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Monday, June 29, 2009

A Guy With a Vagina...Better Buy Some Tampons!

Tampax has this new ad campaign, complete with website, blog, and Twitterfeed, told from the perspective of a 16-year-old boy, Zack. But what has really caught the attention of people is that there is something not "normal" about this day he woke up and his penis was missing and there was...uh oh...a vagina there! This is the whole video together (all 4 days):

Not only does this ad campaign reinforce gender norms, it completely ignores the society's construction of gender and places it fully on biology. Now that Zack has a vagina, he is acting like a girl...he bakes, is moody, and (oh no!) gets his period. Nevermind all of the socialization he has received as a male for the his 16 years of life. That just goes out the window when he gets a vagina.

I'm not quite sure how Tampax expects to sell more tampons by having a man talk about his miserable life with a vagina and a period. Personally, I would be turned off by a man talking about which tampon to buy. This is something that women go through. Are they trying to appeal to men? If so, that's not a great ad campaign because most men don't buy tampons... (please see update for a clarification and expansion)

And what's worse is that I can't tell from the comments on the video if people realize it's a joke (I mean, ad). One person blatantly wrote:

i am confused, is this reali true or a joke? i cant get my head round it. not sure if i should believe it coz i told my friend and she said its fake n im just being gulible :( please help
While this person is obviously confused about the intention of this video, other comments seem to be taking the story seriously:
Zack you are amazing… you are very very brave. I don't know many people who would actually be able to go through what you are going through. I wish you lots of luck with all ur problems, and hope u figure it all out soon enough.

This film is amazing. I'm serious. This needs to be made into a 6-episode series for HBO. I feel for you Zack - but thankfully not in my vagina. Since I don't have one. I didn't mean to rub it in.

And while others see this as an ad, they are completely supportive of the message:
Even my very understanding and wonderful husband had an all new appreciation for menstruation after watching these! Something about hearing it from a guy makes it a bit easier I suppose. Thank you so much!

A very original idea to get into the minds of the fascinating world of woman! After watching the movie, most peeps will go to the help me link and there is all the right questions – very clever! Thanks for finding me on twitter – I just watched the roundup, but will watch the full episodes at some stage.
This ad campaign shows the complete misunderstanding and fear that advertisers ( have of menstruation...and women in general.

You can write to Tampax about the ad campaign here or to Procter & Gamble (their parent company) here if you disagree with this campaign and have something to say about it.

I learned of this ad campaign from Feministing.

Update: There are some other points that I would like to add/expand on. I did say, "this is something only women go through" and "most men don't buy tampons." This was a little insensitive of me because some men (trans men) go through menstruation. I'm sorry for any offense that may have caused.

Also Tampax is completely erasing the existence of lesbians in addition to being insensitive to trans people. In his "blog," Zack says,
Took Chelsea Carr to prom last weekend. She looked great. Too bad I'm completely unequipped to be her boyfriend.
Many people go through healthy relationships without penises involved. By not acknowledging this, Tampax is completely erasing lesbians from existence. Way to go.

Also, how are trans women supposed to feel? They had to go through painful surgery and social ostracism to become who they really are...women. Zack's "experience" is kind of (and by kind of, I mean totally) insulting to this experience.


RMJ said...

Whoa there, you might want to be careful about your language. Some men (trans men) do menstruate.

Laura said...

You're right. I did say "most men don't have periods" but I should have been more specific.

Laura said...

I did make an update addressing this matter.

recursiveparadox said...

I'd also like to point out that when I transitioned (science magic boobs and vagina gaining powers go) I did not absorb a bunch of stereotypes.

For instance, I continue to suck at cooking (nor do I have any major urge to cook). I'm not moody. I don't like pink (I find the color obnoxious).

I don't want to be a housewife.

So yeah, the whole thing is pretty offensive to me as a trans woman.

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