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.
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?