In this ad, actress and model Pamela Anderson adopts a stylized, sexual pose, while her skin is marked with black text that labels her body parts with the name given to corresponding cuts of meat. Two slogans appear on the poster, “All Animals Have the Same Parts” and “Have a Heart, Go Vegetarian.” Anderson has been a vegetarian since her teens, and has participated in several PETA campaigns throughout her career. PETA is the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a animal rights organization.
What are PETA and Pamela Anderson trying to say in this ad? What comparison are they drawing between women and animals/meat? What is your reaction to this perspective?
How would you describe the relationship between women and animals? How would you describe the relationship between men and animals? Consider relevant adjectives.
Do you think this ad would be effective in stopping people from eating meat? Why or why not?
PETA is known for producing hypersexualized ads featuring actors and models. They have been criticized by feminist groups for sexualizing and objectifying women in the name of animal rights. The failure to link the oppression of animals with the oppression of women overlooks the way both are viewed as objects of consumption – physically for animals, and sexually/visually for women – by hegemonic, patriarchal hierarchies. Carol J. Adams summarizes the critique thus: “The message to men appears to be: you can still have objectified bodies in your life – they simply cannot be the bodies of nonhuman animals. Thus, a humanocentric focus continues” (1996: 193).
Adams, Carol J. (1996) “Caring about Suffering: A Feminist Exploration” in Beyond Animal Rights: A Feminist Caring Ethic for the Treatment of Animals. Josephine Donovan and Carol J Adams (eds). Continuum, New York. pp. 170-194