Why PETA Should Use Food Justice, Not Sexy Sexual Innuendo, to Attract More to Their Cause


SPOILER ALERT: This PETA ad shows an injured young woman, without pants, carrying home groceries.  The narrator then introduces the young woman as Jessica and says, "She suffers from 'BWVAKTBOOM,' 'Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom Out of Me,' a painful condition that occurs when boyfriends go vegan and can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star." 

Then, we see Jessica's lover ask if she is alright while covering a hole in the bedroom drywall with spackle.

Many viewers were appalled by the message that equates violence and pain to a healthy sex life. Several comments countered that this is simply a playful ad which does not condone violence against women.

PETA has a history of using hypersexualized campaigns, usually objectifying women. Most milliennials will recognize from PETA's "Human Meat" Campaign, featuring naked women wrapped in a life-sized, styrofoam meat trays as part of public direct actions throughout the world. However, this PETA campaign ad does not immediately strike me as one which justifies violence against women.

Unfortunately, the controversial BWVAKTBOOM advertisement above dilutes the intended political message pertaining to animal rights and healthy lifestyles, to the simplistic promise of better sex.  These efforts would be much better directed had PETA decided to tie the message of this campaign to the budding food justice movement.

PETA should feel compelled to partner with food justice organizations, especially due to recent victories like that of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, creating fair working conditions for seasonal, undocumented tomato pickers in Florida. Note that food justice is not just limited to workers rights.  The term also covers community access to healthy foods, cooperative agriculture, sustainability, and urban gardening.

Going beyond the linear mission to end animal abuse worldwide and addressing the health benefits of veganism shows that PETA's very adept in its ability to evolve. As major food conglomerates continue to determine the food and agriculture industry standards, PETA's partnerships with food justice organizations will make significant contributions to the food justice and animal rights movements combined. 

This is a much nobler duty than being the testing grounds for advertising executives' sophomoric punchlines.


Photo CreditWikimedia Commons

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Hanalei Somar

Hanalei is the New York City coordinator for BAYAN USA, a founder of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE NYC, a GABRIELA USA organization), and a Steering Committee member of the May 1st Coalition for Immigrant Rights. She is a community organizer, writer, performer, and multi-media artist. Hanalei is also a member of the artist collectives everydayarmada and k-k, and has been awarded residencies and opportunities with Project Rowhouses, The Laundromat Project, and the Asian Womens Giving Circle.

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