If you needed any proof that feminism has become predominantly a marketing ploy, look no further than Twitter today, where the hashtag #LikeAGirl is trending. This hashtag is being driven by the latest advertising campaign of Always, the company which sells sanitary towels that I can confirm – like a girl – are about as liberating as a giant wedgie.
And yet the Twittersphere has been set alight, with many sharing their own “inspiring” messages of how to be “like a girl”.
“Go go and keep going!! You are strong beyond belief” was one of example of a tweet I stumbled upon, a few seconds after I had scrolled past a Maya Angelou quote repurposed to promote menstruation products. Some of the endorsements have been quite ludicrous, with charities giving Always the thumbs up, as well as the UN. The UN!
Worst of all is the video that accompanies the #LikeAGirl hashtag, which could have been a Ken Loach film for its misery levels. “At puberty, the fear of failure can be paralysing for girls,” it begins, continuing in the same, melancholic vein, as a pre-pubescent whippersnapper lectures her class of (presumably) confused 12-year-olds about failure. “We’ve failed at so many things. We’ll fail at many more. And that’s a good thing,” she says. Is it? I wonder.
Far from showing that Always cares about women, this onslaught of patronising guff demonstrates how braindead its executives must think we all are. The fact is that sanitary towels aren’t the pharmaceutical embodiment of Gloria Steinem, but products to be sold, like Smarties, lightbulbs and kettles – albeit the least pleasurable of all to buy. The logic does seem to be that just because they ‘go down there’ it’s acceptable to package them as a ‘feminist’.
If there were a male equivalent of Always, perhaps it would be more obvious what the problems are. For instance, what would the world think if a jockstrap was advertised along with the hashtag #LikeABoy, asking men to tweet messages about how empowered they feel?
Can you imagine Dave from Dorset writing “Go go and keep going!! You are strong beyond belief” about his treasured jockstrap? At least men can actually do things with a jockstrap on, which is a far cry from how I feel about sanitary towels.
Because – let’s face it – sanitary towels are hideous creations. Big, lumpy and exactly the sort of thing I would imagine plenty want to leave behind in their puberty years, rather than continuing to use as an “empowered” woman.
I’ll never forget when I was 14 and tried to duck out of swimming using the good old excuse of the “red flag”. My sports teacher looked at me, sighed, and said, “Just put a bloomin’ tampon in.” I despised her for it at the time, but maybe she was my true liberator. After all, if you can do breaststroke on your period, you can do anything. But let’s hope Tampax doesn’t catch on and start its own feminist campaign about the empowerment of internal cotton buds, because that would be a(nother) step too far.
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