Sexist Meat Market.

Via Melanie Klein
on Jul 15, 2010
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Pamela Anderson’s Newest Ad Campaign for PETA.

Ah, PETA is at it again.

Here is their latest installment in a series of sexist, degrading ads featuring an objectified, nearly nude woman.

This time long-time animal rights activist, Pamela Anderson,  is “carved” up like any other hunk of meat.

PETA utilizes images of nude or near nude women as a “catchy” way to raise awareness about animal cruelty, factory farming and the benefits of a vegetarian diet.

In PETA’s ongoing efforts to raise consciousness about these important issues, including the exploitation of animals, they in turn continue to exploit women.

Read more here:

Pamela Anderson’s new ad: Sexist or Sexy?

The Sexual Politics of No Meat.

I’d love to hear feedback from the “enlightened” and “conscious” community Ele serves.

An earlier version of this post appeared at Feminist Fatale.


About Melanie Klein

Melanie Klein, M.A., is a writer, speaker and professor of Sociology and Women's Studies at Santa Monica College. She is a contributing author in 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics and Practice and is featured in Conversations with Modern Yogis. She is the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery + Loving Your Body, and co-founder of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition.


64 Responses to “Sexist Meat Market.”

  1. Carol Horton says:

    I honestly can't imagine how anyone with any integrity can justify this sexist and degrading ad. Some people will do anything to attract attention. Ick!

  2. Allen J. says:

    I really can’t think of one good message their sending with this ad. Misogyny? Objectification? Cannibalism? I’m not the brightest crayon in the box (my best friend of ten years says I’m forest green) but it really doesn’t make me think much about animal rights. It just me think, “Oh, Pamela Anderson wearing next to nothing. Again. Meh. Nothing new. Hey! Wait! Did she steal Dolly Parton’s wig!?”

    It doesn’t make me think, hey, I should stop eating those cute little piglets with my eggs and toast in the morning.

    But perhaps my thinking is biased by my veggie bacon.

    [X-posted from Feminist Fatale]

  3. C. Davenport says:

    Hmmm…Unethical to eat meat, but sure as hell ok to treat women like a piece of it!?!?!

  4. Jennifer Pozner says:

    This is a long-standing complaint with PETA. And they DO NOT CARE. There was an open letter back and forth about nine or ten years ago, if I remember correctly, where a PETA spokesperson basically called feminists ugly and stupid, etc., for raising these concerns.

    The sexism issue with PETA isn't about Pam Anderson. It's about their longer-term strategy of using/exploiting women to make points about animals. I seem to remember a PETA ad with a close-up shot of a woman's crotch in a bikini with pubic hair peeking out around the bikini, with a phrase something like, "Fur trim: ugly." It was a billboard specifically intended to shame women who don't wax their bikini lines, and was extremely gratuitous as a way of raising the "don't wear fur coats" issue. If I remember correctly, that was the ad that sparked the heated exchange between PETA and some feminists, though someone who isn't on deadline could Google for more details.

  5. Newshoes522 says:

    Tasteless, the ad is, but it highlights the an uncomfortable truth about the way our society currently operates. It seems to me that women and animals are often degraded in much the same way… Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but this ad seems like it could provoke viewers to ask some deep questions about the way we treat groups that have historically been under the thumb of the ruling elite.

  6. Sarit says:

    There is certainly some truth to the idea that if we give this attention, we're giving PETA what they want and driving people to look at this ad. However, at the same time, how else can we, as feminist activists, provide a different lens with which to look at an ad like this other than blogging, posting, and eliciting a public conversation about it? If we silently shudder and cringe at the thought that yes, once again, a woman is being referred to as a piece of meat, then we cannot affect change of any kind.

    PETA's primary interest is to garner attention in an effort to get people to abide by a certain lifestyle, and they'll do this by any means necessary. Their ads have no educational value about any potential health benefits of a meat-free lifestyle. They are designed to shock you, stop you, make you look, make you react.
    Personally, as an artist who celebrates female beauty, I am stunned at the false imagery used in their campaigns. We wouldn't eat meat that's been hormonally beefed up, or chemically altered, so why, pray tell, are we going to subscribe to an ad campaign and ideology which places their focus on a model who has been altered in so many ways, there's no recollection of what she really looks like?

  7. I wish PETA would combust from its own insanity.

  8. I truly believe that we have the capacity to and do think in ways that moves beyond the overtly sexual. This constant need to resort to images of nude/near nude women is trite, tired and boring. And, honestly, isn't it pathetic to think that people need images of "sexy" women to focus their attention on animal rights issues? I think it insults our intelligence.

  9. NellaLou says:

    What strikes me is the ongoing undercurrent of the notion of dominance, particularly over nature, despite the fact that humans are part of the natural system. In this instance PETA, on the obvious level is attempting to dominate the discourse by provocation.

    However that viewpoint still comes down to who has "dominion" over nature. That is a particularly Christian viewpoint which is still interjected even by organizations such as PETA. All kinds of compassionate rationalizations abound but PETA, by positioning itself to "speak" for animals is still claiming the position of animal domination. It is apparently their self-proclaimed mandate to decide how nature and the use of nature by humans should proceed. With aggressive ad campaigns, and this one in particular they have also adopted the dominance of the male gaze perspective with regard to women. So if one buys into the sub-text one can congratulate themselves on both counts.

    Some people may think this is progressive and edgy but it is still the same old mindset of domination redressed, or should I say undressed..

    • What an excellent comment! Thanks.

      • NellaLou says:

        Thanks Melanie.

        Another thought occurs-this dominance is very much tied to the notion or feeling of entitlement as well.

        Note: By the Christian reference I am referring to Genesis chapter 1 "26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."

        • Have you read the comment below or the ones at Ele's FB page? I hope that @Tom (below) read this comment and I would love it if you'd copy and pasted this comment over at Ele's FB page where the link to this article is posted.

  10. Tom says:

    I wholly agree with JenniferKH. The rest of you need to chill the fuck out and stop being so over-sensitive. Not to mention selfish.

    The well-being of our beautiful animals is much more important than worrying about offending the unreasonably over-sensitive and opinionated brigade, who get offended at the drop of a hat anyway.

    I'm all for PETA and the ad. It grabs attention and then makes an important point very well. Top marks. 🙂

    • Wow. "Chill the fuck out." Brilliant. Nobody said that animals aren't important. Clearly, they're more important than women. Maybe if you taught the countless amount of young women that I do, you might change your mind.

    • Also, I'm not offended. I'm beyond that. I think this is a stupid ploy to garner attention that demonstrates a lack of creativity and reaffirms stereotypes of women as vapid, objectified bimbettes and I also find it sad that this is the only way that people's attention would be directed to the fate of "beautiful animals." I guess consciousness about exploitation doesn't include women. Study after study confirms the psychological harm inflicted upon young women (including girls that are sexualized as early as elementary school) in which they grow up dumbing themselves down and believing that their most valuable asset is their ass/breasts/insert body part of choice here.

    • NellaLou says:

      So the rationale would be then that the ends justify the means? As long as the point is made there is no limit as to how it's made? That can be quite a slippery slope.

  11. elkabear says:

    I love the debate and at different points in my life chose to think other things about this type of add. It certainly has shock value which we all have reacted to. I choose to see the ad like this: This ad has a dual purpose to me. This is a Feminist statement. We treat (“attractive”) women in the media like meat rather than complete human beings (I’m intentionally not going to talk about Objectification, that’s a whole ‘nother topic). By “we”, I include women because who is more critical of a woman than another woman? Not ALL women, but let’s face it, I’ve heard more women verbally tear apart another, particularly based on her looks, than men. We see it right here in this BLOG. If we want Solidarity among women, we have to Practice Solidarity among each other.

    The other aspect of this ad is the activism focused toward Animal Rights. There is a parallel. Women can be treated as animals, and animals who are raised for the fur trade are not treated with care or gentleness and are treated as if they are disposable objects.

    To me, this ad is more effective as a Feminist statement.

    I am glad however, that there are plenty of celebrities, including Pamela Anderson, who would rather go naked than to wear the skin and fur of animals raised solely for the purpose of coats (and here I will not go in to the issue of animal rights, because that is a whole ‘nother topic as well).

    • Thanks. I agree that there needs to be solidarity to women and that women have been socialized to be judgmental of one another and competitive. From childhood, girls learn early on that their sole value is based on their looks. Hence, relentless competition and focus on their appearance and the appearance of other women.

  12. Some sad comments at Ele's FB page trivializing this issue. See @Luke: Does anyone know of a place where I can download the script for the standard feminist v mysoginist sexual objectification flame war? I'd like to pipe in on this conversation, but I can't remember what the next couple moves are.

    My response to @Luke: Ahahaha. Hilarious. Isn't it interesting to note that men like @Brian and yourself see this as a boring, overplayed conversation taken too seriously? I mean, really, the objectification of women that persists isn't as important as animal cruelty or racism. Sadly, sexism is still en vogue and critics are seen as "too serious" or "too sensitive." I just call it as I see it. I wonder how people would react if there was an ad for PETA that used a African American man or woman dangling by a noose as a way to show how chickens are strung up farming factories before the kill. Would it be as funny?

  13. Some sad comments at Ele's FB page trivializing this issue. See @Luke: Does anyone know of a place where I can download the script for the standard feminist v mysoginist sexual objectification flame war? I'd like to pipe in on this conversation, but I can't remember what the next couple moves are.

    My response:@Luke: Ahahaha. Hilarious. Isn't it interesting to note that men like @Brian and yourself see this as a boring, overplayed conversation taken too seriously? I mean, really, the objectification of women that persists isn't as important as animal cruelty or racism. Sadly, sexism is still en vogue and critics are seen as "too serious" or "too … See Moresensitive." I just call it as I see it. I wonder how people would react if there was an ad for PETA that used a African American man or woman dangling by a noose as a way to show how chickens are strung up farming factories before the kill. Would it be as funny?

  14. buddalicious says:

    It is ironic that a group that promotes the ethical treatment of animals and eating a healthy vegetarian diet would want someone who is far from natural representing their definition of a healthy lifestyle. It is not the ad that objectifies a women per se it is the woman in the ad that objectifies women. I am sick of seeing fake plastic women representing so many things in our society. She has plastic breast for gosh sakes…and no she did not have breast cancer. Hell, if we were not such a vain society then perhaps breast cancer survivors would not feel the need to insert plastic filled balls into their bodies either. Just my two cents from someone who has been in health care for over eighteen years. It is bad enough I thought I should color my hair in my twenties…dumbest think I ever thought I needed to try. All colors beautiful! Embrace who we are people…damn I'm a natural strawberry blond!

  15. I'm not insulting. I just don't see how that type of language contributes to a dialogue. I don't expect my students to agree with my teaching as gospel. I'm just surprised to see how an enlightened community sees sexism as something that should be laughed off and waved away. I've told you time and time again that I appreciate your comments and willingness to dialogue as you have done so in an articulate and thoughtful way. Chillin the fuck out didn't seem that thoughtful. Trust me, there's no whining here. Just trying to shed a light on an issue ina conscious way.

  16. Thanks for the dialogue, all. There's been some fabulous, insightful and enlightening feedback even if we have not agreed. Your comments have opened my eyes to some different perspectives that will, no doubt, be useful in my work.

  17. H.L. VanBuren says:

    An interesting article, and some great back and forth in the comments. I wonder though if anyone else finds it rather ironic that in the banner ad at the top of the page for "Save the Colorado" there are thirteen nude individuals (difficult to tell gender at that resolution) standing in a river holding signs. If PETA is to be lambasted for objectifying women, what is the Save the Colorado movement doing in their ads?

  18. pyramidpress says:

    You mean anyone more "enlightened" than those who can't help but notice the "sexy" category at the top of this website?

  19. Ben Ralston says:

    I completely wholeheartedly with Jennifer KH and Eric M:
    showing a woman’s naked body with the intention of bringing attention to the meat industry is sexist? Why? Please explain.
    I find that attitude simply prudish.

    Also, do any of you really think that lambasting PETA for their advertising will really make any difference to women’s rights, or

    Carol Horton said:
    “I honestly can’t imagine how anyone with any integrity can justify this sexist and degrading ad… Ick”
    Well Carol, I can imagine very well. Perhaps they thought that showing a woman in a bikini was a lesser evil than those perpetrated by the meat industry to which they are trying to bring your attention, such as mass producing animals for their torture and eventual slaughter. What do you think? Sounds like a reasonable justification to me!

    To me this whole debate is a question of awareness. Where do you direct your attention:
    – to the use of a semi naked woman’s body, or to the underlying purpose of that use.

    I also wonder how many of the people attacking PETA here eat meat, and are subconsciously offended by having their eating habits questioned? I KNOW, contentious…

    Ben Ralston

    ( )

  20. […] post, Sexist Meat Market:Pamela Anderson’s Newest Campaign for PETA, which was posted here and at Elephant Journal has garnered some interesting and thought-provoking […]

  21. rachel says:

    Melainie is an inspiration to feminists and young women.

    I think there are worse examples of objectifying women, but PETA could have easily done this with a man, and they did not (do they ever? once is not good enough, either). As woman, we are judged on our looks, as my mentor (a male) would say, we are also given an arbitrary expiration date based on those looks. We make less money for the same job as men, and we are more likely to be the victims of sexual assault. What is sexual assault exactly? It is someone exerting their power and will over someone else's. How could anyone do that? Because it's easy to do that to an object, and women are constantly objectified in media; it's the norm. I implore you, if you do not understand how this advertisement is sexist, to educate yourself about feminism and women's issues. I didn't know the things that I know now 6 years ago. Elephant is a mindful journal about the mindful life, but it's not just yoga. Spend some time on, (Melanie's site), or I know it's not as simple as black and white, right and wrong, but Melanie is not wrong. As a feminist, a woman, and a contributor to elephant journal, I ask you to learn more about feminist issues.

    • @maymay1980 says:

      My thoughts exactly Rachel! It seems like the ones that don't understand the objectification of women in this ad needs to do some research and read more about how feminism is not about women's rights; it's about human rights. Equal rights for all.

      Frederick Douglass once said that he'd rather be a black man than a white woman. Almost 120 years after his death, I know that most men would feel the same way. Even the ones that happen to like and sleep with other men.

  22. rachel says:

    *Melanie is an inspiration to feminists and women, as a young women i find her indespensible.

  23. candice says:

    You know…I don't find their ads offensive at all. But American Apparel's on the other hand….? Why is that?

    • Colin Wiseman says:

      Maybe because PETA are trying to make a point, while American apparel are objectifying skinny almost underage women to sell overly expensive, pretty plain n crap pieces of clothes?

      I have to say I also don't find this ad a problem. They have taken two world wide iconic images – the sexy bikini clad female and the butcher's cut poster – in the hope that the ordinary male of the world will first notice the girl, to get them to start reading the poster. If they read the poster beyond looking at the blonde hair and big boobs, they might pick up on the real message.

      So yes it could be classed as wrong, using a scantily clad women, but please remember if they don't use something controversial, and stick with something that will not offend anyone, the poster will not be noticed.

      Q. Who will notice a picture of a woman fully dressed sitting next to a pig with a speech bubble that say "you don't need to eat this pig. Have a carrot instead…"

      A. No one.

  24. […] important question of whether it's right for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to objectify women at the expense of animal rights.] Aminda is a wellness mentor and founder of ARCreated, Inc. A […]

  25. Rebecca says:

    I'm not offended by this ad in any way, except perhaps the understanding that a man would probably not be willing to pose in the same way. Pam Anderson is old news, and PETA's tactics are a bit on the ridiculous side, as they've always been. They raise "awareness" by inciting discord, just like this conversation. It's what being a fanatic is all about.

  26. Alan Haffa says:

    I don't eat meat for ethical reasons but even I find PETA over the top sometimes. In this case, they use a woman who has made a career by commercializing her body as a sexual object and use her/it as a way to raise awareness about vegetarianism? It makes no sense and stunts like this give those of us who support animal rights and who are vegetarians a bad reputation with mainstream America.

  27. wendy brown says:

    a sexist thought that may come to mind is, 'good enough to eat', in looking at pamela displayed in a 'delicious' manner.
    what is sets her apart from the victimization of the meat industry?
    this ad is spoof-like.

  28. […] Anderson, PETA evangelist, just brought her animal-loving, meat market message to Israel. Click here for […]

  29. Vicki Smart says:

    As a vegan and a woman I dont see the problem? seriously? If Pam wishes to spread the word and stand up for what she believes in who gives a crap if she is in a bikini or not? It brings the issue to public attention and that isnt a bad thing.

    Do I feel offended? No. What offends me is the wave of bulls*it which floods PETA's way as they try and do what they do best which is be a voice for animals worldwide. If it makes you uncomfortable then look away, but the creatures at the centre of this dont get a choice to look or not look.

    There are bigger issues afoot people, get out of your own asses. and Ben I totally agree that most people who baulk may in fact be projecting. Just saying.

  30. Katherine says:

    Who cares… sex sells… so what. They're working the system as it currently exists to get their point across. You'll only be offended if you choose to be. I choose not to.

  31. isushman says:

    I'm curious to know what those who criticize PETA think about the recent phenomena of the "slutwalk". This seems to be a much more controversial issue – – I think in both cases, it's a question of "Do the ends justify the means?"

  32. manda says:

    At the end of the day WE ARE ALL ANIMALS! You don’t see any one petitioning a lion to go eat grass & trees instead of zebra. I’m all for ethical treatment of animals, but I think to rule out eating them all together just isn’t viable for everyone. There are people with medical conditions who NEED to eat meat as their body simply doesn’t absorb enough from the non-meat sources & they are unable to take supplements as they are allergic to or have an intolerance to ingredients in the supplements. I tried vegetarian when I was about 12, I’m lucky if I lasted a month. Some people are just wired to eat meat. I eat a LOT less meat than I used to, but I still eat meat. Just because I stop doesn’t mean they’re going to kill one less cow/sheep/etc. per week/month/year. That meat will still be available & may just turn into senseless waste. If its already been chopped up Im going to consume it at some point, however I’m going to eat that meat with respect & know that some poor animal has died for me to eat that tasty piece of meat. I’m getting nutrition & sustenance from its flesh & I will enjoy eating it because how can I respect it if I don’t enjoy it. I’ve eaten steak that I swear tasted like it was raised on hugs & love. You can truly taste a well treated life when you eat meat. If you want to make a positive change eat free range as often as you can & respect the fact that that slab of flesh you’re about to devour was not so long ago a living breathing creature. I’ve often thought about going vegetarian, but I just don’t think I can live as a complete vegetarian. I do limit the meat I eat. I understand that this may upset or offend some people & I apologise if it does, it’s really not my intention. I just thought I’d try to get across some points, I’ve probably hidden them in amongst a large amount of babble, but my point remains that we are all part of the animal kingdom, some are just better animals than others!

  33. noble hobbit says:

    wow. interesting how many elephant readers are upset with this add, and yet the majority of comments left for the playboy yoga video are wildly in support of it. so if Pamela had posed in downward dog, would this have been spiritual and not offensive..?

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