Subject: Feminine Hygiene Products
From: Lin, Charlotte
Languishing in bed last week with a bad cold, I spent four days in the company of Oprah and Maury Povitch and General Hospital.
I was astonished to discover that most daytime TV commercials have one clear message: Women leak, dribble, and smell. They're overweight and they're constipated. Women have dandruff, split ends, bad breath, and bad breasts; both the under and over endowed require special bras.
Apparently women must buff, douche, diet, gargle, and primp constantly if they want to overcome their basic vileness.
Then I thought, maybe men get the same messages when they watch their programs. Maybe advertising during sporting events is geared toward products that men need to make them socially acceptable.
So I turned on a golf tournament and spent an hour and 12 minutes watching the commercials.
Evidently men are fine just the way they are. They have a small problem with weight gain and graying hair, but mainly they are handsome, playful, and successful.
They get to go fishing with their buddies, using leaves for toilet paper. They could probably come home from their trip and hop right into the sack for a romantic encounter and think they were just fine. No rushing off to shower or spray here.
Around this time, I needed to get some cough syrup. The first thing I noticed when I got to the drugstore was a huge sign, "Fem. Hygiene, "hanging above an aisle filled with thousands of products designed for women's special needs.
There were a variety of pads in a multitude of shapes for heavy periods, light periods, and bladder control, as well as for women who want to feel fresh all day. There were yeast infection medications, vaginal deodorants, vaginal lubricants, douches, personal towelettes, pregnancy tests, and germicides to do away with feminine odor. There were laxatives, hemorrhoid creams, and gas-relief tablets.
I looked all over, but there was no aisle for "Male Hygiene."
Now, I've been around enough men to know that some of them could use piddle pads and penis towelettes and deodorants, products for crabs and crotch rot and athlete's foot and gas, so I couldn't understand why the drugstore didn't at least label the aisle "Fem./Male Hygiene."
The closest I came to anything specifically targeted to men was a large display of condoms next to a shelf of K-Y jelly.
The packages for feminine products usually featured a woman in a gauzy dress running through a meadow full of spring flowers (daisies were very popular) as her sparkling clean hair billowed behind her.
I found myself attracted to a vaginal moisturizer that had a picture of a peaceful little water lily floating on a pond.
"Do you know how to use this?" the male pharmacist asked in what I thought was a particularly loud tone.
"Of course," I replied, certain that everyone in line was staring at me.
As it turned out, I couldn't even figure out how to open it. It was one seamless plastic entity. I tried twisting it. I tried cutting it with garden shears. I gnawed at it with my teeth and finally threw it in the trash.
I was so angry that I called the manufacturer's toll free hot line, which I'd seen advertised on TV, and complained to the customer service representative.
She told me I was trying to open the wrong end and that all I had to do was twist off a piece of plastic at the bottom.
Now that would be a peculiar job, I thought, to spend your days answering questions about vaginal moisturizers.
I wondered if men have an 800 number they can call to get information on crotch rot. I imagined a TV commercial a really clean guy fishing in a meadow stream, surrounded by daisies, with a deep voice intoning: "This cream is made especially for men's tender tissues. Call 1-800-JOCKROT for sensitive answers to your intimate questions about male hygiene."
Then I pictured the forlorn Jockrot representative, waiting like a Maytag repairman for the telephone to ring.
It never does.
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