PETA’s Nude Ads

In relation to my PETA post in the Veggie Slaughterer, I thought I would talk about my thoughts on the nude PETA adds.  If you have never seen, or heard of, these ads show a nude person, with strategically placed obstructions.  There are both men and women in the adds, but I have seen mostly women.  To be fair, this may have more to do with the gender that usually volunteers.

Some may argue that these ads are sexist.  My understanding, though, is that these women and men volunteer for these ads.  These are not young men and women at the beginnings of their career in need of money.  These are well-established actors, actresses, musicians and the like.  They are fully aware of what these shots will look like and what their purpose is.  I cannot imagine them being a surprise.

The only problem is the poses the individuals take.  I have provided an example of a man’s ad (these are kind of hard to find) and a woman’s ad.  The men are standing full on to the camera and looking at the camera like it is at eye level.  The women are often sitting, but ALWAYS in a seductive pose.  This is of course more of an example of how our society differs in its perception of sexy men and sexy women.  This is certainly not PETA being sexist, so I am not going to go into this anymore here.  This is about PETA’s ads and not the differences between gender’s stereotypical sexuality.

The big questions here, for me at least, is about using sex to get a point across.  The clearest reason for the nudity is to grab a person’s attention.  People like to look at attractive people, especially covered by as little as possible.  This certainly works and people pay attention.  They may even read what the sign says, though I doubt they always do.  My first question is, does the person being nude actually help?

On the side of ‘no’, I would argue that the sex does not add anything.  It may grab a person’s attention, but would it grab it any less if it was a clothed sexy celebrity not posing alluringly.  These ads do nothing to explain why fur and the meat industry are cruel.  In fact, they may give the opposition a reason to question the argument.  Why can’t PETA sell the idea on its own?

On the side of ‘yes’, the sex is a greaaaaaat attention grabber.  They may not show why fur is bad but they may inspire a lot of people to look into it.  That is the point of a lot of ads anyway, right?  Just to get into your head so that eventually you will think to investigate.  Also, our culture loves celebrities.  People like to be like celebrities, so if someone you respect says “Fur is murder” you will go along with them.

Honestly, I like the ads.  Partly, because I like looking at scantily clad people.  I wish there was a way for the ads to break out of the modern advertisement swing of women in passive seductive positions.  The fact is that fur is not retrieved in an animal friendly way and rarely from animals you can even pretend were also becoming food.  Have any of you eaten mink?  Anyway, I want to know what you guys think about these ads.  This was just a quickly done opinion bit, so I’d love to throw back and forth some ideas!


About Tori

I am a graduate student working on my masters in Women and Gender studies. My masters thesis is on the gender nonconformity and ambiguity in modern film.
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4 Responses to PETA’s Nude Ads

  1. Sita says:

    Well, I’d love to see more of the male variety than the female, but that’s my personal preference. Aside from that, I can’t see anything wrong in PETA using this tactic, because they aren’t doing anything other than getting the idea into peoples’ heads that fur is wrong, as you pointed out. I’m sure there are those out there who find this type of advertisement incredibly offensive, but they’re probably a minority at this point.
    As for the showing of women in passive and submissive poses, I don’t think it really matters. The ads aren’t about sex, that is made clear by what the ads actually say. Though I think the male ads should show the males differently–I didn’t find the male example you included to be at all eye-attracting. In fact, he was kind of scary, and I think it’s because of the full-on, stare-down-the-camera pose. Very off-putting. As for the women, I think if PETA tried putting a woman in that pose, it might be too risque–and a lot harder to hide certain parts than other poses, I would think. I don’t think it’s so much a habit to try to put the women into passive poses, it’s just easier to keep the ads PG13 with them in those poses.

    • lyricopal says:

      I agree that the reason they chose the poses was part practicality. My point was that all ads put women in those poses. I think the argument might have been more effective if I had said that if you put a man in that pose it would send a completely different message. Putting a man in the passive or submissive sexual pose would be humorous, not sexy.

      • Kira says:

        Ahh, yes, that would be more humorous than sexy. And a woman in the frontal, more “masculine” pose doesn’t come off as aggressive, just sexy (I looked back at the post on Veggie Slaughterer where there is an ad like that. Not remotely aggressive).

  2. Derrick Hinkle says:

    Sex has repeatedly shown itself to be an effective advertising hook – how many times do you see sweaty unattractive people on an advertisement in any positive way? I think that from an ethical standpoint, these ads are fine, though our cultures perception of stereotypical bedroom roles will of course have an effect on these ads, and given the rather off-kilter state of those perceptions, it’s only understandable that these perceptions would transfer to ads, not just from PETA, but from others as well.

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