Suzanne Harrington: Are girls with swishy hair in tight white jeans the only way to advertise tampons? 

Are we still pretending that tampons are embarrassing secrets to be hidden away in pastel sweet-wrapper packaging?
Suzanne Harrington: Are girls with swishy hair in tight white jeans the only way to advertise tampons? 
A screenshot from the Tampons & Tea commercial which attracted complaints from some Irish viewers

Look, I know everyone has piled in already about that Tampax ad, but as the proud possessor of both a vagina and a newspaper column, it would be rude not to stick my oar in, providing, of course, the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland doesn’t find my idiom provocative or suggestive.

Because I do love to stick an oar in. All the way in.

Seriously, ASAI. Is it still 1985? Are we still pretending that tampons are embarrassing secrets to be hidden away in pastel sweet-wrapper packaging, instead of everyday functional objects used inside the vaginas of half of the population every month in a manner less sexual than a trip to B&Q on a damp Tuesday?

It is the numbers that make this so insane.

Obviously there will always be 124 and a half Irish women out there (83% of 150 complaints — I did the maths on my phone) who will find a tampon ad offensive, just as my grandmother nearly keeled over in horror when the first-ever such ads came on the telly back in the last century.

You might remember them — shiny girls with swishy hair rollerblading in tight white jeans, as though in a music video, while back in a mocked-up studio laboratory made of cardboard, a male actor in a white doctor’s coat poured mad blue liquid into a nappy.

Now THAT was offensive, although not for the reasons affecting my grandmother, who would whisper faintly, “I have lived too long,” before reaching for the remote control.

Like so many women of her generation, she’d been force-fed so much toxic shame about her own physical person that she literally could not watch an advert featuring a woman on rollerblades because of its tenuous connection to fannies.

And here we are again, except this time the ad offers clear instruction instead of euphemism and all that rollerblading — the kind of instruction long overdue, as anyone who has ever walked around with an incorrectly inserted tampon will wincingly attest.

However,  that’s not really the point here — the point is the numbers. Or lack of them.

It seems the ASAI’s grip on sums is about as reliable as the grip on the reality of whoever complained that the Tampax ad was provocative/suggestive - unless of course, the complainants were nocturnal Transylvanians with a pronounced aversion to garlic and a menstruation fetish.

However, they were not. They were 124 and a half Irish women.

So let’s do some more sums. Primary school sums. If Ireland has a population of 4.904m, half of which is female, 124 and a half women does not constitute “widespread offence” amongst the lady demographic of — let’s double-check those figures — the approximately 2,452,000 Irish people with vaginas.

This “widespread offence” works out at one woman in every 19,695.

What a magnificent, hilarious coup for Tampax. The ban has been making news internationally. Nice one, ASAI. 

Thanks for making Ireland look, in the eyes of the world, as mad as a box of frogs.

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