May 26, 2013 § 15 Comments
Let me start with the necessary caveats: consumer activism isn’t usually my thing, though I reckon its got its place. Destroy the Joint (who started protesting Alan Jones and are now working on getting Facebook to disallow misogynistic groups) have done some great stuff in this area, even if its not everyone’s feminism.
However, today I was having lunch with my Dad and his partner in a pub in Balmain, enjoying the glorious Sydney sunshine. I went to the loo, and saw a sticker on the mirror. “Get fresh with Libra wipes,” it told me.
I instantly knew Libra were talking about “getting fresh” vaginas. At first I hoped I was mistaken. Then I turned around and saw this:
Libra are telling people that their vaginas need ‘freshening’.
Libra, as far as I know, is a tampon company. Pads too. I think they mostly market to younger girls, with bright colours and a boppy “Live Love Libra” slogan. A quick internet search revealed that Libra is owned by SCA, or Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget. I couldn’t find any immediate dirt on them, despite the bad rep a lot of hygiene companies like Unilever have with women’s groups.
I can’t even be bothered with unpacking the irony of the word (is it even a word?) “HOO-HA” when used in combination with “we won’t dance around it.”
I am not of the “let’s talk about my vagina” school of feminism. For better or worse (quite probably worse), I feel reserved about these things, in addition to having, shall we say, some control issues regarding my body. However, I have lots of feminist comrades who ARE of the “let’s talk our bodies” variety, and they are hero(ine)s in a world that teaches us that our bodies are smelly, out-of-control things in need of constant disciplining and upkeep with random stuff (like Libra products). Feminists and women before me who did the hard work of health promotion and myth-busting, such as these paradigm-shifters, didn’t do that work for nothing, even if this bullshit is still happening. They’ve taught me to recognise a bit of body hate when I see it.
The reason this ad annoyed me so much that I feel driven to talk VAGINA on my blog, despite my mild discomfort, is that Libra are making such a blatant play on body insecurity. This is especially the case for girls and younger women, given that that’s who Libra seem to be targeting. The “am I normal am I ok am I doing stuff right” self-talk that is a constant in many heads, just got a big “NO YOU ARE NOT OK” from Libra. All in order to sell unnecessary, potentially harmful vagina-cleaner, as though this part of our bodies was a kitchen drain.
So, in case it’s not obvious: MY VAGINA DOES NOT SMELL BAD, AND IF YOU HAVE ONE, I’M PRETTY SURE YOURS IS FINE TOO. If someone thinks your vagina smells bad, they are very probably not worth your time. If you’re worried your vagina smells bad, go to a good (hopefully feminist) doctor and get a check up. In Sydney I can recommend the Uni of Sydney Health Service and Leichardt Women’s Medical Centre. The Australian Lesbian Medical Association also has this list. Please make other suggestions in the comments if you’ve got ’em.
And by the way, if you do feel inclined to boycott, here’s a handy list of alternatives to the usual ‘feminine hygiene’ route.
Lastly: VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA. Libra and its HOO-HAs can go kiss my smelly vag.