Disturbing images: Peta and the feminist ethics of animal advocacy

Ethics and the Environment 13 (2):pp. 35-76 (2008)
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Abstract

The author applies a feminist analysis to animal advocacy initiatives in which gendered and racialized representations of female sexuality are paramount. Feminists have criticized animal advocates for opposing the oppression of nonhuman animals through media images that perpetuate female objectification. These critiques are considered through a close examination of two prominent campaigns by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). The author argues that some representations of female sexuality may align with a posthumanist feminist ethic and need not be read as sexist. Examining PETA’s famous anti-fur ads and the more recent Milk Gone Wild campaign, the author identifies where PETA’s campaigns are objectionable under a feminist ethic and where they are subversive of an anthropocentric and male-dominated order alike. The article thus recuperates part of PETA’s work from feminist critiques, but also reveals the constructions posthumanist advocacy should exclude to avoid elevating the status of nonhuman animals at the expense of women.

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