Most men would consider any advertisement containing the words “panty” and “vagina” a winner.
However, a certain chap, as if in a Monty Python sketch, wrote: “I don’t believe the word vagina should be used so freely in any commercial where young children could be listening”.
No, he wasn’t one of Graham Chapman’s authoritarian buffoon’s revisiting us. Apparently, he was a real buffoon responding to a TV commercial for Carefree’s Acti-Fresh panty liners.
This prudish gentleman took exception to the ‘v’ word which has rarely, if ever, graced the primetime advertising slots.
I could see this day coming. Ads for “feminine hygiene” products have been around for a long time now but recently they have upped the ante. The lucrative market for these items – some of which resemble air to air missiles and mining drill bits – has seen developments in technology that the US military would be proud of.
The previously secret world of menstruation has been blown wide open as men and children are now privy to period management and the tools – with their extra layers, special sleeves, computer designed fissures – that “absorb and draw away
On most fronts the ad is fairly typical. It has the pretty girl, the soft focus and everything is white. She is naked however her vital bits are tastefully obscured by a vase of daffodils.
But Carefree entered new territory when they mentioned vagina and definitely pushed the envelope with the additional reference to “discharges”. According to some uptight types they’ve ushered in a dangerous new era of “too much information”.
The above gentleman stated that “as a male” he was disgusted by the latter but it’s not just men who have been offended.
Plenty of women, embarrassed by their bodily functions or eager to perpetuate a feminine mystique, got their knickers in a knot over the promo.
Granted, I’d rather not hear about “that damp and less than fresh feeling” while I’m sitting down to my morning porridge. And no one wants to be reminded of a diarrhoea treatment while tucking into their chicken vindaloo, but do ads like these really warrant a stern letter?
Perhaps also having a twee girl explaining the nuts and bolts of vaginal self cleansing was too much for some viewers. I wonder if the reaction would have been so severe if a more rugged no-nonsense type (beach volleyballer Natalie Cook for instance) was telling us how it is.
For a set of organs that give a lot of pleasure, the genitals have a hard time of it. They’re not publicly recognised as normal everyday accoutrements and never come up in polite conversation.
“Vagina”, like its front neighbour “vulva”, is not a great word either, I’ll admit. They both begin with the letter ‘v’, and have vulgar and venereal for company. Their harsh sound is completely at odds with the loveable creature they are supposed to represent.
“Penis”, I don’t like much either but it’s a lot gentler on the ears… like puppy.
The problem for the poor vagina is that it’s misrepresented. The word is from the Latin meaning sheath or scabbard ie a place to park your sword. Many men, and even some women, appear unwilling to accept its wider and messier reproductive function.
Someone should remind our disgusted fellow that he found his way into the world via a vagina and if he ever wants the pleasure of re-entering one (not the same one, obviously) then he should show it the respect it deserves.