Thursday, May 13, 2010

Vintage Sexism: Body Odor Edition

Vintage Sexism: Body Odor Edition: "

Let’s face it: women are human beings. Humans have glands. Glands secrete sweat. Therefore, women sweat. It comes as little surprise, then, that so much of the advertising for deodorant and similar products reinforces the idea that women are never supposed to smell in public. In fact, doing so would be social suicide (as the ad at top right states particularly bluntly). Many advertisements of the past also led women to worry about a very offensive “odor problem” particular to their gender only, as in the ad at above left, in which a mother wholesomely relates the “intimate physical facts” of vaginal douching to her daughter. “There’s a womanly offense greater than bad breath or body odor,” she — or Zonite, rather — says. Be ashamed.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like a nice, generous coat of deo- for the B.O. as much as the next person. However, I cannot help but roll my eyes at the way these ads target women and attempt to create or amplify feelings of fear, social estrangement, rejection, anxiety, and paranoia in order to sell their product. The image at above right is a more recent ad for douching products necessary, we are led to believe, for “the odor problem men don’t have.” And much like the image from the first set of advertisements that claims, “Society simply won’t stand for indelicate women,” the ad at above left capitalizes on the myth that whether a woman will be “showered with attention” is contingent entirely upon her soap purchase.

What do you think, ModReaders? Are there any advertisements or commercials in the media today that use fear as a way to sell a product? Do you think doing so is an effective marketing strategy?


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