The two most complained about TV ads of 2014

A screen shot of Carefree's ad campaign.

A screen shot of Carefree's ad campaign.

Once upon a time, before women rose up and began to suffocate men with all their female privilege, the unsanitary topic of women’s leaky bodies was handled in exactly the way it should be - through mysterious whispers, myth-building and strangely hypnotic euphemisms. It was necessary that we do so, because everybody knows that women’s body holes double as portals to the realm of demons and even speaking of them might cause one to activate and suck a little part of earth into the netherworld. 

So before evil witch-women gathered under full moons to cast spells from their devil teats which gave them total command of humanity’s most powerful institutions, we shrouded such things in secrecy, knowing full well the danger that would be wrought from speaking the names out loud. Moonblood. The Curse. Menstruation.

But then the feminists took over, and everything changed. Now we’re forced to endure grotesque advertisements which mention heathen words like ‘vagina’, ‘tampons’ and ‘hole’. The top two most complained about advertisements of 2014 so far were created for Carefree.

The ‘Be Real’ campaign aims to destigmatise and normalise the process of menstruation for adolescent girls and young women, but has been described by complainants as ‘perverted’ and ‘demeaning’. One person wrote, “It is unnecessary, confronting, embarrassing and degrading. I quote the ad ‘how am I going to shove that up there’ as a girl holds a tampon. Explain that to a 10-year-old boy or a seven-year-old girl. It’s a disgusting ad.”

So this is what all this political correctness and Leftist liberalism has come to. Parents are now being forced into the untenable situation of having to explain a natural biological function to their terrified children. 

The two ads in question depict young girls - innocents! - using computers to ask filthy questions like, ‘am I putting my tampon in the wrong hole’, recounting stories of having ‘bled straight through’ a disco formal dress and realising too late that a 1960s necking session in the back of a car was about to be rudely interrupted by the discovery of a bulky pad where the pleasure button should be.

Periods are a taboo topic, as well they should be. Sure, approximately half of the world’s entire population experiences them, but that doesn’t mean we have to talk about them! Yes, significant numbers of girls live in regions where menstruation is considered not just embarrassing but downright dirty and as a result are marginalised from their communities during their monthly visit from Aunt Flo - but why can’t we just refer to family disagreements instead of making people think of icky things? And okay, one in ten girls in Africa will miss school or drop out entirely because they don’t have access to affordable or sanitary menstrual products, but do we have to make a big song and dance about it?

It used to be that we didn’t need to say the words in order to know what we were talking about, because there were a number of ways we could make it clear. For example, we could show a woman windsurfing while another woman rode past her on a horse. Later, they might go shopping together and only try on clothes that were white. They would be so happy in their stark white outfits and sunkissed skin that they would just spin together for a really long time. And then they would eat some yoghurt for dinner, and laugh about how great their lives were. It really was better, back when everyone thought periods were supposed to be blue.

But now we have companies like Carefree, Always and Hello Flo spreading their outrageous message of honesty and, dare I say it, menstrual pride. Hello Flo’s recent video ‘First Moon Party’ even turns a first period into a celebration, while their earlier campaign ‘The Camp Gyno’ made the confronting decision to have girls of period-getting-age speaking to other girls of period-getting-age about the periods they would soon be getting because of their age. CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE?

For their part, Carefree has defended its commercials against the complaints of Australia, saying they address a “real need to break down the taboo and embarrassment surrounding periods. To remain silent will reinforce and perpetuate the unnecessary shame and stigma that some girls feel about their periods.”

But I ask you, if we don’t make girls feel shame and stigma about their periods, how can we be certain they’ll keep feeling shame and stigma about everything else to do with their bodies? If we support blatant representations of girls using the internet to find answers to questions they may have about the world, how can we stop them from developing the ‘confronting’ belief that they’re entitled to speak up for and defend themselves against stupidity? And if we depict those same girls pursuing physical romance and pleasure in the backseats of cars with boys (or other girls), how can we make sure they’ll respond to slut-shaming in the way that society has always relied on?

Yes Australia, we should all be very worried indeed. Keep those complaints coming in to the Advertising Standards Bureau - because the facts of biology aside, losing social control over women’s bodies and the shaming thereof is the one thing about which we should never become too Carefree.

 

31 comments

  • I think the issue is that a profit-focused corporate is trying to have a unsolicited conversation through tv about intimate issues parents/educators usually have with their kids. most don't like this.....in the past there was always some respectful distance given although now they seem to have oversteped their mark as a houseguest...

    Commenter
    confused
    Date and time
    July 04, 2014, 11:17AM
    • So who's complaining & why do the rest of us care? You'll get enough whingers and the faux-outraged about any subject you'd care to imagine. The internet can make even the village idiot a celebrity in their own lunch-box these days. As long as the rest of us realise that and move on then no damage is done. Even giving them publicity through articles like this reinforces their delusions.

      Commenter
      mike basil
      Location
      hobart
      Date and time
      July 04, 2014, 11:39AM
      • I agree with the author, it's a natural bodily function and should be discussed freely.

        I mean look at all those toilet paper ads that focus on the reality of the true function of toilet paper........oh wait.

        Commenter
        Freddie Frog
        Date and time
        July 04, 2014, 11:52AM
        • Can't tell you how much I love this piece, Clementine. And I love those Carefree ads, they make me laugh and guess what, 13 year old son also thinks they're great. He's completely unfazed by menstruation as he's been raised to know it's just a normal part of life.
          The only ad I can't stand is that Australian actor creepily sidling up to couples trying to buy furniture and talking about home loans in an American accent. The weirdo.

          Commenter
          Jojo
          Date and time
          July 04, 2014, 12:00PM
          • Yep I want to see the sequel to Simon Baker's ANZ adverts, where he's slapped with a dozen AVOs

            Commenter
            FFS
            Date and time
            July 04, 2014, 4:29PM
        • Hahaha! That's a truly brilliant article, Clementine. It has made me want to laugh, cry and scream with frustration all at the same time. But mainly it has made me laugh - the spinning women in white outfits nearly made me choke on my coffee.

          Incidentally, since my teenage daughter and I are able to speak about things such as menstruation quite matter of factly, I've realised I must have joined the realms of evil witch-women, so I'm feeling very proud of myself right now.

          Commenter
          Ms Magoo
          Location
          Melbourne
          Date and time
          July 04, 2014, 12:05PM
          • As a teenage girl, ads like these can be pretty awkward viewing when sitting around with the family, especially my dad and younger siblings. I do agree that menstruation needs to be de-stigmatised, but I'm not sure ads on TV at prime time is the way to do it - for me (and I would guess, many women) the experience is generally more embarrassing than empowering. I think a different approach needs to be taken - maybe starting with the way it is taught in late primary school and early high school, for both girls and boys.

            Commenter
            L
            Location
            Sydney
            Date and time
            July 04, 2014, 12:10PM
            • A welcome reply 'L'

              Who would have thought such a thing as to ask a teenage girl, her view?

              Poses an interesting conundrum to the author. That aside Clem, thanks for introducing us to First Moon Party,

              Commenter
              $keptic
              Location
              Melbourne
              Date and time
              July 04, 2014, 3:02PM
            • That is an interesting perspective. Thanks for your comment.

              I must admit, my initial reaction was that these ads were welcome and sensible. At least when compared to the evasive, blue water silliness we used to see in sanitary product ads in the decades gone by. But I also understand now that matter-of-fact frankness can easily become the butt of jokes in the wrong context. Not to mention, are prime time ads really the way to de-stigmatise menstruation?

              Food for though!

              Commenter
              AdamC
              Date and time
              July 04, 2014, 3:31PM
            • I get where you're coming from, L, but at the same time how are we going to overcome viewing menstruation as embarrassing - it's always going to create some awkward situations, but why are we embarrassed by it? I see ads like this as trying to break down the unnecessary stigma around a bodily function that 50% of the population will experience.

              Commenter
              pb
              Location
              sydney
              Date and time
              July 04, 2014, 3:48PM

          More comments

          Comments are now closed