“Stop shoving things up me. Stop shoving and stop cleaning it up. My vagina doesn’t need to be cleaned up. It smells good already. Don’t try to decorate. Don’t believe them when he tells you it smells like rose petals when it’s supposed to smell like pussy. That’s what they’re doing, trying to clean it up, make it smell like bathroom spray or a garden. All those douche sprays, floral, berry, rain. I don’t want my pussy to smell like rain!” – “My Angry Vagina” from The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
This snippet from The Vagina Monologues was inspired by one real-life woman’s hatred of all “feminine hygiene” products, and their absurd at best, offensive at worst, approach to marketing. I’m certain that she, and most other women, will have an even angrier reaction after watching “Mistaken Body Wash,” a new commercial from Summer’s Eve. The brand, which boasts a slew of feminine hygiene products (which as Fashionista blogger Nora Crotty points out are “the ones every sex ed class/doctor women’s magazine has warned you never to use”) just released a new commercial for their cleansing wash, which utilizes every tired, stereotypically sexist trope in the book.
In the commercial, a man and woman, who are presumably in a relationship, are getting ready in the bathroom. She’s doing her makeup, while he is lathering up in the shower behind her. When she points out to her partner that he is actually using her Summer’s Eve Cleansing Wash which is “perfectly formulated for a woman’s V,” he proceeds to well, panic. Cue montage of man engaging in ultra manly activities to rid his body of any hint of the product he just used. The man splits logs, consumes raw eggs, boxes, chops some wood, mows the lawn wearing a hand-welded knight’s helmet, and finally settles in to watch some television with his unimpressed partner – but not before crushing the can of the beer he just downed.
What message does this send to viewers, exactly? That men who accidentally use one of Summer’s Eve’s products must immediately engage in stereotypically hyper-masculine behavior to compensate? That men and women have very set societal roles that mustn’t be bent? That women should be more drawn to a product that cannot even bring itself to use the word vagina, instead encouraging female consumers to “Hail to the V?”
You might watch this commercial and chalk the sexism up to the creative director attempting to take a more humorous approach to peddling feminine hygiene products. You may even be asking, What’s the big deal? The problem is, that if women (and men, too) continue to ignore the sexist messages that the media, products, and brands send to us, we are compromising our demand for gender equality. These kinds of commercials are detrimental to both men and women; they enforce stereotypes that perpetuate harmful gender biases and norms.
What do you think about the new Summer’s Eve commercial?