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PETA’s State of the Union Undress

October 25, 2009

I personally have never been a fan of PETA. While there’s nothing that can make me cry more instantaneously than animal cruelty, I disagree with their implied ideological belief that it’s perfectly fine for humans to suffer and be mistreated as long as it saves animals. I also despise their marketing techniques. Using nudity for shock value in their protests has always been an integral part of their scheming, but recently it has hit an all time high. In order to combat the criticism this has been met with, PETA released a video called their State of the Union Undress attempting to justify their usage of nudity and assuring the viewer that they’ll just “continue to get nakeder” in order to fight for what they believe in. The video consists of a young woman dressed in professional wear giving her speech while gradually undressing, spliced with footage of the Senate floor cheering. (Don’t worry, there’s a total boner-kill immediately after she gets completely naked, of a montage of videos showing animal abuse).
PETA clearly understands that nudity will make the attention-seeking statement they’re looking for, but I disagree with using sexuality to fight for something that’s completely unrelated. Of all the protests I’ve heard of, including the ones mentioned in the State of Undress, there was only one instance where I agreed that it made sense. In one rally, protesters wrapped their naked bodies in saran wrap to graphically portray the fact that the meat we buy in supermarkets is actually the flesh and body of an animal. This, I think, makes a good point.
However, the use of nudity and sexuality does not belong with PETA’s message. Isn’t the feminist argument against the exploitation of female sexuality is that it degrades women into being “just a piece of meat” to play into men’s desires? They are clearly using these women into getting their message across. The State of the Union Undress is perhaps the best example of this. Her nudity was completely gratuitous and even besides that, she wasn’t just being presented as a naked female form, it was purposefully sexualized. Besides playing into the porn cliche of a reserved women suddenly turning into a sexual being with her transformation from politcal pundit to stark naked girl, the camera repeatedly zooms in on her naughty bits suggestively among other tricks throughout the video. Even if you’re not turned on by it, the mere shock of the tactic is enough to distract from the actual message. As I was watching this, do you really think I was playing close attention to what she was saying? No. I was thinking “wow, that’s a vagina.”
They’re clearly just so tickled with themselves for being so risque and outrageous and against the status quo and, frankly, it pisses me off. Just like everything else about them. I hate that they’re the primary organization for animal rights, because it’s an issue I truly believe in. But with PETA at the forefront I find that their message is backfiring even against would-be steadfast supporters like myself because of their questionable tactics and terrible image. For the sake of the animals, PETA, stop being so freakin obnoxious.

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