Friday, 20 July 2012

Feminine Hygiene

Ok, so some of you might have heard of This little Controversy, and I have a little $0.02 to chip in here.

It seems to me that there's 2 different issues here; the ability to call a spade a spade (or a vagina a vagina) and the question of feminine hygiene products in the first place.

The first point, ok, yes. It's a vagina people, let's not turn it into another 4 letter word. Calling it a Frou Frou or Mr Fluffy like it's a tiny annoying handbag rat between your legs is a little degrading, and I for one am all for the demystification of all things OB/GYN. But that said, it's not like Femcare is the only culprit for being silly about naming names. If the general public mostly rely on euphemisms in conversation, then can we really expect advertisers to do any different? They've just picked some damn stupid euphemisms this time around.

But as to the second point... I actually don't see anything in the Femcare ad copy that's shaming women for being women. The usual objection to vaginal washes (this isn't a douche, I hasten to point out, which is a completely different issue, as they are harmful to women) is that they suggest that the normal odour of vagina is smelly and horrible and you should wash that smelly thing because you smell, smelly woman. I don't think I need to explain how utterly wrong-headed that is.

But actually, like the rest of your body, you do need to wash your vulva occasionally. Not because it smells horrible or anything (unless you have Bacterial Vaginosis or something, in which case you might want to get your GP to check that...), but because that's just good hygiene. Especially if you ordinarily have a lot of vaginal discharge, or are menstruating, it can be refreshing to be able to give your vulva a quick clean up. And it's also the case that your usual shower-gels can be too strong or too heavily scented, and can cause disruptions in your vaginal flora which can lead to infections like thrush (which is likewise a whole heap of No Fun.). So I actually don't see that there's a problem with companies marketing  Ph balanced washes and wipes so that you don't accidentally traumatise your vagina while staying clean and infection free. And if you actually look at the Femcare advertising copy, it's entirely centred around the health issues. It's not saying "Wash your disgusting bits out, smelly woman!" it's saying "Wash carefully because your vulva and vagina are worth looking after." 

And I can't see what's wrong with that.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Double Tap

And one comment - in reply to who knows what - which made me punch the air. This is what I have wanted to say to every single de-railing little mansplaining PHMT shit I have ever met or had to argue with.

No, you "just shut up". You come in here and tell a room full of women that they need to stop fighting for their own rights and pay more attention to the poor mens. Fuck the poor mens. Feminism isn't about bringing men down, you illiterate fool. It's about raising women up to the level of men, to the point where we are all equal. - Grimbitter

Friday, 9 March 2012

Cause and Effect

Ok, so it's been a while.

But it is International Women's day... sometime this week maybe... so there's been a lot of things floating around that are relevant to my interests.

Firstly this.
If you don't believe we still need feminism, just take a look at the tweeted horror stories. The sheer numbers of them, all showing the same damn themes, is horrifying. This is not isolated cases, this is all women, everywhere. And these are just the ones who live in the English speaking part of the world that has twitter.

Secondly, I'd like to call your attention to this video.

It's a great video. And provides some good ideas for how girls can try and change things.


We're talking about teenage girls here. And personally, I don't think it's fair to off-load all the responsibility for their mental wellbeing in the face of crappy media stereotyping on to them.
a) It's not their fault they're being bombarded with images that destroy their self-esteem.
b) They can isolate themselves from some of this harmful crap, but not all of it by any means, and there are certain parts that they can't isolate themselves from if they want to have a social life. Unless all the girls in your school aren't concerned with image and fashion and what was on TV the other night, you're going to loose out socially for not being into all of that stuff as well. And bang goes all that self-esteem.
c) They're teenage girls, ffs. That's a hard time for either gender, trying to find your place in the world is bad enough without having all the responsibility for changing it on your shoulders too.
d) This can only work as a collaborative effort. As long as society remains the same, all girls can do is damage control. Which is not to say that the suggestions are bad, or that girls shouldn't do them, just... it can't be the only thing we do.
It's a bit like those "rape awareness" campaigns that focus on what the victim "should" do to stay safe. Yes, it's sensible to not drink too much, yes, it's sensible to avoid bad areas, yes, it's sensible to use a buddy system, BUT; that kind of thing puts the focus on the victim, when it should be on the criminal, it can't prevent all rapes (though it might help one or two women. Might), and it should not be the way we tackle rape prevention. This is the same. It can only be damage reduction, and occasionally help some girls. Unless society changes, and stops forcing self-esteem destroying stuff down our throats at every turn, we're not going to solve the problem of their being too few female leaders by telling young girls to be role-models and stop reading fashion magazines.

Just to highlight my point, here are a few of the comments posted under this video on youtube...

there's a low percentage of female leaders for a reason, it's called evolution. - leakeg

by a woman's touch, do you mean it needs tidying up and some sandwiches? if so, i agree! - gnglulz

This is what happen when women go out of the kitchen - xmadxlamerx

Well as a guy, all I know is this: women are naturally emotional, sensitive, sympathetic and moody. So with these traits in mind, you can say, women are better off as a lovely worm mother than a great iconic leader.
But I already said, I don't deny that women can manage things well, but not the whole way up to be a leader. - AbuSaa

I don't deny the fact that women can manage things, but I'm against women to be in power. Thats all. - AbuSaa

Women are not meant to be leaders. - AbuSaa

Ok, so three of those are from the same person (though they aren't all that he said) and were (thankfully) opposed by more than one commenter, but when even something so positive and affirming can be hi-jacked by dipshits arguing - not over how we can encourage more women into leadership roles - but even if they should be allowed there in the first place... is it any wonder that girls are being put off? They know they'll have to slog through this negativity for the rest of their careers if they choose that path, and it won't go away, even if they achieve their goals. Looking good according to today's standards might be just as difficult to achieve as success in any other field, but when it's the one field where women are going to get some sort of approbation for getting there, can you blame girls for choosing that road?