PETA’s New Ad Campaign Features Bruised, Battered Women
PETA recently unveiled a new advertising campaign that has left many wondering if it makes light of violence against women.
The centerpiece of the ad campaign features a woman wearing a coat, a bra and underwear, and a neck brace while walking down the street, clearly in pain. Through voiceover, the audience is told that “Jessica” is suffering from “BWVAKTBOOM” or “Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom Out of Me,” which is “a painful condition that occurs when boyfriends go vegan and can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star.”
After a close-up of Jessica walking up the stairs—so that we can see she’s not wearing any pants—Jessica walks into a bedroom where her vegan boyfriend is plastering a hole in the wall. She smiles and throws a bag of vegetables to him.
So this is PETA’s idea of promoting a vegan lifestyle—selling men on the idea that veganism is a way to prevent erectile dysfunction and increase their sexual stamina.
The campaign features a series of women complaining of concussions, sprained knees, bruising, and hip dysplasia while they have bandaged hands, Band-Aids on their faces, or are wearing a neck brace. While PETA is careful to ensure that the women make it clear they mostly enjoy the new prowess of their sexual partners, the idea is that the men just can’t help but hurt their girlfriends when they have sex.
The advertising gimmick is that going vegan makes men so sexually potent that they physically injure their partners. Well, their female partners.
One of the ten BWVAKTBOOM ads features a gay man whose boyfriend went vegan—but unlike the women, the gay man isn’t physically hurt and bandaged. This clip reveals the intrinsic sexist and misogynist ideology behind the ad campaign—that only injured women, not men, are funny.
PETA even has a website dedicated to the new campaign, which includes tips on how to sex-proof your new love life, like advising women to get a sex helmet that matches their hair:
Vegan sex can be more aggressive than Civilian Sex. Which is why we encourage wearing a helmet during intercourse. You need to protect yourself. But staring at a conventional helmet can ruin the moment. So get a helmet that matches your hairstyle. Or add some zest by changing things up. Then strap it down, hop in bed, and hold on tight.
PETA’s premise that going vegan (or even vegetarian) can lead to a healthier lifestyle is not a false one—but why focus a healthier sex life on pain rather than pleasure? Instead of making the point that going vegan can make men better lovers and partners, PETA thinks it’s funny to joke that being a vegan can make men so powerful that they hurt their partners. Doing so is making light of abuse against women, which is anything but funny.
PETA is no stranger to controversy; in fact, the group is often seems trying to be offensive (especially to women) to garner attention for their cause. One ad was banned from the Superbowl, for instance, because it depicted women about to have sex with vegetables.
Lindsay Rajt, PETA's associate director of campaigns and outreach, said she sees the ad as “tongue-in-cheek” and not offensive.
“People who watch the ad all the way through see the woman has a mischievous smile. She's happy to go back with him. It's playful,” she says.
Since when does “playful” mean hitting your head so hard that you break through the wall and need a neck brace?
Dahlia Grossman-Heinze is a reporter-blogger for Campus Progress. Follow her on Twitter @salvadordahlia.