The other night, I happened upon a commercial for a body wash made by Summer's Eve. One of those "formulated for a woman's pH" sort of things. And with it, Summer's Eve is approaching -- and perhaps surpassing -- Axe levels of sexism. And that's saying something.
In this commercial, a man is in the shower, cleansing his parts, when his wife points out that he's using her body wash. He is instantly horrified, and sets off on a quest to remind himself -- and, of course, all of us -- that he is, indeed a man. This includes doing things like towing a car with his teeth, building some sort of metal helmet (Viking? Roman? Not sure.) and then mowing the lawn with said helmet on his head.
The worst thing that could possibly happen in that man's world is to be accused of being a woman. And so he must do everything in his manly power to prove otherwise. I suppose only to himself, because it's not as though he's performing these feats in front of any sort of world. It's just a man. A man and his pride. A man, his pride and a warped misogynistic viewpoint that continues to be foisted upon the American public in seemingly every commercial on television.
While I won't dwell on it here, I will point out that men should share some of the offense as well. After all, Summer's Eve wants us to think that dudes are so dumb that they could believe using soap in the shower might take away their penises, testicles and Y chromosome. And that somehow playing the drums or belly-flopping into a pool will help him regain that lost "masculinity."
But let's get back to the ladies, because Summer's Eve certainly didn't think of us. I don't know if they remember that women are actually the target audience here. It seems like they must not understand that at all, given that their entire mission statement is to sell products aimed to make all your lady parts less icky.
Instead, I'd like to focus on the fact that the company that sells feminine hygiene products is incapable saying the word "vagina" on television. I don't think the commercial should have made it out of a pitch meeting in the first place, due to its incredibly sexist nature. But since some illustrious ad exec thought, evidently, that it was the greatest thing since the 1984 Apple commercial, allow me to at least ask why the hell the slogan for this company has to be "Hail to the V," as opposed to actually using the proper term.
Now, maybe that's the company itself; maybe it's that the networks won't allow it. Either way, some people have some really warped priorities. Not to mention that it's confusing. If I saw it in print, I would read it as "Hail to the Five."
I don't know about you, but I'm not afraid of my vagina (or vulva, which is the external genitalia that I assume this body wash is actually meant to cleanse). It's a body part, just like an elbow or a nose. But somewhere along the line, someone decided that women ought to be ashamed of their bodies. Tampons must be manufactured to be as discreet as possible, since no one can know you have to deal with such a horrifying thing. And products that potentially do more harm than good, such as douches, are pushed as necessary items because your body's natural chemistry is just too much for men to handle.
Meanwhile, we are constantly subjected to the billion-dollar industry that ensures their dicks stay hard well into old age. "Erectile dysfunction" is not on the list of words/phrases deemed unfit for television.
If you look at it from an objective point of view, you can't possibly see that it would be a problem if the ad said "Hail to the vagina" at the end, right? I'm a firm believer in the idea that we give words their power. Cursing doesn't really offend me, because sometimes that's just how people need to express themselves. But "vagina" is not a curse word. It's a body part. If Summer's Eve wanted to call the body wash "Pussy Perfume," I, for one, would commend them for their alliteration. But I would also understand why some network advertising departments might not want to put that on air. Though I would probably disagree with that censorship, it would make some sort of sense. Omitting "vagina" from a commercial about vaginas is completely senseless.
I hate to do the whole "this is OK, but that's not?" comparison here, but this situation is just begging for it. Countless violent commercials for video games and movies are acceptable TV fare, but using the anatomically correct term for a female reproductive part is not?
Scantily-clad ladies selling everything from beer to cheeseburgers is OK, but the thing that virtually all of us came out of (or were going to, if we weren't removed via C-section) on our way into this world (and that 50% percent of us possess) is taboo?
This can't be the way the world really works. The real problem is that even Summer's Eve -- a company that makes products specifically for women -- doesn't believe that women are worthy of being hailed. Unless it's to bring their men another beer from the kitchen. You're not putting women on a pedestal if the best you can do in a commercial is reinforce the concept that there is nothing worse than having a "V" in the first place, and that if you do have one, it's probably too dirty for any men to love anyway. Unless you use Summer's Eve, of course.
So perhaps what I've been missing all along is that the "V" in this ad campaign doesn't really stand for "vagina." It seems the better slogan for Summer's Eve might be "Hail to the Vacuous."
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