Hail to the V

Dear Millicent,

With Harry Potter and Friday Night Lights ending their stories this week, generations are weeping everywhere.  And last night, as the audience settled in the theater to see what happens to Potter and friends even though we all know what happens, a surprising commercial came on.  It was epic, starting with a woman holding her baby to the moon, and the words “It’s the cradle of life.”

“Uterus” I whispered to Mr. Carla Fran, thinking I was hilarious.

“It’s the source of nations.”

“Uterus!” I thought I was playing a reproductive parts/movie trailer game akin to the fortune cookie “in bed” thing.

“Men have fought for it”

Still works!

“Men have died for it.”

And then, you know what they were actually talking about? VAGINAS! It was really about ladyparts. It was a commercial for Summer’s Eve, convincing women to get spendy because their historical vaginas are so epic.  They are the stuff of movies. The tag line was the bold “Hail to the V.” I actually gasped.

I can’t find a clip of that actual commercial online, [update: it’s here] but I’m sure everybody will see it because everybody is Harry Pottering this weekend. It was surreal because it was so body positive,  and yet I don’t want to celebrate my epic lady part by dumping a bunch of chemicals on it.  That does not sound like hailing to me. Actually, it does, but the weather kind. The hailing that dents cars, and tender things.

The commercial is also a fascinating snapshot of power and gender. Yes, the knights are fighting for the princess’ vagina, but that’s kind of the problem, not the cool thing, right? I cannot wait to hear what Sociological Images has to say about all of this. [Update, Gwen Sharp covered it here).

This all did lead me to Summer’s Eve Youtube channel, where they have a bold campaign to work their way back into the sex ed health class. Because we know every health teacher warns against douching, and brings up Summer’s Eve or Massengill as the example baddies.  We all know that we are not supposed to buy those things.  But, Summer’s Eve’s new approach is get direct, get educational, and make hand puppets that are your vagina.

Here is white lady comedian gal friend vagina:

Here is tired and sassy latina lady vagina on the go:

And here is club-going black lady vagina, complete with wrist snap:

Summer’s Eve wants women to be “BFF”s with their vaginas. Cool. The problem? A.) Nothing is still the best everything for upkeep down there. No soap, no wipes, no special body lotion, nothing.  and B.) I like the idea that I can be besties with my anatomy without corporate direction.  Gimme Hot Pantz, the free and awesome pamphlet on lady parts, any day.

But, is this the kind of ad campaign that gets conversations started earlier, especially for adolescents, and at the very least, gets the V out of the closet?  Another tag line from the videos is “Welcome to Vaginaland.”

Harry Potter was fine. I just can’t stop thinking about feminine wipes.



16 Responses to Hail to the V

  1. a.g. says:

    I know!!! I just saw the Harry Potter matinee with my mom and 8 year old brother. I laughed uncomfortably and heard someone in the crowd ask, “What was that????” the elderly man next to me whispered to his friend, “well, it’s true.” But I think mostly had the same reaction. I couldn’t believe it.

  2. naomi says:

    great post. that ad wasn’t at the HP show I saw….sigh!

  3. peacay says:

    I’m not sure what your ad “state” has been in recent times in America, but this reminds me of the enormous wave of “anti-bacterial” soaps and kitchen wipes and washing detergent etc we’ve had foisted on us in Oz in the last couple of years. Total and complete bs to play on fears and create unnecessary markets.

    Oddly enough, they neglect to mention that water is the original and best “anti-bacterial” agent.

    Mind you, this Summers Eve crap is a whole other level of sophisticated manipulation. I hope mocking youtube replies manifest.

  4. Dawn says:

    That was the ONE commercial I wasn’t paying attention to – but man the theater went wild after it 🙂

  5. Pingback: Maidenform Ads: Inside the Madness « Millicent and Carla Fran

  6. I just don’t know if I can view *any* Summer’s Eve ad as inherently body-positive. While the ad was certainly chuckle-producing in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, my biggest issue with is – that is even more blatantly stated in their Cleopatra print ad – the idea that all the accomplishments and influences and wonders and horrors that women have ever achieved or perpetrated were all due, in the end, to men wanting access to their vaginas. I just don’t quite accept that Amelia Earhart got to where she did in aviation through no skill of her own, but rather because she had a birth canal.

    • Carla Fran says:

      And the spin that women have been powerful throughout history because of gender instead of having much less access to power because of it, is well, a twist. And like you say here, the fact that a birth canal was around for Earhart’s success makes as much sense as your Bra (as in Millicent’s post on Maidenform) being the reason you got a job. It is a smart, though devastating, sideways use of empowerment, making all the right noises, but still keeping everybody right where the system expects them (buying stuff). I feel so sad for the Maidenform gals…I want them to wear T-shirts that say “I dreamed I was on a barge on the nile, and I got was this crappy bra.”

  7. Tori says:

    Every time I read or hear, “Hail to the V,” I picture Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness saying, “Hail to the king, baby.”

    And you know, if Summer’s Eve were to include cheesy zombie fights in their ads… well, I still wouldn’t buy their products, but I would at least be slightly more amused by the ads.

    (Here via Feministe, BTW.)

    • Carla Fran says:

      Tori, thanks for finding us! I’d like a mashup of Army of Darkness and this commerical, very much. You are completely right, though. Even this would not convert me to any kind of “freshening” down there. But, it would be funny if Zombies used the products in an attempt to appear more alive/human. But then, the zombies would have to be kind of scheming, which they usually aren’t.

  8. Lauren says:

    They’ve uploaded it!

  9. T. Li says:

    This smacks of the Dove body image campaign. Good message, but I’m disappointed it’s so blatantly tied to a product–especially one that isn’t actually beneficial to women.

    I’m also disappointed there weren’t actual puppets. Like these: http://kinseyconfidential.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/vulva_puppet1.jpg Although actually, holy crap, those giant plush vulvas are horrifying.

  10. Pingback: Modess, Because…The Blood and Ballgowns Edition « Millicent and Carla Fran

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