So originally, when I first conceived of this post in my head, it was going to be about Lysol ads from the First World War and shortly thereafter that played on people’s fears about the Spanish influenza pandemic. I heard an excellent talk (given by this woman) at an academic conference I went to last month about these ads and their interesting metaphors for describing the flu and how to eradicate it. I thought these ads were an excellent example of showing the origins of our germaphobic culture, with all our hand sanitizers and disinfectants (which still don’t seem to stop the average person from catching a flu or common cold, do they?). It seemed a reasonably interesting post, for folks who are interested (as I’m assuming you are if you’re reading this) in cultivating healthy bacterial populations in one’s personal interior as well as exterior environment. If you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing its safe to presume that you’re someone who seeks, rather than eradicating bacteria, to draft those beneficial soldiers for one’s personal defense against nasties like the common cold or flu, or more recently-common invaders into our food supply due to factory farming like salmonella and ecoli.
But then I started looking for images of these ads online, and stumbled across a much, much more troubling aspect of this oversanitized phenomenon, something which points not only to the origins of oversanitation in our culture, but also to the very explicitly gendered nature of that oversanitation. Apparently one of Lysol’s early marketing ploys was to encourage consumers not just to use the product to clean up that festering hole of germs that is the average household bathroom.
No, no, that’s not all: apparently using Lysol was encouraged for cleaning up that other festering hole of germs and hellfire — the vagina.
“even in the presence of mucous matter…” Nevermind the fact that it is precisely that “mucous matter” which is a critical component of the process of conception … “feminine daintiness” is far more important than making babies …
But just in case you do manage to make babies anyway despite your removal of the healthy presence of mucous, nevermind that happy, healthy children have vibrant, robust, beneficial gut flora, and that an unborn baby’s sterile gut is populated by his or her first gulps of fluid in the passage through the birth canal. So by rinsing that very same canal with antibacterial fluid, you’re removing whatever beneficial bacteria might have potentially inhabited your baby’s belly and replacing it with a lovely, completely unpopulated and open for settlement, host environment for whatever pathogenic bacteria might be able to find their way in … perhaps through intercourse or proximity to other “less clean” orifices … and on in to your baby’s belly …
Putting Lysol up your hoo-ha: The guaranteed and doctor-recommended way to restore your husband’s lagging affections. Pretty sure that would not be an effective way to get my guy going, but I guess whatever floats yer boat … (Oh, and seriously, check out the broken-through-hole symbolism up in that there spiderweb…)
Lysol. Because you are a dirty filthy whore and so is your daughter. But we can help you clean up those germ-ridden “Dark Corners” (see the “dark corners” ad above now in a new light?) so that you can be “feminine” and “dainty” unlike your otherwise default nature. Seriously, these ads make the “Summer’s Eve” douche ads that I grew up with on TV in the 80s look tame and serene.
Well, except for that one. Which was probably from the 80s. But not for a douche at least.
How many PSA’s that campaign for the education of potentially child-bearing women to use raw, grass-fed, cultured yogurt as a douche is it going to take to undo this damage to our collective knowledge of health? “Use yogurt on your coochie, be ready for some smoochies” ? Alright … I’m awaiting your viral-potential youtube video musical rendition of that one.
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