KFC is at it again. First the fast-food chain used the tiring stereotype that eating lots of meat is manly, to promote its belligerent Double Down chicken sandwich — two chicken breasts with cheese and bacon in the middle. Now, in a much more troubling display of female objectification, it is paying women from Indiana University $500 to wear sweatpants with “Double Down” printed across the butt and hand out $5 coupons promoting the sandwich, according to AP.
A KFC spokesperson, Rick Maynard, makes a lame case for the campaign, telling AP, “The idea of branding T-shirts and sweat pants is certainly not [new]. Apparel companies and sororities have been doing that for years.”
Rick, you’re right — it’s not new, but this is why it’s wrong.
KFC’s new campaign perpetuates the thinking in our country that meat is “meat,” a thing to be consumed without thinking about where it comes from — whether it’s a piece of chicken breast or a woman’s butt. In this mindset, neither animal nor female flesh are living things, don’t need to be respected, and can be used freely for our consumption.
It is this thinking that allows us to raise more than 8 billion chickens a year in unspeakably crowded, inhumane conditions, feeding them antibiotics that make them grow abnormally fast.
This is nothing new for fast food and meat advertising. Women have been linked to meat in objectifying and oppressive ways for years. (For a good resource, check out The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams.) And this will undoubtedly continue until the day we treat our animals with respect rather than a cheap, quick fix of gluttonous enjoyment.
That is why this is more about college women running around with “sexy” across the seat of their sweatpants, Rick. It’s about a society that doesn’t think twice when they’re honking their horns at the college women standing on the corner with KFC signs. Or when they’re eating a double chicken-breast sandwich for just $5.
As a public-policy professor told the New York Times in a story about Maryland’s polluting chicken industry, “there are consequences to being able to sell skinless, boneless chicken breast for just over $2 per pound when virtually no other protein source with so little fat is that cheap.”
KFC, not only is your sandwich gross, but so is your advertising.