As I tweeted last week, I’m hardly qualified to comment on Femfresh’s product. I once dated a girl who used a variety that smelt like Ribena (I now have a complex relationship with cordial), I don’t know much about that whole thing. Until I was 17, I didn’t realise that thrush could be anything other than a small bird. But still, here I am kicking up a fuss anyway.
When a McDonald’s advert comes on, you don’t email Ronald McDonald saying ‘I’M ON A DIET, YOU INSENSITIVE SHITS!’, right? And when you see an Aquafresh billboard, do you call GlaxoSmithKline and scream ‘MY GINGIVITIS MAKES ME FEEL LIKE A WOMAN, YOU TWATBAGS!’ down the phone? No? So why is it that a feminine hygiene product should be subject to such abuse from women who more than likely spend an inordinate amount of time decrying ‘internet trolls’ in the comments section of BBC articles? (Yes, I imagine the irony is very much lost on them.)
I was supposed to be on Radio 4 this week talking about why a lot of young men are hesitant to identify themselves as feminists, and I believe that it’s precisely this sort of thing that affects men’s willingness to identify with the movement. The remnants of the ‘militant feminist’ image still swimming around in popular culture risk making men feel like identifying as feminists is a comment on their own masculinity, and is an admission that they are secondary to women. This is compounded by the notion of feminists ‘going too far’. Of course, the majority of feminists don’t ‘go too far’, but the minority that DO take offence to every advert that even vaguely references stereotypes tarnishes the whole movement for a huge percentage of young men.
Take, for example, Science: It’s a Girl Thing.
Alice Vincent’s thought provoking commentary on the advert was very intelligently argued, but Vincent’s admission that she wanted to be a scientist when she was growing up undercuts the entire piece – she is not the target audience. The target audience doesn’t know who Marie Curie is, they get a giggly thrill when they realises they’ve made caramel under lab conditions (admittedly, I experienced a massive giggly thrill when I did this) and want a pink lab coat. Presumably, the people behind these adverts is gambling on the fact that one of these women has a natural affinity for the subject and will come to be a glamorous spokeswoman for a bunch of brands they have in their pocket. Whether or not the advert is GOOD is another issue, but it’s certainly no more sexist than any mind-numbing advert that portrays men as sausage roll munching, brain-dead, emotionless trolls. GINSTERS.
In the same way that I let adverts for pasties wash over me and think ‘that product’s not for me’, militant feminists who spend their days finding things to be offended about need to do the same thing with products Femfresh. If it’s not for you just…don’t use it.