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Sexualization & PETA

What are the disadvantages of PETA’s use of sexualization in their campaigns for animal rights?

Shock advertising is a marketing tactic in which the advertisement violates social norms and is specifically used to shock consumers or spark a debate over the product or message being conveyed to its viewer. Sexualization of an individual is a form of shock advertising that animal rights movements are well aware of, in particular, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). PETA claims to be “dedicated to establishing and protecting the rights of all animals,” and the organisation has received a large amount of support from celebrities and other public figures who have starred in their campaigns in the fight to end animal cruelty. PETA acts with good intentions, though there are many disadvantages of using sexualized images to promote their campaign, and the “sex sells” mentality has rewarded the organisation with a large amount of backlash from women’s activists, whilst also allowing for the point of the campaign – to end animal cruelty – to become blurred by the naked women in the photo.

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Despite the fact that this tactic of sexualization certainly draws the attention of the public to the organisation, it has been suggested that this strategy is not effective in communicating the social issue at hand, as the sexualized images used by PETA instead allow for the message to become lost in translation. The “sex sells” mentality has rewarded the organisation with a large amount of backlash from women’s activists. Many have argued that the campaigns further oppress women whilst speaking out against the oppression of animals, and this develops an inconsistency that can be harming to the credibility of the campaign. These factors contribute to the hindering of PETA’s ability to communicate the messages of the animal rights movement. Sexualization shouldn’t be viewed as a necessary tactic in raising awareness to a social issue that is already heavily debated in society, and organisations such as Mercy For Animals prove through their campaigns that this tactic isn’t essential by exploring other avenues and ways to capture the public’s attention.