Cleaning Up Its Act

C.B. Fleet's ad writers need a corporate attitude adjustment.

This frame grab provided by the Richards Group, shows a segment of a television commercial from Summer's Eve's campaign for their line of feminine care cleansing products.

C.B. Fleet's refusal to say "vagina" promotes misogynist and offensive views of women.

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Attention, women: Do have any idea how unspeakably filthy you are, just by virtue of your gender?

No? Then you apparently have not been schooled by the team of misogynists at the C.B. Fleet Company, which makes an item called Summer’s Eve. Douching isn’t enough to cleanse a woman’s lady parts, the company advocates with the marketing of it’s even more offensive product, Summer’s Eve wash.

Yes, ladies, it’s a special soap for your vagina, which we are meant to believe is so horribly dirty that is needs a special soap to make it acceptable. It is a part of a woman’s anatomy so horrible it dare not speak its name.

[See a collection of political cartoons on women in combat.]

Actually, it’s C.B. Fleet that cannot speak its name. In the commercial, the body part is referred to as “a woman’s V.” Seriously. Worse, there is an actual woman in the commercial who says the soap is made for “a woman’s V.” Who talks that way? No woman, that’s for sure. Nor have I heard any man refer to a woman’s “V.” How creeped out by women’s reproductive organ are the product developers and advertising executives at C.B. Fleet that they cannot even utter the word “vagina?”

Oh, but it gets better – or worse, actually. In the current commercial, a manly-looking man, covered with chest hair, is washing up in the shower. A woman in the bathroom (Is it his wife? His girlfriend? Has he seen her V? Does he even know she possesses such a disturbing body part?) lets him know that he’s not using regular soap – he’s using her Summer’s Eve. Her impish disclosure is met with a full freak-out by the man, who immediately races out, chops wood, crushes beer cans and participates in other such activities apparently meant to wash away the horrible femaleness to which he was exposed. Ew! Cooties! Here's the ad:

It’s hard to sort out what’s more offensive. There’s the fact that C.B. Fleet thinks women have a particular filthiness to them. There’s the fact that they think a woman’s vagina is so dirty, it cannot even be cleaned with regular soap. There’s the fact that they’re so offended by the whole idea of women’s body parts, they won’t even say the name. And then there’s the ultimate expression  of misogyny — that even touching the soap that is in a bottle that has more soap that itself might touch a woman’s vagina, er, V – is so threatening to his manhood that he has to go out and prove how tough he is.

What is wrong with the people who work at this company?  C.B. Fleet, it should be noted, has priors. It ran an ad for its Summer’s Eve douche that featured the steps a woman needs to take before going on a job interview – starting with using their vagina-cleaning product. They removed the ad after complaints. That was a heck of a message, though: To make it in the male-dominated world of business, you better erase any part of you that is actually female.

[Read more from blogger Susan Milligan.]

It would be easy to suggest a boycott of Summer’s Eve or even of anything made by C.B. Fleet. But that’s not remotely enough. We need to find out the names of the people who came up with this product, the names of the people who marketed it, and especially the names of the “creative” team that wrote that piece-of-trash ad. And then we need to boycott any and every product these woman-haters have ever produced or marketed or wrote ad copy to sell. Surely the company knows women have money to spend; they were hoping we’d have the self-loathing to spend it on their product. Instead, we can use it to force a corporate attitude adjustment.