Posted by: Ophelia | April 2, 2009

Patriarchy, let it grow on you

Peta is at it again with a new pro vegentarianism ad. This one is a bit different than their usual choice of ad–you know, the ones where they have lots of naked female celebrities declaring they’d rather go naked than wear fur. For once, the woman in the ad is clothed. This woman happens to be Cloris Leachman. Now perhaps she didn’t want to pose nude. Perhaps she objected to this treatment of women like meat to protest the consumption of meat and the use of fur.  However, given the way our society views aging and the way we view older women–I highly doubt Peta would have run the ad if Cloris had wanted to be naked.  Placing Cloris in a lettuce dress reaffirms the sentiment behind their previous ads–that the female body is meant for consumption, and when that body begins to show age, it must be covered to protect our sensibilities (however, it is worth note that the dress conforms to her figure–so they’ve got to have their sexy factor in there somewhere).

So is this better or worse than their usual ads?

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Responses

  1. I think you’re reallllllly having to stretch for this one. Most of the time PETA has sexist ads. And yes, MANY of PETA’s ad’s involve naked women. But hey, a lot of them don’t. This happens to be one that doesn’t. That’s not sexist.

    I also don’t see how wearing a dress made of lettuce is sexist, I think it’s beautifully designed and gets the point of the ad across very well.

  2. I honestly don’t find it a stretch to question why a company that has no issues using young naked women to get their point across treats female models differently if they’re a different age. I made sure to qualify my points by stating that hey, maybe Cloris didn’t want to be nude, but it’s intended as a jumping off point for a discussion about ageism.

    I don’t see it as any different than any of the other times I’ve compared the treatment of two groups to demonstrate the dominant perspective. For example, the amount of money a man will on average make is not itself sexist until you compare it to the amount of money a woman will on average make.

  3. I have a problem with PETA’s rhetorical choices in general. I’m not especially fond of objectifying women OR tortured animals. I think there are better ways to make a point.

    • + 1

  4. I think this ad has to be viewed in the context of their previous ads, and then appraised in the context of future ads as they emerge. If this is a kinder, gentler PETA, then it will become apparent. However, if they go back to showing naked women in passive poses, then this could be a fluke or an example of ageism.

    I like this ad. A lot. I think the lettuce dress is beautiful. I think it looks regal, and not only draws attention to vegetarianism but also is a good use of the celebrity model. I would like to praise this ad, and say, “This is how you should move forward”. But I can’t forget their crappy sexist and racist past. I can love the ad individually, and still recognize that it can still be a facet of a problematic philosophy relating to the objectification of women, and which women are objectified.

  5. While I do not support PETA and think many of their ads are indeed sexist, this is not one of them. I want to point out also that your analysis of the race issue is false, considering Alyssa Milano has also appeared wearing a lettuce dress in one of their ads.

    • I would like to take this opportunity to point out that I did not analyze race in this post, nor did anyone else. I’m not really sure how you’re arguing against a point that was not made.

  6. Well, this ad is a little more creative than the usual “I have a good idea, let’s get Britney naked and call it animal rights, LOL”

  7. How is it sexist to not want to see an 80 year old woman pose naked? I don’t want to see an 80 year old man pose naked either.

  8. I think this ad objectifies women. After all, they made that lettuce dress in a way that left her butt uncovered.

  9. Again, if you were to bother READING, this is more about ageism in this particular ad, however noting that they have a history of sexism. I recall that this blog was more than just about sexism, and therefore there is no need to pigeonhole everything through sexism in order to make it an important topic to discuss.

  10. “However, given the way our society views aging and the way we view older women”

    jh: Note that she did not say “older people” but instead specified “older women,” meaning she thinks the ad is sexist (and maybe also ageist).

    Though really, what’s the problem with ageism? It’s not really discriminatory, as all people age. It’s not as though anyone is born old. We all share in the costs and benefits of age, so it’s pretty hard to label it as discrimination.

    Now, you might not like ageism because stereotypes about ages don’t always match up with the truth, and good workers are denied jobs, people with flabby skin aren’t getting enough sex, etc, but that’s just being anti-inefficiency, not anti-ageism.

    • I said older women since Cloris Leachman happens to be an older woman. I believe the ad falls in line with the way Peta views women and that it can be seen as a reflection of patriarchal values. I never said the ad itself is sexist in its portrayal of Cloris Leachman.

      Actually it isn’t hard to label ageism as discrimination, in fact it’s incredibly easy. Try telling someone who has been discriminated against on the basis of age that they should be consoled by the fact that age is temporary and we all will pass through the stages—not helpful. Would you similarly console people who are subject to ableism since anyone could become disabled some day?

      I don’t have time to babysit a discussion about how ageism isn’t a real form of discrimination nor would I devote such time if I had it.

  11. There are some very interesting points of view in the comments section. Though I don’t personally want to see any women objectified, I do think something is being said by not having this woman pose naked. The ad is reminding us that beauty is closely tied with youth and the older you get (especially for women), the less beautiful you are. That being said, I think the ad is more ageist than sexist, though I will add that most of the ads put out are sexist in that they objectify women (even if it IS for a good cause).

  12. […] representations of slavery, the Holocaust, the KKK, non-status immigrants, and women (several times over.) (Warning that some of the linked articles contain partial nudity and/or images of torture of […]

  13. […] representations of slavery, the Holocaust, the KKK, non-status immigrants, and women (several times over.) (Warning that some of the linked articles contain partial nudity and/or images of torture of […]

  14. […] Feminocracy ponders the question: Now perhaps she didn’t want to pose nude, perhaps she objected to this treatment of women like meat to protest the consumption of meat and the use of fur, however, given the way our society views aging and the way we view older women – I highly doubt Peta would have run the ad if Cloris had wanted to be naked.  Placing Cloris in a lettuce dress reaffirms the sentiment behind their previous ads – that the female body is meant for consumption, and when that body begins to show age, it must be covered to protect our sensibilities… 20 Comments Tags: activism, age/aging, animals/nature, food, gender, intersectionality GUEST POST: FAIL[ING] TO UNDERSTAND WHEN NON-WHITE PEOPLE DISTRUST THE POLICEOPPOSING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN IOWA […]


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