The big, bad “V-word”

Do you intentionally avoid the feminine hygiene aisle at the supermarket? Do you recoil at the term “vagina” and any mention of “discharge”? Do you prefer to use namby pamby expressions like “lady parts” and “fanny”? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will be relieved to hear that you are not alone.

Apparently there are a lot of Australians who, like you, are stuck in the Middle Ages and share your archaic views  about female biology, as evidenced by the recent furore surrounding this ad for Carefree “Acti-Fresh” liners:

A quick Google search reveals that this ad has been described as everything from “controversial” to “offensive”, and I have to say that I totally agree with these accusations. It’s absolutely disgusting that women (a.k.a half the population) get their periods and bleed all over the place and they should NOT be allowed to talk about it- especially not on national television.

In case you can’t tell, I’m being sarcastic. I actually think that these accusations are appalling, and I’m using this week’s blog post to put in my two bob’s worth in this “bloody” stupid debate.

There’s an argument that making a who-ha about our “who-has” (or even just speaking frankly about them and their functions) sets women back in their struggle for equality in that it reminds us of “…the fundamental biological differences between the sexes.” In turn, this (apparently newfound) knowledge substantiates stereotypes about women’s “…moods, capabilities and limitations.” I’m citing Dr. Lauren Rosewarne from the University of Melbourne here, whose work I’ve drawn on extensively over the course of my undergraduate degree because I usually find it incredibly clever and insightful.

Unfortunately, I found her recent article for Marketing magazine on this ad, titled “Carefree discharges the v-bomb- but who’s afraid of the word ‘vagina’?” neither of these things.

It seems ridiculously unfair to me that women are “told off” by other women like Rosewarne for being nothing other than frank about their bodies and their functions, whilst men (whose leaky, squirty bodies are apparently so normal and so not gross at all) are allowed to celebrate theirs in popular culture without a word of condemnation.

The popular song “Jizz In My Pants” by comedy trio The Lonely Island spring to mind here, which I’m sure reached a far broader audience than our little Australian Carefree ad, and doesn’t even have the added benefit of being informative.

Rosewarne claims to hate the “…stupid euphemisms and embarrassment” surrounding women’s bodies in contemporary culture, but then goes on to criticise Carefree for somehow being too open and too explicit about the vagina’s workings. So…let me get this straight. We should use euphemisms to talk about our vaginas, so long as they’re not “stupid”, and we shouldn’t be embarrassed about them either even though we can’t directly term them as what they actually are and what they actually do.

Um…what?

The simple fact of the matter is this: we can either talk about our bodies openly and consequently avoid “stupid euphemisms” and misconceptions, OR we can beat around the bush (pun intended) and breed a culture of prissy, uneducated prudes who necessarily find women’s bodies revolting. Rosewarne is kidding herself if she thinks that we can somehow have euphemisms AND acceptance. The world simply doesn’t work like that.

Yay periods are so much fun! A Stayfree advertisement.

Personally, I’m all for openness about bodies in all their weirdness and wonderfulness. Silence about the reality of menstruation or ejaculation or whatever doesn’t seem to help anyone. Our bodies do what they do, and I applaud Carefree for telling us the truth. Periods aren’t all rollerblading, giggling and sucking on popsicles you know.

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