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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

PETA vs. The Feminists

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 10:35 AM

News of a "flash protest" at PETA president Ingrid Newkirk Powell's book reading spread across the internet yesterday afternoon. Though PETA has used outrageous tactics to attract media attention to animals rights issues for years, their recent ad campaigns have raised a lot of eyebrows. Everyone from the Huffington Post to the Onion to feminist news outlets like Portland-based Bitch magazine have criticized PETA's current campaigns. Especially this one in Florida:

peta_whales.jpg

And so one of America's most vocal protesters became the target of protests herself.

Organizer Michelle Howa emailed the Portland Feminist Action League—a loose group that previously counter-protested against the anti-abortion protester at the NE Planned Parenthood— rallying a dozen ladies to Newkirk's book signing at Powell's last night.

"Many of us are vegetarian and vegan, so we actually support the cause of treating animals ethically. We'd like them to stop relying on sexism to get their message across. We want them care about women as as much as they care about animals," said Portlander Erin Fairchild as she penned a poster reading "PETA can kiss my big fat vegetarian ass" on the street around the corner from Powell's. Though Fairchild took issue with the hyper-sexualized images of women PETA has used in past campaigns to badmouth fur and factory farms, she was particularly ticked off by the billboard comparing fat women to whales.

The women sat quietly throughout Newkirk's 40-minute long presentation as she discussed the lives of whales and the pain crabs feel. After Newkirk wrapped up showing a video of cute animals set to Moby music and started signing books, the dozen feminists took to the front of the room, handing out fliers directing people to Howa's Fairchild's blog and standing silently with brightly-colored signs like, "Misogyny is not cruelty free!"

After less than five minutes, Powell's employees asked the feminists to leave. "This isn't your event," said one employee, motioning to shoo the ladies out. The women shuffled along without incident and took the protest to the Burnside street.

Portland Feminists protest PETA

Update: Here's a short video I made of the protest in Powell's and Newkirk's presentation. Moby video montage is included. Check it out!

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