Want a Raise? Wash Your Vulva, Dammit! (Part 2)

We recently introduced you to a disgusting full-page Woman’s Day magazine ad in Want a Raise? Wash Your Vulva, Dammit! (Part 1).  As promised, here’s the follow-up . . . now that I’m clear-headed enough to write it.

Let’s start from the top of their list . . . 

Vaginas are NOT dirty or germy in their natural, healthy state!  Health professionals have finally manged to, for the most part, eradicate the idea that we need to douche to maintain the health of our vaginas, but the myth that they smell bad is still out there. Vaginas have a smell, and much like other smells that humans have, the smell varies from woman to woman.  Sometimes it’s earthy, sometimes it’s sweet, sometimes it’s stronger than other times.  Just because the pubic area has a smell all its own doesn’t mean there’s something wrong (with it or its smell or with us), or that it’s bad, or that something should be done about it.  

The male genitals also have a smell all their own, one that also varies man to man.  No one markets “scrotum freshening” products to them because regular soap use is considered sufficient.  This should apply to the vulva as well, but we’re supposed to feel our “most confident” by “staying fresh” down there.  Hear me, women: The only reason our natural smell could possibly affect our confidence is because we’ve been programmed to believe there’s something wrong with it (and, therefore, with us).  Fight that programming!

The first mention of actual practical advice is not mentioned until #4!  The model is dressed in a suit, so we must assume that she is some type of a career woman in a professional environment.  This is a woman who has her act together, who’s over the age of 25, who stands on her own two feet.  This is a woman who already knows how and when to feed herself and that scheduled work hours are an expectation to not be ignored. How dumb does Summer’s Eve think such a woman is?  Clearly, they think she’s so dumb that feeding programmed insecurities, promoting eating schedules, and lecturing about expected arrival time are more important points than creating “a list of all your important contributions and accomplishments.”  A brilliant method to approach your target audience is assuming basic stupidity. 

Pornography references have no place in a advertorial about navigating the workplace!  Yes, I’m sure it was an oversight, but it’s an oversight that should never happen.  Supporting documentation is a practical reminder (although so basic as to be an almost unneeded reminder to our career woman), but dear God, “You made me look good” in the “XXX project”?!  Really? No one caught that?  I would hope that a full-paged ad in a national publication would be an expensive enough endeavor that Summer’s Eve would have focus-grouped said ad, but apparently that didn’t happen.  If it had, some one would have mentioned “the XXX project”.  Women fighting for equal pay don’t need any fuel in feeling like a piece of meat.

Supporting documentation shouldn’t be a list of approval quotes!  Returning to Western-culture female programming, approval is not what women in the workplace should be focusing on — Productivity is.  Fluffy happy approval notes are suitable for informal employee feedback or appreciation, not compensation negotiation.  Documentation from superiors should include concrete items, such as tasks completed early, extra duties filled, money saved, expectations exceeded, etc.   If the job includes providing a service to others, such happy notes are useful as a method of supporting claims of high customer satisfaction but are groundless as an actual productivity measure. I’ve seen enlightened as well as barbaric managers make this same mistake, so seeing this advice given is doubly outrageous because if the subordinate doesn’t fight it, the battle could very well not be fought.  Fight that programming!

Talk is cheap and silence is golden, but there’s a fine line between a conversation and a question/answer session!  While the ad’s advice to respect silence is apropos because too many women who are victims of approval-seeking programming will fill any silence of longer than two seconds with inane chatter, remember to not go too far in the other direction.  Warmth, a certain level of likability, and team cohesion are important to your long-term value to the company, and your manager is well aware of this.  Appearing cold, uncooperative, disrespectful, unfriendly, or just plain stoic probably won’t help your cause.  Confidence and strength must be balanced with cooperation and respect in order to shine your professionally brightest.

Don’t let the conversation get personal?!  This is a particularly tacky bit considering this ad is for a female genital perfume product. Is Summer’s Eve trying to tell us that, without guarding against it, our boss will be nosing around our crotches during the negotiation?  Or are they, as I suspect, trying to imply that our externally-programmed vagina-insecurity is somehow valid rather than being an imaginary paranoia fed (in the past) by ignorance and (currently) by companies trying to market their unneeded products to another generation of skittish women they helped program?  That the only way to not offend everyone around you is to use their product so that you have a certain fresh linen smell about your nether-regions?  I can’t say this strongly enough . . . Fight that programming!

The “bottom line” pun is offensive!  I can’t decide whether or not this was an oversight of the caliber of “XXX project” or an intentional pun.  Either way, it sucks because females sit on their genitals.  The ostensible advice, to remember that your value to the company is based upon finances, is lost in the subtext (if I can even use that word) of your value being tied to the “bottom line”.  If this had been written anywhere else, it wouldn’t be offensive.  The context is both what brings out the pun and makes it offensive.

Staying “fresh” isn’t important; staying “clean” is, and is really IS simple! We don’t need a special product for our vulva — just washing with normal soap daily does the job.  The lesson your mother taught you when you were a tot has always applied and will continue to apply until the day you die.  Your vulva and vagina need no different cleaning care than any other part of your body, and it certainly doesn’t need deodorant! If you’re worried that it does, then see your doctor to make sure nothing’s wrong.  When your doctor tells you you’re healthy, that your feminine smell is within the normal (wide) range of variation, throw all those damned products in the trash and learn to love yourself!

There is good advice available on this topic, why not use it?!  This is an advertorial, and that means that the point was to push their product.  While I understand that this means at least one of the number points had to be about the product, did it have to be #1?  Why not #8?  Besides the alternative advice I’ve offered above, there is at least two quality online articles on why women have a difficult time asking for raises that not only offer insights as to why this is but also practical advice on how to do so but also how to prepare to do so.  Why go with the air-headed powder-puff Tiger Beat-oriented information instead of the gritty, real deal, when the information is out there?  Laziness, ignorance, and a least-common denominator mindset is why.

Men receive practical advice, women receive garbage and insecurity! Check out these two articles, targeted towards men, that offer advice on how to ask for a raise.  You won’t see much crossover between these advice pieces and the Summer’s Eve Woman’s Day advertorial. Why is this?  

We are valuable, and our perspective is all our own.  We must keep refusing to participate in that which reduces us.  Only with vigilance and constant contrariness will we achieve that which is ours to claim: cultural equality.

———————————————————————————————–

The path through these woods I would like to know, but the answer lies in the distance though.  On this, the darkest night of the year, my little horse must think it queer to pause when there is no answer here.  She gives her harness bells a shake, knowing there must be some mistake.  The answers are myriad, dark and deep, and we have traveled miles without sleep. Between the woods and frozen lake, let’s light the torches and grab our skates. They will not see us stopping here until long after we have refused their fear. *

~Riot.Jane

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About

Middle-aged, life-long Texan with a substantial chip on her shoulder.

Posted in body image, career, feminism, self-esteem, sexism, taboo
One comment on “Want a Raise? Wash Your Vulva, Dammit! (Part 2)
  1. Lolly.Jane says:

    There is a deoderant for male genetalia called Fresh Balls (made by the Fresh Breast folks http://www.sofreshsodry.com/ – warning, contains a little taking woman on the front page). I saw it advertised here: http://groomsadvice.com/tag/deodorant-for-balls/ with the title "Grooms, keep your balls dry on the big day". Hmmmmm….Have you seen the cover of Cosmo this month? I'm emailing it to you. I about lost my shit in the grocery line

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