Were you offended at the word “vagina?” It’s not a dirty word. So, there shouldn’t be a problem with saying it on television, right? That’s what I thought, until I read this.
Kotex is coming out with a new tampon line called U by Kotex. The original ad for the campaign used the word “vagina.” It turns out, using the proper word for female genitalia in a commercial was too much for three broadcast networks. So, they rejected it. Kotex came up with another version of the ad that replaced the v-word with “down there.” That was still over the line for two of those networks because they rejected the revised spot, too. (The networks involved weren’t disclosed.)
It’s bad enough that these corporations rejected the vagina version. It’s not like it’s inappropriate. The ad is for a tampon! But “down there” didn’t make it either? It’s vague, playful without being dirty, and relevant when talking about stuff that happens Down There. (Maybe they should’ve used vajayjay.)
So, after two strikes, here’s the sanitized version Kotex came up with:
Melanie Harris from JWT who made the ad is quoted in the New York Times saying:
It’s very funny because the whole spot is about censorship…The whole category [of commercials] has been very euphemistic, or paternalistic even, and we’re saying, enough with the euphemisms, and get over it. Tampon is not a dirty word, and neither is vagina.
Elissa Stein, co-author of “Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation” was also quoted in the article.
Fem-care advertising is so sterilized and so removed from what a period is…You never see a bathroom, you never see a woman using a product. They never show someone having cramps or her face breaking out or tearful — it’s always happy, playful, sporty women.
You’d think we’d have come farther than this, not just in tampon advertising, but talking about sex in general. Since the national freak-out over the Super Bowl Wardrobe Malfunction a few years ago, though, the broadcast networks have been very worried about about offending the public. They’re afraid to treat us like adults, which is ironic because these products are for adults. If you’re buying tampons, let’s hope it’s not the first time you’ve heard of a vagina.
It’s as if just because sex happens Down There, body parts used during sex can’t be mentioned in a network commercial. If we can’t talk like adults about periods and tampons, how are we supposed to talk openly and honestly about other sex issues like teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases?
What do you think? Is it silly for the networks to reject the versions with “vagina” and “down there” in them? Were they being sensitive to the public or fearful of it?