In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a wonk. And one of my favorite wonky pleasures is HumaneSpot. Each week they highlight scientific studies addressing issues in the animal welfare arena.
One study highlighted this week is entitled, When Sex Doesn’t Sell: Using Sexualized Images of Women Reduces Support for Ethical Campaigns. The study was conducted by Renata Bongiorno and Paul Bain of the University of Queensland, and Nick Haslam of the University of Melbourne.
PETA’s premise for sexualizing women is that men support animal rights causes less than women, so why not target men in their advertising? But does it work?
This study was conducted in two parts. Study One checked to see if advertisements that objectified women would make men more likely to support an ethical campaign. Study Two uses a mixed group to determine if ads that sexualized women drew more or less support for PETA.
The findings? Study one found that men may be turned on by the sexy women, but it made them less likely to show interest in the movement they’re touting. Study two found that the less uniquely human (more objectified) the woman in the ad, the less likely the participant was to support PETA.
So what was PETA’s response?
“History shows us that sex does sell. The study has a major flaw: Ads and
campaigns without sex appeal often simply go unnoticed. We would love
nothing more than to talk about animal suffering, telling people how foxes
and raccoon dogs killed for their fur are often bludgeoned to death or have
their skin ripped off while they’re still fully conscious, or how fish
suffer excruciating decompression when they are yanked from the ocean
depths, and have them listen. But unfortunately people turn off and simply
don’t listen. The worst thing that a social justice movement campaign can be
is silent. Time and time again, protests featuring fully-clothed people
cramped in cages to demonstrate the suffering that monkeys bound for
experimentation endure on long haul flights, or activists dressed in chicken
costumes to protest KFC’s lack of animal welfare standards, never grab the
headlines, garner attention, or get TV airtime as ones with sex appeal do.”
So sounds to me that, in light of the evidence, PETA insists it’s OK to treat women like…… oh, I dunno, animals?
Surprise, PETA! Sex Doesn’t Sell at Salon.com
Peeling back the layers, sexist ads don’t work in the Canberra Times