As Tertullian stated long ago, and Summer’s Eve reinforces today: “Woman is a temple built over a sewer”. Thank god there’s a dizzying array of “feminine hygiene” products marketed toward female-identified folk to help conceal that awful raw sewage smell naturally emanating from our crotchal region. We’ve got several kinds of special wipes, from Monistat COOLWIPES for those days when your sewer is both diseased and stinky, to Massengill wipes that are gentle to your delicate sewer region, to, for those of us who menstruate, Always Fresh wipes for when you’re gushing blood and the smell rather than stemming the flow is your main concern. And if you want to stay odor-free while you bleed, there’s scented Tampax and Kotex pads as well.
Oh, and don’t forget pantiliners to catch that oh-so-bothersome inter-period discharge. Because sometimes underwear just doesn’t do the job. And remember to wash with those special cleansers from Summer’s Eve and Massengill. Your nether regions deserve their own kind of cleansing. Then you can finish off both the harmful and helpful bacteria with a nice douche from one of the leading douche brands. Ah, I love using the word “douche”. If that douche left you a little itchy, reach for the Vagisil and hope you don’t actually need the Monistat.
If I were to buy all the “feminine hygiene” products I apparently need, I’d go broke. Interestingly enough, unless you count Axe body spray (which I don’t), there’s no equivalent market for male-identified folk. People, if you’ve come close to a male-identified person’s junk at any point in time, you know that they are not devoid of “intimate smells”. In fact they can be quite rife with them. Which is fine, apparently, because I don’t see a lot of say, “Autumn’s Night Men’s Personal Wash” on the market. Something tells me society doesn’t care if a male-identified person’s junk stinks. Or at least, no one shames them into worrying about their junk stink.
Apparently the extreme concern over unhygienic female-identified people’s genitals goes as far back as 22 C.E. And I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories about those who menstruate being isolated in their own abode until Aunt Flo had left back in the Middle Ages (and still today in some cultures). In the ’30s, Lysol started advising through advertising that vagina-possessing individuals should douche with their product to avoid losing their (presumably) man’s interest. I’m not sure what Lysol was made out of in the ’30s, but if it’s anything like what it’s made of today that sounds like a Bad Idea. And yet the concern over “feminine odor” overshadowed any dubious feelings people may have had about shooting an industrial disinfectant up their cooters. Lysol also claimed that douching with their product would act as a contraceptive. Significantly, douching with Lysol went out of favor once the birth control pill was introduced to the market. Something tells me it was more pleasurable to simply swallow a pill than douche with a hospital-grade disinfectant.
What with all the new extraneous grooming products available to the male-identified today, I have trouble understanding why no one has entered the untapped market of “masculine hygiene”. Maybe a pre-oral wipe to make it easier on the one performing the act. Or a special wash that can be used when a wipe just isn’t cutting it. And why not add some special powders to keep the genital area dry and smelling like Old Spice. If no one gets into this business soon I think I might throw my hat in the ring. In the day and age of Axe, Tag, and Swagger, male-identified folk seem ripe for believing they need special products just for their nethers.
But enough with the wry humor and sarcasm. The fact that the female-identified alone are thought to be the bearers of such bad scents while those who are not get a pass just underscores the deeply rooted sexism and body-negativity in our society. That we wouldn’t even think twice while passing an aisle in the store SOLELY dedicated to the eradication of “feminine” odor shows how ingrained in our culture it is that when you are female-identified, you have a responsibility to God and country to keep that sewer under wraps. We get it in jokes involving a fish smell and some female-identified person needing to close her legs. Honestly, I’ve smelled fish odor emanating from all manner of junk. Basically, ALL JUNK STINKS. Period. So we really need to get over the idea that only female-identified people need to worry about it.