Is it offensive?
By now, a great number of people around NZ and Australia have seen the Libra tampon commercial featuring a Drag Queen- and many of them know about the online controversy it’s sparked. The argument against the ad is simple: It implies (or is perceived to imply) that a person who can’t get their period and considers themselves a female is not a ‘real’ woman. This blanket accusation covers women who have had hysterectomies and have PCOS as well as the trangender community, many of who have taken up arms again the ad.
Likewise, there is a very verbal community who are protesting the protesters, saying their response is “PC gone wild” and that the ad was never meant to cause offence, thus they should ‘lighten up’.
Both sides have their points, and have made them very clear. The argument between them now boils down to “Is it actually offensive?”
And is it?
Obviously, Libra did not sit down with their marketing department and decide to deliberately ostracize a minority group- they consider themselves open and friendly, supportive of all women. This is not a deliberate slur. Nonetheless, they have been met with outrage, and perhaps for good reason- I know a number of women (trans, post-menopausal and other) who are hurt, who feel insecure about their womanhood. Conversably, I also know a lot of girls who find the ad utterly hysterical and don’t get what the big deal is, which is fair enough, especially since none of them (This may not apply to all anti-anti-ad speakers) have ever had to worry about their feminity or have been hurt because of their lack thereof. To add to their argument that fighting the ad is nuts is the backing of the company themselves, claiming to have market tested the campaign and to have been met with positive feedback. To anyone outside of a small group of women, this ad is nothing but a bit of humour.
But is it offensive?
Well, that depends. If this was PC gone wild then the only people you’d really see up in arms would be extreme feminists, most of which would be ignored- it’s happened before, after all. You’d probably see a few members of the trans community upset as well. Ultimately you simply would not get too much of a backlash, just a few unhappy little girls from the 70s with their panties in a bunch. However, this does not seem to be the case.
On the back of 1,500 strong votes alone it becomes clear that there are a lot of people who are genuinely upset- a lot more than a few miserable feminists. Over a few thousand people offended- Surely that would imply that the ad is inappropriate? The feeling a lot of these people have picked up from the ad is a little more sinister than a quick giggle- with the cattiness, perceived transphobia and general bitchiness of the rival women in the ad, it has a similar vibe to a dead baby joke. For those of us a little more cold blooded, who may never have had to deal with a baby dying, it’s uproariously funny, for those of us who have had to hold their dead infant- not so much. The humour is there and it is obviously a joke, not to be taken seriously, but there’s an uncomfortable blackness to it and for those that care about the matter, the joke may not be enough to negate the negative aspect. That’s what’s going on here (minus the hyperbolism).
So do I think this is offensive?
I think this ad has it’s humour, yeah. And I understand where those who say “grow up” are coming from- it is, after all, a joke. But at the same time, I sympathise with the hurt. At over 1,000 votes against the running of this ad, I think it’s earned its right to be called offensive- you can’t just ignore the opinions of that many people. For those of us who don’t understand the upset, that’s fine- enjoy the funny ad and ignore the idiot hippies. But please, don’t disregard that there are people out there- a lot of them- who are hurt for whatever reason. Their opinion is no less valid than yours, after all.
Yes, this ad is offensive; Because it causes significant offence. What other definition of offense do you need beyond that?