From Women’s Equality Day to Vagina Spray
By Kit-Bacon GressittI was preparing for my little ritual last week, the one I practice every August 26, Women’s Equality Day, to celebrate our right to vote. … Well, not really to celebrate, but to at least recognize the Constitution’s 19th Amendment, declaring women’s suffrage. Hmmm, nope, not even to recognize it, no, more like to contemplate the 1920 passage of the amendment, because— . Well, I suppose, actually, to rant about it would be more accurate. In fact, to complain bitterly is what I mean. Yep, bitterly — because it took so damn long, and in the end, we had won the vote but we still didn’t have equal rights. And we still don’t have equal rights today.
Instead, we now have the likes of Sarah Palin, with the wit of a nit, pretending to be feminists yet advocating for our male-dominated Congress to make personal decisions for us; and young women, the likes of my own kiddo, bobbing to iPods in the wake of the women’s civil rights movement as those rights are rippling away; and senatorial wannabes, the likes of Carly Fiorina, sniping at her opponent’s hair — her hair, not economic recovery policy or Pacific Rim business alliances or the state of California’s schools, but sniping at Senator Barbara Boxer’s hair, her hair! Ye gods!
Yeah, so, I was gearing up for my little ritual, my deep, dark mourning for our failure to perpetuate the women’s civil rights movement and achieve true equality — you know, the enjoyment of equal rights and access to all the goodies Sarah Palin’s great nation of ours has to offer those willing to work harder for them than men do — when I stumbled upon an online story that exemplified our failure in the most putrid of terms, a story about an ad in Woman’s Day magazine.
Now, it is important to consider the context. Woman’s Day, launched in 1931, has evolved from a grocery store publication for housewives to a magazine for women who might work outside of the house but still spend a lot of time in it — parenting, cleaning, cooking, boinking and trying to lose their saddlebags. The magazine’s folks write that each issue “captivates 21 million readers by inspiring them to Live Well Every Day. Woman’s Day is designed for how we live now — with a strong voice that serves up simple, but sound ideas about health, food, family, relationships, home and style. A streamlined look and integrated media capabilities reflect both the sensibility of our readers and our editorial commitment to fresh thinking. Woman’s Day is truly an indispensable guide to living the best day possible.”
And on the day honoring the enfranchisement of women, what showed up in the new Woman’s Day? An advertisement explaining “Confidence at Work: How to Ask for a Raise.”
Sounds good, right? Eight “simple steps” to “asking a boss for the money we deserve.” It seems a nice complement to Women’s Equality Day.
Except it’s not. And it’s not a compliment to women at all. Take a look at the ad:
In essence, this Summer’s Eve ad is telling Woman’s Day readers that if they want to get a raise, they need to deodorize their vaginas.
That’s the best Fleet Laboratories’ Summer’s Eve and Woman’s Day have to offer us? That’s their idea of “fresh thinking,” of “indispensable guidance,” because “staying fresh isn’t always simple”; because, oh no, you have to skulk over to the feminine hygiene products aisle and hide your Summer’s Eve Feminine Wash and Cleansing Cloths between the bananas and the rutabagas so you can kill all the naturally occurring bacteria in your crotch before you ask for the raise that still won’t bring you up to pay equity with the man who has the same job you have, but who has always been paid more, and who has never been told to scrub his scrotum before he asks for a raise.
Do you see? Do you see why I mourn when we should be celebrating?
What were they thinking?
Maybe it’s just a big rightwing ploy to screw with us. It’s plausible. Fleet Labs is based in Lynchburg, Virginia, home to Jerry Falwell’s bastion of misogynistic academagoguery, Liberty University, where you receive six reprimands and a $25 fine for attending a dance or wearing a two-piece bathing suit; twelve reprimands and a $50 fine for watching an R-rated film; thirty reprimands, a $500 fine, thirty hours of disciplinary community service and possible administrative withdrawal for having an abortion — which, by the way, would not be necessary if the students dumped the purity pledges they don’t honor and tried birth control instead, a method more effective than withdrawal.
Anyway, when I trotted to Major Market to buy Woman’s Day and opened it to the offending page, lo and behold, there was actually a two-page spread: confidence via crotch cleansing on the left and “nurturing” your courage “with a little extra care down there” on the right (emphasis, mine):
Happy Women’s Equality Day? Pshaw!
I’ll stop demanding equal rights the day Fleet Laboratories stops telling women their crotches smell bad, the day breasts are no longer a marketing strategy, the day we are paid the same as male executives and they stop sharing twat jokes on their Blackberries at board meetings. And, oh, the day Fleet dumps their idiotic ad campaigns and puts the money into a scholarship fund for young women who embrace every bit of themselves, including their vaginas. Yep, that’ll be the day.
©2010 Kit-Bacon Gressitt
Crossposted at the Ocean Beach Rag and The Progressive Post.