Hail To The V: A Vaginal Journey Through Time

There are, on this staff, any number of people who are, without a doubt, more well spoken and better qualified to comment on this subject than me. Many of them are in possession of the biological equipment that this product is, uh, aimed at. One of the staff has even commented on this brand’s questionable advertising only a few weeks ago. I must apologize in advance then. In the end you are not getting the insightful, well-reasoned and well-informed commentary that you, the loyal and erudite Coilhouse reader, deserve. Instead you are getting the blathering of the Catacombs’s most puerile and juvenile prisoner occupant.

“Hail to the V” is a new commercial for Summer’s Eve “cleansing wash and cloths”. It features an authoritative sounding voiceover by a woman with an authoritative British accent. (Which is redundant, really, because as any American and, of course, Summer’s Eve knows, a British accent is, by its intrinsic Britishness, authoritative. That is why it is in this commercial.) Anyway, this voice leads us through a number of different “historical” scenarios meant to illustrate just how gosh darn important vaginas are. Especially your vagina. Yes, you there, miss.

So, first we are shown a Neolithic woman, clothed in the skins of animals, holding aloft a neonate (also clothed in animal skins) while British Lady intones stoically about the cradle of life. Flashing forward in time, we are presented with another woman, costumed in order to suggest Egyptian royalty. Looking out over her subjects, she throws up her arms in a massive V (like the one in vagina) and British Lady refers to “it” (also, your vagina) as “the center of civilization”. Do you see where this is going, ladies? Do you? “It” (or, your vagina) is pretty damn important. But how important? Relax, we’re getting to that.

Now we come to the longest part of the ad. We find ourselves in a bamboo forest. There are two Asian gentlemen in this forest with us. One has a sword, while the other has a long, rubbery looking staff. They are fighting in a manner that Americans associate with Asia. There is also an Asian woman in the background, looking on, dressed in a manner that Americans associate with Asia as it was long ago. British Lady begins to pontificate on how, throughout history and all over the world (hence the excursion to Asia), men have “fought for it”. Quickly, we cut to Medieval Europe. There are knights on horses. They are jousting. They drive their horses towards one another, their immense, phallic weapons undulating angrily in front of them. There is a woman here, too, looking on. Some men, British Lady informs us, breathlessly, some men have even died for it. One of the knights falls, which pleases the woman who has been watching. As the victorious knight raises his visor to look at her, British Lady concludes with “One might say, it’s the most powerful thing on Earth,” which is true, I suppose; one might say that. But, then again, one might say all sorts of things when trying to market douche.

Finally, we are approaching our terminus, the payoff for this weird trip through time and space. We have, at last, been returned to the present. Inside a store, a woman is thoughtfully pondering a Summer’s Eve product. She nods her head and mutters to herself, presumably to signal her agreement with that last line from British Lady when, suddenly, American Lady — familiar, jovial, and friendly — cuts in and gets to the point, saying, “So come on ladies, show it a little love,” which, again, is something you might say when trying to market douche.

I’m just not sure it’s something you should say. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with a full minute of advertising that repeatedly references disembodied genitalia. “It” is the cradle of life, but isn’t “it” attached to someone? “It” is the center of civilization, but “it” isn’t the one throwing up its arms. But the strangest, most uncomfortable section is that last part, the longest part, the part where men are fighting for “it” — killing to possess “it”. That section is really weird because what I get from that section is that men have made war upon one another for your vagina. They have killed each other for your vagina. They have leveled cities and razed the land for your vagina.

The least you could do is ignore those damned health warnings and make sure it doesn’t smell.

15 Responses to “Hail To The V: A Vaginal Journey Through Time”

  1. Julie Says:

    My uterus and ovaries are demanding equal time. Actually they are claiming false advertising against the V’s claim as the “cradle of life” since all it does is lay around while they do all the hard labor.

  2. Heather Says:

    i’m pretty sure “showing it a little love” does not involve putting foreign liquid into it which might strip me of my fertility. “It” can clean itself, thank you.

    but before i get all upset about this kind of pandering bullshit advertising, I shall take a deep breath, count to three, and remember that this is what mainstream culture and–in particular–marketing and advertising does. It is their function to take powerful things, such as, oh I don’t know, feminism, for example, or punk rock or political revolutions, and turn them into something with which they can sell crap. (actually it just made me think of the Chemical Brothers video for Out of Control: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sOpbRL8R4g) it’s what they do. it’s up to us to not fall for it (and to continue to hilariously take the piss out of it like you’ve done here!)

    although I have to say, and I’m not defending this ad, or summer’s eve, who apparently have a history of creating ads which somehow escaped the early 20th century, but this is technically an ad for external wash and cloths, not douche.

  3. Meredith Yayanos Says:

    I’m still laughing over this one. Well done, Ross.

    “i’m pretty sure “showing it a little love” does not involve putting foreign liquid into it which might strip me of my fertility. “It” can clean itself, thank you. ”

    Right?!! Gah.

    True, the cleansing wash isn’t a technically a douche, but that strong, underlying connotation of “wash your dirtystinkyladybits” is still loud and clear.

    I just read via Nadya and Jiz Lee that there’s some great coverage on this and some other questionable SE ads over at Feministing: http://feministing.com/2011/07/19/summers-eve-thinks-your-vagina-is-powerful-really-annoying-still-dirty/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

    Could be worse, I guess…

    "Locked Out"

  4. Dusty Says:

    Ow. Ow. Lysol? Fuckin OW!!! ::protects crotch instinctively::

  5. Noelle Says:

    Dear Summer’s Eve,
    Fuck you with something hard and sandpapery.
    You know why. We all know why.
    ~sigh~

    Might I just say that the vagina isn’t a cradle of civilization. It’s the whole alive female body and mind that creates and supports life and the organ that most intimately does that is the uterus, not the vagina. The vagina is a lot of things but it is more portal than cradle.

    Arg.

  6. Elyssa Says:

    I was really hoping for this to be a documentary instead.

  7. nancyx Says:

    I like to think of myself as being more than just a vagina.

    And well done on reducing badass Cleopatra to nothing more than a penis vessel, Summer’s Eve.

  8. Vatani Says:

    Ugh, why do all the feminists assail this ad? I think it is well done. Why do women see their sexuality, disembodied or not, as something degrading?

    I wouldn’t endorse douche or anything of the sort, but a well done ad none the less.

  9. Jack Says:

    @Vatani

    I think it’s less that feminist women see their sexuality as degrading and more that they see the reduction of their personhood to the cleanliness of their vaginas as degrading.

  10. Nadya Says:

    @Vatani First of all, there’s no such thing as “all the feminists.” There are many different types of feminist movements, and they don’t always see these types of issues in the same light. There are second-wave, third-wave feminists, socialist feminists, radical feminists, separatist feminists, riot grrrls, eco feminists, sex-positive feminists, post-feminists, the list goes on and on… people from these groups can definitely have conflicting views, and often they clash. Just look a the Wikipedia page for “Feminist Views on Pornography” to see how many radically different views exist in the feminist movement on this one subject!

    IMO, the reason why most feminists aren’t too fond of this ad has been really well described by the blog Sociological Images: “I was startled both because I hadn’t expected a Summer’s Eve ad at a Harry Potter showing (the 14-year-old boy I had taken with me seemed to desperately wish he could disapparate on out of there) and by the idea that the most powerful thing in the entire world is women’s vaginas — or, as Melissa points out, men’s desperate desire to get access to them through violence toward one another, with women passively waiting around to see who wins so they know who to have sex with.”

  11. rumorsofmydemise Says:

    It gets worse.
    Summer’s Eve also has our vaginas talking to us through racially diverse hand puppets. Cuz,you know, vaginas have something to say…with accents.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szausZLMZuY&feature=player_embedded

  12. alice Says:

    Nadya: that _is_ good. Thanks for the quote. And seriously, Vatani, what kind of feminists are you hanging out with??

  13. david Says:

    i knew that douching is bad for you, and if i did have a vagina, i wouldn’t do it. still though, i’m a little surprised as well at the intensity of the negative reaction. i thought the ad was hysterical (haha. no pun intended)- even if it advertized a product that you shouldn’t use. you shouldn’t smoke, drink or eat fatty foods either, but i don’t think it’s evil to advertize those products, it just requires responsibility on the part of the consumer. i think that’s what empowerment means anyway: making decisions for yourself in awareness of the consequences. i don’t think that advertizing can take that away from you, whether on tv, or an airbrushed cosmo cover.

    as for it being dehumanizing to say that men want your vagina and this gives you power…respectfully: i don’t buy it. that sounds to me like saying that the global lust for petroleum reduces saudi arabia to a mere purveyor of oil; stripped of all cultural identity it is just an oil well with a flag. (is that metaphor too far afield?) my point is that if demand exists for something you can supply, this gives you power, not the other way around. you may or may not chose to leverage that power in a variety of ways, but it is yours, not theirs, and while this allows for passivity, it certainly doesn’t necessitate it.

    personally, i think that in addition to being worthy of respect as people, women are worthy of respect as women: which includes being people with female sexuality and vaginas (the genderqueer aside). i think that’s awesome and totally worth celebrating- even if they still shouldn’t douche.

  14. Dave Sailer Says:

    Thank you.

    This is a superb piece of writing.

    Absolutely first rate.

    Did I say first rate?

    Yes!

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