The Vagenda

In Poor Taste: PETA’s Meat Market

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that PETA’s new campaign isn’t sexist. I’m just saying that it’s not as sexist it might be. I’m saying that, if PETA really tried, it could be more sexist. We’re given a generic topless celeb sporting bikini line beard with the caption ‘Fur Trim: Unattractive.’ Sure, the campaign capitalises on women’s socially inculcated hatred of their own bodies; sure, it uses mindless objectification to get its point across; sure, it works on the assumption that women will only consider acting humanely towards animals if said action makes them more shaggable into the bargain: but I still feel let down.

I mean, ‘Fur Trim’ hardly holds a candle to their campaign in February of this year, in which a young woman in a neck brace, wearing only underwear under her coat, hobbles home with a bag of groceries. She is suffering from a syndrome called ‘Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom Out of Me.’ The message is crystal: go vegan, boys! You’ll bang your girlfriend so hard that she sustains a serious injury. And who doesn’t love to see the woman in their life wearing a sexalicious neck support? Nobody – that’s who! Now that’s the kind of misogyny I’m really after. I can’t imagine ever wanting to support any animal rights charity that doesn’t accompany its medicinal message with the spoonful of sugar that is sexual violence against women.

The ‘Fur Trim’ campaign is also marginally less demeaning than PETA’s fat-shaming 2009 ‘Save the Whales’ offering, which encourages women to ‘Lose the Blubber,’ and thus avoid the horrific crime of not being thin on the beach, by (you guessed it) going veggie. It’s slightly less offensive than the time they asked Ben and Jerry’s to use breast milk to make their ice-cream. It doesn’t set my teeth to grind quite as much as their transphobic ‘Fur is a Drag’ stunt, and it’s got nothing on their strategy of placing a naked pregnant woman in a pig pen in the middle of Covent Garden on Mother’s Day. Worse, PETA has used the Trim campaign before. Vintage fur! Clearly, PETA (Osama chocs notwithstanding) are off their game. And this is a travesty. For who will protect the fluffy-wuffy wittle sea-kittens if not they?

And so, I have decided to give freely of my time and marketing genius to suggest some future campaigns for PETA. I’m not proposing any radical new approaches, simply building seamlessly on what has gone before:  

1. PETA should assemble its pleather poster girl, porn-star Jenna Jameson, its lettuce bikini wearing Playboy Bunnies, and the myriad other inspirational female role models it uses in its advertising campaigns for a veggie hot-dog sucking competition. (The women from its Girl on Girl Make Out Tour can take it in turns to suck the same one.) At the end, the crowd assembled will be asked to suggest more acts that the alluring semi-naked females might perform with a veggie hot-dog. If members of the public sign a contract, promising under pain of disembowelment that they will never eat meat again, then Jenna and friends will make all their sausage dreams come true.

2. Other PETA campaigns have delicately hinted at the moral parity of killing animals and killing women. This advert, intended for the Super Bowl, in which a fur-clad woman is bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat is a particularly cryptic example. But I feel that the exact sameness of killing women and killing animals could be brought into higher relief. Here’s the pitch: two men are out hunting. One of them spots a pheasant and shoots it. The hunters laugh maliciously as the feathered darling falls to the forest floor, before picking it up and tying it to a stick. One of them says ‘I see another one.’ The camera spins around to reveal his prey. It is a naked supermodel. He shoots it. We watch as her hot vegan bod crumples into death. The men pick up her corpse and tie it to a stick. Caption: ‘Just a Dead Bird?’

3. Women = Meat. Simple message, right? But how best to get it across? Supermodel endorsement has worked well for PETA in the past. But the problem is that those pesky models come with opinions of their own and thus tend to backtrack on their animal rights assertions. PETA needs a way of exploiting supermodels’ sexiness and scaring them into submission at the same time. Here’s my idea: We walk through an abattoir. Half-carcasses of cattle swing from side to side like punchbags. One of the meaty pendulums slowly spins to reveal its fleshy side. It is half a dead naked supermodel. The camera pans down over her five red toenails and over her blue nipple. When we reach her semi-cranium, its long locks hanging gorily yet glossily to the cement floor, the model opens her long-lashed eyelid and says ‘I’d rather be killed, butchered, and suspended upside-down by a meathook than eat beef.’ 

I believe that any of these advertising strategies would be phenomenally successful in creating the kinds of humane and loving people that empathise with the suffering of their fellow creatures. But I also think they’d work best in conjunction with a renaming strategy. How about: ‘PETABOOB: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals But Outrageous Objectification of Babes.’ Come on PETA – give it to me. Harder! Faster! More! Make me scream. Make me gag. There can’t be any other way to promote animal welfare, can there?


49 thoughts on “In Poor Taste: PETA’s Meat Market

  1. I already hated PETA for several of their campaigns and some very heavy hypocrisy but this site takes the tofutti ‘cheese’ cake. Multiple videos of women complaining cheerfully about sex injuries. FUCK PETA.

    The Tips page includes ‘sex goggles’
    “Your newly vegan boyfriend is sitting on a sexual howitzer. Protect your corneas from his turbocharged loads with OSHA-approved goggles”

    You know, for when he covers your face in semen…not sure if it’s a porn thing, an aim thing…or maybe all your goals (holes) have had enough.

    It’s completely revolting.

    -deleted and reposted because I can’t spell at 00:53am

  2. “it’s got nothing on their strategy of placing a naked pregnant woman in a pig pen in the middle of Covent Garden on Mother’s Day.”

    I agree with most of your commentary in this article Emer, but not your criticism of the anti sow-stall campaign. The fact is that female pigs are artificially inseminated and then kept in tiny cages during their periods of pregnancy and breastfeeding. They are capable of pain, fear, discomfit and boredom like us, and if a pregnant women wants to try and get the world to emphathise with other pregnant females by showing the conditions they are kept in, more power to her.

    As an animal rights activist and a feminist, I have voiced my issues with numerous PETA campaigns, especially the video featuring the video in the neckbrace. However, I understand why women voluntarily participate in some of there more ‘mildly sexist’ campaigns.

    I actually participated in a ‘we would rather go naked than wear fur protest’ last year. The all-female organising team tried to find men to participate, but unfortunately the numbers of male animal rights activists are much lower (probably something to do with the fact that meat is unfortunately often positioned as a symbol of masculinity). Anyway, before this protest, I was faced with the decision of whether I should shave off my leg and arm hair (cultivated over a couple of years) and decided that I would cave in, because the kind of people who wear fur coats probably are the kind of people who loathe female body hair, and they were the people we were trying to convince. However, I feel the cost to human women of me bowing to the beauty gods were probably relatively small when compared to the potential gains in terms of helping to prevent animals being anally and vaginally electrocuted and killed in other particularly horrific ways. Our demo was successful, with a designer ceasing their use of fur.

    But back to my original point, as a woman, I would definitely put myself in a cage to symbolise the plight of my sisters of other species – especially since female animals are often exploited specifically for their reproductive organs, e.g. dairy cows are impregnated, generally by artificial insemination, and then have their calves taken away so their breastmilk can be sold.

    Anyway, to suggest that a woman comparing herself to an animal is sexist, is actually to suggest that animals are beneath us – a speciesist assumption. If the woman sees herself (and men of course) as equal to animals in the relevent respects, then acting as an animal isn’t self-degradation. Imagine if someone suggested that a woman putting on a performance as a sweat-shop worker to promote fair-trade was sexist – that would imply that the women who are forced to work in sweatshops are inferior and that the comparison therefore degraded the protesting woman.

    As much as I hope we can effectively combat speciesism without appealing to sexist ideas and I do wish PETA would try harder to do so, I also wish those combatting sexism wouldn’t reinforce speciesism.

    And oops, this comments has become far too long… sorry.

  3. I just realised I (possibly) made it sound like someone else told me I had to shave to participate in the demo – definitely not so! My weird little inner argument of ‘do I keep my rad feminist statement or try not to give the public an excuse to dismiss me as a hippie’ was all in my head.

  4. ‘if a pregnant women wants to try and get the world to emphathise with other pregnant females by showing the conditions they are kept in, more power to her.’

    I’d be careful here Eliza, as you’re not really talking about ‘other pregnant females’, but about a pig. PETA have a dangerous tendency to equate women with animals, the implication being that we are nothing but beasts. This hints at something that goes beyond simple sexism and becomes more akin to misogyny.

    ‘because the kind of people who wear fur coats probably are the kind of people who loathe female body hair, and they were the people we were trying to convince.’

    I have worn a fur coat in the past, but have never loathed female body hair.

    ‘to suggest that a woman comparing herself to an animal is sexist, is actually to suggest that animals are beneath us’


    I don’t think we’re ever going to agree on this one!

    - R

  5. Hmm I think you’d misunderstood Eliza’s point, which (pleaseee correct me if I’m wrong!) is that a pregnant pig IS a pregnant female. Comparing females to animals is only offensive when taken in the context that animals are ‘beneath’ humans. Therefore, if Eliza believes humans and animals should be treated equally, to say women “are nothing but beasts” is both anti-female AND anti-beast…?
    I can’t personally decide whether I agree with the article or Eliza’s comment more.

  6. Eliza, I agree – the only reason why comparing women to animals is sexist is because we live in a speciesist world. If someone who is speciesist compared women to animals, I would be offended because they are trying to degrade us by comparing us to something they see as inferior. However, if a person or organisation who did not believe that animals are inferior to humans were to say the same thing, there is no reason to get offended. That said, I do dislike PETA as an organisation – veganism should not be sold by sex but by convincing people that it is the right thing to do. They’re not helpful in promoting the cause at all and frequently use sexist campaigns to further their message.

  7. Hi all,

    I’ve enjoyed this interesting conversation. Eliza, I take your well-made point that if a woman who believes that animals and humans are equal decides to place herself in a cage to enact this philosophy and encourage others to empathise with it, then this is a valid form of protest. While I care about animal welfare and would like the best possible living conditions for all sentient beings, I value human beings and animals differently. I do not think, for example, that it is wrong to eat animals, but I do think that it is wrong to eat humans. Or, as another example, I recently paid £30 for a kitten. I own that kitten. Slavery? Or happy little well-fed fluffy thing patting my keyboard as I type? (He says hi!) For me then, PETA’s constant attempts to represent women (rarely to never men) as meat and livestock is sexist. Also, it is most likely counterproductive, as when the majority of people who value animals and humans differently see women (for example) bludgeoned over the head with a baseball bat to make a statement about the fur trade, they think ‘woah, I don’t want anything to do with those sociopaths.’ And I’m sure the woman being bludgeoned in the PETA video believes in the equality of people and animals, and thus one could argue that hers is a valid protest – that it is not sexist. But, for me, that person has lost sight of the welfare of women in society.

    One last point (as the kitten need me to dangle a shoe-lace now. Ahem, sorry, I mean, I have to work now), and a simple point – why does the woman in the pig-pen have to be naked? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for using the naked body for art and protest, but when it’s relevant. PETA’s ‘throw a naked chick in it so that people will stare’ strategy is misogynistic, and contributes to the objectification of women and girls in our society. And while I don’t in any way want to knock your activism – because I have the utmost respect for the awesome people who spend their free time campaigning for a better world – I think it’s unfortunate that someone with obvious feminist drive would choose to work through an organisation like this. You’ve obviously weighed the checks and balances, like we all do when deciding where to contribute our energy, and I respect that working with PETA can be effective in the ways you deem most important, but, for me, the future they are shaping is no feminist future.

  8. Searing sarcasm here!

    I agree with you to a degree, but I’ve never subscribed to the biblical view that animals are here for our use, and we should do to them whatever we want. I understand PETA’s viewpoint, and it’s not trying to equate women with meat, it’s trying to equate animals with people – the titillation tactic of debasing women is indeed something to contest, the sexual violence slant is appalling, but for me, the ‘don’t torture feeling creatures for your own gain’ is a valid argument. The way we abuse and torture animals is an atrocity that most people deal with by … ignoring it, and tucking in to another rasher sandwich. Farming methods need to change, none of us should accept it. For me, our humanity is defined by how we treat the world around us, human, animal and environment alike.

    That’s this vegetarian woman’s take on it, anyway.

  9. Argh I gotta respond -(I’m the kind of person who can’t help themselves). I’m honoured to personally get a response from you – I loved your tv appearance (I watched it at least twice, trying not to cheer out loud) and wholeheartedly agreed with all the other articles of yours that I’ve read. I’m presuming you’re the same Emer anyway, forgive me if I’m wrong. And I obviously don’t expect another response.

    Firstly, I’m sure your kitten is gorgeous and is very happy. But if you haven’t already, please, please research kitten mills. They are the source of many kittens sold in pet shops or online, and I worry that his parents may not be in such a happy place. But I’m hoping he was adopted from a shelter. :)

    I agree that many of PETA’s campaigns are sexist – I don’t participate in demos I think are sexist by intent and I actually think we should be fighting the association between masculinity and aggression, rather than appealing to it, as PETA did in the neck-brace video. After all, that attitude hurts both women and non-human animals.
    However, PETA does sometimes use men in their ‘sexy’ campaigns.. they don’t seem to get the same amount of media coverage unfortunately, which probably encourages them to use women more often. But while I fully acknowledge PETA often seeks out female participants in protests, at least some of the gender gap can be attributed to the fact that there are way more women involved in the movement than men. There is such a notable gap that heterosexual vegan women looking for like-minded partners actually have serious trouble finding them, because there aren’t enough to go round.

    Why was the woman in the pig pen naked? Good question. A group I’m involved in did a similar demo and the woman wore skin-tight thermals the same shade as her skin to achieve the ‘piggy look’.

    As a matter of fact, I don’t work through PETA as a rule. I am mainly involved with smaller, local organisations in my country. However, PETA does provide one of the groups I have worked with with signs etc, so we are associated with them. I (controversially in my AR circles) support PETA overall because their sexist campaigns are such a small part of what they do. They obtain footage of animal abuse that the public would otherwise never see, they have some fantastic demos that don’t involve nudity etc and they provide great information. Unfortunately, the fact that the media reports their nude protests more than their purely informative protests seems to confirm that if you want to draw public attention to animal abuse, being naked helps. Also, PETA Asia-Pacific’s campaigns haven’t reached the same level of controversy as the U.S. and U.K. branches have. They have done demos involving topless women. But if I ever do another ‘nude’ protest (I was wearing underwear in the last one) for any cause, and there are topless men involved, I’d want to ditch the bra on principal because I don’t see why my body parts are criminalized when men’s anatomically analogous ones aren’t and I would love a chance to argue that in court.

    Anyway, I hope anyone who bothers to read this realizes that these issues are hotly debated in the animal rights movement and even if you hate PETA, that’s no reason to dismiss animal rights themselves. And for anyone interested in reading the ‘bible’ for animal rights orientated feminists or feminist animal rights campaigners:

  10. Thank you, thank you, Emer and the Vagenda team. PETA just make me descend into frothing incoherent rage, so I’m not going to join the debate, just, you know, thanks.

  11. I’m a veggie and supporter of animal rights, and I feel ashamed for PETA. They give the cause a bad name and not contribute to anyone taking animal issues seriously. Can anyone imagine, let’s say, Amnesty International or Oxfam using naked D-listers and sexist “jokes” in their campaigns?

  12. I think the discussion provoked by Eliza raises an interesting conflict. As I was reading this article it was clear to me that the author is speciesist and not a strong supporter of animal rights.

    I am a vegan and critical of PETA. I think criticisms of PETA are frequently distorted, however, by people who believe such things as “animals are less than people”.

    Might I suggest in future that the Vagenda team consider getting a vegan, or at least an animal rights activist, to address these issues? I think it would make the (understandable) criticisms of PETA much more powerful and the points more succinct. If you don’t agree with the fundamental messages behind PETA’s tactics, it kind of waters down the rest of your criticism.

    Again, though, NOT A FAN OF PETA.

  13. Right, too little sleep, too little coherence but let’s give it a go.

    Eliza101, I too understood the point but I’m also going to disagree. When women still don’t have equality after decades of campaigning, which do you think is the more likely result of equating women with animals? 1) People are going to realise that animals are feeling creatures too (and then care about that) 2) People are going to regard women as no better than farm animals?

    Also, I think you’re looking at this differently to me – I’m not insulted that women and animals are compared, actually, I am insulted that once again women are used as if they are objects. Why are there few men doing this sort of thing? Could it be because women’s bodies are *always* used to sell things? It’s still rarer for men’s bodies to be draped over cars, be presented as beer cans, bottles of scent or orgasmic reactants to shampoo.

    While I admire the urge to protest for animal rights I object to the idea that women should be using their bodies for this, again. Your suggestion that it’s because using men doesn’t get as much coverage is telling. On this one I think I’ll be on the side that fights using female flesh to boost sales. Weren’t PETA launching their own porn site? Oh yeah, they’re not using female flesh and sexuality to sell things *at all*.

    Also, you’re setting up a bit of a false either/or situation there. I can be pro-animal rights and anti-PETA. In fact, I am. I really, really intensely dislike PETA. Quite a lot. Their sexist campaigns may or may not be a small part of what they do (surprise surprise, they get the most press!) but what about their other work? Their policy of killing pet animals surrendered to them, for example?

  14. I’m curious, on what are you basing your assessment of the author’s support (or otherwise) of animal rights? Also, what exactly *are* PETA’s fundamental messages? I’m so averse to their publicity materials that I’ve never managed to bring myself to read deeply into their literature.

  15. I think we can all agree that PETA’s campaigns are sexist (not all of them, but unfortunately the ones that get the attention are). The reason we’re disagreeing on the pregnant woman/pig campaign is because there are two differing sets of assumptions here: the speciesist assumption and the not-speciesist assumption.

    I can see why equating a pig with a woman could be seen as sexist *in a speciesist society* or when looked at *through a speciesist lens*. The assumption is that animals, particularly pigs, are dirty, less intelligent creatures who are lower than humans and who exist for the purpose of fulfilling the (trivial) needs of humans, and that humans can, therefore, treat these animals in any abhorrent ways that they wish. Saying that a woman is like a pig, then, is saying that similarly she is inferior (to men) and exists for the purpose of fulfilling the needs of men. And as Carol J Adams points out this is a highly problematic comparison that is made ALL the time by disgusting sexist men and women (who call women “chicks” or “birds” or “bitches” and so on). So it is problematic to perpetuate sexism in a society that is also (unfortunately) speciesist by making these comparisons.

    But it isn’t problematic, I think, to make these comparisons in an attempt to challenge these speciesist assumptions. The comparison is between humans and animals, not women and animals. It just so happens that this campaign used women because it was commenting on pregnant sows in factory farms. And amongst PETAs extensive repertoire of sexist campaigns, this one also looks bad. There are campaigns in the animal rights movement that have similar messages and that use both men and women (see, for example,

    I think it is very important to challenge speciesism, in the same way that it is important to challenge sexism. Feminists hold (broadly) that men and women are equal and ought to have equal rights and equal opportunities and to be treated equally and with equal respect. But in the same way that we don’t think men should have the right to abortion, we don’t think animals should have the right to vote or the right to education, for example. Animal rightists hold (broadly) that humans and animals are equal insofar as they “share one basic moral right, *the right to be treated with respect*” (Tom Regan, A Case for Animal Rights).

    The images from PETA’s pig campaign, which I just looked up now, are shocking because they show us a naked pregnant woman in a cage on her all-fours: an undignified picture of someone who has been denied the right to be treated with respect. The campaign is asking us to make the connection between this woman and the intelligent, feeling creatures on factory farms who suffer tremendous abuse so that humans can have bacon. Its hope is that by making this connection people will realise that animals, too, have the right to be treated with respect, and in turn stop eating them. The first problem, however, is that the campaign relies largely on the assumption that people already know that animals ought to be treated with respect (in a sense its preaching to the converted, or whatever). The second problem, and that’s why we’re here, is that its hard to take PETA seriously when they themselves have objectified and used women in their other campaigns (not for the sake of making important connections but rather because “sex sells”) such that they have denied women their right to be treated with respect. (So PETA’s views are inconsistent.)

  16. To clarify, I take “speciesism” to mean “the assignment of different values, rights, or special consideration to individuals solely on the basis of their species membership.” So, despite the fact that a pig is an intelligent being (more intelligent than, for example, someone without a brain stem, a small infant or the mentally enfeebled) with a rich psychological and social world of its own, and moreover a being with strong familial ties, a speciesist sees no problem in slaughtering a pig to satisfy its trivial desire to eat the pig’s flesh.

  17. I have to say Emma, the point at which you use the phrase ‘mentally enfeebled’ to describe someone with learning disabilities is the point at which I would extricate myself from a conservation with you at a party and back away towards the table where the (delicious) cocktail sausages are located.

    I may be ‘speciesist’, but on the scale of political correctness, I think I’m winning.

    - R

  18. By “mentally enfeebled” I don’t mean to say someone who has a learning disability, but rather someone who is senile, or enfeebled by senile dementia, for example. My grandmother is mentally enfeebled because she has Alzheimer’s. It’s not an insult, but rather a description of a state of affairs. Her brain is no longer functioning properly. Tom Regan, from whom I borrowed the term, uses “mentally enfeebled” to mean this. As far as I am aware, no one has criticised him for his lack of political correctness. I am sorry if I offended anyone by using the term, but I didn’t mean it in the way that I think you understood it.

    Anyway, I’m a bit disappointed that my argument isn’t being engaged with.

  19. Hi The Vagenda Team,

    (Great blog btw)

    I fail to see how Emma used “‘mentally enfeebled’ to describe someone with learning disabilities”. Would you care to point out where she intimated that ‘mentally enfeebled’ designates ‘someone with learning disabilities’. Wouldn’t it have been more polite and constructive to ask her to clarify, rather than making provocative and insensitive jokes about eating sausages? especially considering the seriousness with which her piece was written? Your objection that she was politically incorrect is based on an unfounded claim and you moreover indelicately ignored the force of her observations and arguments.

    Not also that by appealing to the PLEASURE derived from eating sausages you implicitly evince that you regard the pleasure you derive from eating sausages more important than the suffering which is endured by the pig so that you can put its flesh into your mouth. I find that a strange view to hold considering that you are concerned with issues of justice; the moral flippancy with which you declare that you “may be ‘speciesist’” does not bode well for the moral plausibility I presume you wish to possess.

    With all good wishes,

    Michael John Glover

  20. My point is that if you are going to aspire to political correctness, you can’t go around using terms like ‘mentally enfeebled’. You need to be squeaky clean. It is not a term that is used.

    You are offended by my love of sausages, I am offended by your assertion that humans and pigs are on a level pegging- hence why I don’t see that either of us will get much out of a debate. I’m all for female equality, but I give significantly less of a shit about pigs, and I think comparing someone with a disability (of any nature) to a pig is, quite frankly, bullshit.

  21. Not once was it claimed that non-human animals and humans are “on a level pegging”. The claim is rather that both are objects of moral concern – objects of moral worth. (I’m not using ‘object’ in a morally insalubrious sense.)

    A pig has:
    An emotional life
    A psychological welfare of its own
    The capacity to experience acute pain and pleasure
    Strong familial ties
    A social life
    At least as much intelligence as a dog.

    In these senses animals are not so distinct from humans, AT LEAST, Vagenda Team, they are not so distinct as to permit us to do whatever we wish to pigs.

    Does this not qualify a pig as that which is accorded moral worth?

    You don’t engage with the arguments. You merely repeat unhelpful (dogmatic and unresponsive) assertions like “I don’t see that either of us will get much out of a debate”. Perhaps its due to a paucity of imagination and perspicacity on your part, because whereas I engage you do not.

    It’s just sad that you can invoke moral reasons against unjust treatment of women and not recognise that there are moral reasons against the unjust treatment of animals (a point on which you seem to take glib pride).

    Moral thinking throughout history has always suffered from lacunae. John Stuart Mill was the first major western male philosopher to speak out against the unequal treatment of women (The Subjection of Women 1869), despite the enormous intellects of the philosophers who wrote before him, they did not recognise a tremendous inconsistency in their views.

    Today virtually all moral philosophers (bar the Kantian Roger Scruton at times) agree that animals are objects of moral worth. It’s sad to see that you are still not recognising this.

    To apprise yourself of what some of the most articulate and rigorous thinkers in the world have to say about the wrongness of not according moral worth to animals, see for instance:

    Macmahan is Professor of philosophy at Rutgers.

    I’m afraid to say that, morally, your speciesist assumptions are “in poor taste”.

  22. (What Michael said.)

    My comparison between pigs and the mentally enfeebled human was to make a particular point, but perhaps I should have been clearer.

    Let’s do a thought experiment here:

    Imagine there is someone, a human orphan with no known relatives or friends or anyone who cares about her or him, who does not have a brain. They have a brain stem, so they are alive and their blood circulates and so on. But they are unable to feel, they are not aware of anything, they cannot recognise other people and they can neither feel nor express emotion. (This is the case for babies born with Anencephaly.)

    Because this person is still legally alive, indeed technically not even brain dead (because they have a brain stem which is keeping them alive), it would be wrong (and illegal) to kill them.

    Now imagine that there is a non-human animal who possesses all the characteristics that Michael listed (I’ll list them again):
    1. An emotional life
    2. A psychological welfare of its own
    3. The capacity to experience acute pain and pleasure
    4. Strong familial ties
    5. A social life
    6. At least as much intelligence as a dog.

    EVEN IF we ignore all the other characteristics and consider only number 3 – that this animal has the capacity to SUFFER – we are left with a creature who is more sentient than the human without a brain.(Unless you are going to deny that pigs have the capacity to feel pain I don’t see how you can deny this.)

    But it is legal and it is considered acceptable by most people not only to kill this animal but to do so in absolutely horrific ways (after having kept them alive in equally horrendous conditions) for no good reason.

    The only reason it is considered wrong to kill a human that is unable to feel (physical or emotional) pain while it is considered acceptable to kill an animal that is able to feel pain acutely (as well as possessing many other characteristics) is because the one is human and the other is not. What is morally relevant about the species to which someone belongs?

    Now I (REALLY) don’t want you to misunderstand me here: I’m NOT saying we should kill babies who don’t feel pain, or senile people who are unaware of everything, or ANYONE at all. I’m saying we should also not kill animals who have at least equal capacities as we do to feel pain.

  23. Oh, Michael, the minute you make it personal you know you lose the argument. Rude.

    Our readers are smart enough to make their own minds up about these things and I’m under no obligation to engage with you, especially as I think ‘speciesism’ is, quite frankly, bullshit. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think animals should be treated better, BTW.

    Anyone interested can google speciesism if they want to read more about it. I think some of the ideas propagated by its adherents, including the comparison of industrial farming to the holocaust, quite frankly speak for themselves *GODWIN’S LAW KLAXON* It’s also clear that you have a very specific perspective as far as this debate is concerned, as you work for an animal rights charity and when I click on your link, I see a picture of two squirrels snogging one another.

  24. ‘My comparison between pigs and the mentally enfeebled human was to make a particular point’

    Your comparison was bullshit, not to mention insensitive, politically incorrect, and offensive. I have no intention of paying attention to anything you say because, to continue the party analogy, you have followed me across the room despite the fact that I have walked away from you and are trying to convert me to your point of view while I am TRYING to enjoy my cocktail sausages.

    - R

  25. Ah. Indeed, we have to learn to pick our battles.

    I hope someone somewhere has benefited from this debate.

    The Vagenda is great; continue to do good work.

    All the best,

  26. And so the ad hominems and other textbook fallacies slaughter the last attempts at a deep moral dialogue, whose outcome – I at any rate wished – would have been the recognition that our moral battles are ultimately akin, and that we should therefore voice our concerns in concert, or least, rightly, in theoretical allegiance. For that is what reason tells us.

    I of course am still all for feminism and defend it vigorously always.

  27. A key fact keeps getting glossed over here.

    Even if it is true that humans and animals are equal (despite there being a vast difference in intellectual and emotional intelligence, but whatever) you can’t escape the fact that humans wear clothes and animals do not (except in those rare cases where they’re forced to by humans; almost another form of animal cruelty).
    SO, why do the pregnant women demonstrating feel the need to be naked (or appear naked with nude thermals)? How does being naked help people to empathise with animals? Are we meant to feel sorry for them because they’re naked, as well as being in a cage? I may be wrong, but I think that’s obviously part of the shock tactic. When I saw the pictures, I just wondered how cold she must be and how embarrassing it is to be stared at naked; the cage was secondary.
    It might seem unfortunate (especially if you’re a naturist) but if you’re a human in 2012, being naked in public is either sexual, degrading, shocking or all three. Naked animals, however, are not.
    So even if you believe animals and humans should be treated with the same level of respect, you still have to take into consideration the issue of nudity and figure out what being naked is adding to your protest, because at the moment all it seems to be doing is degrading women.

    NB: cruelty to animals is obviously wrong…

  28. “I’m all for female equality, but I give significantly less of a shit about pigs, and I think comparing someone with a disability (of any nature) to a pig is, quite frankly, bullshit.”

    I’m all for equality between men, but I give significantly less of a shit about women, and I think comparing a man (of any nature) to a woman is, quite frankly, bullshit.

    If there is a different between those two sentences, you’re going to have to do some work to show it. Otherwise, it seems like an arbitrary exclusion of one group from the sphere of moral concern, with no justification for that exclusion other than ‘they aren’t in MY group’.

  29. Jqueree, one reason why nudity may be used in protests depicting caged animals because clothing offers a kind of protection which animals do not get. In factory farms, animals must lie directly on cold concrete, or rub directly against the cages they are kept in, with no fabric in between. Even chickens’ feathers tend to be completely rubbed off/to fall out when they are kept in factory farm conditions. Nudity does constitute a lack of protection from the elements, so it is not always synonymous with a sexualised state.!/photo.php?fbid=10150796443872195&set=a.10150796440882195.472596.263328217194&type=3&theater
    But for the pig protest (I think you were referring to how I said a woman wore thermals the same colour as her skin tone) – the aim was quite simply to look vaguely like a pig without having to resort to a more comical kind of costume, so passers-by could look briefly at the sow stall set up and (hopefully) recognise that the woman was acting as a pig, and highlighting the suffering of female pigs in sow stalls/farrowing crates.

  30. I’ve got to say, I’ve been reading Vagenda for many months now and really enjoy the quality and tone of what’s written here. As I have this article and the comments. I am a feminist and only superficially conscious of animal rights. However, I’m really disappointed by the responses made here under ‘The Vagenda Team’. As feminists, you know what it’s like to defend your strong and intelligent arguments against ignorant people only interested in ridiculing them. Yet your comments here show very little respect or tact towards the strong (and completely reasonably worded) beliefs of others. Your petulant and dismissive tone don’t live up to the expectations set by the fair and common sense writing on the rest of this blog.

  31. I agree with thepenandthepickaxe. Irrespective of one’s opinion on this issue, throughout this Comments section ‘The Vagenda Team’ has been mercilessly trolling feminists who do not share their perspective on animal rights issues. It’s childish, bullying and rude. Or, to coin your own phrase: in poor taste. I enjoyed the article, but am rather put off by this unpleasant behaviour.

  32. I completely agree with thepenandthepickaxe and Stell12. I think several of the comments you’ve made have been personal, negative and really unnecessarily rude, especially when other comments have been intelligently and carefully written.
    You’ve also gotta admit that the sausage comment was a bit insensitive?

  33. And, with this charming comment, you just lost a long time reader. I frankly don’t see how you can consider yourself a feminist or in any way an enlightened individual with such a narrow minded and self centred view.

    Should we stop ‘giving a shit’ about people of other races because it’s not *our* problem? Is slavery okay because ‘those people’ have a different skin colour? To further Eliza101′s example, there’s not much difference between
    “I’m all for female equality, but I give significantly less of a shit about pigs, and I think comparing someone with a disability (of any nature) to a pig is, quite frankly, bullshit.” and “I’m all for white equality, but I give significantly less of a shit about black people, and I think comparing a white person (of any nature) to a black person is, quite frankly, bullshit.”

  34. Well, I really do love sausages. It’s not trolling to admit that. I have absolutely no time for people who think animals and people are equivalent, especially not when someone up there compared them to a person with a disability. Nothing I’ve said has been personal, apart from the one comment when I pointed out that two of the repeat commenters were in cahoots and pretending not to be, which was a bit sad, to be honest. If you think feminism and animal rights activism should be aligned then that’s up to you but I’m just saying that personally I don’t think one necessarily denotes the other.