Would You Buy a Maxi Pad From A Half-Naked Man?

stayfree.jpgThe advertising of so-called “feminine products” recently hit a new all-time low with the launch of a trio of “dream date” YouTube videos by sanitary pad producer StayFree.

The YouTube vids, in which three (admittedly gorgeous and stunningly well-built) young men find excuses to strip to the waist and compare the thinness and absorbency of Stayfree regular ultra thin pads with wings (now there's a mouthful!), to those produced by rivals Kotex and Always, are as silly as they are insulting.

A Date With Ryan

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy “eye candy” as much as the next gal or guy. The human body is a wonderful thing in which to be housed, as well as to behold, especially when it’s fit, healthy and well maintained. That’s why artists have celebrated it in sculpture and paintings for centuries.

Yep, I’m all for sensuality, physicality, and healthy sexuality practiced between consenting adults. And just for the record, I’m OK with nudity too.

But what, pray tell, is the connection between a hunky guy and a sanitary pad? Bad enough that the advertising industry worldwide and advertisers themselves have spent decades objectifying and denigrating women to sell everything from automobiles to cleaning products and sweaters to shoes. Now they’re gonna’ do it to men too? AND continue to condescend to intelligent women in the process…?

While we’re on the subject of feminine products, why don’t they mention the word menstruation? Or flow? Or, God forbid, BLOOD!

Who came up with the ridiculous lines in these ads anyway? “The one thing I can’t stand is moisture… you too?” asks the freakishly neat, degree-toting Trevor from behind the piano (PIANO!?).

Ummmm. Every woman who has ever had a periodic “accident” knows that using the word “moisture” to describe menstrual flow is ludicrous. River, torrent or flood, perhaps. But moisture? Nah, I think not.

And little cups of blue liquid tipped precisely onto neatly aligned pads, topped carefully with weighted tissues to demonstrate relative absorbency. Hahahaha! Not like any of the 430+ periods I ever had!

Curious to know more (and simultaneously afraid of what I might find), I visited the StayFree site where I discovered an animation that invited me to “scroll over the butterflies to see the unique features” of their “ThermoControl” technology that “wicks moisture quickly away.”

Scroll over the butterflies? If there is a woman out there whose menstrual period evokes wildflowers, gentle breezes, wispy clouds, birds, butterflies, and/or anything that has anything at all to do with wings, raise your hand.

Yeah. That’s what I thought… Nary a one.

Why must we sanitize (or worse, romanticize and sexualize) menstruation and everything that goes along with it? The menstrual cycle is a normal physical function of the female body – part of the biology that allows us to reproduce and birth offspring in a process that’s also none to pretty or painless.

I’m menopausal, so I don’t menstruate anymore. It’s been about six years since I stopped, and, truth be told, I miss it, messy and incapacitating though it often was for me. Those bloody, painful and sometimes inconvenient periods reminded me every month, like clockwork, that I am a woman, and that my body was built for reproduction, though that part of its primal purpose was never fulfilled in me.

Which brings me back to half-clothed Brad, Trevor and Ryan (all of whom would no doubt make delightful bed partners, or at least that’s what’s inferred in the videos).

Might I like to bed them, if I met them? Possibly. But, if I were still menstruating, would I buy a maxi pad from a half-naked man? Not a chance.

Granted, I’m not part of the target market for the ads. But if I were, what would “sell” me – if not butterflies, breezes or Brad’s pecs ? That’s easy.

Tell me, StayFree, what you’re doing to help young women in Africa who are unable to go to school during their periods because they don’t have access to sanitary products.  Or what you’re doing to support reproductive health education programmes for girls anywhere else in the world? Or….?

Surely you (or more precisely, your advertising agency), can come up with something less sexist and more convincing than half-naked men cooking, cleaning and playing the piano with their shirts off.

P.S. Vaginas are meant to be moist, not dry and desert-like as you would have us believe...

A Date With Trevor

A Date With Brad

Related links:
Twenty-Three Shockingly Sexist Vintage Ads
20 Reasons Why We Still Need The “F” Word
More “Sexist” Stuff On AWR
Does A Butchered Woman Hanging From Meat Hooks Make You Want To Shop?