Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sexism for sea turtles

I cherish wildlife conservation. From early childhood, I supported the fight to preserve animals and ecosystems. So it's extraordinarily painful for me when this movement utilizes techniques that subjugate women.

A campaign last fall to save sea turtles in Mexico caused an uproar. People plague sea turtle populations, believing that sea turtle eggs are an aphrodisiac. The campaign used model Dorismar to promote the idea that eggs would not help libido. Posters featured Dorismar saying "My man doesn't need turtle eggs".

Many people have objected to this campaign because of its "racy" nature. Objectification, not sex, is the issue. Deflecting charges of sexism by framing the problem as being about sexual piety misses the point by a mile. The way women are viewed is essential, and must not be pushed aside for other concerns.

The National Women's Institute of Mexico condemned the campaign. Feminists were criticized on many fronts, but I found this criticism telling:

Homero Aridjis, a poet and naturalist who has fought for years to save the turtles, said the feminists opposed to the advertisements were being overly prudish and should turn their attention to the rampant violence against women in places like Ciudad Juárez, where hundreds have been killed.

Besides, he pointed out, semi-naked women are seen on billboards all over the country selling perfumes, lingerie, beer and tequila. Why, he asked, are the women in the government institute scandalized by one more model in a bikini?

The violence against women in Ciudad Juarez is heinous and must be addressed. Aridjis models the root problem effectively. The problem is the failure to connect rampant abuse and murder of women to societal acceptance of women as less than men.

Supporters of the sea turtle egg campaign countered that they needed to use sexist ads to tap into a sexist culture to get their message across. Utilizing the belief system that women are valued only for their sexual use to men in the name of conservation is indefensible.

When will people wake up? Women are not decoration. The sea turtle campaign is about saving animals because of their inherent worth. The campaign works on the assumption that animals are not here for humans to use and exploit. When will we get the idea that women are not here for men to use and exploit?


existsnomore said...

Well said! That campaign reminds me of the horrific PETA adverts.

Suebob said...

I spent three weeks in Mexico in 2005 living with a family and studying Spanish. There was a lot I loved about the country and its culture.

One thing I could NOT get used to was being stared at by men. It is like a national pastime. I mean, I was 43, 185 lbs and usually unattractively dressed. (Also usually covered in sweat - it was HOT in August).

But men from 18 to 80 would stare at me like I was a rare steak or a Playboy centerfold...long, invasive stares, sometimes coupled with comments or noises (teeth sucking was especially popular).

It wasn't because I was a Norteamericana or anything. They were equal-opportunity lechers, drinking in young hot women, moms with babies in arms, and old ladies with canes with the same lustful abandon.

Some days I could successfully ignore it. Other days when I was hot and tired or had PMS, I would find myself hissing "Pinche cabron" to them as I stomped by.

Kim said...

My Spanish is so bad, but does the big type say: "My man does not need turtle eggs?" And then, in the second one "Because he knows they don't make him more potent?"

ANYHOW, thanks for posting this. like Kat said, reminds me very much of those damn PETA ads.

The bunny thing you have going on here is WONDERFUL--I love bunnies!

spotted elephant said...

kat-I almost included the PETA ads, and a couple other ads, but decided it would get too long.

sue-I admire your dedication to nonviolence! Teeth sucking? Was that supposed to intimidate you or make you swoon? *shudder* I'm dying to know what "Pinche cabron" means.

kaka mak-Your Spanish is better than mine. The first slogan-you're right, but I don't know about the second. I'd say you're accurate.

Monday is bunny blogging day. :)

J.R. Kinnard said...

Judging by Sue's comments, it doesn't sound like men's libidos are a problem. Leave the eggs alone!

Madame DeBarge said...

The thing that strikes me about these ads is that we're thinking like post-Equal Opportunity Americans, and not like Mexicans.
This campaign seems to be taking into account the lowest common denominator, the dumbass who's stupid enough to go digging up turtle eggs because they think it'll cure that premature ejaculation problem.
In a country where, as Sue said, she was not exactly a supermodel and still had horndogs all around, the LCD must be the ones that are targeted.
It's unfortunate, but that's how different cultures work sometimes.

spotted elephant said...

JR-Maybe they're compensating?

Madame-You're right that we focus too much on our own culture. But my point was that it's not OK to target the LCD. You end up selling out one major problem to address another.