Daily WTF: Censoring Period-Centric Ads

thinx-hed-2015

So in case you don’t read Buzzfeed, the Huffington Post, or The Toast, you should know that there’s a cool new product out there for people that have periods. It’s called Thinx, and it’s literally period underwear – underwear that you wear on your period. What makes it different from the ratty, oversized, stained underwear you might have already dubbed “period pants” is that Thinx is supposed to replace pads, tampons, Diva cups, etc. In other words, you can finally just wear underwear while on your period without anything else.

This is a revolutionary concept because, as I stated in a post some time ago, girls, women, and other people that get periods are constantly battling with the issue of menstruation products and how they curtail their daily activities. If Thinx works (any pretty much everyone that review them say they do), that means no more chaffing, no more uncomfortable or even terrifying insertions, no more bleeding through your pants, and no more environmentally-damaging waste. It’s literally revolutionary (to the period world, anyway).

So it’s kind of weird that someone would find an ad for this innovative and important product offensive, but that’s just what the New York Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) and their ad review company Outfront Media claimed just last week. According to the MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast, the Thinx ads “offended” him. “On a personal level, I just found parts of those ads offensive,” he continued. He didn’t elaborate on exactly what parts offended him, but according to several sources, the MTA and Outfront protested the use of food, the level of skin exposed on the women, and the women actually wearing the underwear.

Thinx co-founder and CEO Miki Agrawal immediately eviscerated the objections, saying, “We can objectify women in their lingerie, but the minute we acknowledge that they might be bleeding in their underwear, it’s no longer acceptable,” and “Patriarchal sexism is alive and well in New York City in 2015.”

And she’s right. Turn on the radio, any streaming station, the TV, watch any set of previews, or glance at what currently graces our subway walls and you will see ad companies objectifying women to sell their products. Whether it’s Hardees showing sauce dripping down a scantily clad model, Cheetos having a woman suck crumbs off a man’s fingers, or Abercrombie & Fitch with a topless woman pressed against a man, women are routinely used to sell things to men. But when we talk about a woman’s biology, suddenly it’s “offensive” and taking it “too far.”

In reality, it should be reversed. Talking about a woman’s body openly and objectively should be the norm. Senators shouldn’t get thrown out of hearings for saying “vagina,” and grown women shouldn’t have to call their genitalia their “hoo-ha.” We shouldn’t shroud female reproductive organs in fear and mystery, ensuring that women don’t know their own anatomy. We shouldn’t be more comfortable with a man gripping a woman by the back of her head as she moans than we are with using the word “period” on an ad.

This is fucked up. It really is, and the longer we perpetuate this fucked up and just plain disturbing mindset, the more generations we fuck up. Even without speaking, we are teaching kids that it’s okay to objectify women, that women are there for men’s enjoyment, that periods are shameful and secretive, and that people are wrong to have them.

So yes, I know that periods can be icky, and I know that genitalia can look weird, especially when you’re not used to seeing it, but we as a society really need to just grow the hell up and acknowledge that 1) people with uteruses have periods and 2) it is not offensive to talk about periods. We need to make peace with our biology and accept it as an integral, irremovable part of our lives. The sooner we do that, the sooner we will stop being embarrassed and ashamed by them, which can only be a good thing.

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