Holy crap, before someone shoots me, that is not what I think – it just happens to be the topic of my entry and also the general sentiment within the media industry. Having a short discussion with one of my readers via comments on my blog, he brought up an excellent point – that because of culture and religion, menstruation is “viewed” very differently. I’m going to start to touch on this topic for 2 reasons. One, was because I was inspired by @campaignperiod showing me a video link and from that, I read up on the Hygiene Matters 2011 Report compiled by SCA. I realize I’m probably giving them free advertisement, but whatever… it was great having read this little report and yes, it IS little, only 43 pages and if you’ve read 300 page reports before, this is nothing, lol. I highly recommend those interested in personal well-being, whether male or female, to read it. If you are not interested in going through something that long (and it is NOT all about menstruation, it is about hygiene in general), please at least see this video.
The second reason was because as I was going through my MENinMenstruation YouTube account, I was “recommended” a video that caught my eye. Bebe once sent me a parody of how “strict” Malaysia TV broadcasting is when it comes to ‘revealing’ body parts. There are so many countries in the world and many cultures that have a particular view of menstruation, so you may wonder why I particularly selected that country and whether it had been influenced by bebe. In this case, it didn’t, because it showed up on my “suggested” videos to watch in which I read a very interesting quote:
6. Are there restrictions upon creative license in Malaysia?
Until very recently, sanitary napkins were not allowed to be shown on TV. Apart from that we could not show armpits or navels.
– Kancil Awards 2008 Chairperson Interview
I’m not interested in generating a debate over religion on my blog. As far as this entry is concerned, all people need to understand is that Malaysia’s official religion is Islam. According to Article 160 of the Malaysian Constitution, all ethnic Malays are considered Muslim, which approximately 60.4% of the Malaysian population practicing the Islam religion. Thus, you can see why broadcasting rules within Malaysia are so strict. I have a Muslim coworker and he is highly devoted and abides by the rules set forth by his religion closely. Although I knew about that showing of the armpits and navels on public TV in Malaysia violates broadcasting rules, I did not know that even sanitary napkin commercials were not allowed until I read the quote as stated above. For as long as I can remember, I always struggled in finding sanitary napkin commercials or even (Malaysian) manufacturer websites regarding sanitary napkins. All of this now makes sense as to why I had such difficulties!
Further digging revealed an article which was published fairly recently in October of 2010 by The Malaysian Insider author, Dina Zaman. There was a particular quote that almost made me choke on my coffee, not because I was disgusted by the thought of menstruation, but rather, how someone could have such a STARK view of menstruation…
“For example, commercials on sanitary pads are openly shown on TV and this could influence the young to get involved in social ills,” said Johor Bahru Puteri Umno member, urging the ministry to increase shows that teach good values and religious practices.
Umm.. excuse me, did I just read that seeing a commercial of sanitary pads would cause me to be involved in social ills? If that’s the case, I should have murdered a ton of people and raped many women by now according this member’s statement. Although I can’t say I’m the most normal of people in my interests such as menstruation, I’m definitely not socially dysfunction and I don’t pose harm to society or something. The likelihood is I’ve watch more sanitary pad commercials than probably all the females I know put together, so this member must hate my guts by now, lol. The author of the article then continues to write (regarding the above statement):
As a still menstruating woman, I have yet to witness how sanitary pads and their ads could lead one to sin. I have always thought that sanitary pads are a bane to women and frighten the hell out of men, especially bloody and wet ones.
The CMCF (The Communications and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia) under Part 3 section 8.6 of their broadcasting standard dictates..
8.6 Sanitary Protection Products and Incontinent Pads For Adults
Advertisements in this product category is unusually sensitive and commercials for it can easily cause offence or embarrassment, even among people who have no objection in principle to its being advertised on television. Because it is often viewed in a family setting, television advertising needs to be treated with restraint and discretion. Anyone intending to produce a commercial for a sanitary protection product and incontinent pads for adults MUST abide by the following:-
(a) Restriction on Times of Transmission Commercials portraying a sanitary protection product and incontinent pads for adults are permissible only after 10.00pm. (b) Visual Treatments and Product Descriptions Sanitary protection products and incontinent pads for adults – visual treatments must be done with taste and restraint, particular care is needed with shots of unwrapped towels, pads or tampons, whether actual or diagrammatic. Detailed references, whether in sound or vision, should avoid graphic descriptions which might offend or embarrass viewers. (c) Appeals To Insecurity Sanitary protection products and incontinent pads for adults – no commercial may contain anything which, either directly or by its implication, is likely to undermine an individual’s confidence in her own standards of personal hygiene. No implication of, or appeal to, sexual or social insecurity is acceptable. Commercials may not suggest, by whatever means, that menstruation is in any way unclean or shameful and variations of the word “clean” are unacceptable in advertising for this product category, as are other potentially offensive words such as “odour”. The same applies to the advertising of incontinence. (d) Taste and Offence All advertisements for the category of sanitary napkins and incontinent pads for adults must not offend against good taste or decency or be offensive to public feeling and should not prejudice respect for human dignity.
So within that section, they state that they do not want commercials suggesting that menstruation is unclean or shameful (insinuating an attempt to be positive). However, from my perception of the above conditions of a commercial they want to avoid embarrassment, offensiveness and requires “restraint” that they’re being completely contradictory. They want you to avoid making menstruation or related products sound negative, yet they’re clearly NOT comfortable with the idea of advertising such products. Furthermore, I wanted to cry when I read that, “…portraying a sanitary protection product and incontinent pads for adults are permissible only after 10.00pm.” Wow.. after 10PM… that’s when all the kids “should” be asleep.. imagine if they ever stayed up past 10PM, their eyes and brains would be tainted forever should they be SO unfortunate as to seeing a commercial which depicts a menstrual or incontinent product. Their childhoods would be forever ruined and those kids will probably have premarital sex, fail at school and kill their parents as a result 🙄 If I ever had to deal with the broadcasting industry, even in Canada, I’d get so infuriated with this that I’d ask to borrow one of my girls used pad or tampon and just chuck it at the camera.
Let’s move back into “North America” for a bit… you know, the free world where we have “freedom” of everything. In this land where drugs, sex and violence is shown freely on TV, and where I could probably get away with saying, “I’m going to fucking shit on your head and piss on your mother” – yet, if I were to say the word vagina, oh my god, I’m sure it’d be bleeped out for sure! This is not new news, so sure, bitch at me if I’m digging up older topics, but it linked into this one so whatever. You can read up on a UK news/blog author’s (Richard Adams) post on the whole U by Kotex thing when it started. The article writes:
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.
You know, back in the day when I still had cable TV, I felt really uncomfortable when that 40 year-old guy came on the screen and was talking about the “issues” he had… essentially he can’t get it up or goes ‘limp’ when he has sex… and that it is a common problem and there should be no embarrassment to asking the doctor for help in getting Viagra prescribed. Umm.. I found that this was much harder (and grosser) to watch when my parents were around, than a maxi pad or a tampon commercials. Let’s face it, if erectile dysfunction should not be embarrassing and is a common issue, then how is MENSTRUATION of all things “unnatural” and “should cause embarrassment”? Menstruation, unlike erectile dysfunction, is a natural bodily process and the use of menstrual protection products to manage it is the hygienic and proper thing to do. Me knowing that you can’t get hard makes me more uncomfortable than if you were to tell me you were having your period. Hey, maybe it is just me and the fact I like periods that makes it feel more normal, but I really don’t want to know that you can’t pump enough blood to your dick to make it hard. Furthermore, it is also “frowned upon” (as in, they won’t even broadcast your ad) in a commercial to use the proper anatomical reference, vagina on prime-time TV. The last time I saw menstrual fluid, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t blue as well.
Aren’t those statistics crazy? I have made a blog entry before about how sanitary napkins (because they are the more “conservative” choice over tampons, which you have to *gasp* stick something in your vagina) are still the preferred choice of menstrual protection in Asia regions before, but it was shocking to see how uncomfortable the subject of periods are still to Chinese women. Oddly enough, most of the Asian girls I happen to know are quite open with me on the subject, but I suppose that perhaps bebe is part of that 87% (even though she’s not “from China” per se, she is “Chinese”). The good thing is that even if she’s not open about her period to others, as long as she is to ME, I don’t give a shit 😆 But anyways, even if you look at the U.S (closest to Canada I guess), the statistics still show that HALF of the population still experience social discomforts when they have their period. Clearly, “America” is FAR from reversing the many years of menstrual taboo and the denouement of it. I remember in high school, I had a Swedish girl in my class (boy was she hot, lol) and I remember one time I spotted a tampon in her backpack and I gave it an extra glance. Clearly she caught me looking and during high-school, I was still rather shy about my interest, so I never talked about it… but then after class, she said if I was interested in seeing what a tampon looked like, she said, “Here, you can have my tampon if you want to know what one looks like.” and just put it in my hands, smiled and walked away. I was completely dumbfounded. I mean obviously this one Swedish girl doesn’t represent the entire culture of people, but I get the feeling there’s a lot more openness to menstruation from other cultures than from Chinese culture.
So the moral of this entire post? Feminine Hygiene Products and Your Vagina is Repulsive in the eyes of the broadcasting industry.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY | 2010 the Libresse secure fit platform was launched in Malaysia. This is unique in many ways, not only because it is the first Asian market entry for The Libresse secure fit but also because it was decided to launch with a price line, which is completely new in the feminine category in Malaysia.It means that all products have the same price. A pack of ten thick towels has the same price tag as a pack with eight thin towels. However price is not the main differentiator. It is the performance and properties of the product that are differentiating Libresse secure fit from its competitors.