By now, PETA is as well known for its sexist campaign stunts as it is for its advocacy of animal rights. While the organisation is against the consumption of meat, it's routinely accused of treating female bodies like cuts of the stuff in its own marketing campaigns.
Now, the animal rights charity has come under fire for enlisting bikini-clad women to promote veganism at Wimbledon. The volunteers, dressed in red, blue and white bikinis, handed out bowls of strawberries and dairy-free cream to people in the queue, in a stunt that has been compared to "'70s-style sexism".
Wimbledon officials said the brand's attention-grabbing tactic breached their marketing guidelines, Mail Online reported, and many condemned the stunt on Twitter as outdated and "pathetic". Numerous people pointed out that veganism and the animal cruelty cause don't need to be linked to female sexuality for people to understand them or pay attention.
Some also questioned whether the organisation's consistent use of women's bodies as a marketing strategy had any reasoning behind it.
Other animal rights groups condemned the action.
But PETA defended the stunt. Replying to one of the critical tweets, the organisation said it “support[s] anyone using their bodies to make a social statement if they chose to”. Elisa Allen, the charity's director, also said that "as an organisation staffed largely by feminist women" it "believe[s] women should be free to use their minds and bodies as political instruments to bring attention to animal suffering," the Evening Standard reported.
"Our activists choose to participate in our colourful actions because they want to do something to make people stop and pay attention – which, in today's hustle and bustle, is not always an easy feat," she also told the Standard.
"This approach has proved successful, as many of the people who stop and look then go on to try vegan milks and meats for the first time, take a leaflet, or visit our website to learn more about abusive animal agriculture," Allen continued, pointing out that men have also posed shirtless for the charity's stunts.
However, she failed to highlight that the number of naked and semi-naked women has always far outweighed the number of men. Women such as Sadie Frost and Pamela Anderson have appeared completely naked in its posters, while men such as Paul McCartney have been featured fully clothed.
Not only are sexist tactics like this offensive, they're also boring. It's time for PETA to bring its marketing campaigns into the 21st century.