I’ve been reading my copy of the newest edition of Ms. Magazine all morning, and on the last page, as a part of its “No Comment” section, which features blatantly offensive advertisements for which people are encouraged to write to the offending advertisers and request that they be taken down, it features this:.
Now, in case you can’t see the print, the first step in how to ask for a raise is as follows: “It should start with your usual routine and all the things you do to feel your best, including showering with Summer’s Eve Feminine wash or throwing a packet f summer’s Eve Feminine Cleansing Cloths into your bag for a quick freshness pick-me-up during the day.” Steps 2-8 include eating a healthy breakfast, leaving early, and focusing on things you have done that show your worth. But, of course, Summer’s Eve comes first.
Now, I think we should all think about the fact that many doctors specifically recommend against douching, since a woman’s body naturally cleans itself. Douching simply covers up a smell–women should call their doctors if they feel that they have a serious problem. So, clearly, using Summer’s Eve is not going to help your vagina or body feel better and set you up for a good day.
Besides that, the problem with this ad is in the two problematic messages that it sends women. First, the obvious fact that it tells women to cover up their natural scent, as if there is something wrong with their bodies and their natural functions. Second, this ad makes it seem as if the most important thing for a woman to focus on in a workplace is, in fact, her womanhood—the fact that Summer’s Eve is first, and work advice only starts at #4 sends a message that it is more important for a woman to have a pleasant-smelling vagina than to present herself effectively to a boss. Now, at a time when women make less than men but are less likely to ask for a pay raise, I see this as a significant problem. According to the linked article from The Guardian, studies show that women tend to undervalue themselves and are afraid of being seen as pushy—women aren’t not asking for raises because they’re afraid of having their vaginas smell bad. As a society, we should be working to help women be more assertive in the workplace, and helping women learn to value themselves in the same way that their male counterparts do. We should not be teaching women to criticize their bodies and add to the already-existent worry inherent in asking for a raise.
So, write to Women’s Day and ask them to remove this offensive ad:
C.B. Fleet Company Inc.,
4615 Murray Place, Lynchburg, VA 24502