By Jeanette Ocasio, NOW Combating Racism Committee
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has a new 30-second clip featuring a young woman suffering from the made-up condition “BWVAKTBOOM” (Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom Out of Me). Watch at your own risk (or better yet, DON’T): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0vQOnHW0Kc.
I am thoroughly outraged and offended at this clear trivialization of intimate partner violence. Lisa Lange, a senior vice president for PETA, told Yahoo News that the clip is meant to be humorous.
“The piece is tongue-in-cheek,” she said. “People who watch the ad all the way through see the woman has a mischievous smile. She’s happy to go back with him. It’s playful.” Given the subtlety of her reaction, some viewers may miss her happiness to go back with him.
In addition to the posted clip, PETA went further on its website by adding a place for victims of “BWVAKTBOOM” to learn how to “play it safe.” Videos have also been uploaded to PETA’s YouTube channel from people sharing their “victimization.” This is in poor taste.
If an alcohol distributor aired an advertisement of a woman with two black eyes washing dishes over a kitchen sink while her boyfriend sat in a recliner drinking a beer, and blamed her injuries on the alcohol, we would all be outraged. What is the difference between that hypothetical spot and PETA’s spot?
It is obvious to me that their intention of being “humorous” did not take into account that this video could be particularly disturbing to victims of domestic violence. As a survivor of domestic violence, viewing the clip instantly transported me back to a moment when I was lying on my couch covered in blood, with my ex-husband standing on top of me and my child, just feet away, screaming and crying. PETA clearly does not value the suffering of millions of survivors of intimate partner violence.
Domestic violence is a crime, a serious one. Every day women are killed by their intimate partners. Every day a child loses their mother. Every day friends and family lose loved ones. Domestic violence is not funny and should not be taken lightly. PETA’s “playful” clip adds to society’s disregard for women’s safety and lacks respect for those mourning the loss of a loved one.
I am extremely disappointed in PETA and hope they consider making a public apology to survivors of intimate partner violence and their families.