HOH’s One-Minute Recess: Staffers Tell PETA to Cover It Up

Posted July 15, 2010 at 11:08am

Scantily clad models handing out free veggie dogs certainly draw a crowd (of mostly male interns, anyway). But not everybody on Capitol Hill approves: HOH hears that seven staffers from four Congressional offices complained to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals about the organization’s annual veggie dog giveaway, which took place Wednesday in the Rayburn House Office Building courtyard.

For those who missed it, the much-hyped event featured model/sometimes actress Vida Guerra (dressed in a red bikini bedazzled with red chili peppers) handing out free veggie dogs as a way to promote vegetarianism. But the Hill staffers argue that the giveaway objectifies women.

“PETA needlessly sacrifices women’s rights to promote animal rights, overtly objectifying and sexualizing women, limiting their ‘Chili Pepper Senoritas’ to women who conform to what society has deemed the ideal, sexy body type,” staffer Michael Shank, who works for Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), tells HOH via e-mail. “PETA is feeding into ideas of attractiveness that create and exacerbate feelings of shame, which results in an estimated 8 million Americans who suffer from eating disorders.”

It’s not that the staffers don’t agree with PETA’s message, Shank points out. Several of them are longtime vegetarians who are also passionate about the ethical and environmental implications of things like the cattle industry, he says.

But PETA President Ingrid Newkirk dismissed the complaints, telling HOH on Thursday morning that the staffers are being “overly politically correct to the point of ridiculousness.”

“I’ve been a feminist twice as long as they’ve been on planet Earth,” she says.

Newkirk defended the event, which drew hundreds of people, arguing that the models volunteered to use their bodies as a way to promote a cause that they are passionate about.

“It was fabulous. The press coverage has been glorious, and everybody felt happy. Except apparently a few people,” she says.

Overheard on the Hill

“Coming out of surgery for fixing my broken foot I was so, so high.”

— Rep. Jason Chaffetz, reflecting on a time when he felt like Elvis Presley in an lighthearted interview with Human Events. The Utah Republican also says he’s a big fan of the movie “The Blind Side” and cherishes an Evel Knievel autograph he got when he was 6.

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