T.O.F.U. magazine (the one that published one of my articles a while back) just put out a new issue. First of all, I find this very exciting, because I love T.O.F.U. magazine, and I'm glad to see they are back after such a long break. Second, this new issue was about the intersection of animal rights and sexism, and it inspired me to talk about my thoughts on the subject.
When you talk about sexism and animal rights, the group that comes up the most (by far) is PETA. They are well known for their use of nude or barely clothed women in their ads, and they were mentioned in several of the articles in T.O.F.U. Many people find their treatment of women to be highly offensive, and claim that it is hurtful to the cause. I don't agree. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely things that PETA has done that I disagree with, but I don't believe that their treatment of women is sexist.
The way I see it, the women who appear in the ads do so by choice. The women decided that they wanted to allow their bodies to be used that way. I don't think that's sexism, that's personal choice. Isn't a big part of the idea behind feminism that women can choose what they want to do with their own bodies? If they want to take their clothes off to bring attention to animal rights issues, shouldn't they be allowed to do that? If these women were being somehow forced or manipulated into showing their bodies, that would be sexist. That fact that they choose it for themselves, makes it sort of empowering (at least in my opinion). For these women to stand up and say "These are my beliefs, and this is my body, and I am proud of them both" seems sort of like the opposite of sexism to me.
Furthermore, whether people like it or not, or agree with it or not, these sorts of ads do draw attention and get people talking, which is really the whole point. People can't help but notice these things and, once they notice them, they pretty much have to acknowledge the content. So how, exactly, is allowing women to use their bodies in ways that benefit causes they care deeply about, by their own choice, offensive?