In the past week, there has been something of a Twitter storm in India (a Twitter monsoon?) about a new product that is “designed to address the problems women face in their private parts”. Problems such as, you know, not being white.
According to the blurb: “Clean and Dry Intimate Wash offers protection, fairness and freshness. To be used while showering, its special pH-balanced formula cleans and protects the affected area, and even makes the skin fairer. Life for women will now be fresher, cleaner, fairer!”
Seriously, somebody has invented a kind of bleach-type thing to make Indian women’s vaginas less brown. Is that a fair thing to market in a country that still uses a caste system?
Decide for yourself. Here’s the advert:
After seeing this, I thought it was only fair to talk to Midas Care, the creators of Clean and Dry, to find out whether or not they are unscrupulous bastards bent on monetising women’s vaginal insecurities. So I emailed them, asking them why they'd made the product and if they really felt Indian women wanted to make their vaginas fairer.
"Let us make this categorically clear," they replied, "that Clean and Dry Intimate Wash is not about fairer female parts. The product helps keep the female intimate area clean and safe with minimal odour. It would not be fair to jump to conclusions without understanding all perspectives and pass judgments on hearsay.”
Right. If Clean and Dry is not about making your vagina “fairer” (as I had foolishly assumed from “hearsay” such as the product’s own fucking spiel), then WTF is going on in this bit of the commercial?
That vertical line is about halfway through a "sweep" across the screen in which the smudge to the left of it disappears, to be replaced by the smudge-free version on the right. In what situation would someone get their snatch this dirty whilst keeping the rest of their body pristine? Has this woman been potholing in a crotchless body suit? Suspending my disbelief, I started to read the rest of Midas Care's answers. If it's not for whitening your vagina, then what is it for?
"Clean and Dry is a direct result of conversations with women between the ages of 16 to 35 years, across the country. The task was to identify the problems faced by women in their vaginal area in their daily life. Unfortunately, not many of them knew whom to talk to about such a personal problem. They did not even take the problem to their gynecologist [sic.], choosing instead to suffer silently. Clean and Dry is among the first few brands to address these problems of daily hygiene, odour and pH imbalance.”
Apparently, Midas Care ran consumer focus groups that were so empowering that women felt confident enough to tell marketing consultants things about their genitals that they had kept secret from medical professionals. POW! The true reason for the feminist commentariat’s carping is becoming clear. If Midas Care continues upon their righteous path, they will soon be able to medicate every problem a woman could ever have, leaving them in a state of unthinking, dead-behind-the-eyes bliss. Yes, Clean and Dry is going to achieve what feminism has been aspiring towards for years, rendering it pointless.
Or maybe not, IDK.
How do you respond to the controversy your product has created, Midas Care? One journalist called it “the ultimate insult”.
“The ad in no way is meant to offend anyone. The fairness bit is nothing but one of the many offerings of the product.”
Er… right. Well I’m glad we’re being “categorically clear that Clean and Dry Intimate Wash is not about fairer female parts”. If you’re going to market a product that cleverly combines misogyny and racism, you should probably get your story straight.
Do women really need yet another reason to hate their bodies? Maybe Clean and Dry didn’t invent the desire to have fairer skin out of thin air, but they sure have pushed it up a gear in their voracious pursuit of rupees, which means that they suck.
Follow Simon on Twitter: @simonchilds13