Posted: Apr 15, 2014 11:30 AM
 
Last week, Veet, a company that makes hair removal products for women, issued a new line of advertisements that enraged a good number of people on the internet. In response, they issued a non-apology apology that essentially places the blame back on us.
Photo credit: Marc Dietrich/ Hemera / 360/ Getty Images

Last week the hair removal body product company Veet released its new line of advertisements and set the interwebz aflame, and rightly so. Somehow, the company managed to cram homophobia and misogyny into one 30-second spot. Not an easy task, but they pulled it off. See for yourself.

"Don't risk dudeness," because having one-day-old body hair turns women into men. Obviously. Because feminine = hairless, clearly. Because acting "dude-like" is disgusting to men (because they're all heterosexual, don't you know) and therefore we, as women, must strive to make ourselves attractive to those heterosexual men by making sure we wax, constantly, lest one-day-old stubble strip us of our gendered identities.

Vomit.

"Feel womanly around the clock."

Oh, thank you, Veet, for clarifying for me how to "feel womanly." Thank you for providing a reliable path to hotness so I can remain sexually appealing to males.

What would I do without you?

In this ad, a woman with one-day-old armpit hair is denied a taxi because she has morphed into a man. Right, because obviously our ability as women to hail a taxi cab is contingent on our level of sexual attractiveness (as defined by mainstream hetero gender norms).

They used homophobia and sexism to sell their products, to reinforce the societal importance of hairlessness from a stereotypically heterosexual male perspective.

Not funny.

Look, I know what you're about to say: It's funny. It's a joke. It's so over-the-top it's ridiculous. And that could be true, if Veet called into question the stereotypes it's deploying. In other words, if they used the "morph into man" idea satirically to expose its inherently problematic nature, it would be acceptable and funny, but they didn't. Instead, they reinforced the paradigm with words like, "Feel womanly around the clock" and, "Don't risk dudeness." They used homophobia and sexism to sell their products, to reinforce the societal importance of hairlessness from a stereotypically heterosexual male perspective. They did not analyze it; they deployed it strategically.

And then, after the internet called them out, the marketing team issued a non-apology apology: "Hi… this is the Veet marketing team in the U.S. We just wanted to let everyone know, we get it — we're women too. This idea came from women who told us that at the first hint of stubble, they felt like "dudes." It was really simple and funny, we thought. To be honest, the three of us could really relate to these real-life moments and they made us laugh. Not everyone appreciated our sense of humor. We know that women define femininity in different ways. Veet helps those who choose to stay smooth. Our intention was never, ever, to offend anyone, so we decided to rethink our campaign and remove those clips. Thank you for letting us know how you feel."

Being female does not negate the possibility of propagating misogynistic narratives.

Um, first of all, just because you are women does not mean you aren't sexist. Being female does not negate the possibility of propagating misogynistic narratives (as you've clearly demonstrated). Secondly, this "apology" is the classic, "Sorry there's something wrong with you that makes it impossible for you to enjoy me."

Sorry you don't have a sense of humor and therefore can't see why we're funny.

At no point did the company's president (who wrote his own non-apology) or the marketing team address the actual criticism presented by the good American public. They basically just said, "Sorry you're offended. Here, we pulled the ads. Happy now?"

No, I'm not happy now.

I'm not happy now because once again I'm faced with the reality of the society my kids are growing up in: If you don't shave, you're not a woman. Women should make themselves attractive to men. Women should make themselves attractive to men in the way society deems appropriate. As a man, the natural response to another man in your bed is repulsion and disgust.

This is it, people. This is what we're facing. Keep on fighting.

More on sexism

Is the Dove "Real Beauty" Campaign redefining anything at all?
Yet another victim of ignorance: 8-year-old told by her school to act like a girl or get out
Stop saying women "can't be understood." It's not funny. It's sexist.

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