“Tampon is not a dirty word, and neither is vagina”

18 Mar

Kotex has started a new marketing campaign, poking fun at the popular mode of advertising menustrual products by using women wearing white and twirling surrounded by attractive, laughing friends.  I saw the ad for the first time yesterday – here’s some dialogue:

A COMMERCIAL for U by Kotex, a new line from the 90-year-old feminine care brand, opens with an actress in her early 20s who says, “How do I feel about my period? I love it.” 

She continues, “Sometimes I just want to run on a beach,” as footage shows a woman running along the shore. “Usually, by the third day, I really just want to dance,” she says, to footage of women dancing ecstatically. As blue liquid is poured on a pad in another clip, she concludes, “The ads on TV are really helpful because they use that blue liquid, and I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s what’s supposed to happen.’ ”

-“Rebellion against the commonly evasive feminine care ad,” New York Times, March 15, 2010

I’ve seen this annoying issue discussed on the Internet before and am thrilled to see such a forthright ad by a major company.  Unfortunately, the article also reports three broadcast networks refused to air a version of the commercial with the word vagina spoken by the actress. “Tampon is not a dirty word, and neither is vagina,” said Merrie Harris, global business director at JWT, who produced the ad.

Why is it okay for network television to air ads about Viagra and Cialis describing erectile dysfunction in detail? To mention “if you have an erection lasting four hours, you should see a doctor” but not be allowed to mention a perfectly normal bodily function which occurs every month for half of the world’s population?  So erectile dysfuncytion is serious medical condition, but the process which allows future generions to be born is taboo?

There is nothing sexual about menstruation, as any woman can attest to.  And shrouding the idea of periods in shame is taught to girls as soon as they “become women” as we learn to hide our supplies in pockets and make up names to describe our period as to not offend mixed company: monthly gift, Aunt Flo, Shark Week. 

I strongly believe boys and men should be taught about women’s bodies as well as their own. Yes, women’s bodies are more complicated.  But most men will live with a women in their lifetime.  They will have daughters, sisters, friends, mothers dealing with periods, childbirth, pregnancy, breastfeeding, all things still considered icky by advertisers.  And no one can deny the powerful force advertising plays in developing our psyche.

Kotex is taking a step in the right direction – I hope other companies follow.  And I would love to work for Kotex someday!

3 Responses to ““Tampon is not a dirty word, and neither is vagina””

  1. Kaitlin March 18, 2010 at 5:50 pm #

    Vagina. There, I said it.

    I would just like to add that I have always resented certain brand’s slogan telling me to “Have a Happy Period.” Really? I felt like I was being mocked by the little piece of paper that guarded the sticky wings on the side of a pad.

  2. Prexus Swyftwynd March 18, 2010 at 10:20 pm #

    I find it worse even as a male to hear about viagra, or ED… you know, a guy being limp is not all that “natural”… on the other hand, menstruation is a beautiful and NORMAL function of the female body. Surely, I do not want to see the guy in the commercial smiling and saying how happy he is because he wasn’t able to get/stay hard before 😕

    “I strongly believe boys and men should be taught about women’s bodies as well as their own”THAT is one amazing quote. It is such a shame that in an era where so many things that shouldn’t be shown on TV do – while serious and educational matters are being supressed. Media is very guilty for the way boys/men perceive menstruation – heck, even girls/women who grow up with the belief that periods are a dirty dirty thing… it should be sheltered, no one should know about it and god-forbid a guy every KNOW or SEE anything.

    The female body is so wonderful, periods included… I don’t see why (heterosexual) men are so repulsed. They love everything about women EXCEPT that – it is so wrong. There’s so much to learn about menstruation that it should almost be fascinating … I’m so glad people are taking public stance on the ridiculousness that media/femcare manufacturers play in benefiting from societal discomforts.

    Cheers to changes, one step at a time!

    – Prexus
    Author of MEN in Menstruation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: