Thursday, October 23, 2008

For better or worse?

There's been a thread running on a forum about 'feminine hygiene products' that's been a bit of an eye opener.

An amazing number of women have admitted to hating them.

I always did myself, to the extent of free bleeding as much as I could. That means using nothing, just going to the toilet often and washing. I'm lucky I have a very light flow and could do that. It was a major factor in my choosing cloth nappies - if I hate them so much, I wasn't putting that on my baby. And that led to me discovering menstrual cups and cloth pads, which are fantastic. They are so much more comfortable than icky, creased, dry, cotton and paper.

But rather than talking about the products themselves, what about the marketing? What a colossal con job has been pulled on us! This is a product that a large percentage of its customers hate, loathe and despise, yet we are still buying them (At least until you try a cup! Go on!). Somehow we have been tricked into thinking there is no choice, that this is the way things have to be. If we stop and think about it for a moment it is obvious that there were once alternatives, we know the surfboards haven't been around all that long. But there is an unconscious assumption that they must have been worse. Part of that is logical - I mean why would you give up something that works for an inferior product? - but you have to wonder what other social factors were part of it.

Was there an assumption that modern is better? Technology forging onward and upward? Was it more a social thing, that menstruation should be hidden, folded into neat little packages and thrown away rather than soaked, washed and hung on the line for all to see? Was it part of moving into a 'man's world,' symbolically giving up domestic duties such as laundry? Were they genuinely more convenient for women who were spending more time outside the home? Because of course the non-disposable pads of 50 years ago wouldn't have been like modern pads, maybe the surfboards were better at the time.

Menstrual products are largely (and literally!) invisible in our society, so it is easy to see how women would never realise how many of us are unhappy with them. But I wonder how many other products we have accepted and put up with that we don't have to. The marketing of breast milk substitutes is an obvious example, but I bet technology is full of them - have a look at your typewriter keyboard.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

One that bugs me is the "baby monitor" market. They cost upwards of $100 and seem to have less technology than a kids walkie talkie! Most of them are still analog! I cannot for the life of me understand why they can't make them the same sort of quality as say an average (digital) cordless phone. Some phones even have it built in, but it is a pain to tie up your phone using it as a monitor.

As it was I didn't use ours much anyway, but still, IT BUGS ME! Why do we accept and buy them? Probably because the majority of their "market" are not into technology so don't really realise how crappy they are. Ahh well.