Did Southwest Airlines ban this PETA ad because of its racy nature, or because of its pro-vegan message?

Southwest reports that the ad was rejected from publication in their magazine, Spirit, because it is “too provocative to run.” PETA, however, claims that this advertisement is no sexier than other ads Southwest accepts– and that Southwest’s motivations lie in the fact that their base is in Dallas, “the heart of the beef belt.”

I’m not sure why Southwest decided to reject the ad, but I’m glad they did. Once again, PETA tries to capitalize on the male gaze and anonymous, sexualized bodies of women to sell their point. Not only that, its specifically addressing the airport body scan controversy, an issue that many people, particularly women, have felt is an attack on privacy, because it gives others permission to images of their nearly nude bodies.

I don’t personally have a problem with TSA body scans, but I do have a problem with PETA’s message. That is: the motivation for a woman to go vegan or vegetarian should be to look more attractive to men. It’s similar to a weight loss ad Mike posted about a few weeks ago. Men can go vegan because they want to be healthy and oppose animal cruelty; women should go vegan so that they no longer have to be ashamed of their fat, ugly bodies.

In fact, I think that’s the way PETA normally frames the argument. It’s why they select mainstream attractive, frequently petite, white women for all their ads. You want to look sexy like the women in the ads? Go vegan. Want to get men to like you? Go vegetarian! It’s no different from the way any corporation runs their fashion or cosmetic advertising, but it’s even more sexualized and offensive, particularly because PETA thinks of itself as a social justice organization. Pro-animal, but not pro-woman.

I’m not a vegetarian, but a lot of feminists are. Yet it’s no wonder that most feminists hate PETA. PETA is an extreme organization that relies on sexism and racism to try to get people to stop eating animals. What could have been an allied relationship between two groups supposedly concerned about rights, just feels like a constant battle. Furthermore, PETA is overly concerned with this idea of “Speciesism“– the notion that humans are superior to animals. I’m not even going to bother comment on the merit of that concern in general, but it’s obvious to me that PETA is a speciesist, too. Animals, they think, are deserving of autonomy and rights. But women exist for the purpose of beauty and marketing.