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Intersectionality, Integrationist
Social Change and PETA’s
Animal Advocacy
Nick Pendergrast, University of Melbourne
Devel...
Content Warnings
 Fat shaming.
 Eating disorders.
 Violence – women.
 Sexual assault.
PETA’s Integrationist Social Change
Gender and Integrationist Social Change
 PETA use women who… vs the women taking part in its campaigns.
 Sexualisation o...
Fat Shaming in PETA’s Campaigns
 PETA President Ingrid Newkirk:
 ‘America's obesity epidemic’.
 Lack of focus on health...
Why do these campaigns?
 Media attention: ‘having activists “bare skin rather than wear skin”—consistently
grab headlines...
Problems with these Campaigns
 Strong link between concern for other people and support for the idea of non-
human animal...
Organisational Implications
 PETA: ‘our campaigns have proved extremely successful. In the three decades since
PETA was f...
Summing Up
 Organisational considerations are another barrier to putting intersectionality into
practice beyond academia....
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Intersectionality, Integrationist Social Change and PETA’s Animal Advocacy by Nick Pendergrast

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Audio of talk: https://archive.org/details/NickPETA

For more information about this talk and the conference it was given at, see the link above.

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Intersectionality, Integrationist Social Change and PETA’s Animal Advocacy by Nick Pendergrast

  1. 1. Intersectionality, Integrationist Social Change and PETA’s Animal Advocacy Nick Pendergrast, University of Melbourne Development for Species: Animals in society, animals as society: Challenge the ‘anthropocentric focus of traditional scholarship in both development and sociology’.
  2. 2. Content Warnings  Fat shaming.  Eating disorders.  Violence – women.  Sexual assault.
  3. 3. PETA’s Integrationist Social Change
  4. 4. Gender and Integrationist Social Change  PETA use women who… vs the women taking part in its campaigns.  Sexualisation of women: more people interested in seeing women than men naked (Dan Matthews, PETA VP).  Ingrid Newkirk (PETA President): ‘harmless antics’.  PETA uses female nudity much like it is used to sell any commodity in the advertising world (Torres).  Objectification of women in advertising – culture that views women as sexualised objects – linked to violence against women (Kilbourne).  Socially constructed “ideal” or “perfect” body type = very ‘thin and fragile’ which ‘is unattainable to most women, even if they starve themselves’ and only approximately the thinnest 5% of women reach this ideal (Kilbourne).  Constant use of this female body type in advertising – women hating their bodies and hating themselves + ‘feelings of inferiority, anxiety, insecurity, and depression’ + increased prevalence of eating disorders (Kilbourne).
  5. 5. Fat Shaming in PETA’s Campaigns  PETA President Ingrid Newkirk:  ‘America's obesity epidemic’.  Lack of focus on health: ‘looking good in a bikini’, achieving ‘a hot “beach bod”.’  ‘The majority of fat people need to have some discipline’.  Structural issues that contribute to obesity eg class and ethnicity.  Widespread public outrage – PETA took down the billboard and replaced it with one that read: ‘GONE: Just like all the pounds lost by people who go vegetarian’.
  6. 6. Why do these campaigns?  Media attention: ‘having activists “bare skin rather than wear skin”—consistently grab headlines’ – can ‘initiate discussion, debate, and, of course, action’ and its ‘goal is to make the public think about the issues’. (Fruno, Senior campaigner, PETA Asia – interview).  Explicit Super Bowl advertisement ‘Vegetarians have Better Sex’, which was banned – covered on FHM.  Descriptions of women taken from the most popular men’s magazines (including FHM) are indistinguishable from comments about women made by men convicted of sexual assault (Horvarth and Hegarty).  Content of the article in FHM and the comments after it focused on whether PETA’s advertisement should have been banned or not.
  7. 7. Problems with these Campaigns  Strong link between concern for other people and support for the idea of non- human animals having some rights (Nibert).  PETA’s use of sexism also reinforces speciesism, as both forms of oppression are built on a similar logic – intersectionality: ‘all oppressions are interlocking and when any oppression is embraced all oppressions are strengthened’ (Glasser).  Recent study: Sexualised advertising reduced people’s intention to support PETA and to make changes to their behaviours that would be beneficial to animals – both in a study just of young men and a mixed-gender community sample (Bongiorno, Bain and Haslam).
  8. 8. Organisational Implications  PETA: ‘our campaigns have proved extremely successful. In the three decades since PETA was founded, it has grown into the largest animal rights group in the world, with more than 2 million members and supporters worldwide’.  Organisational factors eg donor base is merely one way to measure success in social movements – larger, more professionalised organisations.  NPIC = increasingly narrow focus, greater desire for funding (Smith).  Organisations focused on just one particular issue tend to ‘develop a larger base of supporters’ and are also more likely to attract resources, funds and political allies (Glasser).  INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence offered a half year grant of $100,000 from the Ford Foundation. Ford reversed the decision because they found out that INCITE supported the Palestinian struggle against occupation (Smith).  Taking on more causes can shrink the donor base = grassroots activism has greater capacity to be intersectional.
  9. 9. Summing Up  Organisational considerations are another barrier to putting intersectionality into practice beyond academia.  Other barriers eg social/political content:  Esther Alloun. 2017, ‘Fur Peta’s Sake! The Politics of Animals in the Zionist State’ in Animal Liberation Currents.  Institute for Critical Animal Studies (Oceania):  Facebook: search ‘Institute for Critical Animal Studies, Oceania’  Twitter: @icasoceania  My work: Google ‘nick pendergrast the conversation’.  nicholas.pendergrast@unimelb.edu.au

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