Cross-posted at Vegans Against PETA
A recurrent theme in animal-rights rhetoric is an attempt to connect with other struggles against oppression, to present the abuse of animals as similar to the abuse of different sorts of humans.
Now, for many people, the leftist revolutionaries of Latin America, from Fidel Castro to Evo Morales to Salvador Allende, are a key example of that struggle against oppression. So if you were an animal rights group and you found that the granddaughter of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara was a vegetarian and was willing to work with you, it would seem that you have a campaign ready made.
You might, for example, have her in an outfit and posture that echoes famous poses that Che Guevara often held. You could use a slogan like “Join the vegetarian revolution”. It’s a brilliant plan. It’s got a striking image with a lot of resonance, and it’s also got a point that can be backed up (the connections between different forms of oppression, the need for revolutionary change in human-animal relations, the willingness to endorse militant tactics, etc.)
It’s controversial, sure – Guevara is a controversial figure, hated by some and loved by others. But let’s suppose you have no problem taking controversial stances. And perhaps your main plan is to run the campaign in Latin America, where Guevara’s very popular.
But now, imagine that you’re also PETA. Now a problem emerges. There’s a woman in your poster, but there’s nothing sexual about it. Nobody’s going to get a boner out of simply seeing someone in an inspiring pose of resolute defiance. What can you do?
I guess you’ll just have to make her semi-naked. Get her tits out, yeah? Cover them with an ammo belt of carrots, sure, but make sure that she’s clearly in a state of undress. After all, she’d rather go naked than wear fur, amiright?
Never mind that there’s absolutely no reason for a sexualised image in a poster themed around Che Guevara and revolution. He is hardly famous for having posed nude while storming Havana.
And never mind that it introduces a completely conflicting message that is liable to undermine the actual point – that will encourage viewers to look and think ‘I’d like to do her’ rather than ‘I’d like to aid her in doing something revolutionary’.
Never mind that you’re sending the message that women must always be sexual, even when the subject at issue – political relatives – has nothing to do with sex at all. Never mind that you’re encouraging a culture where every bit of the media features soft-core porn and women are pervasively judged in sexual terms.
That’s all beside the point. This campaign might get more attention now, and that’s all that matters. Nice one PETA.