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Why I’m Not Talking about PETA

I was asked if I was going to write anything about the PETA campaign.  But the reality is that — for me — it would be like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.  There is so much wrong with PETA that to focus on this sole campaign dismisses everything else they do that pisses me off.  And I write that as a life-long vegetarian, non-fur-wearing woman.

Really, is demeaning those with infertility any worse than their Holocaust on Your Plate campaign?  Or their “Are Animals the New Slaves?” campaign? (I missed it when it was in DC, but I was told they dressed up in KKK hoods to stand by their signs.)  Or their misogynistic ads objectifying women?  I mean, they’ve offended me as a Jew, a woman… why solely focus on how they crap on infertile people?

There’s definitely a point to addressing how asinine they are, but so much of what they do is to get this type of attention.  The majority of the world thinks PETA is manned by douchebags and avoids their website.  So I have mixed feelings about sending people their way that would otherwise be ignoring PETA on any other day.

Obviously, in writing this, I just brought them to your attention therefore doing what I just said I didn’t want to do.  Curse you, PETA, and your Jedi mind games.

The flip side, of course, is that you have to speak out against the PETAs of the world.  Against the Robert Morris dancers of this world.  Against all the groups who make idiotic choices.  Ignoring isn’t always the best policy.  So I fully support those who are choosing to write about the campaign and taking a stand even if I’m not.  Until I am.  To explain why I’m not.

So… um… no, I have nothing to say about that particular campaign because I don’t have time to unpack the numerous problems I have with PETA.  And how disappointed I am in them as an organization.  And how much it sucks that instead of doing good work and receiving attention that way, they stoop to enraging various groups so they’ll give them the free publicity.

Because honestly, if not for this campaign, would you have ever thought today about PETA?  Or would they have remained a mostly ignored organization?

So what is the answer when this happens?  Is it better to simply ignore rather than giving them what they want (the publicity; access to the eyes in your community because they’re not going to be coming over to see what PETA is doing otherwise)?  Is it better to speak out?

For those who have no clue what I’m talking about, I direct you to the ever astute Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed who has been having a back and forth conversation with PETA.  Because I’d rather link there than to PETA’s site.

28 comments

1 Michele { 04.07.11 at 12:52 pm }

I was wondering if you’d write on this issue.

I think it is better to speak out. Ignorance persists in silence. Even though PETA may not change, people who may be on the fence may decide to speak up… and, in the process, may dispel their own ignorance.

2 Katie { 04.07.11 at 1:50 pm }

I had many issues with PETA before this campaign started – primarily their treatment of animals (seeming antithetical, no?) and their portrayal of women. Not to mention their shock tactics. Initially, when I read about this contest, I thought about staying silent. Then I thought, “If someone came up to me in the middle of a crowded room and slapped me across the face, would I stand there and say nothing?” The answer to that was no. While I realize that I’ve done nothing but feed into their media-whorish ways this week, I needed to stand up and ensure that we are not mocked for what we cannot control.

But this whole fiasco has also made me realize something else: I’m tired of fighting. Not the disease, but the ignorance. Every time it seems as though our community makes headway in trying to educate the public about infertility, there’s someone waiting to knock us back down again. Why must we always be the ones who end up with the bloodied, scraped knees?

3 Rebecca { 04.07.11 at 1:57 pm }

I think the “publicity” angle has two sides. Yes, speaking out brings more publicity to PETA and their poorly thought out campaign. But, it also brings more publicity to infertility and the need for NIAW. People (including myself) who might have cowered in the background during NIAW are now stepping forward. Because this is a concerted group attack and not just individual people questioning my decisions on how to deal with my infertility.

4 Sushigirl { 04.07.11 at 2:01 pm }

I thought for ages about blogging about Peta, because I didn’t want to give them any more attention (I was vaguely aware of some of their previous attention seeking effors, but not the ones you mention). In the end I did because I’m sure they set out to shock with the vasectomy stunt, but I’m not sure they really understood what they were doing when they linked it to National Infertility Week. They’re all for the furries but ignorant about people, it seems.

Anyway, enough about Peta, I’m off to buy some steak!

5 Mel { 04.07.11 at 2:03 pm }

Rebecca, that is a good point you make about the publicity this brings to NIAW.

6 Kitty { 04.07.11 at 2:09 pm }

I am in the same quandary myself. I think for me, because I did get so upset with this campaign and because I’m not really all that familiar with PETAs practices, it was good that I wrote a brief post about it on my blog, sent my email to the president, and posted on FB about it. I was surprised to find out that my vegan friends don’t support PETA and that’s when I realized my words probably won’t do any good. But, I did what I could and I’m glad I did. And now I’m not going to worry about it anymore!

7 Gail { 04.07.11 at 2:45 pm }

I have to admit that I didn’t even hear about the whole campaign until I read your post and then I had to search to find the actual website about it. I guess I’m not reading/seeing the “right” news. :)

Anyway, I think it is distasteful and shameful to link infertility awareness week with PETA’s hope to spay/neuter animals.

8 Lacie { 04.07.11 at 3:08 pm }

I don’t know what the answer is, Mel. I have adopted a homeless pound puppy, and she is now my thirteen-year-old little lady. I spayed her within her first month’s residency chez moi. I am not a vegetarian, but I do what I can to encourage the humane treatment of animals. I buy organic when given the choice and I buy cage free eggs because I feel like it’s the right thing to do.

Yet, here I am feeling like I am being mocked for the very thing that has caused me so much pain, anger and tears. I could cry just typing this. I HATE infertility. I hate being the butt of their so-called campaign. Why are they targeting us? We are NOT re-prodicing like rabbits, duh, WE CAN’T!

Shaking my head in sadness.

9 Christina { 04.07.11 at 3:50 pm }

Hi there!
I am not quite sure how I stumbled onto your blog but very interesting discussion. I believe animals have rights, yes I do. I am not a vegetarian (although) I have been considering it. I despise PETA. The animal rescue I work at tried to get PETA’s assistance many years ago on a serious issue here in OK. Instead, PETA spent A LOT of money trying to get the name of the town of Slaughterville changed and ignored our request. While I think we need organizations like PETA around to keep the awarness going, their tactics are completely ridiculous and they know it. They do more damage to the animal rights issues not to mention they are such a huge turn off to people. Their time, energy, and money could be spent in much more genuine ways but their total arrogance gets in the way.

Nice blog.

10 It Is What It Is { 04.07.11 at 4:24 pm }

PETA will never rally the masses with any of their polarizing and marginalizing campaigns. They do a disservice on so many fronts that it is a waste of breath to discuss them, at all, ever.

That said, I do think that it is more than a happy accident that their new campaign coincides with NIAW and hopefully it will elevate the conversation about infertility as a result.

11 HereWeGoAJen { 04.07.11 at 4:32 pm }

Let’s start a group called PETP and fight for the ethical treatment of people, against PETA.

12 Rebecca { 04.07.11 at 5:11 pm }

Oh god, they never stop do they?

13 jjiraffe { 04.07.11 at 6:35 pm }

I understand your point of view.

But, before this whole debacle, I didn’t know that much about PETA. Other than they get celebrities like Bethenny Frankel (someone I actually LIKE) to pose nude and support not wearing fur, and support animal rights. Which sounded not so bad to me. Maybe if I lived in DC or followed politics more closely (and I should!) I would have known more. But I don’t think I’m alone in my ignorance of PETA’s true nature, and THAT’s the problem for me. I think most Americans are probably just as ignorant to the true tactics they employ.

Which is why the campaign came as such a shock to me and was so hurtful.

Now that I know more, great. They are not an organization that I would EVER support. But the average person might see that campaign and think, yeah, it’s funny to make fun of infertiles. Because there is also such an ignorance about infertility.

So my protest of PETA is twofold. To inform the public that infertility is painful and awful, and should not be made fun of. Because that’s a message that doesn’t get out much. But also to alert ANY organization wanting to belittle our community that you BETTER NOT. We’re organized, and kinda powerful.

14 chon { 04.07.11 at 10:06 pm }

I have to agree with Rebecca. I have been relatively silent about our IF issues. My close friends know but other than that I don’t say anything. I was so pissed off at PETA that for infertility awareness week I just came out of the FB closet. I agree we need to stop feeling ashamed about our issues and educate people that it is a diesease not a choice. I honestly think all of you ladies are amazing and I am proud to be part of such a community. Infertility may have forced me here but i have come out of it a stronger person and with new friends.

15 Keiko { 04.08.11 at 12:41 am }

Thanks for the links, Mel – much appreciated. I’ve been really thinking about this, about having thrown the stone at the Goliath and wondering if it was the right decision. I’ve been mulling over it for much of the day while still promoting the petition and riling up folks to speak out…

And then I realized that nearly 2000 people have joined in solidarity online. We practically BEG for volunteers with RESOLVE and yet in 48 hours, ~2000 have been able to say, “Hey PETA. Stop being shitty to the infertiles. It’s not cool.” I find that a HUGE accomplishment in our community. And RESOLVE has capitalized on this as well with their “Turn Your Passion Into Action” resource page. So after feeding the troll for little while, I think it’s okay to ride on the wave of energy and support that’s been generated FOR the infertility community at large.

And secondly, after reading your post and these comments, I realize why speaking up for this group as a whole is so important, as Katie says above: “I’m tired of fighting.” As a community, we are already so worn down in just trying to unpack all of the physical and emotional baggage we carry. If I have the strength and energy to be able to speak up for others who can’t or won’t, I feel it’s my responsibility to do so… For me- it just feels and seems like the right thing to do.

And with that, time for bed.

16 jana { 04.08.11 at 1:06 am }

You bring up some good points, as do the rest of the people who have commented. I agree, I never think about Peta, and was a bit confused with all the peta posts. I think it is good it is helping people stand up for themselves. I think I will let is spur me to stand up and be a voice for infertility, but not for peta. but i do have some choice words i would like to share with them, so who knows. it could just make me more angry and them feeling just as smug and superior. i will have to think on that a bit. i would rather have people focus on NIAW rather than Peta’s attempt to get some free publicity.

17 Kristin { 04.08.11 at 2:08 am }

This is exactly why I haven’t written about the Peta brouhaha yet.

18 Bea { 04.08.11 at 6:52 am }

I had similar thoughts to yours, ie, what a low-down, blatantly publicity-grabbing campaign. Raise one eyebrow. Sigh. Shake head. Ignore/move on. Seems like responding with actual arguments is kind of like taking the bait.

Bea

19 Chickenpig { 04.08.11 at 8:42 am }

I feel as you do, Mel. The less said about PETA the better. However, I would like to thank Keiko for writing to them and taking it on the chin, without linking to their site. (very smart). I would like to write and tell them off, too, but I don’t think there is any point. I’m sure that there isn’t one person at PETA who has been voluntarily sterilized to help lower the birthrate. In fact, I would bet any money that there is more than one person involved in the decision making process at PETA who has taken a shot in the ass, or given one, for the sake of having a child. I would bet you any money, too , that the infertile people of the US as a whole are pretty damn ethical when it comes to the treatment of animals :) Perhaps RESOLVE should turn the tables and offer a contest for free Gonal for anyone who adopts a furbaby this week? And who has it sterilized, naturally ;)

20 geochick { 04.08.11 at 10:05 am }

I feel the same way as you. They knew exactly what they were doing and I saw a form letter response to someone who wrote to them about the campaign. PETA stated that they find their shocking campaigns gain more attention. So, I haven’t talked about it either. It’s useless.

21 missohkay { 04.08.11 at 2:00 pm }

How I feel is best summed up by what I tweeted yesterday: “I don’t care that I’m giving PETA free PR, because I’m also giving infertility free PR and that matters to me.” I’d been wrestling for weeks with how/when to say something about NIAW on Facebook. PETA gave me a way to start the conversation.

22 celia { 04.08.11 at 2:58 pm }

Mel, you are always so much nicer than I am. You can take the girl out of Jersey….

23 Shelby { 04.09.11 at 12:34 am }

I was one of the many who got so riled that I took the bait, signing the petition, blogging, facebooking, calling, etc. I knew as I put in all this emotion and time that I was giving this group of nutbags exactly what they were aiming for, but part of me thought that it was fully worth it, not to set them straight because zealots do not operate in logic, but to set the public straight. And this effort and uprising was quite frankly a little bit healing because we were banding together. So, yes, I added more fuel to their shock value flame, but in the end, I think it only exposed them further for what they are and called attention to our cause. RESOLVE asked us to break the silence and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

24 Heather { 04.09.11 at 10:06 am }

I will not speak of it either…because it touches on infertility and adoption, and I can’t really wrap my head around any of it without putting my own sanity in a place where it can’t be right now…especially in light of Jack’s tenuous condition. That said, I love you.

25 edenland { 04.09.11 at 6:46 pm }

I’m not going to comment on the PETA thing. I know about it only from snippets, but like so much I read online, it is an American fiasco. And dagnabbit Melissa, I have enough fiascos of my own down here.

What I WILL comment on, is the “like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic” ….. GOLD GOLD GOLD. Did you make that up? Coz that shit is funneeeee, and I will use it for the rest of my entire life. Alwyas. When something seems futile – and there are a lot of things in the world that I believe are futile – I will use this quote.

Thank you. That is all. xoxox

26 Keiko { 04.10.11 at 1:52 am }

In case you haven’t seen the good news: we won. PETA took down the link to NIAW from their campaign last night. We may have been the mouse that roared… but we were heard. It’s an amazing victory for the infertility community.

27 Battynurse { 04.10.11 at 7:14 pm }

Very good point. I have heard so many of their campaigns that make me laugh or shake my head at the absolute stupidity of them. The fact that they do all these stupid things in the name of getting attention tells me that it’s likely best to just ignore them. Even though they make me want to have a hissy fit over their stupidity.

28 mash { 04.13.11 at 4:33 am }

Wow, I’m not sure what to say. The thing is, on some level I feel that it’s true, human population is spiralling out of control, and in my own beautiful country I have seen so many resources destroyed for the ever expanding needs of the population. It sometimes makes me so sad that I wonder if I even WANT to bring a child into the world anymore.

I’m not sure if I missed what was going on – why they had a link to NIAW…

I am a great believer in choice, including the choice to have an abortion. The more conscious we are in our “reproductive habits”, the more our world will benefit. And one thing about this community is that everyone I have come across is VERY conscious, very loving, and very determined to be a good parent.

So, in my journey through infertility, this is what I have found to matter. Infertile women seeking treatment are not mindlessly populating the planet, they are very carefully, lovingly and consciously doing what they need to, in order to bring some very dearly loved children into the world. Children who are extremely likely to become concerned citizens who make a difference.

In stark contrast are the casual pregnancies that result in large, impoverished and often abusive families – this is where the problems lie that need to be tackled.

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