How Not to Talk About Vaginas
While a burgeoning vaginal industry may mean we're more comfortable talking about vaginas, it doesn't mean we're down with the genitalia itself.
The Associated Press went long on the business of vaginas last week, detailing how American producers and consumers are embracing an "increased comfort with women's nether regions." The evidence? Companies are openly hawking jewels for women's pubic mounds, douches for their vaginal canals, and dyes for their pubic hair. But while a burgeoning vaginal industry may mean we're more comfortable talking about vaginas, it doesn't mean we're down with the genitalia itself.
The AP quotes Deborah Mitchell, executive director for the Center for Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin School of Business, as an expert on our exciting new relationship with the vag. "Gen Y people are more relaxed about their bodies, so there's more attention to products that people would have been embarrassed to talk about before," Mitchell said.
If we were really "relaxed" about vaginas, wouldn't we reject companies that encourage us to irrigate them with medically unnecessary washes, shave them bare, and encase the things in jewels? I fail to see anything "relaxing" about obsessing over stray gray hairs in your pubic region or shaving it all off and paying a technician $100 to apply dragon-shaped sequins in its place. Yet Nancy Jarecki, founder of pubic hair dye producer Bettybeauty Inc., insists her company is doing women a favor. "When I came out with it, there was this kind of burst of 'Oh my god, you solved our problem. I didn't realize how much gray hair was down there,'" Jarecki said.
Jarecki didn't solve our problem—she created it. Before vaginal hair dye, these women hadn't previously considered potential flaws in the color profile of their pubic hair. That's a good thing.
Americans may be talking more about vaginas, but the conversations are being led by companies with a vested interest in making us feel bad about them. "A month ago nobody was talking about feminine hygiene," a representative of leading douche producer Summer's Eve said of the company's recent advertising blitz. Summer's Eve doesn't really market "feminine hygiene"—it sells vagina perfume that reinforces the outdated assumption that vaginas are unclean, and douches that the U.S. government recommends women don't buy. It's not progress that American businesses are catalyzing conversations around products that shouldn't even exist in the first place. Some things are better left unsaid.