Summers EveMy friend Annie told me about this advertisement, which appeared in a recent issue of Woman’s Day – it’s for Summer’s Eve Feminine Wash and Cleansing Cloths. And what a horrible ad it is! As soon as I saw it, I became just as upset as she did. Summer’s Eve has since apologized for the ad’s “misinterpretation” – Here’s what Jezebel had to say about it.

*      *      *

After running an ad claiming that douching is an important step on the career ladder, Summer’s Eve has issued an apology. The ad in Woman’s Day claimed that step one in asking for a raise should be “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 of Summer’s Ever Feminine Cleansing Cloths into your bag for a quick freshness pick-me-up during the day.” This was mean to be harmless advice, but women totally took it the wrong way! Styleite has posted this statement from a Summer’s Eve Brand Manager:

Hi I am Angela Bryant, Summer’s Eve Brand Manager. I would like to first of all apologize if this ad in anyway has offended anyone. We are taking immediate next steps to remove the ad from circulation. We want you to know that Fleet Laboratories and the Summer’s Eve brand have the utmost respect for women. While we understand how some may come to an alternative conclusion regarding our recent ad, that was never our intention. Thank you.

So basically, we’re sorry we made it sound like your chances of fair compensation depended on the scent of your vagina! From now on, we will stick to weird euphemisms and pictures of meadows.

*      *      *

This ad is RIDICULOUS, right?! I have to say I’m thankful that the company did come clean and apologize, but how did they not see this coming?! It is so easy for this ad to read differently than how the company intended.

I understand that personal hygiene and looking your best affects confidence levels and how you feel about yourself, which can trickle into performing better in a career. But to put a vaginal cleansing product in an advertisement that is giving out general advice to women for advancing their careers, it just comes off as if our vaginal odor/health/hygiene is the absolute factor that is either moving us forward or holding us back.

Luckily, the number of women who were offended by this made such a fuss that the company is removing the ads from circulation.

Here’s what some of the Jezebel readers had to say:

“Way to miss the point, Summer’s Eve. The ad wasn’t offensive, it was fucking inane. They don’t need to apologize to us, they need to apologize t’ they mamas for wasting all that money on business school.” – Westendgirl

“I thought they were suggesting that to get a raise, you had to screw your presumably male boss, so you better be sure it’s up to snuff. Or sniff.” – bklyn155

” ‘..that was never our intention.’Of course it wasn’t. Their intention was to gently suggest in the kindest manner that we should all be more aware of our vaginal hygiene. Aware, mind you, to the point at which it begins to torment us. They wanted us to be squirming uncomfortably in our seats and wondering if any of our officemates would think it was weird if we sneaked into the bathroom to wash our crotches at the sink. They’d probably notice, sure, but God, you’re siting there with your un-scented vagina for God’s sake! They wanted us to be so mindful of our filthy, stink-wave-radiating vaginas that we left work and immediately and red-facedly drove to the drugstore and bought up all the Summer’s Eve products on the shelf and ran home to our cat-filled apartments and bathed our bits in floral-scented surfactants late into the night. That was their real intention, I think.” – Aesop’s Foibles (This one was my favorite!)
“Dear Summer’s Eve, There is no need to apologize for your ad. It was stupid but I’ll get over it. It’s your products that are offensive. You want me to squirt what up my vajay? Because we are perpetually smelly or filthy in that area? In the immortal words of Cee-Lo “Fuck You”! Call me when you start making man wipes for the sweaty taints of bros.” – Oh-Honey-No

Lysol 1920s douche adBut you know what? This concept isn’t new. Women have taken heat for simply having vaginas forever. How many times in social situations, on television shows, stand-up comedy routines, etc. have I heard jokes being made about vaginas?! (To be fair, I also hear a lot of jokes/comments about penises, too, but those jokes are more for stupid humor than for being crude/offensive).

 

Annie also shared this link (click it to see more!) with me, which features 1920 vintage ads showcasing the feminine douche product Lysol. These ads come right out and say it – basically, your husband will leave you if your vagina isn’t clean.

 

This whole thing, especially the older ad, disgusts me completely. The human body has secretions such as sweat, oil, discharge, saliva – whatever – and it’s a friggen NATURAL process that our bodies are MEANT TO DO. We were never supposed to smell like flowers.

 

The fact that these products even exist concerns many people as well. In recent years, several studies and reports have said that vaginal cleansing/douching is unsafe and should never be done. Most douching products contain chemicals and other harmful substances that are dangerous to the user’s health (there are more natural douches, but there’s still a case against whether any sort of douching is necessary or helpful). Basically, the vagina is its own cleanser and has a delicate balance of beneficial bacteria (which douching can disrupt) to keep these things in check. The secretions that it creates/discharges are what keeps everything clean and working properly on the inside.

 

Sadly, this ad echos every other ad that is out there targeting women (we must wear makeup because we’re not pretty enough naturally, we must be a certain size because we’re unlovable the way we are, etc.) To make women feel that we need to go to extra lengths beyond regular hygiene and go against normal bodily functions just so we will be socially accepted (as well as relationship and workplace material) is absolutely awful.

 

Ladies – what do you feel/think when you see the Summer’s Eve ad? Do you think it was blown out of proportion?