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Image / Editorial

When did tampons become offensive?


by Holly O'Neill
29th Jul 2020

Give me strength


People of Ireland, this is a public service announcement.

There are 84 people on this island of saints and scholars who believe that a tampon ad is offensive.

There are actually more than that. The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) have advised that a Tampax advertisement should not be run again after they received 84 complaints. Those 84 complaints do not include (!) those who claimed the ad was demeaning to women (stop it), contained sexual innuendo (stop it right now) or was unsuitable for children (this is hell). Won’t someone think of the men who have, of course, never experienced bloodshed on their tv screen?

These people walk amongst you. They drive, they raise children, they vote.

Some believe that how the ad discusses periods, something that happens to half of the global population once a month, every month since the beginning of time, was offensive, and used an inappropriate manner to discuss a “sensitive” topic. Is there no end to the stupidity of 2020?

This feels like a story my mother would tell me happened in the 70s.

The ad in question is, at it’s most offensive, a bit cringe. It’s still a whole lot less cringe than your standard tampon ad of a glossy woman with dead eyes grinning gormlessly while playing tennis or running a marathon or standing on a mountain with some message of female empowerment and hashtag girlboss messaging fumbled in for good measure.

Or even worse, those ads that have an inexplicable blue liquid drowning the pads. Why is blue more palatable than red? Do you think those ads might have something to do with the fact that only 27 percent of chair, chief executive or managing director roles are occupied by women in the advertising industry? That men would rather see us throw a fist into the air on top of a mountain than consider that people have messy, dirty, bloody periods every month?

What the ad has been applauded for is for having an open and honest discussion about periods, something clearly still relevant when we have blue-liquid-period ads or people who think a very entry-level conversation about tampons is offensive.

This is just further evidence that education and openness around menstrual health and hygiene is more imperative than ever. At the very least, this ad would help some teenager who stuffs her tampon up her sleeve to hide it, or turns the hand dryer on in the bathroom so you won’t hear her pad rustle, who is too shy to ask why her tampon hurts.

For posterity, please allow me to transcribe for you the grisly, gory details of tampon application that has rattled the complainants so much that they watched the ad and took the time from their lives to lodge a complaint;

“Tell me. How many of you ever feel your tampon? You shouldn’t. It might mean your tampon isn’t in far enough. You gotta get them up there, girls. Not just the tip. Up to the grip.”

That’s it.

I would pay to find out the gender pay gap of these complaints.

Apologies to those who were so agonized to find out tampons can be inserted incorrectly and feel uncomfortable. Imagine how tired we are.

You can watch the Tampax ad below. Warning: apparently, some people may find it offensive.

Photography by Tampax.

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