Through my jamming, I added the text “I’m also at risk for kidney disorders, migraine headaches, hypertension, liver tumors, blood clots, and much more. Ask your doctor about the possible side effects of this drug and review your health history together before starting this drug!” I also blanked out the word “boys” and replaced it with “folks,” as well as blacked out the faces of the men gazing at the woman.
My intent with the added text was to show consumers that there is much more to the pill than this ad lets on. Now, the ad includes a fraction of the possible side effects of Yasmin (retrieved from https://www.drugwatch.com/yaz/) as well as encourages the consumer to have a conversation with their doctor about previous health issues before committing to this pill. The original ad dismissed the conversation of health almost entirely, and instead, focused on sexualizing the woman and convincing consumers that if they go on the pill, they too will be safe and “desireable.”
Another intent of mine was to get rid of the gender-mold issue that I previously discussed. Deciding on a contraceptive method should be a personal, individual decision. By using the word “boys” and by including four gazing men within the ad, it leaves the impression that in order to go on this pill, you must be a heterosexual, feminine woman. It also suggests that the woman pictured is simply going on the pill to please these other men watching her. By blanking out the faces and changing the word “boys” to a gender neutral word, this ad is now recognizing that women choose to go on the pill for a lot of reasons other than to have sex with men. Moreover, it gets rid of the idea that you must be heterosexual in order to go on this pill.
My culture jamming assignment was inspired by this Yasmin birth control ad in combination with last week’s article, “The Push to Prescribe” by Rochon Ford. I see two main problems within this ad that I will be addressing with my “jamming.” Firstly, I see this as epitomizing one of Ford’s main arguments about neoliberalism and women’s healthcare – this company is trying to sell women this birth control while hindering important healthcare information about the drug. By simply saying “That’s right boys…I’m on the pill!” young women are led to think that’s that – if they’re on the pill, they’re safe and healthy. It doesn’t address the risk of possible STI’s or of possible healthcare complications that come with the pill. The goal with this ad is to simply sell the drug and make it look desirable, rather than provide its consumers with helpful and accurate information.
Secondly, I see this ad as problematic in that it is sexualizing the woman and putting her under the gaze of four young men. This leaves the impression that if you’re on the pill, you too will be gazed at and desired by men all around. This is a marketing problem not just within healthcare ads, but within so many ads all around the world. They seem to create an assumed gender “mold” that women should fit into, and this ad for the pill is simply adding to that. It’s leaving an impression on women saying that “You should be on this pill. You should be feminine. You should be heterosexual.” They present us with a white, heterosexual female and create a false image of what being on the pill means. Women have the right to knowledge about their healthcare, as do all people. Instead of presenting an option through a helpful, informative ad, this company is negating important information while also sexualizing the woman featured in the ad, and is excluding the possibility of women of colour or women with different sexual preferences being on the pill.