THE BLOG
01/15/2014 05:47 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Soap Has a Gender?

Fabrice LEROUGE via Getty Images

Have you seen the latest Summer's Eve commercial? It is a doozy. The man in this commercial is traumatized when he learns that he is soaping up with a product marketed for a woman's "V." To shake off any hint of femininity, he launches into a series of stereotypical manly moves to regain his masculinity: he drinks raw eggs, does a belly flop into the pool, karate chops a pile of wood, pulls a car from a rope with his teeth, crushes a beer can, etc. After all his efforts, the woman teases him by stating, "That was close." Presumably, had he not drank eggs and mowed the lawn wearing a war helmet, he would have turned into a woman by using the Summer's Eve product.

Take a look:

Wow, that is some advertising campaign. Mocking masculinity sells soap? Who knew?

I had also never realized that soap was gendered. I guess Dove would be female, then? And Irish Spring is male? What about Dial? And Ivory? I want to make sure I know the difference before I step into a shower again. God forbid I use the wrong soap and transform my gender, or grow a vagina, without realizing it.

Oh, wait, I have made a mistake -- this Summer's Eve product is not a soap, it is a "cleansing wash." So maybe it is cleansing wash that is gender-specific, not soap? It is all so confusing.

If Summer's Eve Cleansing Wash is intended for a woman's V, does that mean that a woman can only use it on her V? Does she require separate soap for her hands, her face, and any other unmentionable one letter parts of her body?

It is not really clear why the man is so unnerved at the thought of using this particular soap -- er, cleansing wash. It is not as if the woman walked in on him inserting one of her tampons into his A. He just has some gentle, pH balanced, hypoallergenic suds on his buff chest. Is he that insecure in his masculinity that this is such a problem? He is in a private bathroom. Does the use of a woman's cleansing wash give him a humiliating scarlet "V" on his chest that he must erase with machismo?

If it is perfectly balanced for a woman's V, why is it not appropriate for a man's P?

Perhaps these two were meant for each other: a grown woman who is uncomfortable saying "vagina" and a grown man who is uncomfortable using soap marketed for vaginas.

I am not sure why this commercial gets under my skin (pun intended) the way it does. Perhaps it is because the underlying message is that men must prescribe to a certain masculinity in order to be accepted as a man. Any hint of softness or femininity is wrong in a man and must be eradicated. When I was a kid, a boy that was "girly" was bullied relentlessly. This kind of commercial perpetuates the myth that there is only one way to be a man.

Maybe I am missing the point? Brit Hume tells us on Fox News that society is becoming too "feminized" and that, if you are a "guy's guy" you run the risk of being labeled a bully. His argument is that the men we think are bullies are actually the ones getting bullied by the feminized atmosphere of our country.

I suspect that Mr. Hume finds this Summer's Eve commercial hilarious.

OK, OK, OK -- I know: it is only a commercial. It is a joke. I am being too sensitive. I need to split some logs and rev up a chainsaw to toughen up.

Hail to the V!