Periods? Don’t Men-tion Them!

I have just been ‘introduced’ to this  funny video riposte by ‘Newsnibbles’ via Twitter, although it was made last year I somehow managed to miss it. unhappy womanIt highlights very well the fact that women’s issues are not up for general discussion and some are simply unmentionable and taboo subjects, even in the 21st century. Like menstruation for example.

It wasn’t that long ago that sanitary products weren’t even allowed to be advertised on TV, for goodness sake! Their entry into media world merited lots of press coverage and they were only allowed to be shown after the 9.00p.m. watershed. Because obviously something that happens every month to half the population can’t be discussed, unless that half of the population is a male… Oh and do not use the word ‘vagina’, that is also forbidden to advertisers, yes, even now.

In 1993 there were over 700 complaints about sanitary ads (read what Claire Rayner had to say back then) hence we continue to get a series of airbrushed models doing ridiculous things but never ever referring to the fact of blood and periods. We’re so conditioned to think of menstruation as at its best impolite or at worst, downright dirty, that some of you are probably baulking and embarrassed at the words I’ve used so far. If we had true gender equality we wouldn’t have euphemistic advertising, would we…? Can you imagine ‘Mad Men’ having ‘the tampon discussion’?

Back to the video. Some guy on Facebook wrote a pretty witty account (or someone wrote it for him…I’m well aware that this could be a very good advertising wheeze) of how Bodyform towels ads were misleading and that his girlfriend did not behave like the actors in Bodyform ads. It’s quite amusing regardless of who wrote it and why. Here it is:

Hi , as a man I must ask why you have lied to us for all these years . As a child I watched your advertisements with interest as to how at this wonderful time of the month that the female gets to enjoy so many things ,I felt a little jealous. I mean bike riding , rollercoasters, dancing, parachuting, why couldn’t I get to enjoy this time of joy and ‘blue water’ and wings !! Dam my penis!! Then I got a girlfriend, was so happy and couldn’t wait for this joyous adventurous time of the month to happen … lied !! There was no joy , no extreme sports , no blue water spilling over wings and no rocking soundtrack oh no no no. Instead I had to fight against every male urge I had to resist screaming wooaaahhhhh bodddyyyyyyfooorrrmmm bodyformed for youuuuuuu as my lady changed from the loving , gentle, normal skin coloured lady to the little girl from the exorcist with added venom and extra 360 degree head spin. Thanks for setting me up for a fall bodyform , you crafty bu….

The (fictional) CEO of Bodyform, ‘Caroline Williams’ responded in this brilliant piece of marketing video.

If the video isn’t showing correctly, click here

Even though I loved the riposte it does highlight the absurdity of advertising anything to do with women’s bodies. Why blue water? Surely red would be more appropriate? It still perpetuates the idea that periods are something to be glossed over. The advertising of ‘sanitary products’ is itself an interesting cultural history. Maybe the advent of true gender equality will be heralded by something as prosaic as the adverts for sanitary towels being realistic and in prime time! Do check out Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation where the absurdity is revealed in all its full glory.

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Posted on August 2nd, 2013 by

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