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.