PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals…What About Women?

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PETA is a not-for-profit organization that aims to establish and protect the rights of all animals. PETA's website states that it operates under these principles:

‘Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.’ 

PETA’s self-proclaimed commitment to the ethical treatment of animals is in direct contrast with their sexually exploitative treatment of women in their advertising.



PETA’s ads are routinely highly sexualised and deliberately controversial. Not only do they frequently sexually objectify women in their so-called promotion of ethical treatment of animals, they also depict violence against women, including graphic depictions of death.

An online video released on Valentines Day 2012 warned women about the "dangers" of their boyfriends becoming vegan- namely, the impact on his sexual performance and enhanced ability to do physical damage to his female partner in the process. It seems PETA's take home message is not that going vegan is good for animals, but it will enhance your sex life.

The video shows a limping, pant-less woman sporting a neckbrace, struggling to carry a bag of vegetables home from the store. 

"This is Jessica," the narrator, Kevin Nealon, says. "She suffers from 'BWVAKTBOOM,' 'Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom Out of Me,' a painful condition that occurs when boyfriends go vegan and can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star." 

Jessica's boyfriend is then shown fixing a hole in their bedroom wall. "Oh, you're feeling better?" he asks as she disrobes. The video depicted domestic violence as something sexy and desirable to promote veganism.

PETA’s ad campaigns frequently represent women in hyper sexualised ways, in a state of undress or completely naked. Many ads are not only sexualised and violent towards women but also depict the murder of women, not unlike snuff porn- to help animals, of course. 


To promote its anti-fur campaign and illustrate how animals are killed for fur, PETA released a video showing a woman wearing a fur coat who is brutally beaten to death in a random street attack. 

PETA proudly showcases banned ads on its website. Two ads that were planned to air during America’s Super Bowl were banned by NBC. One ad featured women undressing and masturbating with vegetables. A second “Girls Gone Wild” stylised ad depicted women in a night club flashing their ‘breasts’ (replaced by prosthetic cow ‘udders’) and spraying milk into men’s open mouths. 

An ad proposed for the 2016 Super Bowl depicted two couples having sex and can only be described as pornographic. Business Insider theorised that PETA never intends for the ads to be aired on TV, but uses the fact that the ads were ‘banned’ to generate controversy for the brand:

Super Bowl ads are watched by people of all ages, so it is unsurprising that TV execs at CBS would not allow the video to be shown.

Some critics are cynical about whether PETA ever even had plans for the ad to be aired at all.

Dabitch Wäppling wrote on AdLand: “What this really means is PETA never had $4.5 million dollars to pay for the airtime with, and instead are going the cheap route with a press release, some sex scenes, and the hopes that you’ll share this with all your friends.” 

It seems nothing is sacred to PETA- in their quest to promote vegetarianism and veganism they have used pornographic imagery, graphic depictions of violence against women, fat-shaming, compared eating chicken to the Holocaust using images of emaciated Jews in a concentration camp, shamed women for having body hair and reduced women to parts, meat, bloodied at that. PETA stands for ‘People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ yet clearly this ethical treatment does not extend to fellow human beings, especially women who are usually at the centre of these ads.    



Through its recent ‘Australia Day’ campaign PETA wanted the public to ‘remember that a corpse is a corpse – whether lamb, dog or human.'

According to PETA "All animals are made of flesh, bone and blood, just as humans are, and eating meat entails ingesting the corpse of an animal who had feelings, a family, a distinct personality and a will to live."   

This is why PETA felt it necessary to ‘cook’ an activist, notably a young, conventionally attractive woman, on a BBQ at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market. The comparison between a woman’s flesh and an animal’s flesh is supposed to encourage people to 'go vegan.' Again, it is a woman who is used as a stand in for meat that can be bought and sold at the local deli. 


PETA typically use thin, attractive women for their ads including many naked supermodels and celebrities. Pamela Anderson’s sexualized bikini clad body is literally reduced to meat for consumption- dissected into a collection of parts with the slogan "all animals have the same parts". The ad was banned in Canada.


Another attractive model is graphically compared to a piece of meat and hung like a carcass. In another attempt to generate controversy, PETA posed Joanna Krupa naked with a crucifix. I am at a loss to find the link between a cross covering a Playboy model’s private parts and caring for animals. PETA denounces elephants being shackled, beaten and abused yet they sexualize this treatment of woman.

                        PetaGoVeg.png  PetaAngel.png            


They denounce pubic hair on women saying that it is ‘unfurgivable’ and give women 40% off to get a Brazillian wax done. They make a mockery of women’s pubic hair which is both degrading and sexist.

                            PetaFur.png          PetaFur3.png


PETA's short-sightedness is astounding. They are appalled when an animal is mistreated, yet they sell women as only sexually valuable and normalize violence toward women in their ads. If I was considering veganism or vegetarianism, the last thing I would do is jump on PETA’s sexist bandwagon. 

Guest post written by Sarah Notaro

Contact PETA and ask them to stop exploiting women in advertising

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You can contact PETA Australia at the following:
PO Box 20308
World Square
Sydney NSW 2002
08 8556 5828
[email protected]

We invite PETA to sign our Corporate Social Responsibility Pledge.

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