PETA Announces a New Porn Website. Is This “Ethical Treatment” of Women?

September 20, 2011; Source: Sydney Morning Herald | People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is, of course, known for its shock-based media campaigns. But NPQ would love to hear what our readers think about PETA’s latest plans.

PETA has announced plans to establish a porn site using a new top-level domain to be rolled out in December, .xxx, that will intermingle porn with photos and video of suffering animals. “We’re hoping to reach a whole new audience of people, some of whom will be shocked by graphic images that maybe they didn’t anticipate seeing when they went to the PETA triple-X site,” Lindsay Rajt, PETA’s associate director of campaigns, told the Sydney Morning Herald. This is not the first time PETA has used naked humans to attract attention to the cause of saving animals from needless suffering and promoting vegetarianism and veganism. The organization has been known to sponsor naked demonstrations and possibly one of its best-known campaigns is its “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” lineup, but this apparently goes beyond that. Rajt said, “We try to use every outlet that we can to speak up for animals. We anticipated that this new triple-X domain name would be a hot topic and we immediately decided to use it and take advantage of it to try to promote the animal rights message.”

Critics maintain that the porn medium will undermine the intended animal-rights message. Jennifer Pozner, founder and executive director of Brooklyn, New York-based nonprofit Women In Media & News, told the Morning Herald that “PETA is extremely disingenuous. . . . They have consistently used active sexism as their marketing strategy to garner attention. Their use of sexism has gotten more extreme and more degrading. . . . This may be in their minds the only thing left at their disposal to lower the bar.” Jill Dolan, director of the program in gender and sexuality studies at Princeton University, criticized PETA in an email to the Morning Herald: “Exploiting porn to get people’s juices going seems lame; exploiting pornographic images only of women to make their point is retrograde and misogynist…Come on, PETA. Don’t be Neanderthals.”

We’d love to hear what you think about the PETA campaign (or maybe the announcement of an intended campaign is in and of itself the real action—we can only hope).—Ruth McCambridge