PETA Ad

Philosophers have long contended that we’re at war with our consciousness—reckoning with our mysterious situation in a number of ways. Humanity at large has long suppressed the conundrum of our unknown origin through the distractions of war and oppression, manipulation and exploitation of others—human or otherwise. But as we continue to wade through our quandary, perceivably evolving into yet another unknown, it’s all overlapping. In fact, just determining what is excusable human behavior and what is not has become its own beast as the human race now appears to be splintering itself into vastly different subspecies: Those running multinational corporations and the obsequious consumers who follow, and, of course, the activated take-charge self-resilient conscious evolvers. Or something like that, anyway. And in the middle of it all are the two things that most define us regardless of our persuasion—food and sex—which, of course, have become intensely entangled and confused like never before. Enter www.PETA.xxx.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has long been criticized for its racy, pushy and no-shame approach to discussing what can in all fairness be called a War on Animals. The largest animal rights organization in the U.S., PETA’s message is often an afterthought overshadowed by its stunts (women wearing lettuce bikinis, cookies ‘n’ breast milk, the Jeffrey Dahmer ad, etc), leading many animal rights activists to suggest the organization’s efforts cause more harm than good. But PETA has long insisted that its tactics are highly effective in bringing awareness to the unnecessary suffering of animals and the human health and environmental risks connected with animal products. And certainly PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk would suggest that if even just one animal’s life was spared as a result, the effort was worthwhile. But the number is more like tens of millions, and growing. 

Among the frequent criticisms of PETA’s tactics is the exploitation of women who’ve sat essentially naked in defense of animals (full disclosure: I spent several hours in a cage naked and painted like a tiger in protest of the Ringling Brothers Circus on PETA’s behalf). But the women have another take on it: they’ve made the conscious choice to remove their clothes unlike the animals given no choice and forced to suffer unthinkable conditions and treatment eventually giving up their lives so McDonald’s can convince you that your child should eat a McNugget

There’s no question that the conventional Western food system is expletively deranged–an ouroboros cycle to say the least. And, to a similar degree, so is our relationship with sex. Pornography is the biggest moneymaker on the Internet, and while we publically shun that industry, mainstream media dictates disjointed gender roles that encourage women to objectify themselves as soon as they have curves to exploit, and men to expect it, all while politicians and religious zealots insist that homosexuality and abortion are the most unforgivable sexual perversions. Many wind up cheating, lying, abusing and living in shame, repressing true desires out of fear and confusion; it’s no wonder so many ravenously eat the deep-fried wings of helpless birds by the bucketload. (J. Krishnamurti said, “It’s no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”)

So, it’s no big surprise that PETA would conflate the two, lavishly illustrating our need to resolve our relationship with these important issues. But the truth is, www.PETA.xxx isn’t really a porn site in the true sense, anyway. They’re recycling their stock photos of women who’ve bravely stood naked in public for hours offering free veggie dogs and burgers at the opportunity to talk with curious strangers about the egregious conditions chickens, cows and pigs live in. They rely on the good fortune of having beautiful celebrities volunteer to get naked for posters, videos and billboard ads to highlight the organization’s issues. They use the “hardcore video” section on the site to showcase the hardcore truths that exist in our nation’s factory farms, entertainment, laboratories and fur farming industries. There’s no gratuitous sex for sex’s sake, here. And while the website clearly isn’t the salve that’s going to heal our species from its myriad perversions, it’s not likely going to make them any worse, either. What we really need in resolving our exploitative ways and evolving to a truly compassionate species is regular access to pure, unadulterated, healthy and delicious food, and frequent mind-blowing-deeply-connected-absolutely-satisfying sexual encounters with people who respect and love us for who we are and what we desire, and are willing to honor us for that without judgment. Then and only then will sex and food be treated as the sacred relationships they truly are.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: Brett Jordan