Demeaning women for fun and nonprofit

Check out this piece from across the pond about charities’ use of naked women to promote causes, specifically PETA’s ads equating the said naked women with animals. Of course sex sells everything, but despite her usual if-it-raises-money-do-it attitude the Nonprofiteer really objects to having nonprofits join the line of social institutions treating women like public utilities.

And she thinks it’s ill-judged, too: the world is full of ads. Charities hoping to distinguish themselves in the public eye hardly do so by running ads that look just like everyone else’s.


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8 Responses to “Demeaning women for fun and nonprofit”

  1. mgajewski Says:

    If the point of marketing is to become, as Seth Godin says, “remarkable” I don’t think nekkid’ ladies get the job done anymore. In my not so humble opinion, nonprofits need to think more creatively to warrant attention.

  2. marilynjean Says:

    Good post.

    I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to degrade and demean women to help a specific cause. Apparently PETA is so concerned with saving animal skin it could care less about the costs of objectifying human flesh.

    I think any nonprofit with decent management and sensible constituents would know better. Locally, I just fired off some angry letters at a opera company for using snarky, sexually offensive messaging in a marketing campaign. They used slogans like: “Fake an interest in opera, and she won’t fake it when you get home” to attract people to their shows. Disgusting.

  3. ForgotMyLoginAgain Says:

    The nonprofit sector needs to push limits far more than the for profit world does. Which is a greater risk – offending some sensibilities with a daring marketing campaign or going out of business? Is dissolving the opera company preferable to it’s leadership because they’re too afraid of trying something daring to reach new, younger, more hip, savvy and easily distracted prospective audiences to replace the generation that is dying off?

  4. Nonprofiteer Says:

    Advertising using naked women isn’t “pushing limits” any more than dressing in drag is gender-bending. Both are just tired old devices for putting women in their (our) place, which is at the bottom of the social heap and endlessly available to be used for others’ convenience. And being vulgar and insulting isn’t “daring” or “hip” or “savvy;” it’s just vulgar and insulting. The Nonprofiteer recalls the fate of another nonprofit marketer who couldn’t tell the difference and decided to attract attention to her theater by offering free admission to anyone who attended in Nazi uniform: she lost her job. How long will we have to wait before the indignities (and worse) widely visited on women are accorded the same respect? The issue isn’t “offending some sensibilities;” it’s treating half the human race as the lesser half.

  5. Elizabeth Says:

    I am not a regular reader of this blog, so maybe I missed a bigger thread that runs through your work, but why do you think dressing in drag is not gender-bending and that it is automatically something to “put women in their place.” There seems to be a lot of people, feminist included, along with queer activist types, who disagree with this. I would be interested to hear more about why you feel this way. Of course, this is sort of tangential to your post, so maybe it isn’t something you want to address. Anyway, just wondering, Elizabeth

  6. Nonprofiteer Says:

    Performing in drag is conceptually indistinguishable from performing in blackface, which everyone acknowledges is an unacceptable insult to African-Americans. I’m aware of the queer theorists who argue that drag is challenging the boundaries of gender, but I think they’re wrong: drag hardens the boundaries of gender, outlining what’s “feminine” and then poking fun at it. Drag is a way for men to tell women how to behave; there are already plenty of those, and it seems to me this is one we could do without, already.

    I’d be honored if you wanted to take a look at the two more extensive pieces I’ve written on the subject: “Doing Women Wrong?” in In These Times Magazine ( and “Drag=Blackface” in a symposium on “Unfinished Feminist Business” in (of all places) the Chicago-Kent Law Review (

    Thanks for your interest.

  7. Elizabeth Says:

    Thanks for your response. I’m excited to read your writings. All the best, Elizabeth

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