Culture Jam

Original Ad

The advertisement I’ve chosen is from a campaign by a company named Easy, who are an organic feminine hygiene product delivery service. The idea of their campaign is to encourage menstruating women to not be ashamed of their periods, since even in this day and age periods are still generally viewed as taboo by society. Although I do highly commend the brand for expressing how women should not be ashamed or embarrassed by their menstruation, I think the company fails to address the issue of feminine hygiene brands only targeting women as their consumers. Apart from a single advertisement by period-proof underwear brand THINX, I have failed to find any marketing campaigns aimed at trans men or non-binary people who also menstruate.

Upon searching for various feminine hygiene products on Google, you will find that ads for tampons and sanitary pads feature exclusively female models, in particular models that are stereotypically “feminine”. There are also many ads that go as far as over sexualizing women and placing women in stereotypical gender roles, which I find highly problematic as you would hope brands targeting women should not want to objectify or label them. My main concern however is the ongoing issue of the lack of visibility for trans men in the media.

Over the past few years there has been a boom in “trans visibility”, but upon further investigation it seems the only trans people really accepted by mainstream companies and brands are those who pass as “women”. It is significant that a wide spectrum of trans women have been able to break into and be celebrated in mainstream media, but it is a shame that the same cannot be said for the majority of trans men. When researching trans men you will typically only find those who embody “hegemonic masculinity”, or in other words those who fit the dominant male stereotype idealized by Western society. Whereas, you will struggle to find images of those individuals who do not fit the masculine “norm” perpetuated by the media. Furthermore, you will find it almost impossible to see images of trans men used in association with periods or period-related products.

Jammed Ad

My jamming philosophy aims to force the viewer to forget their preconceived ideas regarding stereotypical gender roles and to reconsider the identities of those who menstruate. I kept the original ad title of “No shame” but added the subtitle “Because trans men bleed too”, in order to express having no shame in menstruating applies not only to women, but to trans men as well (and to any others who menstruate but do not identify as such). To further create visibility for the fact a “passing male” can also have a period, I superimposed a speech bubble from the man in the image with the text “It’s not hers, it’s mine”, referring to the blood stain on the bed sheet. I wanted to make a key statement that despite what mainstream media and feminine hygiene brands portray as the appearance of the typical menstruating person, this is not the case and this vast range of people should be reflected in the media. I also wanted to express that not all trans men exhibit the stereotype typically portrayed  by the media, i.e. the one that embodies “hegemonic masculinity”, but in fact the outward appearances of trans men is a spectrum, just like that of trans women, non-binary people, males and females. My philosophy stems from the very apparent need for more visibility for trans people, especially trans men whose identities exist in the marginalized intersection between gender, sexuality, class and race where they remain “invisible” and are viewed as less desirable for mainstream media due to not personifying “hegemonic masculinity”.

I also want to point out that I am not in any way attempting to shame those trans men who do embody “hegemonic masculinity”, or those women who fit the stereotype portrayed by feminine hygiene brands. As I previously said, we exist on a spectrum and every part of that spectrum should be deemed as equal and considered “normal”. Rather, I hope to increase awareness for the issues with “trans visibility” in mainstream media, and the issues relating to the exclusive portrayal of menstruating women by feminine hygiene companies.

 

References

“Easy.  |  100% Organic Cotton Tampons and Pads Delivered to Your Door.” Easy.  |  100% organic tampons pads delivered straight to your door. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.

“NO SHAME.” Easy.  |  100% organic tampons pads delivered straight to your door. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.

“People With Periods.” THINX. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.