Friday, July 29, 2011

What a Douchebag

In recent women's health atrocities in the ad campaign world, Summer's Eve was declared reigning douche due to the racist and offensive ads continuing stereotypes, with a black hand (representative of a vagina) with an Afro, and a Mexican vagina, um, saying, "ay yi yi."  The videos have been taken down from their site and the ads have been changed.  But there Hail to the 'V' makes me cringe for so many reasons, particularly because they are making it difficult for me to even want to use the v word at all.

I went to their website, and was pretty horrified by the hand that emerges from the bottom of the screen and starts speaking. Bitch magazine--both the printed and online versions are some of my favorite pro-women, pro-equality reading material and source of information--was one of the first responses I read regarding this matter.

[The whole co-opting of feminist "empowerment" language doesn't work because the campaign ignores that women (not just men) are into vaginas, that some women do not have vaginas (and that some men do), and the whole "Vaginas are the most powerful force in the UNIVERSE!!!!!" thing falls flat when you have even an inkling of how women's bodies have been--and continue to be--controlled and regulated, whether it's forced sterilization, rape as a military tactic, or limited access to abortion. Or, you know, by being unnecessarily flushed with toxic chemicals for no good reason.]
It's not just all of these things listed, which are serious ways women's bodies are continually controlled and women are kept in second-class status, it's the overall lack of women's health care as a serious issue for all.  Where organizations such as Planned Parenthood are continually being put on the chopping block to lose funding because 3% of their health services concern abortions, and that is not even government funded money. But I digress, and don't want to get into that discussion here, though I find it difficult not to at least mention how I believe it is all linked to oppress women.

Jezebel had this article responding to the hasty removal of the campaign and they quote Stacie Barnett, PR executive, who told Adweek in their article:
"The product that women and the medical community have questioned whether it is necessary is douching," she said. "This campaign is marketing the external cleanser, cloth and wash, which is no different than a special hand cream, eye cream, body wash, etc. Now, are these things necessary? No. But cosmetically, as women, we have those choices."
She added: "The bigger issue is: Do I think the baggage that Summer's Eve has had related to its heritage of douche is part of this [current criticism]? Absolutely. There are people who may always associate Summer's Eve only with douche, and therefore look upon it either with mockery or a negative perception. And that's fine. But there are a lot of women who want these products, right or wrong, necessary or not. And that's who we want to educate.]

It's all kinds of insane.  Barnett admits these products aren't necessary.  Wait, you mean it's not just not a good idea to flush our bodies with chemicals that then don't allow the bodies natural process to take place, but it's not necessary? Shocking.  I'm so glad, as women, our right to choose "feminine hygiene products" is being protected, while our very real and serious health rights are continually being questioned.

I think about my friends who have just had baby girls, and the information that they could come across when they get to their coming-of-age phase, seeking information that they may not want to have as an open discussion with anyone.  I think about the young girls who don't have anyone in their lives where they can ask these questions, or the men who believe suppressing women's rights is a good thing, or stand by and do nothing to help change this.  I think about the women and men who came before me, who struggled and fought to create a movement and such organizations, and I think about if/when one day I have my own children, what kind of world I want them to live in, what kind of world I want to live in.

And even though I strongly believe in women's health being a serious issue, I do want to continue to live in a world where humor doesn't exist. I love the responses from comedians Conan O'brien found here and if you thought you missed your opportunity to have the viewing pleasure of these ridiculous and offensive ads, think again! I leave you with Colbert's response found here.

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