On Wednesday, PETA released a new ad comparing the forced breeding of animals to the rape of human women. The internet responded with collective outrage, condemning the organization's exploitation of the sexual assault issue for the sake of animal rights advocacy.
Zoë Quinn, a video game developer who was at the center of the Gamergate controversy, summed up the problem from the perspective of a sexual assault survivor. "No survivor of sexual assault should have to go through their trauma being compared to an animal's when we've already been dehumanized," she wrote on Twitter.
"Thanks for comparing me to livestock, I guess," she later added.
On Thursday, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk issued a statement to Mic explaining the organization's stance on the video, but offering no apology for the stress it may have caused survivors.
"It is rape when someone sticks their hand into a vagina or rectum without permission," Newkirk wrote. "That's the dictionary definition of rape. We believe that everyone should see the reality of dairy, meat and egg production and then, unless they're ethically blind, they will be appalled."
Newkirk continued, casting doubt on the credibility of feminists who take issue with their comparison.
"Who can honestly complain about the sexual abuse of women if they accept the sexual abuse of other females who happen not to be human, but have the same vulnerability to pain?" wrote Newkirk. "Any woman (or man!) with a heart should scream bloody murder on behalf of the animals who can't scream it themselves."
PETA's unwillingness to see the issue with its latest ad is unsurprising, given its long history of building a case for animal rights on the bodies of women, as many, many people have pointed out. But in defending charges of racism against the organization, which Mic included in its original report on the ad, Newkirk insinuated another dubious correlation, suggesting that the "enslavement" of animals is comparable to the enslavement of humans.
"Regarding the latter part of your story: Don't dare call us racists. Ever," wrote Newkirk. "PETA is anti-racism, and we are also anti-speciesm, anti-gay bashing, anti-sexism, against all discrimination, not just that which you relate to most."
She continued, "And as a woman, I'm against rape across the board, and against black slavery, child slavery, and the enslavement of all animal races, too."
Perhaps it's time to put those words into action.