism.

    • I can only agree with “Charlie”; it is not racism to criticize a religion. Religion is an idea, not a person, and while people deserve respect, ideas do not. Especially ideas that some (such as the people at Charlie Hebdo) believe to be harmful to society.

      • Satire works best (and arguably only works) when aimed up. A French publication aggressively attacking the Catholic church is not the same as the same publication aggressively attacking Islam. The Catholic church has a long history of power and oppression over Western societies; Islam does not. Islam does not stand in a position of power in the West; it is not the dominant force, and does not dictate the discourse of our media, nor influence government policy. Muslims in France, along with other minority groups, face many forms of oppression. That is not to say that Islamic states do not oppress, but the point here is that, in France, to satirise Muslims to the extent that Charlie Hebdo did is to take aim at an already oppressed group of people linked by their religion. That is not on.

  4. Totally agree. Thanks for posting FGV. Would consider giving them money if their ads changed.

  5. Great post. Thank you.

  6. Peta may be doing some good using obesity in some of it’s adds. As we know there is an obesity epidemic and obesity is associated with potentially life limiting illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes. This message may be uncomfortable.but it is true.

  7. Well spoken. I stand by you in this.

  8. Wow, I haven’t seen those campaigns in real life. I do find them pretty offensive and stereotypic.

  9. […] If we don’t, we end up with organizing that equates women of color to exotic animals, sexualizes violence against women, body shames women, and so much more. […]

  10. […] If we don’t, we end up with organizing that equates women of color to exotic animals, sexualizes violence against women, body shames women, and so much more. […]

  11. […] offending people on the grounds of their weight, sexuality, personal gender identity and a myriad of identifiable […]

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