The “clean” Kotex advertisement has no reference to vaginas, and instead talks about “twirling” and being “pure.”
Say you’re a tampon manufacturer, you think the dictionary of euphemisms historically used to describe female genitalia is a thing of the past, and you decide you want to use the word vagina in your advertisement. If your case is like that of Kotex, you’ll find your ad banned by major U.S. television networks.
In fact, any direct reference, euphemistic or not, is likely to be banned. “Down there,” for example, was rejected by two television networks, a stunning case of the U.S. culture’s hilarious fear of women’s bodies and sexualities. —JCL
For years, advertising for tampons and “sanitary products” have been shrouded in nebulous euphemism. So what happens when a US tampon-maker drops the coy messaging and goes straight for the jugular (so to speak)? Its ad gets banned by the major US television networks for mentioning the word vagina.
Even when the company substituted “down there” for vagina, two of the networks still wouldn’t run the ad, so the company was forced to drop the idea altogether. That provoked Amanda Hess, author of The Sexist blog, to observe: “Now, the commercial contains no direct references to female genitalia – you know, the place where the fucking tampon goes.”
An executive for Kimberly-Clark, the owner of Kotex, notes that US TV networks have no such compunction about references to “erectile dysfunction” in prime-time ads for Viagra and Ciallis.