Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, has resigned following sexual harassment claims—both against Pacelle and (now former) farm animal protection VP Paul Shapiro. As described through the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the context is a “frat-like ‘bro’ culture” that stifles nonprofit careers.
Some say the best bro-beater is more female leadership. The movement has a credibility problem there, though. Famously, under Ingrid Newkirk, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) treats gendered violence as comedy.
Pacelle stayed in place just long enough for HSUS board member Erika Brunson to be quoted saying there’d been no wrongdoing: “Which red-blooded male hasn’t sexually harassed somebody? Women should be able to take care of themselves.”
Brunson subsequently hit the bricks. Soon afterward, on Friday, Feb. 2, Pacelle did the same. The interim president and CEO is Kitty Block, who heads the nonprofit’s international arm.
But don’t move along. There’s more to see here.
The Industry-Capture Effect
Under Pacelle and Shapiro, the HSUS got pretty comfortable with Whole Foods Market. This is a grocery store with a penchant for drama. Its suppliers might even cry when killing turkeys for its customers. “Whole Foods Deserves Whole Praise” for its suppliers’ animal handling rules, Wayne Pacelle’s blog told readers.
When some animal protectionists objected that animal agribusiness could do without the help of HSUS endorsements, Pacelle and Shapiro talked over every critique and welcomed Whole Foods CEO John Mackey onto the HSUS board of directors.
Follow the money. Show me Whole Foods Market and I’ll show you affluent customers who can afford to buy turkeys bathed in farmers’ tears. Lucrative donor bases await a large-scale charity that manages to become an industry partner. And to those in the fold who might balk, Pacelle blogged about John Mackey as a “fellow vegan”—so it’s all OK.
Yes, time’s up for sex-based subordination in Hollywood, in the nonprofit world, and everywhere else.
To preserve its progress, shouldn’t Hollywood go further—and deal with its glorification of nationalism, war and weaponry, not to mention its male-hero-to-the-rescue tropes?
As for the animal charity sector, once it deals with its human problem, it really needs to take a hard look at its humane problem.