Here's your weekly does of bad-vertising: Libra, a company who markets feminine hygiene products in Australia and New Zealand, recently released an ad that trades in transphobia and sexism:
Video description via Hoyden About Town:
A pale, blonde, conventionally attractive woman fixes her hair while women's voices are heard in the background. She puts her bag down as another woman walks up to the sinks where the first woman is standing. Upbeat music starts. The second woman is taller, with heavier make up and glitzier clothes. She pulls out some mascara, and there's a close up of the first woman giving her an amused sideways glance. They both apply mascara and look at each other as though competing. Then lipgloss. Then they adjust their breasts – the first woman is clearly just toying with the second now. The first woman pulls out a Libra tampon; the second woman gives a sour look and walks off. There's a shot of a box of Libra tampons and the slogan 'Libra gets girls. Love Libra.'
Yikes. On the F-Word, Helen G details in a nutshell what's wrong with the ad:
The transphobia seems to arise from the use of a combination of two timeworn (and, in some circles, long-discredited) tropes: The essentialist view that TS/TG women are always the gender assigned at birth and it doesn't matter how you change your external appearance...you cannot change what's on the inside. The second, related, subtext is the idea that TS/TG women are really just 'men in dresses' and it's a stereotype which the ad hammers home without a shred of subtlety. But to my mind, where the ad extends its offensiveness beyond transphobia, is in its reinforcement of the frankly naive and negative stereotypes that women are defined by their gender presentation and their reproductive capabilities.
And, sorry Libra, but menstruation isn't the ultimate GAME OVER of gender. Some men menstruate. Age and health affect whether women menstruate, as does use of certain birth control. Would I, a cis woman, also have to leave the makeup mirror in shame because my IUD gives me less authentic period? Then again, would I triumph because I would apply even less makeup than the girl on the right? That's the problem with setting up competitions of "authentic" womanhood: It's impossible for anyone to win.
Libra did respond to the feedback, giving a classic no-pology of "We're sorry you were offended." They pulled the ad from their Facebook page...but you can still watch it on their website.
Libra regrets any offence taken to our recent tampon advertisement. It was never intended to upset or offend anyone. Independent research was undertaken and the advertisement was viewed positively during that testing. Libra takes all feedback very seriously, and in response to this, we will immediately review our future position with this campaign based on the feedback received. There are no further advertisements scheduled in New Zealand. The advertisement has not aired in Australia. The advertisement was placed on Facebook however this has also been removed.
Happy & Bleeding? [The F-Word]
Libra's New Transphobic Ad, and What You Can Do About It [Hoyden About Town]
Libra Backs Down In Face of Trans Outrage [Transadvocate]