The Sexist

The 5 Most Feminine Feminine Hygiene Products

soleilIf American capitalism has taught us anything, it's that women in their natural state are gross, dirty, and masculine, and in need of some good old feminization (buy our silky, pearly, pink shit!). And so, even products that are used in exactly the same way by both men and women—like deodorant and razors—must be marketed directly to the womenfolk, and products that only women can use—like tampons and birth control—must be made even more feminine. Below: the frilliest tampons, the girliest birth control pills, and the most lavendery razors that money can buy.

Razors.

I shave my legs, but I just picked up a new razor that may almost encourage me to unlearn that particular expression of femininity. The razor is called "Soleil Twilight," it's made by Bic, and it features a triple-blade and, as I discovered after I had already hit the check-out line, "lavender scented handles." Because, you see, men also use razors, which means that razors may be perceived as overly masculine, a misconception that can be cleared up with just a touch of feminine aroma making some skin contact with your hand area. The lavender business makes about as much sense as the name, which from my understanding literally means something like "Sun Growing Darkness." It removes hair.

Birth Control.

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Listen, there's nothing more naturally feminine than popping a birth control pill—so far, only women are allowed to perform this particular function. Still, contraception manufacturers have labored to market the medication in the most feminine way possible. Yaz, arguably the most feminized form of birth control, has claimed to alleviate moodiness, reduce bloating, clean up acne, and even help women lose weight in addition to, you know, stoppin' babies. Accordingly, Yaz commercials feature a bunch of Sex and the City types hanging out at a swanky lounge talking about how Yaz has cured their emotional problems, allowing them to continue to hang out at swanky lounges. In case a bunch of women talking frankly about PMS was getting a bit too masculine for you, the ad goes on to explain that Token Woman Who Knows Too Much About Birth Control knows so much because she is a medical doctor, an admission that causes her friends to laugh and dismiss her as a "show off." Tee-hee! Because any woman who could speak intelligently about what birth control actually does has got some 'splainin to do.

Tampons.

tampax

Last week, Heartless Doll's Andrea Grimes wrote a screed about frilly tampons, in which she admitted, "I've never been able to tell much of a difference between something like a Tampax Pearl and a Duane Reade Just Shove It Up There, It'll Be Fine." Grimes points to the frilliest tampon of them all, the Tampax Pearl, which features a string of ladylike pearls on its packaging in order to emphasize the product's enhanced feminine quality. What's pearly about this product, exactly? The applicator is made of fucking plastic instead of cardboard, and you can't get anything more girly than that.

Deodorant.

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Everyone knows that Secret is "strong enough for a man, but made for a woman." What I still can't wrap my head around is how this company can simultaneously market deodorant as a product through which femininity must be performed, while insisting that this performance be kept "Secret." As one branding expert explains, "That chant has made the Secret® deodorant brand spectacularly successful, especially with females 12-24, because it reaffirms gender identity to a particularly vulnerable, insecure audience. For a small investment, you get to go from girl to woman and feel good about it." Now women are expected to feminize our armpits for ourselves, because no one else will ever notice. Thanks Secret!

Yogurt.

[youtube:v=Emp_CtPy1Gw]

OK,  so yogurt isn't a specifically feminine product, but you wouldn't know that if you've ever seen any yogurt commercial ever. Take, for example, this Yoplait commercial, which manages to incorporate commentary on cute men, short men, bridesmaids dresses, high heels, ladies room lines, and bouquet catching within the span of 30 seconds.  Men eat yogurt too. Get the people behind the Dockers ad on this one!

  • http://ophe1ia-in-red.livejournal.com/ Ophelia

    "What’s pearly about this product, exactly? The applicator is made of fucking plastic instead of cardboard, and you can’t get anything more girly than that."

    I was mystified by this as well. Why would I care that that the applicator is “pearlescent” when all I’m going to do with it is stick it in my vagina for a few seconds, bleeding on it in the process, and then throw it away? It’s shockingly wasteful. Give me a Mooncup any day.

  • Emeryn

    What also drives me nuts about stupid pink/shiny/girly products is that men buy into it, too. When I go shopping, I get unscented men's deodorant, because it's a larger stick of deodorant for a cheaper price than most of the women's ones. I buy whatever tampons are cheapest- they are just elongated cotton wads I shove up my crotch to soak up blood. I don't give a damn if the applicator was shiny or not, cardboard or plastic, or hell, if it even has an applicator.

    I do most of the grocery shopping, because I have more free time than my husband- we both work full time, but he's also a grad student. Recently, though, I was sick as hell, so he went shopping. I made the mistake of not specifying EXACTLY what to buy, but just scrawled "deodorant" and "tampons- super and reg" on the list.

    He bought some nauseatingly sweet-scented Secret deodorant that has GLITTER in it. Yes, you read that right. GLITTER.

    And he bought Tampax Pearl, because "well, I figured they'd be really smooth because they're shiny and you'd like that."

    I just kind of stared at him. And when I finally asked why the hell he bought GLITTER (yes, that word needs to be in capital letters, dammit) deodorant, he said that it seemed like "what girls get".

    Aaaaaaaaagh.

  • becky

    aaah, another gem, thank you for writing!

    how 'bout the other end of the spectrum, those ads that are aimed at men. Like 'axe,' buy our products and chicks will do you... *holding back the chunks*

  • ravenfeathers

    not that i think this makes any MORE sense, but i think the lavender-scented shavers are meant to be glommed into that gaping pit of "bath products wot make you sleepy in the evening!" stuff. personally, i don't want to shave my legs while in the grips of a somnolence-inducing aromatherapy? but i think that's the point behind it. maybe.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist Amanda Hess

    Oh shit, because it's supposed to lull me into a Twilight sleep with its lavender powers?

    That's awesome.

  • michi

    Gendered deodorant totally makes sense. Let me tell you (from experience, unfortunately)... Old Spice + Natural Feminine Musk = not such a pleasant smell, ackshually. However, I will always remember the day that I borrowed my (male) friend's razor and realized that it was actually possible to make razors that work. For some reason, manufacturers seem to think that shaving off half of your body hair somehow requires less effort on the part of the razor than just shaving a tiny part (unless your face is huge, I guess). Or maybe they just figure as long as they make it pink women will buy it, because obviously we care more about appearances than whether or not things work.

  • http://twitter.com/BasketCasey basketcasey

    Birth control and tampons are often gendered when they really shouldn't be, plenty of (trans) men use both.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist Amanda Hess

    Great point, thanks basketcasey.

  • http://www.kateharding.net Sweet Machine

    The really insulting things about Tampax Pearls is (apart from all the girly frills) how much better they are than plain cardboard-app Tampax. I mean, whatever you think about the whole way they're marketing it, the applicator is much easier to grip (IMO), the string is braided and absorbent, and even *the wrapper* is better, with little easy-open tabs. I was SO MAD the first time I encountered one, because surely this magical wrapper-tab technology can trickle down to less frilly tampons, right?

  • Reid

    I think Secret is now just "Strong enough for a woman."

    Which is on its face progressive, but say it enough and it starts to sound like "Strong enough for, you know, a woman."

  • http://galacticteabag.blogspot.com Alex

    @Emeryn - my husband is utterly the opposite; unless he already knows which brand I use of something, he'd just go for the largest/cheapest variety.
    Vis a vis pearly tampons - after reading SweetMachine's post I want to try one now; except I don't think we have them in the UK. We do have "slightly scented" ones though, which I do not understand the purpose of *at all* beyond allowing suppliers to up the price.

  • http://yourcrappyapartment.wordpress.com Emmy

    I'm with Sweet Machine. Sorry, environment, but the plastic applicator is my friend. I'm sure that I COULD just shove it up there if, say, I was in a post-apocalyptic society where plastic is no longer produced. But if given the option I'll splurge on the slightly more comfortable Thing You Stick In Your Vagina. I'll skip the scented, though. The last thing I need is to get that faint whiff of "mountain fresh" when I'm swapping out my tampon in the tiny work bathroom.

  • Sarah

    How 'bout the reverse? Lotion and hair-dye commercials specifically tailored to meet men's manly standards of manliness? Lame.

    "Take, for example, this Yoplait commercial, which manages to incorporate commentary on cute men, short men, bridesmaids dresses, high heels, ladies room lines, and bouquet catching within the span of 30 seconds. Men eat yogurt too."

    My boyfriend has Yoplait in the fridge. So far he hasn't tried to talk to me about bridesmaids' dresses or high heels, but I'm on the look-out. The O'Soy yogurt in the fridge, btw, is mine.

    As for the razors, cheapie disposable ones. All I want out of a tampon is a rounded tip and no bleach or scent.

  • noodlez

    AS FOR RAZORS ITS PINK TO DIFFERENTIATE. PINK IS A STOP GAP COLOR IN THE BATHROOM!

    WHEN DUDES WAKE UP IN THE MORNIN WE ARE HALF SLEEP WHEN WE SHAVE. WE DONT WANT TO PICK UP A RAZOR YOU SHAVED PUBES WITH THE NIGHT BEFORE!

    SO WHEN WE OPEN THE MEDICINE CABINET OR REACHING ON THE SHOWER CADDY ITS PINK NO. BLACK YES!

    YOU EVER GOT A WHIFF OF A WOMAN WHO DIDNT SHAVE HER ARMPITS, WHO USED A MALE DEODORANT, WHO WAS ON ON HER PERIOD AND SMELLED OF YOPLAIT? SHE IS THE SAME ONE WHO IS ASKING HER MOTHER ABOUT THAT NOT SO FRESH FEELING.

    THANKS SECRET! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

  • k

    Some things:

    - Lunacups foreva. I never understood tampon applicators ever in my entire life, and as soon as I discovered that I could be accessorizing my cervix with a cute little beanie made out of medical silicone for a week every month, I never went back to tampons.

    - noodlez, I completely agree, PINK = DIFFERENTIATION. I'm the only one in my apartment who buys pink toothbrushes ever (my female roommate goes for green I think) and so PINK SAVES ME FROM MY FLATMATES' MOUTH GERMS EVERY DAY. THANKS FOR YOUR INPUT

  • Melissa

    I also like the implication that using the same razor on your face that your significant other used on her pubes is such a horrible gross thing. 'Cause if you're living with her, and expecting her to shave her pubes for you, then obviously it's not like you're...having sex or anything. It makes total sense to be grossed out by the thought of female genitalia, right?

  • http://galacticteabag.blogspot.com Alex

    Actually - though I agree with Melissa on the whole "let's not try and make female genetalia any more taboo than it already is" issue - keeping people's razors separate actually makes a certain amount of sense, simply because it's a possible vector for any blood-borne diseases. You cut your leg with your razor, your other half uses the same razor the next day and cuts his face (or vis versa)... instant transfer of nasties from one blood-stream to another. Ok, it's a little OTT in most cases, but the possibility is still there.

  • http://www.pandagon.net Amanda Marcotte

    Maybe the reason Americans still use applicator tampons while Europeans don't is that American marketers want to have something they can make feminine, and a small cotton ball ain't it. It's a real shame. I will say that moving to a smaller New York apartment has made me all the more grateful I use applicator-less ones, which take up less precious bathroom shelf real estate.

  • LMAO

    YOU EVER GOT A WHIFF OF A WOMAN WHO DIDNT SHAVE HER ARMPITS, WHO USED A MALE DEODORANT, WHO WAS ON ON HER PERIOD AND SMELLED OF YOPLAIT? SHE IS THE SAME ONE WHO IS ASKING HER MOTHER ABOUT THAT NOT SO FRESH FEELING.

    THANKS SECRET! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

    Noodlez, this is brilliant.... thanks for the chuckle!

  • TomHandy

    I've always wondered about the yogurt thing - from the commercials you'd definitely think yogurt was specifically a product for women only (same thing with commercials for Dove chocolate, actually). Yoplait even has those commercials where a woman is talking on the phone about all of the flavors of Yoplait yogurt she enjoys, and her dope of a husband is sitting there drooling over the refrigerator, apparently too dumb to realize she's talking about the yogurt. That commercial actually takes it to the next level - aside from being like all other yogurt commercials and making me feel like somehow yogurt is for women only, this one also makes the guy out to be a complete idiot.

  • http://galacticteabag.blogspot.com Alex

    @ Amanda Marcotte; no, we use applicator tampons in Europe too - or at least we do in the UK. I'm an utter hygene freak, so have never used the kind without.

  • Sarah

    Color coordination is not the reason razors are pink. You notice your significant other has a razor the same color as yours and you don't want to risk using it? Buy your razor in green, yellow--whatevs! It's not like toothbrushes HAFTA BE PINK.

  • charlie

    if you think that's bad, now they have "concealer" makeup for women's vaginas to make them look "pink." serioursly?! MAKEUP FOR YOUR VAGINA?! ugh. infuriating!

    http://areyoushaved.net/2010/03/pussy-concealer-my-new-pink-button-genital-cosmetic-colorant-reviews/

  • M

    In defense of Tampax Pearl, it's the only brand I will get. Plastic may be wasteful, but it's a lot more comfortable for me. I have vaginismus and I need a very smooth and solid applicator, or that tampon's not going in.

  • heidrun

    @alex: over here in germany you hardly get any tampons with an applicator. and i think that's great! less waste!
    in the US, where i go frequently, i always have a hard time to find tampons without an applicator because i simply cannot use it. and what's not hygienic about your finger in your vagina? don't you ever masturbate? and gee, you can really wash your hands before using a tampon.
    to me, tampon applicators are a sign of a prudeness (is that the right word?) and, in a broader sense, a lack of knowledge about bodily functions i often encounter in the US and that i find mystifying.

  • http://galacticteabag.blogspot.com Alex

    @ Heidrun: The hygene issue for me is that I tend to be prone to minor fungal infections in my nail-beds, so yeah, I'd like to keep them out of my intimate areas if possible. Also applicators make it a lot easier to get the positioning comfortable.
    In summation though, different strokes for different folks. It all comes down to personal preference in the end, doesn't it?

  • rebekah manning

    I second ophelia's comment about the moon cup! I love my moon cup, and it rocks my socks

  • Bandit

    Damn straight! Why can't those packages all show bears fighting lions and why aren't razors camo print, and why don't all products come with a stick on beard so I can feel so masculine?

    What the hell is wrong with trying to make a product pretty?

  • heidrun

    @ alex: ok, i couldn't have known that. then it might indeed be a hygiene issue, and i certainly didn't mean to insult you.
    of course, it's all personal preference, and i would be the last one to force anyone to use applicator-free tampons, especially not with medical conditions mentioned here, but i don't like the prudish air of "fingers in your vagina is no-no" around the whole thing, that was more of my point.
    but that probably comes from my personal experience with the level of sexual education or healthy relation to hygiene and other body issues among my US family and their friends that often leaves me just stunned. not having talked about contraception issues in 8 years of marriage, stuff like that...

  • http://galacticteabag.blogspot.com Alex

    @ Heidrun - I certainly didn't take offence (and didn't mean any either), so don't worry :)
    And I do get your point about prudery - I gotta say, I hadn't thought of it like that before. Personally I'm not keen on getting blood all over my fingers, no matter if it's menstrual or not, but I'd see where drawing a distinction like that could be problematic in some ways.

  • Chrematisai

    Why?? Why does everything have to be PINK!? I don't even like pink!

    Also, to noodlez above: I am not currently on my period, and I don't eat a lot of yogurt, but I am a woman that doesn't shave her armpits and uses male deodorant. Is that a problem?

    @heidrun: I prefer the applicator-less tampons myself. In contrast to some others that have commented, I actually find them easier to place than the ones with the applicator. I'm in Canada, and I suppose we have a touch of that same prudishness here — there is only one brand of tampon that I know of that makes applicator-less tampons.

    And I know what you mean about the implication of prudishness and hush-hush around the female anatomy that surrounds tampons with applicators. That's always how I've interpreted them as well, though I appreciate that they simply work better for some people.

  • noodlez

    @Chrematisai-SMELLING LIKE COOL RUSH DEGREE WITH WHIIE CLUMPS HANGING FROM YOUR CHEWBACCA PITS IS NOT A GOOD LOOK OR A GOOD SMELL.

    IT HAS SOMEHTING TO DO THE THE Ph??

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  • Dawn.

    Hilarious. I hate the super-feminine marketing shit. It's insulting, IMO.

    The only tampons I use are O.B. because they are tiny. Any other brand is constantly uncomfortable and occasionally painful for me. I just buy random cheap disposable razors, or use my partner's razors. I shave my cunt and underarms but I don't shave my legs so I don't use them up as quickly as the average American woman. And I can appreciate that my birth control is totally non-frilly and comes in simple green cases.

    I've never used anything other than pads as a kid/young teen and tampons after that. I don't know much about alternatives and actually, that information was never made available to me as a kid or teenager.

  • allie

    @Melissa, I loved your comment, and I completely agree.. I also thought it was going to take a more graphic tone.. you know, if he's shaving his face.. and then she shaves her pubes.. and then his face ends up in her pubes.. what is the difference? Though of course that brings up a whole nother issue of oral sex being mandatory for women to perform on men, but not the other way around, and I don't really mean to start that discussion. :)

  • http://www.sokolovelaw.com/yaztalk Kate Meredith

    Hah! Another great commentary on the ridiculousness that is Yaz and their commercials. This is a fantastic list!

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