Clean and Dry Intimate Wash (clearly, NSFW)

As self-explanatory as the title for this blog may be, I still have NO IDEA why I am writing this. To me, the product I am about to discuss should not exactly exist.

I thought it was all very basic. You get what you are given, and you embrace you lady garden. No garden is the same. Some of us are all orange trees and tidy rows of flowers – and others amongst us prefer thorn bushes and weeds. Heck, some of us just keep it bare.

But this article – and in particular, the product it is discussing – made my head explode.

This ‘product’ is called the ‘Clean and Dry Intimate Wash’, and is designed to make your vagina sparkle.

Oh, no, wait. That’s vajazzling. THIS product actually bleaches your bits to make them appear ‘whiter’. Congratulations on successfully encapsulating sexism AND racism, all in one 30 second commercial!

You want to see the ‘commercial’? Sure. But heed this warning: you will be sorely tempted to bang your head on the nearest desk at LEAST fifty times upon viewing:

I can just see the marketer’s thoughts now: ‘Sad, attractive girl… needs to be the right SHADE of white – and make sure she’s wearing a white t shirt, and sitting on a white couch – and she is SAD because her lady garden is too DARK.’

They even included the sad music at the start. What a thoughtful touch.

And afterwards, she’s HAPPY. BECAUSE HER LABIA AND VAGINA AND ALL HER OTHER RELEVANT SEXUAL PARTS ARE NOW WHITE. NOT BLACK. WHITE. CORRECT ANSWER. BYE BYE. SEE YOU LATER.

I’m sorry, but did the world go slightly INSANE? I mean, I took vajazzling. I didn’t get it, but I accepted it, because, well, people are idiots. Labioplasty? Again, didn’t get it – but cosmetic surgery is everywhere…..

…..But this? BLEACHING ONE’S SEXUAL ORGANS BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT THE RIGHT COLOUR? Excuse me, but what form of dumb fuckery is this? When did we wake up and decide that THIS WAS A GOOD THING TO DO? I did not vote on this at the last Sisterhood Meeting! I vehemently reject all concepts of altering or changing my parts to suit someone else’s skewed idea of what is an acceptable form of ‘beauty’!

I have nothing else. I need to go lie down.

 

 

How do you feel about drinking Pussy?

But really, how do you feel about drinking pussy?

Oh, not THAT sort of pussy! No. God, don’t be so FILTHY. I meant the energy drink, clearly! No double entendres here, thanks very much. See, look, THE DRINK!

Straight from the Pussy website, apparently, “the name Pussy shocks and demands attention – that’s the point. Inhibition is a recipe for mediocrity. This is a premium energy drink named with confidence.”

Ah – so I am *supposed* to be shocked! Well, that’s okay then. Funnily enough, it doesn’t mention anything about me also feeling vaguely homicidal, and wanting to punch the creators in the face. Guess they had a limited word count.

The other part that I find vaguely hilarious (in between me head butting the wall, that is). “This is a premium energy drink named with confidence.”

Confidence? Really?! See, I would have gone with stupidity, sexism, idiocy, and downright blatant misogyny before I would have said “confidence”. Maybe they were confident in their idiocy? Confident in their ability to laugh off the ridiculous amount of sexism they’ve managed to pack into one marketing campaign?

After trawling through their website, I’ve reproduced a few of snappy marketing one liners on there for your amusement:

“Pussy starts conversations. It believes in having a good time as often as possible”

“Looking for Pussy? To find out which bars, venues and stores stock Pussy near you, call us on 020 7348 9870.”

“Pussy is a 100% natural drink. No nasty chemicals and nothing manufactured. It is made for people looking for a natural alternative.”

“Pussy is spontaneous, entertaining, optimistic and fun.”

(All quotes taken from the Pussy website)

(Also, if you’re my mother and you’re reading this, please skip the next paragraph).

Now, let’s theoretically pretend that this double meaning is ACTUALLY trying to refer to a woman’s genitals for a minute, and compare what they’ve said with the truth.

Is my vagina spontaneous? Only when it decides to send me my period a week early, or late. So I guess you can have that one, Pussy.

Is my vagina entertaining? Only since I taught it how to play the piano.

Is it optimistic? God yes. Sometimes my vagina and I just sit up late into the night, talking. And I’m all, “God, my life is SO SHIT”, and my vagina is then all, “Nawww, Jess, cheer up! Be happy! You’ve got such a good life!”. Yep. My vagina is definitely optimistic.

Is is fun? Of course. Sometimes my vagina and I just go out for coffee, and get our nails done together, and then we sit on the beach.. oh, wait. I’m thinking of this ad now:

Does my vagina start conversations? Perhaps not mine specifically, but I do know that, according to popular culture, it’s all that men seem to talk about. So again, correct. Though personally, my vagina’s not that chatty.

And if you’re looking for my vagina? You probably won’t find it by calling that number.

But, in all serious, and vagina jokes aside, this entire ad campaign and product is just foul. It’s disgusting, it’s stupid, and it’s trying to play into a market of double meanings and rude jokes.

Not only does it manage to take sexism in advertising to an entire new level, but it also does so whilst claiming that it is pushing the boundaries, and by not being “mediocre”.

The creator (a man, obviously), Jonnie Shearer, obviously did not consider the thousands of women who are going to be serving drinks behind a bar, or simply standing beside someone as they order a “pussy”. He is obviously never going to be in the position of being an 18-year-old bar maid on a busy Saturday night, when some sleazy guy leans over and asks her for a pussy. I’m not saying that Jonnie Shearer caused these situations – but by god, he most certainly had a hand in furthering the instances of them.

All things aside, it is NOT okay for this sort of post-modern, retro sexist, double-entendre stinking pile of crap to exist. It simply isn’t. Anyone with half a brain can see that their advertising campaigns are blatantly sexist, and if it was up to me, I would show Jonnie Shearer the world that exists outside of his male-dominated perspective. A world where rape exists, a world where “pussy” is actually sold in the sex trade, and a world where woman have to be confronted with their genitals treated as a form of humour for this “natural energy drink”.

And just in case you were in any doubt about whether this product, and their advertisements, are sexist? Here are a few more posters advertising the drink:

You could argue that, perhaps, these ads are empowering. I mean in the last one the woman is clearly getting *something* out of it. And in the others, all the women seem to be having a pretty good time.

But there’s a few things I’d like to point out. In all but one ad, the man is holding the drink- ie, he is drinking the pussy (and in the last ad, he appears to be literally doing that). The woman is always naked, the man is always clothed – he’s a position of power, and she’s in a state of undress (which, coincidentally, is how uncomfortable some women might feel after seeing these ads. Like they’re naked). And finally? The women are all typically attractive (as are the men – but the men aren’t naked). Yet another body image issue for women to be concerned about. The only women deemed suitable to have ‘attractive pussies’ are slim, have light skin, and are young.

I’ll leave the final word to the advertising guru, Don Draper.

“Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is okay. You are okay.”

Pussy seem to have forgotten this while they were busy trying to create attention for themselves. Controversy wanes, publicity wanes, but happiness doesn’t. And who on earth is this drink supposed to make happy? Not women. Not the majority of men. That leaves them a very small market.

Don Draper isn’t pleased with you, pussy.

Phallic bottles: A follow up post

Because I appear to have an ongoing interest in perfume bottles and phallic imagery, I was intrigued to learn that the BASA (British Advertising Standards Authority) banned the ‘Oh! Lola’ advertisement featuring Dakota Fanning. In the wake of this, I thought I’d glance across the big bad world of Google Images to see what other phallic bottles I could find.

Lucky me.

Sometimes, the phallic images are clever. Like this one:

Sometimes, they’re pretty pathetic:

(I mean, really? A rocket? Could you be any more obvious?!)

And then there’s the rest:

Because nothing says sexy to me like a handbrake does….

Phallic imagery, and their poor cousin, ejaculation imagery, are featured *everywhere* in advertisements. Just in case you wanted escape sex, penises, vaginas and boobs for a minute of your life- you can’t! Not even with your lipstick!

I often wonder what it would be like to be asexual in a world full of advertising. To not desire sex, and yet have it surround you all day, every day. Kind of strange.

I’m somewhat impressed that the BASA has taken the time to ban the Oh! Lola ad- but it’s just one of many ads that use this sort of imagery to sell products. The problem with this ad was the perceived age of the girl involved (although she was 17 at the time, the advertisement made her appear a lot younger).

If you want to read a bit more about phallic imagery (or just sexual imagery in general) check out this post, and this post.

Phallic bottles and crotch shots

There’s something about giant perfume bottles that just make me want to pretend I have a huge penis. Well, according to Marc Jacobs, that’s what I should be thinking, anyway.

I took time out from my regular schedule (so, y’know, I stopped wandering the streets of Melbourne occasionally yelling out “OBJECTIFICATION”, and “SEXISM” at random people) to read Cosmopolitan magazine. I know. I know. But I couldn’t help it- my housemate brought the magazines into the house, and I couldn’t resist.

Anyway, after leafing through a few pages (okay, fine, a few issues), I noticed a disturbing trend amongst the Marc Jacobs perfume ads. A phallic, penis related trend, to be precise:

Because who DOESN’T want to sit on a white horse with a giant bottle of perfume between their legs?

But apparently Marc Jacobs doesn’t think it’s just the ladies who require some strategically placed bottles:

Just incase the giant “BANG” wasn’t enough of a hint…

Look, I’m no stranger to sexy perfume ads. There have been much worse examples of sexism being taken too far. Tom Ford, I’m looking at you. To be honest, I find these ads rather hilarious and outdated. Marc Jacobs, we get it. We SEE the giant phallic shaped object  between the models legs. Really, we do! It’s supposed to be a penis, har har har. Now, can you please just STOP. PLEASE. STOP.

No more phallic shaped objects, please. I’ve had enough of seeing fake penises everywhere without having to wince every time I look at my perfume bottles.

Skirts, sexism, and the workplace: A response piece

On Friday, I came across this absolute gem of an article on The Age Online. Excuse me for not reposting the entire piece, but I have faith in your ability to click on a link.

In summary, the article (written by Paula Joye, who I honestly thought had a bit more sense) discussed the findings of a study that “showed 300 people pictures of women dressed in navy blue skirt suits and pant suits…Within three seconds, the majority perceived that the women wearing skirts were more confident, successful and powerful than their trouser clad sisters. The results concluded that the option women have to wear such attire creates a competitive advantage within the workplace…Professor Karen Pine, who co-led the research, said that the results contradicted previous studies that suggested women should dress more like men to succeed in business.”

Interesting.

“Women still have to maintain an identity that balances professionalism with attractiveness. The skirt suit may achieve that balance without appearing provocative”… said Professor Pine.

My first job – as assistant to the Editor-in-Chief of a fashion magazine – came with a dress code. I was allowed to wear pants (never jeans) but only on days that my boss was not receiving clients. If we had external visitors then I had to wear a dress or a skirt. My boss was a woman – very intelligent and powerful.  Her wardrobe requirements had nothing to do with sexism. At the time, I was hugely resentful but she taught me an important lesson about impressions and the art of smoke and mirrors. You aren’t necessarily what you wear but what others imagine you to be while wearing it.”

Okay. Hold up. Women have to balance professionalism with attractiveness? And this is done through wearing a skirt. But this somehow ISN’T sexist, and it IS a good thing.

Oh, and also, Paula? The notion that you can justify having to wear a skirt during your first job because your boss “was an intelligent and powerful woman” DOES have something to do with sexism. Unless the boys are also forced to wear skirts on the days that you’re “receiving clients” then it’s sexism, honey. Plain and simple.

“The real message in this study is that perhaps we’ve actually evolved. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? It’s no longer 1955 when women had no choice other than to wear a skirt to work in order to make a man coffee. Now we run companies, make our own cups of tea and have the choice to wear whatever we wish in the workplace. The women who blazed this trail had to fight hard and wear a lot of ugly trousers for us to be able to enjoy these progressions.”

This isn’t evolution, Paula dear. Evolution would be when women’s attractiveness DOESN’T EVEN ENTER THE EQUATION FOR HOW SUCCESSFUL SHE IS. This very same study that you claim is “good news” is actually suggesting that we don’t really have a choice in what we wear, and that in order to succeed, we should wear skirts in order to be considered more attractive. You’ve just contradicted yourself.

“It has nothing to do with the being viewed as a sexual object – far from it,” says Penny, 38, a lawyer. “It’s about putting a highlighter pen through your femininity. Many clients want to work with women as a preference because of our empathy, multi-tasking and ethics. A skirt suit is just an outward reminder that they’ve backed the right horse.”

PAULA. STOP GENERALISING. Not ALL women are more empathetic, or better at multi tasking. Men can also multi task, and are good at “ethics” (as a side track, WHAT exactly is this vague term supposed to mean? That women are better at identifying what is right and wrong?). These forms of generalising are complete and utter rubbish, as multiple studies will tell you. Have you ever heard of biological determinism? Because you’re doing it, sister.

“Let’s not turn these findings into a loss for the feminist cause… At last, women who wear skirts aren’t perceived as ditsy, sexually provocative or assistants. We no longer need to wear pants to be viewed as successful – we have a choice. Can’t we celebrate the fact we no longer have to turn down the volume on our femininity to compete?

Suddenly we have an advantage that men can’t cash in on (and don’t think for a second that they wouldn’t if they could). It’s the day that blokes start getting promoted for wearing skirts that we should be worried about.”

Oh, hardy har har. Boys wearing skirts. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

NO. It’s not funny.

Your entire argument is convoluted, and contradicts itself many times. You claim that your (female) boss made you wear a skirt on days you wear expecting clients, and yet this wasn’t sexist. You also claim that we are evolved enough to appreciate that a woman can wear a skirt OR pants, but then also claim that if a woman wants to be successful, she should wear a skirt. And that we should use our femininity to our advantage, because it’s something men “can’t do”. You want to know why men can’t do it? Because their brains are valued more than how shapely their legs are, Paula. That’s what we SHOULD be aiming for here.

Now, excuse me whilst I go change into a skirt so my boss knows that he has “backed the right horse”.

Street harassment, and why I’m over it

As a female under the age of 30, of an average height and weight (although this doesn’t exclude ladies who aren’t- it just means comments thrown at them often include mentions to their height/weight) I’ve occasionally been shouted at on the street.

It’s not so common  that I’ve started carrying a baseball bat with me- but neither is it so rare that I’ve never experienced a cat call from some construction workers.

And to be honest, it can be flattering. At first. I’m not huge on public displays on everything, but neither am I unafraid of a sneaky PDA. But the yelling from construction sites? It’s…..so….cliche.

Approaching someone in public is one thing, but yelling at them from afar (especially whilst in a moving vehicle) is another thing entirely. As Miranda Hobbes from SATC can testify.

Season One, Episode 11: The Drought. Miranda’s had 3 months of no-choice celibacy, and she’s spending all her time at Blockbuster. Where, unfortunately, the construction workers outside the place insist on yelling out things to her like “Heyyyy, bay-beeeeee”, and “Hey gorjus, why don’t you kick-drop this“. Nice.

Yeah. That was my reaction, too.

So, what does Miranda do? Well, firstly she ducks and runs- not unlike any other woman who’s been approached in public by one (or a pack) of guys. And then she goes back to Blockbuster, for Round Two. And she’s greeted with this:

“Hey, hey, it’s my sweetheart!!! You’re looking good, baby, good enough to eat. “

She ducks and runs again, only to hear:

“Heyyyy, where you goin’, darl???”

She turns around, just in time to hear:

“I got what you want. I got what you need!!”

And then she says “Are you talkin’ to me?” and gets the response:

“Ohhh, we got a live one, boys!”

And she asks him “You got what I want? You got what I need? What I want is to get laid. What I need is to get laid. I. need. to. get. LAID.”

And what does she get as a response?

“Take it easy, lady, I’m married.”

Miranda’s summary of this guy? “All talk and no action, huh?”

I think this is the attitude I need to take next time someone wolf whistles at me in the street. I’m over it. It’s not a compliment so much as someone thinking they can approach me in a sexual way in a highly inappropriate context.

Such as on the street, while I’m walking the dog, going for a run, on my way to work or class, grabbing milk from the supermarket, walking to my car, exiting/entering a pub/club/bar, or anywhere that I’m generally minding my own business.

Look- there’s a line. There is. And this line is somewhere between “Hey, my name’s XYZ, what’s yours?” at a bar, and “Hey, sugar pie- I’ll make you scream MY NAME allllllll night!”.

There’s a few reactions I tend to have to the latter. One is the classic middle finger salute. The other one is simply the rune-and-hide method.

But you know which reaction I WOULD like to have? This one:

I’ll have to keep in mind the term “Nice shamrocks” next time I decide to walk the dog on a main road.

You are doing that wrong: Napisan

I’ve never concealed my absolute hatred for the Napisan advertisements. They reek of so many ‘isms’ it’s hard to just pin some down for the purpose of this post.

However, I enjoy giving them a verbal arse-kicking, so persevere I will.

Today, I’m looking at the ‘Napisan OxyAction Intelligence’….something. Christ. Could they fit any more descriptive words in the name of a simple washing detergent?

So, shall we sit through the entire advertisement, and then discuss?

Good. I thought you’d agree.

Now before you commence stabbing yourself in the eyeball with the nearest pen, just breathe. I know. I feel the same. The ad seems to be targeting dumb boys and their even dumber mothers. However, let’s go through an alternate dialogue, and a more interesting and realistic ending to this entire set up of an ad….my comments/ alternative dialogue is in italics below….Don’t say you weren’t warned

Little boy: “Mum, what’s frustration??”  …(“Mum, what’s fwustratchion?”)

Mum: “When I used to find stains after the wash” … (“Having my dumb arse son asking me questions while I do the fucking laundry and he doesn’t offer to help”)

LB : “Whhhhhhhhhy?” (“Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhy? I don’t want to helllllppp, I’ll just sit here and watch like Daddy does”)

M: “I had to re-wash and that drove Mummy mad” (so mad that she now talks in third person????? And there’s NOTHING ELSE that drives her mad? I find this somewhat hard to believe, Napisan).

M: “Now I use new Napisan OxyAction Intelligence”

LB: “Whhhhhhhhhhhhhy?”  …(“Geez Mum, I don’t care about the laundry detergent, I just asked for a fucking definition of frustration. This isn’t Danoz Direct”)

M: “Its new intelligent formula knows where the stains are”  (At this point, I usually freak out. How the hell does laundry detergent know where the stains are? Christ, I didn’t realise we had this kind of technology… why don’t we put it towards something more useful, like, say….world poverty???)

LB: “How?”

(Cue attractive young lady in an eye watering bright pink shirt)

MUM: “Fuck!! Where the fuck did you come from?? Get out of my house, lady!!!!”

LITTLE BOY: “Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhy?”

PINK LADY:  “New Napisan Oxyaction Intelligence has new technology that seeks out stains in the wash, even the ones you didn’t notice!”

MUM: “Shut the fuck up and GET OUT! No one…Hang on. It seeks out the stains I DIDN’T NOTICE?!?!?!?!?!FHOES;EGJKASGRBEJKLGJT4RLHNDRK.BTRNSD./!!!!!”

LB: “Whoaaaa! Can she do my homework?”

PINK LADY: “No. I’m taking your mother on an extended holiday to the magical world of Napisan, where there is lots of pink, and no whiny little beeatches like you”

Don’t tell me you wouldn’t enjoy the other version more. That little kid is a whiny beeatch.