Have No Shame!! When Feminine Hygiene Companies Shame Women

Summer’s Eve, a company that produces douches, wipes and deoderizing sprays to combat that ‘not-so-fresh-feeling’, ie – smelly vagina, has launched an innovative new advertising campaign and Kristi from the Travelling Tickle Blog had something to say about that! 

"Though piggy-backing on girl-power-style feminism with a bridle of dehumanizing objectification is nothing new for Summer’s Eve; remember last year when their magazine ad suggested that the first step for asking for a promotion is deodorizing your vag (if you’re a chick)?

… It reminds me of a fantastic quote from Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues: My vagina doesn’t need to be cleaned up. It smells good already. Don’t try to decorate. Don’t believe him when he tells you it smells like rose petals...That’s what they’re doing, trying to clean it up, make it smell like bathroom spray or a garden. All those douche sprays, floral, berry, rain... All cleaned up like washing a fish after you cook it. I want to taste the fish. That’s why I ordered it.”

I couldn't agree more. This ad is shaming women, and shaming their natural scents. I am sick of people telling me there is something wrong with me the way I am. That i need hairsprays, and perfumes, and every other consumer item they can come up with to make me more palatable to the opposite sex and to the general public.  

But I have another issue with these campaigns. What is with all the euphemisms? Why can't these people say vagina? Why are they using talking hands? Calling it a "V"? My "down there"? My "special place"? This is another way of shaming women and shaming their bodies. It is always incredibly infantalizing.

While I personally think these wipes and douches and sprays are completely unnecessary, polluting, and probably full of junk that you "special place" really doesn't need, it is not the use of them that completely bothers me, but the message it is sending. 

I submit my evidence to be judged: (watch here)

"It's the cradle of life" - (biologizing, euphemism)

"It's the centre of civilization" - (uh.. gurl power?)

"Over the ages, and throughout the world, men have fought for it, battled for it, died for it" (again, thanks for making it clear that our vaginas are a prize, a gift, something to be consumed and owned by men. Thanks Summer's Eve!! Also, really? really? Thank you for coming out and saying what everyone already knows. That is, that the whole of what we are is our sex, not our brains. Hello objectification.)

"One might say, it's the most powerful thing on earth" (woooot! Girls school isn't needed! You don't need brains or any level of subjectivity. Vagina-power!)

"So come on ladies, show it a little love" (read: spruce it up so it can be consumed. Like a cake.)

Way to go Summer's Eve. You win first prize for woman shaming this week!!


Adendum: Crunk Feminist Collective just published this post after this was finished, but it is worth quoting what they had to say, in length. They always get it right.

"Finally, to call 'it' the most powerful thing in the world and to talk so romantically about its supposed influence and power ignores the very real ways women find themselves marginalized and made vulnerable at the site of "'t'."… the mistreatment of vaginas has nothing to with how clean they are but with where they are situated in the matrix of power, privilege and disadvantage. But this commercial, this campaign, would have women believe that all we need to do is tap into the Power of the P, most quickly done through washing it with Summer's Eve, and like Beyonce says, we could run the world!"

So pathetically funny and terrifying at the same time

This makes me so depressed. If it weren't so hilarious that women's body parts were being depicted falsely as the "most powerful thing in the world" in a society that has continually and violently subjugated women, or infantilized as cute little Hello Kitty ornaments that need to be perfumed and powder-puffed, this would make me want to sit down and cry. There are serious potential health concerns when using these types of products: not only because of the chemicals that go into them but because they can, according to some scientific evidence, set-off a bacterial imbalance leading to infection of reproductive organs. I'm absolutely not a medical doctor or expert, but there have been some scientific papers that suggest a much greater risk of pelvic infection among vaginal douche users: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2625960/?page=1 Why should we buy products for a part of the body that has its own self-cleaning mechanisms and that could harm us in so many ways?

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