One could assume that an organisation such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), which fights for animal welfare and rights, would take on a more peaceful and sensitive approach, yet the organisation’s recent Tweets about Steve Irwin and Karl Lagerfeld’s deaths, will have you thinking otherwise – no to mention their outrageous veganism ad! Promoting backwards ideas and toxic masculinity.
On the day of Lagerfeld’s death on 19 February, they tweeted: “Karl Lagerfeld has gone, and his passing marks the end of an era when fur and exotic skins were seen as covetable. PETA sends condolences to our old nemesis’s loved ones.” It would have been better for them to simply offer their condolences and move along, there was no need for this unnecessary remark when they acknowledge that even PETA’s president wore fur, and they’re almost of the same age, so whilst there’s supposedly nothing snarky about their tweet, they could have worded it differently to avoid conflict.
More recently, on what would have been Steve Irwin’s 57th birthday, PETA tweeted that as a wildlife expert, Irwin should have left wild animals be and not drag them out of their habitat and onto TV shows – especially baby animals taken from their mothers. At the crux of their argument, is the point that Irwin harassed animals and “was killed while harassing a stingray.” PETA strongly believes that a Google Doodle shouldn’t have been created in his memory as it encourages this type of treatment of animals. Of course, this tweet didn’t go without controversy, and exposing their ignorance of Irwin’s contribution to rescuing animals and educating an entire generation of people. However, PETA stands by this statement despite the backlash.
On one hand, their perspective is understandable but on the other, people are not without their flaws and despite their questionable treatment of/towards animals, both Irwin and Lagerfeld have passed away now, making these remarks does nothing for saving animals and will only damage PETA’s image. This leads to a standpoint of comparing a human life to that of an animal and many would believe the former outweighs the latter, hence the heavy (and arguably rightful) backlash to PETA’s harsh comments. The bottom line is that attacking dead people doesn’t add to the movement for animal rights, rather it takes away the focus from the campaign, to irrelevant sensationalism.
Now, let’s talk about that “veganism” advert that PETA have released. On 16 January they tweeted the video on Twitter, with the accompanying caption: “Traditional” masculinity is DEAD. The secret to male sexual stamina is veggies.” The ad features men shaking around vegetable genitalia, made of cucumber and carrots. I don’t know if it has successfully persuaded men to become vegan, but this ad is putting a lot of people off vegetables – myself included. It promotes this downright sexist and misogynistic message, with men being reduced to sex-hungry animals, obsessed with their libido, and women being shown as if they are meat (how ironic). PETA are saying that men who eat meat are more likely to be aggressive, yet many have pointed out how baseless this claim is, as there’s no conclusive evidence on the food-mood link. I don’t think that having men leering at the camera whilst they swing their vegetable genitalia, is doing veganism or masculinity any good.
I think we can all agree that PETA needs to refocus on what it is campaigning for, they need to look around and realise that the world we live in now is far more progressive, and that rather than digging up others’ graves, it’s wiser to just move on.