Calling it a “va-jay-jay” is being frank and honest?

Apparently people these days are more laid back about their bodies, so now the ads used to sell us stuff to fix what’s wrong with our horrible bodies are now more “frank” and “downright shocking”.

This article describes the business of selling vagina-related products: no longer do we have tampon ads with women in white skirts twirling on the beach- now the ads make fun of that! Feminism has won the war, everyone!

The problem is, apparently this trend is great because we’re all talking openly about our you-know-what’s, and people aren’t embarrassed about it anymore; however, these products that are being touted often rely on shame and misinformation to get women to buy them. Summer’s Eve, one of the products mentioned, not only have they used terrible ads full of racial stereotypes, but what their product boils down to is something to sort out your stinky vagina because it’s gross and also needs a little help to do that. So, preying on the shame someone feels about their vagina: check. Misleadingly suggesting that the body doesn’t actually do this job itself (which it does) and might need help: check. A woman who helped create the “talking hand” ads said in the source article

“We’re really excited about having that kind of publicity and coverage. A month ago nobody was talking about feminine hygiene,” says Zahnen, who added that Summer’s Eve learned through research that women were ready to have frank discussions about their bodies.

“We just wanted to be sure that the conversation is focused on celebrating and empowering women.”

That shit is not empowering. You could argue that the choice to give your vagina some “extra help” or not is personal, which it is. But it also doesn’t occur in a vaccuum; it occurs in a world where women are conditioned to worry about whether their junk smells weird or not, and be afraid that someone (a sexual partner, for example), might be grossed out be their body and smell. So don’t give me this “empowering” bullshit. More like empowering women to spend more money trying to ‘fix’ themselves. You can’t just throw the buzzword “empowering” into a statement and actually make the product something that empowers people. Also, the idea that people never really used to talk about feminine hygiene? Well, I don’t know if it was talked about or not (given that I wasn’t alive), but there are a fuckload of vintage douche ads that suggest we have always been pretty preoccupied with touting this stuff to women. Vag shame isn’t new.

 

And seriously, the idea that we’re all so open and honest now, and not scared of calling a spade a spade when it come to vagina-related stuff, is kind of ridiculous when in the same breath you talk about “va-jay-jays”,  a celebrity’s favourite “vagina tattoo” (ouch! How do you get a tattoo needle up in there?), and also at one point call it “the area” (yes, I’m sure they got sick of writing “vagina”, but “the area” is so damn vague – are we talking about a body part, or a location on a map?). If we still don’t call things what they are, are we really so hugely empowered and free of our embarrassment?

4 Comments

  1. Scar says:

    “Misleadingly suggesting that the body doesn’t actually do this job itself (which it does) and might need help: check.”

    That’s quite a cis-normative statement there, as is the assumption that only women have vaginas.

    • steph says:

      Thanks for that, you are very right, and fail on my part. My overall feeling (after reading the article) was really just “telling everyone that vaginas are gross and we should worry about them and buy stuff to fix them is really uncool, and let’s stop with the ‘vaginas stink and are icky’ messages”, and I probably should’ve just said “stop any and all hatin’ on vaginas!” and left it at that, because vagina shame is aimed at anyone with a vagina.

      • Scar says:

        Thank you for such a mature and supportive response. It is incredibly refreshing to have someone recognise and apologise for this :-)

  2. [...] Sex Ed – ZOMG moral outcry! Ideologically Impure declares war against the moral outcry generated by the New Zealand media screaming CLITORIS CLITORIS CLITORIS  while LadyNews ponders is Calling it a ?va-jay-jay? is being frank and honest? [...]

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