Wednesday, April 27, 2011

For the record: I don't need to love everything. And neither do most women I know.

NOTE: this is the first in a series of posts that will - my hand to God - lead to some kind of conclusion. Fair warning to anyone who will get three sentences in and think: "For God's sake, not this 'women's s--t, again! Really, Renee?" STOP NOW. You've been warned.

Now, onto the post. And be happy.

If anyone is looking for proof that the women’s movement has landed in the twenty-first century with a decided thud, turn on your television set. Women may think we’ve attained equality of the sexes - whatever that was supposed to mean - but we’re wrong, at least according to one major consumer products company. Turns out that for about five days every month, many of us turn into needy, easily satisfied, empty-headed whiners who just want to be pampered. Don’t believe me? Okay, remember this ad campaign? Sadly I do. I went something like this:

During a certain week of the month, to quote the ad copy, “looks like it’s time to bloat, whine, pig out, cry for no reason and smile.” But hey, it doesn’t have to be a sad, gloomy couple of days. Gosh no! It can be a “happy” time. The new campaign reminded women that in addition to buying one particular brand of protection, they could overcome their monthly nuisance by doing small things for themselves that will add delight and contentment to these dreary days. Some suggestions: by all means, take a cab for once. Put on some nail polish, or as they so subtly suggested in their print campaign: “If your claws are out, you might as well paint them.” (I’m not making this up.) Eat some cookies or some chocolate! Crown yourself ‘Queen for the week’ and indulge yourself.

Just stop this. Right now. And forget about the affront to women this whole campaign represented. The question is this: Does everything in our lives have to be ‘happy’ for god’s sake? Some things, like a monthly cycle, just ain’t that happy most of the time. I’d call it normal and I’d call it natural but I’m not willing to go so far as to call it happy. And it absolutely does not warrant this kind of “treat yourself - you deserve it” drama. I’d have thought we’d moved past that about thirty years ago but I’d be wrong about that, at least according to the focus groups.

When the ad agency tested the idea of “a happy period” with groups of women, they were “ready for this,” according to the product’s brand manager, as reported in The New York Times. The brand wanted to make an emotional connection with women because their research told them that women respected the brand but they didn’t love it.

Can we pause on that for a second, please? “…they didn’t love it.” Do we need to love it? Do men need to love the stuff they buy?

This is so annoying for so many reasons. I guess no matter what we face during our monthly cycle, we can manage it with some chocolate, some grooming or some “me” time. Any of these options will make us feel better, even if we have to run the kids halfway to Philly and back five days a week for soccer camp. Or maybe a woman has to run the school board meeting. Or the company sales conference. Or the country. But don’t you worry for one single second about the added stress that accompanies that one special week every month. Have some candy or a cookie and feel better! (God forbid we should try doing some stretching, or walking or any other form of exercise, which could help alleviate any discomfort once a month.)

Is it just me or is this entire campaign built on the antique notion of women as the weaker sex?? Lesson one: Working women can’t be trusted to handle the really big stuff because we’re out of commission at least a few days every month. Fortunately, this lasts for only about forty years of our lives. Lesson two: For non-working women, God help the people in their lives - husbands, friends, and neighbors - who encounter them during a bad moment each month.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just too cranky today. Wait...checking a calendar....oh, good. This is not my fault! It’s just my ‘happy’ time again.

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