PETA Once Again Employs Sexism With “Lettuce Ladies”
Why promote veganism as a moral baseline when you can dress women in lettuce bikinis and ship them off to Cuba?
Two women, referred to as “lettuce ladies” (on account of wearing nothing but lettuce to cover their genitals) are taking a flight to Cuba to “deliver $1000 worth of veterinary supplies, [spread] the vegan message at private language schools, and [give] out canine treats to Cuban street dogs.” Ashley Byrne, a spokeswoman for PETA, claims that lettuce ladies “are a fun way to teach about going vegan.” We don’t think so.
On the contrary, this is just another example of how women’s bodies are used as some kind of bait to attract public attention. This not only trivialises veganism as an important social justice issue, it relies on an underlying presence of patriarchy in order to work. Women are seen by society as objects for the fulfillment of mens’ desires. Exploiting that entrenched patriarchal notion not only hinders people from recognising veganism as a fundamental issue of respect, it perpetuates the subjugation of women in society and ensures that they will continue to be shown no respect either. As long as we think it’s acceptable to use women’s bodies for our purposes – through exploiting societal patriarchy in order to portray a message – we will continue to use animal bodies for our purposes too.
This isn’t a case of whether or not it’s right that the “lettuce ladies” choose to cover themselves in nothing but leaves and take to the streets. The point is that it’s our patriarchal society that gives women the choice to sell their own bodies in the first place that is the problem. It’s the choices that patriarchy presents the modern woman with that causes the issues, and not the choices of the individuals themselves.
This “lettuce lady” fiasco not only denigrates veganism by presenting it as nothing more than a 1950’s style pin-up-girl piece of eye candy, it solidifies the perception of women as nothing more than eye candy too.
Aside from holding nothing but a suggestive poster in front of lettuce-clad breasts reading, “turn over a new leaf: go vegan,” there is no meaningful vegan education happening here whatsoever. If a passerby does take anything away from this beyond the commodification of women, they would be led to PETA – an organisation that promotes animal exploitation.
Normalising the commodifcation of women will never get people to take the commodification of animals seriously. It’s a surefire way of maintaining and legitimising the commodification of both.