I’m not even going to address the issue of gender stereotypes in this commercial, “Manly Mistake,” for Summer’s Eve Cleansing Wash, about which there is much to say. Today, I want to turn your attention to the euphemism, “a woman’s V.” I have never myself used the phrase nor have I heard anyone in my life or in media use the phrase until this commercial was broadcast. Admittedly, vagina is not the prettiest sounding of words regardless of the fact that networks will not allow the word vagina to be used. Other stand-ins would likely be perceived as, or more, objectionable. At the same time, this rather ridiculous placeholder reminded me how puritan the United States is when it comes to discussing the human body. To me, the commercial says: vaginas, the organ that won’t be named, association with which must be counterbalanced by “manly” activities. On every level, I find it offensive.
Rebecca Cullers voiced the same sentiment in her article, “Husband Accidentally Uses Summer’s Eve then Proves He’s the Real Douche,” (AdWeek) although she makes the point that manufacturers such as Summer’s Eve, who must create demand for their product through cultivating a sense of shame, tread a fine line in marketing communications. In this case, Summer’s Eve did a slight of hand by focusing on dumb men.
I’m not sure what is worse: the underlying message of the commercial or the fact that networks find vaginas too unspeakable to mention.