Dear Ms. Slater,
Thank you for your letter expressing concern about the women who participate in our ads and campaigns. We appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts with us.
As an organization staffed largely by feminist women, we would not do something that we felt contributed to the very serious problems that women face. Our demonstrators and models choose to participate in our actions because they want to do something to make people stop and pay attention. We believe that people should have the choice to use their own bodies to make social statements, and that there is nothing shameful or “wrong” about doing so. This tactic has been used since Lady Godiva rode naked on a horse to protest taxes on the poor in the 11th century.
Please know that we also feature men in our ads and demonstrations; the following are just a few examples:
· Kristoff St. John: http://www.mediapeta.com/peta/
Images/Main/Sections/ MediaCenter/PrintAds/ AdKristoffStJohn.pdf
· David Cross: http://www.PETA.org/features/
· John Abraham: http://www.PETAIndia.com/
· Dennis Rodman: http://www.PETA.org/features/
· Dave Navarro: https://secure.PETA.org/
· Steve-O: http://www.peta2.com/oUTTHERE/
http://www.peta2.com/oUTTHERE/ images/SteveO_RatherGoNaked. jpg
These activists are dedicated to helping foxes who are electrocuted and skinned by the millions for the fur industry, calves who are torn from their distraught mothers and slaughtered for the meat industry, elephants who are beaten bloody and forced to live in chains year after year in circuses, and the billions of animals who suffer from torture, maddening isolation, starvation, terror, and violent death at the hands of uncaring industries.
Take Traci Bingham (http://www.PETA.org/features/
pages/Traci-Bingham-naked- vegetarian-ad.aspx) and Pamela Anderson (http://www.mediapeta.com/ peta2/images/printads/ PAMpartsP2300.jpg),
for example, who posed for our “All Animals Have the Same Parts” ad campaign.
Both are deeply committed vegetarians known to millions for their
television work, and chose to use their bodies as a political tool to
grab public attention for serious animal issues. In this case, Ms.
Bingham and Ms. Anderson were offended by the traditional
“meat” posters that treat animals as “parts,” and they wanted to make
the point that neither farmed animals nor women should be viewed as
parts—we are all precious.
We feel that all people should be free to use their minds and bodies as political instruments to bring attention to animal suffering like this, and we appreciate any effort to help those who have no voice. We use all available opportunities to reach millions of people with powerful messages. We have found that people do pay more attention to our racier actions, and we consider the public’s attention to be extremely important. Sometimes this requires tactics—like naked marches and colorful ad campaigns—that some people find rude or outrageous, but part of our job is to shake people up and even shock them in order to initiate discussion, debate, questioning of the status quo, and of course, action. After PETA publicized our “State of the Union Undress,” for example, we were rated the number one “mover” on Yahoo’s search engine, meaning that PETA received the greatest percentage increase of terms searched that day. The situation is critical for billions of animals, and our goal is to make the public think about the issues. Although some consider our projects that include nudity to be controversial, many women express support for these tactics.
You might find it interesting to consider that it is the societies that allow women to wear revealing clothing in which women have the most rights and the most power. Likewise, it is the societies that punish women for wearing revealing clothing in which women have the fewest rights and the least power. Should women only be allowed to participate in activism if they promise not to show their bodies or use their bodies as political statements? If a person chooses to use his or her physicality and sexuality to convey a message of his or her choosing, aren’t those who would censor him or her, even if their motives are good, also somewhat guilty of disrespect and repression?
PETA does make a point of having something for all tastes, from the most conservative to the most radical and from the most tasteless to the most refined, and this approach has proved amazingly successful—in the three decades since PETA was founded, it has grown into the largest animal rights group in the world, with more than 3 million members and supporters worldwide. For more information about PETA’s vital work for animals, please visit http://www.PETA.org/about/
We respect your right to disagree with our tactics but hope that you will continue to support projects that you do agree with, such as our free vegetarian/vegan starter kit giveaways (http://www.PETA.org/living/
vegetarian-living/free- vegetarian-starter-kit.aspx) or our low-cost spay/neuter clinics (http://www.PETA.org/b/ thepetafiles/archive/2010/02/ 16/peta-stems-the-southern- flood-of-pups-and-kittens.aspx ).
Thank you for giving us this opportunity to respond to your concern and for everything that you do to help animals!
The PETA Staffhttp://wwww.PETA.org