Jul 24 2011

This TV ad is also puke

Summer’s Eve — the douche subsidiary of Fleet Laboratories, the company that makes enemas and other crap you stick up your ass — has a new spokesfist. According to this fist, which talks by thumb-synching to a voiceover, it can “perform the miracle of birth” and “make men drop to their knees in about 2.1 seconds”. It’s time, says the fist, that “we all celebrate and hail to the V!”

That’s right. The fist is a humorous stand-in for a vulva, which collection of organs is, as we all know, too flippin ugly to show on the internet unless it is being violently penetrated by something. “V” doesn’t stand for “vulva,” though. Its stands for “stinky ladypart.” Just as “hail” means “spray cheap perfume on that rank shit.”

You know what, thank the lard for advertising. They’ve got our back. They’re not afraid to light a fire under our complacent ass and foment revolution whenever it’s finally “time” for stuff. A while back, you might remember, it was “time” to get real about toilet paper. Now it’s “time” to “hail the V,” which we only know thanks to Summer’s Eve. Without this consciousness-raising ad campaign, we probably would have continued walking around like a bunch of hairy primates, not spraying any shit-o on our vulva at all. But I digress.

I was not expecting the spokesfist when I looked up the Summer’s Eve website. I was trying to find their current TV commercial. Though spokesfist-free, the commercial is nevertheless a fairly vile tableau in which the concept “woman” is reduced entirely to the concept “vagina” in a series of expensively produced cinematic spectacles designed to sell vulva deodorant. This woman-to-sex-organ reduction is no harmless synecdoche. The message, in no uncertain terms, is that your “V” — because it is the “center of civilization” and “men have died for it” — belongs to the world, that you are essentially nothing more than the guardian of this “V”, and that it is your obligation to keep it perfumed for the greater good.

Yeah, this ad is bad, but the website is several orders of magnitude more abhorrent. It is, in fact, so profoundly patronizing, insulting, and absurd, we here at Spinster HQ blew several lobes in succession within 4 clicks. I mean, there’s a spokesfist, for crissake. Which, although it is more closely analogous to a vulva, they keep referring to as a “vagina.” Or “The V.” Which they want you to “hail” by purchasing carcinogenic products to squirt all over it.

So I took the “V 101 Quiz,” where the spokesfist reassured me not to feel bad if I got any answers wrong, because “even I [the spokesfist] got one wrong the first time, and I’m a vagina!”. What a stupid fucking spokesfist.

When I got to the “Vagina Owner’s Manual”, wherein the spokesfist explains to the dimwitted human how to shop for feminine hygiene products, I read this:

March right down that aisle, head held high, grab whatever product you’re looking for (there’s plenty from Summer’s Eve to choose from), and place it on top of everything else in your cart. Don’t hide it! Heck, choose the checkout lane where the hottie is working and get your flirt on.

Yeah, “I’m buying coochie spray, doesn’t it just make you wanna fuck me?”

You understand that I can no longer form coherent sentences on the subject.


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  1. ashley

    I think it’s supposed to be “feminist” because they’re not scared of the word vagina. That’s idiotic. It’s taken forever for that word to be semi-publicly acceptable and now they’re misusing it. fucking stupid.

    Unfortunately, they’re also not scared to, as you stated, put a bunch of chemicals on/in/near actual vaginas.

  2. allhellsloose

    Took the quiz, how could I resist? Being a chile of the 60s, I got 5 out of 5. As a reward I was given the ‘Thatta Girl!”. Girl? What age group is this being aimed at exactly and since when did the under 16s do the weekly shop with a cart?

    Pray what is ‘authentic confidence’? The voice is again silly, little girl and it’s also creepy.

  3. angie

    Well, that was a loss of 5 minutes of my life that I’m not getting back. Identify the anus, labia, vulva, clitoris & vagina is the extent of the V101 test? Geesh. Is it possible that this basic anatomy isn’t being taught in sex ed & young women today need this? I’ve got my doubts. Plus, since I got the “Thatta Girl!” on the test, SE is donating $1 to the “I Am That Girl” program, which I don’t totally understand the purpose of, as the only *concrete* advice I could find on the site was a call for young women to “buy a lipstick and start writing ‘I Am That Girl!’ around town.” {shrugs} Maybe I’m just too old & cynical to understand but it seems like a bunch of “Third Wave” Patriarchy wrapped in a pink bow b.s.

  4. shopstewardess

    Men have “died for the vagina”? I can’t be bothered to count all the ways in which that statement is wrong, because the only reason it was made at all is to make it all about the men again.

    The correct version of that statement: Women die because they have vaginas.

    What man, “hottie” or not, ever needed to be reminded, via strategic product placement, that women have vaginas? The difficult thing is to get their tiny minds concentrating on something else. If that ever happened, fewer women would die.

  5. Phonaesthetica

    The fist, it’s talking — oh no, now it’s WAGGLING and talking — I just, oh no. I can’t even.

    This is like being in that nightmare where I’m in a sexual situation with a woman who suddenly gets weird and she wants to do things I don’t want to do but she won’t stop talking and making a case for why we should do this particular thing and I can’t run from the room because my feet don’t work and then all of a sudden I’m taking a math test.

  6. Treefinger

    There is one with a cat (ha ha geddit a pussy) extolling the virtues of the vagina and telling us to call cool stuff “vaginal”. Nice try, but you’re still hawking Summer’s Eve, puppetcat.


  7. speedbudget

    I saw the current ad on TV with Nigel nearby. I could see him furtively looking at me, waiting apprehensively with towel to hand expecting lobe blowage. He was not disappointed. In fact, he and I were both dumbfounded for a few seconds after the commercial ended, and HE commenced to blame before I could even get my shit straight.

  8. virago

    My aunt thought that was a man’s hand at first. She finally decided it was a woman’s hand, but she thought they should’ve used a more “feminine” hand model with long polished nails. Considering what the hand represents, I don’t know what would be worse. Some people just don’t get it.

  9. Mrs. G.

    Men have died for it–haaaaaaaaa–really funny when you consider the number of women who have died because they have one.

    And the V hand? I kept waiting for some guy’s tongue to come shooting through, reminiscent of the charming “miming” performed by some of the jocks in the hallway of my high school.

    Nearly as gross is the current Vagisil commercial where the the bride has that “embarrassing itch” on her, oh my god, wedding day–the final line says something akin to don’t let your vadge ruin the “most important day of your life.”

  10. Mary

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that felt the need to puke. Also, check out the ad for some online car review place, can’t remember the name. It’s a bunch of humanized cars in a circle talking about their reviews online. There are three times that a “female” car is talked about and all three times it’s either about their looks (looking good topless and a van having a wide rear end) or about another car (a dude car) trying to hook up with the convertible. Gross.

  11. Ashley

    I think it’s supposed to be “feminist” because they’re not scared of the word vagina.

    I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to be feminist. But I’m sure feeling empowerfulized.

  12. Mary Tracy

    “spray cheap perfume on that rank shit”

    “walking around like a bunch of hairy primates, not spraying any shit o on our vulva at all”

    ““I’m buying coochie spray, doesn’t it just make you wanna fuck me?””

    OMG!!! LOL!!! Who else couldn’t stop laughing at this?

  13. anne

    It looks like the site is largely advised by this Dr. Carla Stokes, who apparently has a PhD in Girl Power and runs an organization that raises awareness among teenage girls of the existence of street harassment.

  14. Kea

    Let us not forget that the increasing array of Fem Essentials really signifies the growing gap between the haves and the have nots. What better way to make the haves feel poor, and hence entitled, than by endlessly inventing new products that only Jane can afford.

  15. Comrade PhysioProf

    OK. They have a blogge called “That’s Vaginal!” And the fucken blogger is a goddamned catte in a fucken three-piece suit and bowtie.


  16. Jill

    Well, from now on I’m just going to use “vaginal” as a synonym for “awesome.” Oh wait, no I’m not, because unless you’re a fucking horndog dude who needs to turn it into a receptacle, a vagina is exactly as awesome as a kneecap or a toenail.

  17. igetmadsometimes

    Imagine what the world would be like if all the science type people worked on curing diseases and shit, instead of worrying about the ph factor of vulvas (or the elasticity of ageing skin, or the plumpness of lips, or the fullness of hair, etc. ad nauseum).

    Viewing that website on an iPad means “the full glory that is the new summerseve.com” is unfortunately not available. What a shame.

  18. yttik

    Actually, having a spokes-fist is a step in the right direction. Look guys, look how this hand resembles a vagina. You have two of your own for a reason. Next time you have the urge to exploit some woman for PIV, just rub a little Summer’s eve on your hands and have at it.

  19. Kea

    Even more overpopulated.

  20. stacey

    my letter to them:

    “I can’t even begin to tell you in how many ways this website is offensive. I’ll start with three, but believe me, there are many more.

    This website, and your products, are execrable. The notion that women smell bad is false; the practice of engendering and perpetuating that notion, preying on women’s insecurities, and producing carcinogenic products to make yourselves money is detestable.

    Referring to the vulval area as “vagina” is incorrect and misleading. It seems a bunch of twelve-year-old boys wrote your ad campaign, as the entire premise seems based on tittering about ladyparts.

    Lastly, your spokespeople are a talking fist and a male cat. What the fuck were you thinking? Juvenile and puerile. I am disgusted.”

    Feel free to steal or rework any parts of this for your own letters.

  21. tinfoil hattie

    14 y.o. flunked the V quiz.

    10 y.o. passed.

    What does that tell me?

    (cold towel)

  22. angie

    Thanks Stacey. I cut & pasted your letter (adding a bit of my own) & submitted it.

  23. Comrade Svilova

    I kept thinking the V quiz must have a “next” button, because really, that’s it?

  24. stacey

    And they forgot to indicate that the clitoris covers a large area, and not just the little projecty part. And they misrepresented the the vagina is not a gaping entrance to a psychedelic whirlpool. And what about the urethra? THEY FORGOT TO IDENTIFY THE URETHRA! THAT’S SO URETHRAL!

  25. Saurs

    Is the plectrum-looking thing with the S | E inside it also supposed to be a vagina(sic)? EVERYTHING LOOKS VAGINAL(SIC) NOW! I’m so used to seeing the world as being primarily composed of phalluses (to ward off crones’ evil eyes), so this is new, unexpected, and fecking boring. When is the world-as-elbow craze coming?

  26. Finisterre

    Whoa, mama. Full body cringe at being congratulated for correctly ‘I-Ding my V!’

    Being from the UK, I’m still not entirely sure what doucheing even involves. This whole ‘feminine hygiene’ industry baffles, disgusts and amuses me in equal measure. Show your love… by smothering its object in chemical shit! Appreciate yourself… by never allowing anyone to suspect that you might have your own smell! We’re on your side… you foul, reeking inadequate!

    Alrighty then.

  27. Jezebella

    Finisterre, are you telling us that the stupid douche/”feminine hygiene” thing has not infected the UK? Is this just a U.S. thing?! I had no idea. Yet another reason to be embarrassed by my culture. Great.

  28. janna

    I saw this commercial today! I wasn’t paying attention to the TV so I assumed I was seeing it wrong. I’m dismayed that I wasn’t!

    For the record, I don’t know anyone around my age (late 20s) who uses douching products. It’s always seemed to me to be something incredibly outdated. Maybe that’s why they seem to be increasingly aggressively advertised to young people.

  29. XtinaS

    And they misrepresented the the vagina is not a gaping entrance to a psychedelic whirlpool.

    There’s no ‘psychedelic whirlpool’ on the quiz list, though!  Am I getting The V™ wrong?  Should I consult my V Manual?

  30. stacey

    On my facebook account I’m inviting my friends to come up with a good name for a butt spray for men. We’re (not surprisingly) getting giggly and juvenile, just like the 12-yr-olds who came up with this campaign.

    “COMMANDO – fresh as the crack of dawn.” CRACK! GEDDIT?

  31. ew_nc

    The vagina is a self-cleaning organ. Use plain water to clean the vulva, and you’re done. You’ve just successfully maintained the proper PH balance of the mucous and you didn’t have to buy a single chemical.

  32. Lovepug

    I’m very tired of the entire world right now. Is it getting worse and worse? Or is it just that the existence of the Internet makes us all more aware of how truly bad it is.

    I’m still reeling from an image I unfortunately had to see today of a bent and tucked torso of a woman used as the the artful replacement of the engine and gas tank of a motorcycle. That way when the dood rides the motorcycle it looks like he’s penetrating her. And she is of course headless.

    I’m sick to death of this shit. And as a blamer wisely pointed out two posts ago, porn is so normalized now you can say NOTHING about it.

    I don’t think Savage Death Island will be big enough to hold all of us who need to escape this shit. I think we need Savage Death Archipelago.

  33. Milly

    That’s awful Lovepug. How about we get some freedom from speech? Is it so much to ask? I’d like to get that motorbike in one of those huge garbage crushers and crush it into a crumpled little ball. Now I’m imagining the ‘radical feminist garbage collection service’ a form of ‘street theatre’. How’s that for free speech? Coming to a street near you. Ha! Crush, crush, crush. What a joy ‘ twould be.

  34. Margaret

    Milly, Please please please do the street theatre bit.

  35. minervaK

    This is precisely as offensive as Charlie Sheen opinining that “women are goddesses.” In exactly the same way.

  36. Carpenter

    Holy shit, I just saw the crazy-making ‘V through history’ ad thanks to the miracle of Facebook. It made me simultaneously want to hide in a cave forever and stand outside random ad agencies and kick everyone who walked out in the knees.

  37. minervaK

    I’m very tired of the entire world right now.

    Me, too. I want Savage Death Island to be a real place. With no other people on it.

  38. Sylvie

    Also from the UK – concept of doucheing not yet reached these shores – can only be a matter of time though.

  39. redpeachmoon

    OMG. Just woke up to the Newsweek story on rapist-DSK. Feeling somewhat surprised and pleased reading it until the letters.. and again feel shocked at the depth and scope of misogyny. The hatred toward this woman is unbelievable to me. I need a SDIsland vacation, again.

  40. tinfoil hattie

    unless you’re a fucking horndog dude who needs to turn it into a receptacle, a vagina is exactly as awesome as a kneecap or a toenail.

    Well, a kneecap and a toenail can’t expel a live human being through themselves.

    Talk about stink, though! Poor babies, having to hold their noses through the “birth canal” on accounta it’s so damn stanky.

  41. Treefinger

    Douching is rare/mostly unheard of in the UK, but we do have “feminine wash” products (that are supposed to be pH-balanced and free of the carcinogenic shit in other soaps, when the more sensible thing would be to make all soaps safe rather than making one that singles out the vulva) and cooter wipes.

  42. Radical Weasel

    The third (?) UK-dweller here. Having read plenty of US blogs and mindlessly absorbed various words and expressions, I use “douchecanoe” as an insult. However, most UK inhabitants aren’t familiar with it.

    Don’t we have something similar to this product? As in Vagisil Feminine Wash?

    Not all vaginae belong to people who identify as women, and women with vaginae are “more” than any body part. Not that you’d know it, looking at most media. IBTP.

  43. TwissB

    @yttik Congratulations for coming up with the perfect use for Summers Eve – the two-fisted Handy Man remedy for he malady known as “He’s Gotta Have It”. Women everywhere will rejoice and praise your name (if they can pronounce it).

  44. Ottawa Gardener

    “COMMANDO – fresh as the crack of dawn.”

    A question, will you be going with the freshly showered radical soap and citrus scent or with something more spicy?

    I can’t even go to the V site. Too depressing for today.

  45. Jill

    “Well, a kneecap and a toenail can’t expel a live human being through themselves.”

    I guess I just don’t get too worked up about the vagina, either as a body part in and of itself, or as a metaphor for the whole sentimental “miracle of birth” dealio. I’ve had a vadge for some 52 years and mine has never done anything the least bit awesome. On numerous occasions it has been a damned nuisance. I’d say hands are way cooler, because they let you grab stuff like tacos. Also feet, because they let you get from the car to the taco stand so efficiently. There are 26 bones in a foot! In a vagina? Bupkis.

  46. Eliza

    I’m from the UK also, and I have heard of people women douching, but they’re nearly all in their 60s or 70s. So I always thought it had simply gone out of fashion, like male circumcision has in this country. (That’s an example, not a desire to what-about-the-menz the thread.)

    There were feminist campaigns against it here in the 70s, but I daresay that had little to do with whether it remained a popular practice or not, unfortunately. We definitely still do have the “washes” and so on.

  47. yttik

    It’s shame none of you women have ever used your vagina to sink any ships. Your missing out on untapped potential here.

  48. Melanie

    I don’t think Savage Death Island will be big enough to hold all of us who need to escape this shit. I think we need Savage Death Archipelago.

    Lovepug, Savage Dead Island is but a stopover on the path to Savage Death Planet.

    And speaking of the coming global feminist revolt, are there any German blamers that want to get together and foment revolution/drink margs? I’ve got a rail pass and a month to kill starting August 2nd.

  49. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Besides unnecessarily complicating my life, my “stinky ladypart” has never done anything the slightest bit awesome. This doesn’t mean I’ve ever felt particularly moved to purchase anything that would doll it up any, fragrance or otherwise.

    I recall reading an article somewhere that said I should let it vote, but it doesn’t have a driver’s license.

  50. yttik

    Actually I think we should let our vaginas vote, but that’s a whole other controversial issue. The patriarchy demands that men always think with their dicks, but heaven forbid women ever vote with their vaginas. That would be so, what? Unfair? Uniformed?

    Yes, vagina loyalty bad, phallux worship good.

  51. stacey

    Personally, I find my vag useful when I’m going to a punk show and don’t want to take my purse. A housekey and taxi fare fit in quite comfortably, as long as I’m not crowd-surfing.

  52. j

    Stacey is a man, or joking. I hope.

  53. stacey

    Totes joking!

    I never keep keys and money in my vag. There wouldn’t be room for the lipstick.

  54. Fictional Queen

    I wish vagina really did kill men,that way I would have all the safey and freedom of movement in the world,and if I ever encountered rapists,thiefs,kidnappers,etc I would just pull down my pants and that’d take care of them!

  55. tinfoil hattie

    metaphor for the whole sentimental “miracle of birth”

    It’s not a “metaphor,” so much, when your vagina is the one expelling the 8.5 lb human with the huge, flesh-tearing head.

    It was awesome. I will say that.

  56. allhellsloose

    My vagina did what it was really designed to do and that was work while giving birth. Vagina used to be known also as the birth canal. I took this on board and had no problems giving birth. Am I weird? I enjoyed PIV but not when it came to ‘this is my right’. I, me, Amo, gets to decide. OK?

  57. allhellsloose


  58. Ottawa Gardener

    My largest offspring was only 8.2 lb and dainty in the head department thankfully so no tearing. Besides all that focus of attention during childbirth, which as tinfoil hattie said, is kinda cool – the childbirth part not the staring at my nethers – I agree that hands and feet are actually awesome! So is my mouth as it can talk, eat and kiss if wanted. V is not the centre of my corporeal universe merely a part of it. Funny how it can define me?

  59. tinfoil hattie

    Vs don’t hold tacos very well, it’s true. Nor do they mix & pour margs. So in the end, I will go with 10,000 margaritas (hands) vs. 2 babies (vagina).

    Sorry, V. You have no power here. Begone!

  60. Shenonymous

    I had so hoped that these nasty, unnecessary “hygiene” products had gone the way of pantyhose and other things that are both burdensome and harmful to women, but apparently the hawkers of this crap are still in business and want to hook a new generation of women into body shame. I suppose if I wanted to be generous I could be grateful that at least no one is hawking Lysol as a douche anymore, but unfortunately when I googled Lysol to be sure that was the product I was thinking of my search results came back with many contemporary inquiries about using Listerine as a douche and I died inside a little bit.

  61. sanoe sc

    The Summer’s Eve talking-vagina-hand ads are also pretty racist. There’s the “spicy Latina” talking-vagina-hand and the “Sassy black girl” talking-vagina-hand.


  62. Ex-Advertising, Now Free

    One huge reason so many TV ads are puke is because so many advertising creative departments are so full of men. In fact, it’s routinely lamented in advertising circles that only 3% of creative directors are women (http://www.thedenveregotist.com/editorial/2010/september/1/how-do-women-climb-top-creative-ladder). What’s NOT said is that the churlish, me-man-ape, me-own-woman, chest-beating behavior is prevalent from C-suite to cubicle farm in all creative departments I’ve formerly worked in/known of/teamed with/read about – and infamously applauded when misogynistic trash like the “PMS milk ad” makes its jaw-dropping debut at award shows. (All ad awards shows are made by men, judged by men, awards given to men, and the promotions stem from there. Women, you see, aren’t “funny,” sez the menz – they’re just bitches – so they can’t win awards, so no promotions for them!)

    Yes, that’s right. Milk is good because it saves MEN from the symptoms of PMS. You heard me – men. Here is the women-hating ad campaign in all its glory: http://www.kltv.com/story/15144214/milk-campaign-offers-pms-relief-for-men

    Women won’t ever become more than 5% of all creative directors because the very bedrock of the advertising agency rests on men being allowed to stay children: making boob, dick, and fart jokes all day, channeling their sexual frustration into the harassment of their female counterparts and even superiors, and above all, reinforcing the notion that women are not only the Sex Class, but the Annoying Class, the Smelly Class, and the Generally Repulsive Class.

    And let’s not forget that the ultimate aim of all advertising is to make you feel a void that can only be filled by buying something (or many somethings), which is, of course, the very bedrock of capitalism. What a horrid industry, and what a great day it will be when it ceases to exist. Until then, however:

    I blame the patriarchy.

  63. Shelby

    Down Under (pardon the pun) this shit is advertised in toilet cubicles in supermarkets and shopping malls. Concerned about the stink from your festering twat? At least they’re easy to deface.

    I found myself crying in the supermarket today. Despair. Too many psychopathic men out there. Thank you Jill and commenters for making me laugh out loud.

  64. Ex-Advertising, Now Free

    I wasn’t quite accurate. The bedrock of capitalism is to subjugate the many, but particularly women, with the power of a few, AND precariously tilt the balance of power toward those few, AND and keep changing the rules so the many must jump through ever-growing numbers of hoops to just survive.

    Advertising is but one loathsome tool in the arsenal, and the false carrots it dangles to enable the patriarchy and capitalism are too many to count.

  65. Frumious B.

    Let’s do a compare and contrast with ads for dick products:


    Regender that, baby. Picture a woman soccer player with her knees spread yelling “Goooooaaalll!” and spraying a SE douche around the room. Hey, who has a video camera?

    Btw, kneecaps are pretty awesome. I mean, seriously awesome. I’ve gotten a few good uses out of my vagina, but from a design perspective, it’s pretty uninspired. The uterus is a complete fail – the bladder is much better construction, what with the sphincter and all.

  66. BB from Dot

    Is it just me, or does the talking V hand belong to a man?

  67. Jaunty Angle

    I have seen these products in pharmacies in Australia but the stock never seems to move, so I guess that’s something.

    Question though: Why do doctors in the USA insist upon women having to be naked under an examination gown and with their feet up in stirrups just for a Pap smear or cervical exam? It’s not like other places don’t have special, unique ways to hate women but this one intrigues me in a horrifying way. I was terrified to get my first pap smear because the only literature I’d read on this was from the USA. Then I had one and I ended up only needing to remove my underpants, not my skirt or top, and there were no stirrups or immobilisation implements required.

    The US method seems a bit too much like “we add this extra layer of humiliation and a reminder that you’re a dirty filthy woman…because we can!” WTF.

  68. stacey

    Just had a pap last month; pants and undies off, sheet over my ladybits, feet flat on the table, knees parted when asked. (This is Canada.) I’ve had to put my feet in those holder things in the past, but not for about ten years or so.

  69. angie

    Jaunty Angle — my doctor also does a breast exam on me while I’m laying on the table, so I think that is why they have you take off all your clothes. Do doctors in other countries not do a breast exam during the yearly check up? It is also always accompanied by a lecture that I should be doing it monthly myself.

    Also, the stirrups in my doctor’s office, at least, are not up in the air — they are level with the table & you open your knees as needed. They have always been like that since I was 18 (20+ years ago) & with both male & female doctors. (My first was an older man because I went to my mom’s doctor, but when he retired I started going to a woman & have stuck with women ever since out of “solidarity” not because my first doctor was bad — he was a good doctor & actually made my “first” experience with it all & every experience after that with him, as comfortable as possible. I’ve actually never had a bad experience with any of my ObGyns, I guess I’ve been lucky).

  70. Flora Poste

    Stacey and Angie, the Summer’s Eve website managers seem to be taking notice of emails such as yours. Last week they had a short screed up about how we should all use the word vagina to describe female genitals, “because that’s what it’s called, right?”. Then they had something explaining that this product is a liquid soap especially for “the vaginal area,” by which I think they meant female genitalia but not the vagina.
    Now it’s been taken down and replaced by a longer piece on the use of the word vagina by “a health and self-empowerment educator, researcher, speaker, coach, and social entrepreneur”.
    They really do give the impression that they find the subject very embarrassing and are trying hard to sound positive about it and failing miserably. I almost feel sorry for them. How do you sound upbeat and empowerful about female genitals when you have to convey the idea that they are vile and strange and need their own special cleaning product?

  71. janna

    I’m finding online retailers that carry these products and giving them bad reviews full of information on the health risks of douching and using chemical-filled sprays and wipes. I’m guessing that all of them will either be removed or not posted at all but I have to do something. I can’t believe this company has the nerve to pollute the airwaves with this humiliating, woman-hating, racist garbage or that, in 2011 when we know that these products can cause infertility, ectopic pregnancies, and vaginal infections, we still allow these products to be not only sold, but advertised during programming that little girls are likely to see.

  72. Ottawa Gardener

    @Ex-Advertising, Now Free: My suspicion has always been that there is an effort (conscious / serendipitous) to infantilize the public or at least youth-enize them so that we are perpetually in the gimme gimme stage of development: toddlers or teens with liquid cash. I am barely middle age and I can’t watch T.V. as I figure they must be aiming 20 years below my age group with practically ever piece of programming.

  73. Jezebella

    Good idea, Janna!

  74. tinfoil hattie

    The blaming has me SWOONING for joy! (Can one swoon for joy?)

    When I tire of the cesspool of patriarchy that is our life, I come here and sip a bit of the blamin’ margarita.


  75. Ex-Advertising, Now Free

    @Ottawa No doubt. I think many of us Blamers, once we reach full consciousness, find TV shows and especially commercials infantilizing – because they’re meant to be. Wouldn’t any reminder that you’re a member of the Sex Class and the Decorative Class rely on reducing you to a doll, a caricature, or a collection of parts?

    Speaking of Women as Sex Class as advertising trope, look here at the Summer’s Douche Web site: http://summerseve.com/content/meet-author. The “informational article” touts the work of a grown-ass woman heading up a foundation called Helping Our Teen Girls In Real Life Situations, Inc. A.k.a. “HOTGIRLS.” Or as I like to call it, “Young women, your place as a sex-bot mantel ornament starts as early as possible – so know it now, and forget it never. This handy acronym should help you know your place.”

  76. Anne

    Flora Poste
    July 26, 2011 at 12:48 am
    I almost feel sorry for them. How do you sound upbeat and empowerful about female genitals when you have to convey the idea that they are vile and strange and need their own special cleaning product?

    This is what I’m wondering. How do you market an inherently sexist product without coming off sexist?
    If I was them I’d rename the product body wash and say it’s non-irritating on sensitive areas.

  77. nails

    You know what ads are not puke? The ones for tampons that make fun of the other tampon ad stupidity (w/the blue liquid and tennis playing and all the other stupid bs).

    I kinda feel for Summers Eve here though, they sell vagina deodorant. I don’t know how a company that sells that product would make a non-sexist ad. I don’t think the person who owns the company is legally allowed to just stop making the product either, because of the responsibility they have towards their shareholders. If they could then someone else would sell something like that because the “your vulva is naturally repugnant” meme was passed around long before the product. You all know the solution, but until then, I don’t know what else we can expect from Summers Eve. I suppose they are a great example of exactly what is wrong with the world.

  78. yttik

    Those tampon spoof ads are kind of funny, until you realize that it’s the exact same company marketing the same product. White box for the cat snugglers, black box for the angry feminists. If you don’t like our first set of demeaning ads, show your rebellion by purchasing our other product, the anti-tampon tampon.

  79. Anne

    Jaunty Angle
    July 25, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    The US method seems a bit too much like “we add this extra layer of humiliation and a reminder that you’re a dirty filthy woman…because we can!” WTF.

    The U.S. is all I’ve ever known, but that documentary, ‘The Business of Being Born’ was an eye-opener on what uniquely patriarchal control-freakism the medical industry is in the U.S., especially the OB/GYN segment of that industry. As for why, I’m pretty sure it goes back to a backlash against the fight for suffrage, when midwives were vilified and we started putting legal restrictions on abortion.

  80. allhellsloose

    Anne power to your comment.

  81. allhellsloose

    You all have a yearly check up because they, the patriarchial medical estabishment, put fear into you. It doesn’t happen in Europe to such an extent because there isn’t money to be made from it. It goes as thus: fear of loosing your breasts, uterus, ovaries and therefore a compliance to the patriarchy in that you will no longer be attractive and considered sexaaay is considered a death sentance. Ye all know instinctively this is shite. The most lost body part to cancer that is engaged in human reproductivity is the prostate.

    There, does that dampen the fear?

  82. anne

    allhellsloose – also obviously because women’s bodies, their reproductive organs especially, are scary alien things prone to reek havoc on mankind.

  83. angie

    allhellsloose — I don’t know about that, my aunt (my mom’s sister) had cervical cancer at 35, which was caught because of her pap smear. Because they caught it early, she survived (after treatment, hysterectomy, chemo, the works). If the only reason for the pap smear is to “scare me” it’s working.

  84. Carpenter

    In the 90s there was a pretty big ‘dont stick crap in you vag, it cleans itself’ movement. It seemed like common knowledge that douches were stupid and thatthey existed only to promote body anxiety. What happened? It’s as if someone decided to re-market DDT or phenolbarb. This plus the rollback of basic sex-ed makes me very depressed about the general state of knowledge about reproductive organs.

  85. buttercup

    All I know is I let my ovaries wreak havoc as often as possible. Does ’em good.

  86. buttercup

    Carpenter, I think we’re seeing these ads because the “don’t stick crap” thing WAS effective. Now they’re not making money, time to ramp up the body insecurity.

  87. Jezebella

    allhellsloose, you make it sound as though cancer of our secondary sex characteristics is minor business, and as though said cancer doesn’t also, you know, KILL PEOPLE. It’s not about losing our boobies (or saving the tatas, as the pink people like to say), it’s about saving our friggin lives. Frankly, I AM scared of cancer, not because I’ll be less sexxay, but because I will lose my health insurance if I can’t work, I don’t have a pot of money to spend on cancer treatment, and I don’t have a partner or children to nurse me through it. Not to mention, you know, it very well might kill me in a fairly gruesome, protracted, and painful manner. I don’t give a rat’s ass about whether my boobs render me fuckable or not. I just don’t want to die because I couldn’t afford an annual pap smear and mammogram, dig?

  88. Eirwyn

    I remember reading a website that went on and on about beauty standards for vulvas as though it were this new, positive, cool thing. “Guess what, ladies? Now we have standards for aesthetically pleasing vulvas! How novel and wonderful!” All I could think was, “So my hair is wrong, my face is wrong, my body is wrong, and now my vulva is wrong, too? Is nothing sacred?” Apparently not.

    I’ll use coochie spray the day a man sticks a tic tac up his dick for my pleasure.

  89. angie

    Jezebella — right on. My mom’s other sister (not the one who had cervical cancer) died of breast cancer that went untreated & metastasized to her liver. Her other two sisters (including the one who had cervical cancer) both are breast cancer survivors — caught in time because of their mammograms (oh, and neither opted for reconstructive surgery after their mastectomies, because they didn’t care about “saving the tatas,” just their lives). I’ve been getting an annual pap smear since I was 18 & an annual mammogram since I was 35. I’m lucky I have the insurance for it. Maybe I *am* doing it out of fear, but I think I’m being realistic too.

  90. sjaustin

    Allhellsloose, I’m not even sure what you’re positing. Are you actually saying that we should skip the regular exams and just wait until we feel sick to get things checked out? Are you under the impression that advanced cancer has a 100% cure rate just from removing the affected part, or what?

    I would be perfectly happy to have my reproductive organs removed, seeing as how I don’t ever plan on reproducing, but I don’t want to to die anytime soon. Especially not from something that would have been easily treatable if it had been caught earlier.

  91. paper doll

    This why I don’t have a TV. I just couldn’t take the constant assault anymore of such shit.lol!

  92. Adrienne in CA

    Someone writing for Stephen Colbert must be reading IBTP. Decent mocking on his July 25 show.

  93. gostephaniego

    Sarah Haskins isn’t around anymore to say what’s what, but I think this Colbert video mocking the ads is pretty damn awesome (sadly it’s on Gawker; I don’t know where else one would find the video clip): http://gawker.com/5824706/stephen-colberts-male-version-of-the-summers-eve-talking-vagina-ads

    Also, if one is neurotically insistent on washing the vulva, as I am, I really like Spectro Jel. It is relatively ungendered, unscented and non-foaming.

  94. gostephaniego

    Adrienne in CA, you beat me to the punch!

  95. Anne

    There has been some research lately that I’m too busy/lazy to look up at the moment which indicates that women are instructed to get pelvic exams more frequently than is really necessary. You can’t detect ovarian cancer by a pap smear, for instance. The last episode of the RH Reality Check podcast talked about it.

  96. angie

    Anne– I don’t think it has ever been claimed that pap smears check for ovarian cancer; pap smears check for cervical cancer. But when you get your pap smear, the doctor is also supposed to check your ovaries with her hands — I know mine does (gloved, of course). So I still don’t see allhellsloose’s point. Maybe it would be ok going ever other year, every 3 years? Doing it annually is actually better for me just because I know ever September that I *need* to make my appointment.

  97. Raven Rant

    Has anyone else seen the Swiffer ad in which women, (live actresses), are literally portraying filth and dirt laying on the floor, and begging to be ‘picked up’ by the manly Swiffer mop?

    It is the most bizarre messaging for a product primarily marketed toward women. I mean, sure, men hate us, but this ad is banking on a level of overt female self-loathing that would render a person catatonic.

  98. stacey

    (Canada checking in) Since I’m low-risk for ladybits cancer, my pap is every two years (and she checks the size of my ovaries at the same time, and the boob check.) I haven’t done my mammogram yet, because I’m sort of hoping the province’s medical plan will fund the infra-red testing, and because I’m lazy. I’m okay with being vigilant about cancer, myself.

  99. KelD

    “I’ll use coochie spray the day a man sticks a tic tac up his dick for my pleasure.”

    This had me laughing out loud, loudly.

    I’m quite positive that no one who reads this blog ever watched the show, “Undercover Boss,” (please don’t ask me why I ever did), but there was a moment on that show that just brought the vaginas = ewwwwwww sentiment into precise focus for me.

    The CEO of Synagro, the largest (human) waste-processing company in the country, posed as a guy applying for a job and did some of the entry-level work, such as cleaning out treatment pumps by hand and “breaking up 27-year-old solids.” In the course of this work, he found an object which he could not identify, stuck in the mechanisms of one of the treatment pumps. He was elbow-deep in compacted human fecal matter, holding this little object up to the woman who has been assigned to train him and asking, “What’s this?”

    The viewing audience couldn’t identify the object, either, because it was blurred.

    What was the object? (Say it with me….) A tampon applicator.

    Amongst mounds of three-decade old shit, a piece of plastic that once touched a vagina was the obscenity and needed to be obscured from human view.

    Anyhoodle. Do I need to make advance reservations for the Savage Death Island ferry, or can I buy tickets the day I intend to travel?

  100. shopstewardess

    Regular self-checking for breast changes (the UK health service recommends monthly after menstruation is finished) is great. But mammograms can be ineffective in finding cancer (especially in the under 50s who have denser breast tissue) and dangerous (exposure to radiation, false positives, generates fear). Unless a woman has a high risk with a familial/genetic link, they are not recommended here in the UK for under 50s, and over 50s have them every three years.

    Similarly, pap smears every three years come free for any woman, unless there are additional risks in which case they are more often. As long as any abnormalities are followed up quickly (there have been enough scandals about this in the past that the NHS is now pretty efficient at it) it works well.

    Overall this system is efficient (automatic notifications are sent for screening appointments), economic, minimally invasive, and covers every woman legally resident in the UK, free at the point of use. I’m happy to trust my health to it, as I suspect is allhellsloose.

  101. Owly

    Why do we have to say “vaginal” when we already have “tits!” to describe something cool?

  102. Tehomet

    I wish vagina really did kill men,that way I would have all the safey and freedom of movement in the world,and if I ever encountered rapists,thiefs,kidnappers,etc I would just pull down my pants and that’d take care of them!

    Reminiscent of the Sheela na Gigs!

  103. allhellsloose

    In the UK it is also not recommended that smear tests are done in the under 25 age group, as this is of very little clinical value.

    There is no clinical value in having a smear test annually. It is done annually simply because there is monetary value to be gained from this and the patient is kept in a perpetual state of fearfulness.

    I certainly trust my health to the current system we have in the UK. No change is needed.

  104. allhellsloose

    Last post on this subject. Poland is hoping to introduce compulsory smear testing on all women between 25 and 59. If the woman refuses to do it then she will be made redundant. More information here:


    I urge that you sign the petition.


  105. nails

    what is weird is that at abnormal pap smear isn’t really all that abnormal. Most women have one at some point in their lives. I am sure that a fair amount are false positives, it is based on the opinion of the reader (usually a pathologist).

    I can’t wait until there is effective software for reading mammograms/pap smears. The job is extremely tedious for humans and makes for errors.

  106. stacey

    (Canada) recommends your first pap when you first become sexually active – it’s not just about cancer, there’s also some STDs to think of, of course. If you’re in a (self-admitted) stable relationship and generally healthy, it drops down to as-needed.

    For the STDs that need a blood test, one generally has to ask for one. My doc, who knew me before I was married, would occasionally ask if I wanted testing, and I would occasionally agree.

    In my understanding, false positives often occur when there are blood cells in the sample that are leftovers from one’s period. I’ve had a couple in my time, but they were always from samples right after my bleeding; I didn’t mind getting re-tested.

  107. yttik

    PIV greatly increases your risk of cervical cancer. PIV when you are too young also really ups your risk. Rather then demand that our young girls not be exploited by PIV before they are finished growing, we have simply created an immunization to reduce the harm they could experience. Rather then using condoms or avoiding PIV entirely, we make all women go get frequent pap smears. Hidden behind all this harm reduction, is the idea that women are somehow diseased, defective, we have dirty parts that must be cleaned with Sumnmer’s eve and constantly monitored by a doctor for disease. Completely forgotten in all this is the male role in causing these diseases.

    So should we stop our exams? No, of course not, but we should change how we perceive them and think about why they are necessary. We should question why the medical establishment is so obsessed with our lady parts. Ovarian cancer, heart disease, diabetes, even domestic violence, kills far more women then cervical cancer does, and yet women are rarely screened for any of these other life threatening conditions.

  108. crickets

    it’s interesting reading about the differences in guidelines for smear tests between UK/USA/Canada – i suppose it just confirms that no one really knows the “best” way of organising. Recently had my letter inviting me for one since i turned 25 (in the UK), the first one I had a few years ago in a GUM clinic and was surprised by how pleasant the staff were because of a lot of the stories and comments I’d read possibly mainly from american sources. It was not a pleasant experience, but the staff were respectful and the the guy who did it asked if it was my first test, showed me the speculum etc and explained everything he would be doing – it was unpleasant because i hate that kind of thing rather than because of insensitive Drs and nurses! I wouldn’t want to generalise but the number of seriously negative experiences women in the USA have had with smears etc is making me wonder if there is a big difference in our health care systems and their attitudes to women and women’s health? Not that I want to suggest that no women in the UK have had bad experiences with the NHS or private care – from my own scooting round on the internet there seems to be a big difference, but obviously what I say is by no means the last word!

  109. ElizaN

    These crappy ads are giving me a flashback to the Palmolive ads with Madge. One of my first, and more disgusting, memories is of being a young taqeau and seeing an ad with a bride hanging out of a limo, showing off her hands (with giant diamond, natch) and shouting, “Madge! I soaked in it!” Thirty years later and I have yet to shed that memory. It’s taking up valuable brain cells that I’d really like to get back.

  110. Jill

    Thirty years later and I have yet to shed that memory. It’s taking up valuable brain cells that I’d really like to get back.

    Thanks a lot. I had finally gotten that memory out of my head. Now I’ll have to drink another 4,597 margaritas to re-erase it.

  111. sjaustin

    Like we needed another reminder that we’re all soaking in it.

  112. sjaustin

    yttik, HPV is highly contagious and can be transmitted through any oral-genital or genital-genital contact. Not that dudes don’t play a huge part in it, because they never bother to get checked out, and they don’t care what they have or what they’re spreading, as long as they don’t have any symptoms, but you can get HPV without PIV.

    And to be honest, our parts are really not well constructed (this is one of the reasons, along with knees and spines, that I laugh at the idea of “intelligent design”.) If you have babies you get one set of problems; if you don’t have babies, you just get a different set of problems. I, like many of my nulliparous spinster sistren, have uterine fibroids. Apparently this is my punishment for not using my uterus properly.

  113. GMM

    Wow, has anyone seen this documentary about the teacher who decided to conduct an experiment where she told her brown-eyed students they were superior to the blue-eyed students?

    “What happened over the course of the unique two-day exercise astonished both students and teacher. On both days, children who were designated as inferior took on the look and behavior of genuinely inferior students, performing poorly on tests and other work. In contrast, the ‘superior’ students — students who had been sweet and tolerant before the exercise — became mean-spirited and seemed to like discriminating against the ‘inferior’ group.”

    Within TWO DAYS. Imagine a lifetime of living in a culture where boys are told they’re better than girls and white children told they’re better than black children. And then the damaging effects of sexism and racism being used to prove the inferiority of the people of the wrong race/gender in a never-ending loop.

    for more: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/divided/etc/synopsis.html#ixzz1TO1QPy4n

  114. Margaret

    That blue eyes/brown eyes documentary was brilliant. Thought it was long forgotten as it seems like decades since I saw it.

    The ambient sexism in schools was well covered by Myra and David Sadker. They unmasked the sexist biases in everyday education.

    And then there’s the rest of the school social structure: we all know from personal experience how sexism works in school outside the structured lesson plans: boy sexually assaults girl, girl fights back, girl gets punished. It morphs seamlessly into the adult world: man rapes woman, woman fights back, woman gets blamed.

    We’re all soaking in it.

  115. Jezebella

    There’s really no need to imagine that, is there?

  116. ElizaN

    I could get a job with a tequila company!

  117. Anne

    KelD, I watched the Undercover Boss that featured the CEO of Hooters. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

  118. Robyn

    Ummmm – am I imagining this or is it even a male fist that they are using?

  119. Linda

    Douching was originally a form of contraception. Trust men to appropriate it and use it against us.

  120. Jean

    “COMMANDO – fresh as the crack of dawn.” CRACK! GEDDIT?

    I love you. Even though you almost made me spray the tea over the keyboard.

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