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LOGUE: Viagra vs. Kotex

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Is there no area free from sexism in our patriarchal society?

It occurs to me that there are certain times one is highly unlikely to view television commercials for certain products.

Of course, condoms were a no-no for TV ads long before the advent of cable.

Even on cable, they’re quite rare, although a few spots for lubricants have made it onto the tube.

But you would be hard-pressed to find commercials for feminine hygiene products in prime time anywhere except cable channels that target female audiences.

 While this is hardly the outrage of the century, it does seem especially hypocritical now that prime time television, both network and cable, is overrun with spots for erectile dysfunction drugs.

These commercials are no more offensive or salacious than ads for feminine hygiene products.

They show innocuously romantic images of fully clothed people.

 The Cialis ads practically beg one to ask how the featured couple can possibly maintain a state of arousal after dragging those bathtubs all the way out to that secluded spot where they watch the sun set.  

Who could still be aroused after all that work?

Levitra is practically a commercial nonentity, although it did have a lucrative marketing deal with the National Football League until 2006 when the ads changed their emphasis from “How’s your health?” to “Hello, do you come here often?”  

The Viagra spots target the older demographic, which is fine.

The latest commercials with the rugged individualist emphasize maturity and responsibility.

They are a vast improvement over the old Viagra commercials that had all the class of an orange polyester leisure suit, circa 1977.

Rafael Palmeiro, who swore before a congressional committee that he never used performance-enhancing drugs, did commercials for Viagra.

This irony led Bob Costas to remark that, either way, Palmeiro was getting good wood on the ball.

With all this multimillion-dollar concern for the never-ending fight against flaccidness, it seems a shame that the networks continue to miss a sure bet by failing to, you should pardon the expression, insert tampon ads into “Grey’s Anatomy.”

The supposed “yuck” factor of being reminded that women menstruate and that this bodily function involves the excretion of blood can hardly top the graphic, computer-created trips inside mutilated and sexually exploited bodies on any of the “CSI” shows.

Besides, haven’t you ever asked yourself why it’s OK to call someone a douche bag on TV, but it’s not OK to show one?

In case you’ve never seen them, TV commercials for feminine hygiene products emphasize convenience, comfort, absorption, the security of knowing one’s clothes are protected, and the freedom to take part in all kinds of events without being preoccupied about one’s monthly visitor.

They feature smiling, active women on the go and are always upbeat in tone.

The text always uses words that dance around the subject to passify the old goats in the Standards and Practices Department while getting enough of the message across to prospective buyers in a “we know what it’s like, don’t we, girls?” kind of way.

And that’s the point, isn’t it?

We still can’t be honest, even clinically honest, about female bodily functions in a mass medium for fear that pseudo-macho viewers, who scratch themselves while watching NASCAR and the WWF, will be grossed out by all that disgusting talk about blood and bloating.

Here’s a tip for all you big, strong guys who can’t take it: If you watch a feminine hygiene product ad and it causes you to throw up for more than four hours, see your doctor.

Gina Logue can be contacted at glogue@murfreesboropost.com.
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Commercials, Gina Logue, Pop culture, Voices
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Members Opinions:
November 17, 2011 at 3:36pm

Great column.....wow!!
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