By TERESHA FRECKLETON-PETITE
I've got my panties in a bunch over the new Summer's Eve commercials. Have you seen them?
I saw it first at the movie theater last Saturday, during the previews. Scenes of history's most powerful and alluring women from Cleopatra to Helen of Troy flashed on the screen while the narrator told a riddle about the one thing that men fight and die for. Was it money? Nope. Love? Um, no. The narrator was talking about our vaginas and insisting that the only way women could wield maximum power over men is to keep our lady parts fresh and clean. The commercial ended with the tag line Hail to the V!
Yep. Vaginas are now weapons of mass seduction. If you happen to think that the opposite sex values your brain, charm, or moral center Summer's Eve is here clue you in ladies!
In the darkness of the theater, I sat with my mouth agape, shifting uncomfortably in my seat. I turned to my husband, who looked kind of embarrassed, and we silently shook our heads at each other our secret code for when we find something tacky. My husband gets why this commercial was off; he is a marketing manager and previously worked in advertising. But really, it doesn't take a professional to see what is horribly wrong with this ad campaign. It's the 21st century and women are being told that our greatest asset is our V!
I initially dismissed the commercial as a weak attempt at female empowerment. I told myself that it would probably enjoy a limited run in movie theaters or on second-tier cable (you know, the racy channels). But “The V” just wouldn't go away. Not since Oprah introduced the term “Va jay jay” has there been such a national media obsession with vaginas; everywhere I look, somebody is talking about them and not in good, healthy ways. For sure, “The V” popped up in a Huffington Post article polling readers about the racist undertones of three different Summer's Eve commercials targeted at African-American, Latina, and Caucasian women. What shocked me more than the sexist and racial stereotypes on display in the ads were the poll results. Some 47 percent of respondents saw harm in neither the “black vagina” imploring its owner to get it good and clean before she went to the club nor the “Latina vagina” demanding its owner recognize it had more important things to do besides bear babies.
Fire up the DeLorean, because it seems that we have time travelled back to the 19th century when women and their daughters only needed to concern themselves with snagging a husband with their looks (and, apparently, a flower-scented V; the first feminine douche was introduced in 1891). Fast forward 120 years and we are still being treated as the sum of our lady parts. And that’s because, by and large, we women accept it. In an age where vaginal rejuvenation, bedazzling, bleaching, and waxing are all encouraged and companies like Abercrombie Kids are trying to dress up 7-year-olds in padded bikinis, few will bat an eye at Hail to the V!
More power to those ladies, but I'm not about to take up the battle cry and participate in selling it to our daughters.
I am, however, crying foul at Summer's Eve. First, I think the company’s commercials are ridiculously sexist propaganda disguised as female empowerment. Be clear: true empowerment comes from a strong sense of self, not the sweet smell emanating from your nether region. Second, pretty much any gynecologist can tell you that it’s not necessary and could be risky to use feminine washes and wipes. This Livestrong post gives a great overview of the causes and cures for vaginal odors, replete with links to reputable women’s reproductive health sites that say over and over again that the best way to get and keep your vagina clean and bacteria free is to wash it with plain old water. But don’t leave it to me or a Summer’s Eve commercial to give you the 411 on what to put between your legs; ask the true expert your gynecologist.
I'll thank Summer's Eve to stay out of my “V” business, and you would do well to do the same. Because it’s campaign is so not fresh.
Teresha Freckleton-Petite is a mommy to a two-year-old free spirit. The self-described progressive, urban, crunchy mama, who lives with her family in Dallas, Texas, is into composting, recycling/upcycling, swapping, and, of course, natural parenting. She blogs about living, learning and loving with her daughter at MarlieAndMe.com
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.
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I saw this commercial last night and almost died! My husband and I had to rewind it, DID IT REALLY JUST SAY THAT? In fact we had to watch the whole commercial again to let it sink in what they were saying! (I guess in that way the marketing worked on us but it won’t in the purchase aspect which is what I am sure they’re really going for!) And I have to admit, I am like a 15 year old boy, I’ll poke fun at the names we give our parts and whatnot and laugh at dirty jokes, but this commercial is really ridiculous and wayyy over the line. HAILING TO THE V?!! What are we now, just walking PARTS?? And for the record, for the men, I certainly don’t and wouldn’t HAIL TO THE “P”! Could you imagine THAT commercial? Ohmigod I just have no words.
You are right about them getting our attention, but like you, I doubt that it will translate into sales. And no, I cannot imagine a “Hail to the P” campaign…I nearly fell out my chair when I read that line!
Something stinks and I’m pretty sure it’s THIS commercial! I haven’t seen it yet but I am pissed and I hope the Summer’s Eve folks read this article and know that it’s unacceptable. The commercial is just a desperate attempt at selling their products. I will share this article on my blog and refer back to MBB for the whole story. Great post!
Thanks for the link back! There is something fishy going on at Summer’s Eve!
Very very good read!
My husband and I thought we hadn’t heard right the first time I saw this commercial today (7-21-11). I consider it a filthy commercial and I am going to complain Loudly to anyone that will listen!
I say hello to the nawl too. They should have gotten responses from a few thousand women before they pulled this. I think I’m more taking back that they’re still selling this nasty &%?! Who the hell still douches? Who ever does need to see a freaking Dr because something else is wrong with their va jay jay!
I have not seen these commercials yet, but found this post to be a really good read. I want to see the commercial now for myself, I couldn’t imagine seeing the talking “V” on the screen. That is a wreck
I just think it’s horribly tacky! Hail to a better educational system that teach young girls about their bodies and how they are more than sexual objects…that’s what I would applaud.
I have not seen the commercial myself but way to fight against sexist comments in the media. Hail to the V, the couldn’t come up with anything better huh? The crazy thing is that most of these commercials are shown to test groups before they are aired so it is pretty amazing that a group of women (i am thinking) felt this was ok! The test groups may have been paid for their opinions who knows!
Thank you for this post! I felt the same when I saw this commercial. It is horrid. Who signed off on this concept? This seems like an offensive/ totally off-base attempt to make douches relevant to today’s consumer. Because seriously, I still don’t know what a douche is and why women use it. The commercial didn’t clarify this point either… If I use Summer’s Eve I can rule Egypt? Fake knights will joust for me at a Renaissance Fair? Huh?
I know, right?! They reduced Cleopatra’s accomplishments to simple feminine wiles. Like she didn’t have a brain for politics…for shame!
Teresha, m.m.m.m.m. That is me shaking my head back and forth in utter disbelief. I looked up all three commercials because I heard nothing of them until here and I think that all three of them get big fat F’s! I couldn’t even claim racism because they were just offensive on a HUMAN level. Seriously, who okays these ads and says “Oh yeah run this now. Women are definitely going to be lining up to buy due to this campaign. Slam dunk Anderson. Want a cigar?” Puh-lease. Love the guest post T, hate Summers Eve even more now. Gross.
My best, Lynn
Well gotta hand it to them, until they did this no one even remembered they were alive. No matter how offensive these commercials are, they will make increased sales.
I hadn’t even heard of these commercials until reading this blog post, so I watched them in You Tube to see what the fuss was about. Holy. Crap. Not only are these commercials offensive to the women they are targeting, they are offensive to all women, in general. Welcome to Vagina Land?Technically, none of the products they were advertising for are even for the vagina. But I guess Welcome to Vulva Land just didn’t have the same ring to it.
I had no idea Teresha. I haven’t been to the movies in a long time and I’d sort of heard the campaign. I’m disgusted. I’m with you, this is taking the women’s movement right back. Wonderful writing my friend. Glad to see your sharing yourself.
Wow! I’m just speechless! I really can’t imagine what the makers of this commercial were thinking??!?!?!?!
Let’s boycott. CB Fleet is the company that owns Summer’s Eve. Also, I’ve contacted every movie theatre corporate headquarters since they are showing the ad even in children’s movies. Notify any network that airs these ads that you want them pulled. Speak up. In this day and age, anyone can be contacted. Go right to the top.
That’s what I’m talking about! Write to Fleet Laboratories:
Summer’s Eve ‘Hail To The V’ Commercial (Asian Woman version)
Great article Teresha. I haven’t seen the ad because I live in Canada and I don’t have a TV but I like your argument and how you did you research. Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing.
Very scary. These men (duh) went to school, probably graduate school, might even have PhD’s in Marketing Science, to put these ads together so we’ll buy something to “feel fresh”? OMG. So glad “The Big O” presented by Jenny Israel and Kelly Lynn Adams is out there truly teaching women about their vaginas!!!
I love that commercial!!!!!!!!!
This is the most trash. Please ad people, I hope you did not get a big raise for this garbage. It is either a gay man or a lesbian that thought this one up.
I hate these commercials too!!! So inappropriate! Nothing but cheap shock-factor marketing. For goodness sake, grow up and flex your creative, advertising muscle.