Marketing Menstrual Disgust

So, TV just told me that apparently now there’s a panty liner for when you DON’T have your period, because even average day-to-day ‘dampness’ (their word, not mine) is gross when it comes to your vagina. Oh boy, and here I was all these years thinking ‘wet’ was an enjoyable and desirable adjective that went with ‘pussy’. Feminine ‘hygiene’ advertising, you’re fucked. And you can take your insecurity-inspiring propaganda to hell with you.

Alyx Gorman quotes her friend in a good deconstruction of the latest Australian advertising beauty campaign to condescend to women (aimed at women, but just as insulting to other people who have periods). The ad pretends to “get real” about women’s bodies by using the word “vagina”, feeling pleased with itself, thank-you-very-much, for being so honest. The ad features a thin, white, naked and conventionally attractive woman talking about “that bit of discharge” in the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle. The ad then usefully offers women a solution to our dampness/wetness problems: we should wear panty liners every day! Hooray and thank you!

Gorman does a great job of showing that this ad is part of a long line of advertising that pushes a product most people do not need and manufactures it as a solution to our (non-existent) problem. This is a stock premise of advertising: it creates problems and solutions for consumers to guilt or shame us into spending money. The issue here is that the message is twisted: vagina is not a dirty word, says the ad – it’s just women’s bodies that are gross.

Read Gorman’s article on The Vine.

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