Sunday, August 25, 2002

What happens when people with very little sense of humor offend people with absolutely no sense of humor? Something like this... PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) creates an ad, and posts it on their web site:

offensive ad

Now, I don't particularly agree with PETA's stance on many things, but as I see it, the ad is well designed to demonstrate their point: Any rational person would recognize that objectification of a woman and breaking her down into her edible parts is wrong, by extension, PETA wants you to think about whether the objectification and breaking down of a cow is also wrong.

Again, I don't agree with them entirely on this, but I think their ads are effective, and also carry the corollary message that the marketing of women as sex objects is akin to treating them like meat. This is specifically an anti-meat advertisement, but I believe that it also stands as a pro-feminist statement as well.

Enter the person with no sense of humor at all; Sheri has a problem with this ad. Sheri is "a vegan who is deeply committed to the ethical treatment of animals. ... As is now standard in academic feminism, I believe that various forms of oppression are interconnected and mutually reinforcing."

It seems that Sheri thinks that the folks at PETA are under the impression that a woman marked up for the butcher is a good thing. As Sheri states in her letter to PETA, "When vegetarianism is reduced to a fashion statement, on the other hand, its "advocates" are inconsistent, unreliable, uninformed, and quick to move on to the next best fad."

Sheri is also, not above forcing her views upon others through censorship. Many people, she says, "who are committed to living ethical lives believe that this commitment entails banning Internet sites, television shows, magazines, and anything else that is degrading to women or others." So, free speech, as guaranteed in the Constitution, is unethical?

You can click the link to read Sheri's full letter to PETA, but I'll save you the anguish. You see, Sheri's thought a lot about this issue. About 830 words into her 1,000 word letter, we find out that she wrote her Master's thesis on the "links between sexism and speciesism."

Sheri has done one very important thing, however, that very few others could do; she's made me come to the defense of PETA. I'm not a vegetarian, I don't believe animals have equal rights with humans, and I find PETA's "meat is murder" association to be degrading to people.

I do, on the other hand, consider myself to be quite pro-feminist, and that position informs my politics, my ethics, and the way I try to live my life. With advocates like Sheri, however, I'm almost embarrassed to say that. As Emma Goldman once wrote, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."

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