PETA ad equating animal cruelty with rape goes too far

PETA’s known for using shock tactics to get people to pay attention to the plights of animals, which is a worthy cause, for sure. But when the method actually hurts vulnerable or oppressed groups of people, the organization’s message is totally lost. You can see that clearly in a new PETA ad equating rape and animal cruelty. It goes way too far in its comparison and manages to somehow make a joke out of sexual assault survivors. At that point, who’s even listening to PETA talk about chicken rape?

The ad features a group of women talking in front of a black backdrop. The women are fighting through tears as they say things like “they held me down,” “they called me a bitch,” “I felt like I was nothing.” It looks like a PSA for domestic violence or sexual assault; the whole “catch” hinges on the fact that you’ve seen one of those before. Then the women start to hold up pictures of pigs and cows. “I am you,” one of the women says while holding a picture of a cow. Another woman says, “Every year, billions of animals are born into the meat, egg, and dairy industries.” Then it tells us that all of these animals are the result of artificial insemination and the result of “rape.” The ad directs viewers to PETA’s website explaining why one should go vegan.

It’s appalling. Sure, something should be done about the food industry — it’s really gross, animals are treated poorly, and no, they cannot consent because they do not talk. But really? Chicken and cows are the same as women? The twist at the end of the PETA ad feels like a joke. It feels like they’re mocking survivors.

PETA President Ingrid Newkirk isn’t backing down from the ad either. Newkirk told Mic in a statement, “We are talking about rape: It is rape when someone sticks their hand into a vagina or rectum without permission. That’s the dictionary definition of rape.  We believe that everyone should see the reality of dairy, meat, and egg production and then, unless they’re ethically blind, they will be appalled.” She goes on:

“Who can honestly complain about the sexual abuse of women if they accept the sexual abuse of other females who happen not to be human but have the same vulnerability to pain? Who can fill their mouth full of steak, bacon, or turkey when they realize that mother cows are routinely sexually abused and that their calves — their beloved offspring — are taken from them shortly after birth? Any woman (or man!) with a heart should scream bloody murder on behalf of the animals who can’t scream it themselves.”

PETA is known for it’s offensive tactics, like when Newkirk tweeted out that the oppression of women was akin to that of chickens before the United State of Women Summit last summer. They’ve always run ads with naked women to draw attention to the problems with fur and animal testing. Exploiting women is sort of Newkirk and PETA’s thing — sex sells.

I’m not the one to decide whether women or chickens have it worse or whether it’s ethical to eat meat. But Newkirk is out of her mind if she thinks commercials like these ones help the cause. They make PETA look insensitive and outlandish. They make sexual assault survivors look like a joke. Who can honestly complain about chicken breeding as rape if they won’t accept that sexual abuse of human females is a serious issue?