- WARNING -Pharmaceutical companies and drug controllers- First time MP, Jyoti Mirdha #goodnews (kractivist.wordpress.com)
A new product ’18 Again’ has hit the Indian market. A vaginal tightening gel, the advertisement left us mildly confused.
With her newly tautened privates, the saree-clad lady seems in remarkably good cheer, given she apparently ‘feels like a virgin’ and ‘it’ (it presumably being sex), ‘feels like the very first time’. Namely awkward, painful, inexperienced fumbling? Ah well! There’s no accounting for tastes, not least the fantasies of the Indian man.
Regardless, we think this is a step in the right direction. Virgins being a scarce commodity these days, a handy at-home converter for any sacrifices you may have planned is a thoughtfully designed product indeed. (The makers of ’18 Again’ are unclear on what to do with those of us who escaped the wastelands of virginity before 18, but there you have it. You can’t please everyone, especially not those sluts who didn’t even wait till they were legal). The makers of 18 Again are hoping for strong revenues on the back of exponential domestic demand.
As this article details, the Indian vagina now caters to a broad spectrum of consumer taste and preference. Backed by a strong commitment to product diversification, the Indian vagina is set to enter the 21st century with applications and appliances, room fresheners and Christmas trees. Needless to say, we are delighted; our only grouse being that the products are somewhat limited in scope and vision. And so with an eye to the future we present a small list of potential uses and a plea that we all broaden, rather than tighten, our imagination.
From Salman Khan to Amitabh Bacchan, male pattern baldness is a ubiquitous affliction of the modern Indian man. A good hair weave can set you back several thousand rupees. But why waste your hard-earned shekels when the solution lies literally under your nose? Instead of letting this font of cornocopic abundance go to waste in brazilians and such like, we present the Vagwig: For pates of every persuasion and dimension.
It is true; the vagina has limited functionality. But it is, however, particularly skilled at reproduction. But with characteristic lack of foresight, output is currently restricted to the propagation of merely our species. Instead, to fully harness the fecundity of which woman is capable we present Vagriculture: a kitchen garden in your kitchen! No added chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers. Locally produced, organic, artisanal production.
A company called ‘Linger’ recently offered a minty fresh solution to the problem of vaginas tasting like vaginas.Here at Kafila we present a novel new product, aimed at the discerning consumer: Vaginal flavored mints. Keep your breath sweet-smelling all day.
Speaking of agriculture,with its unerring foresight the Met department has now announced what the nation already knew. Things are bad folks, a drought is nigh. But, if properly treated, the vagina is a constantly renewable source of moisture (See Fig 1.4). No more anxious waiting for the rainclouds to darken our shores. With the correct care and attention the VCloud will insure the monsoon need no longer be an annual event.
Under the able guidance of Nandan Nilekani, we are eagerly awaiting the advent of the information revolution in everyday life. Sadly the UID has run aground. Never fear, a workable alternative is at hand, the VID. A fully electronic, biometric, informatic card: a single swipe determines if you’re an asshole.
Male plugs are universally in need of female sockets. We present the Motherlode of Voltage:Yoni-Yamini, Vajraa-Vahini, Vidyut-Tarang-Tatini, Apalachapala Chanchal Chudamani.
To tighten the screws of nuts everywhere.
The Vaginocular, the camera so lucida so obscura, all-seeing eye.
When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright are bright in dark directed.
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would they shadow’s form form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!
So there you have it gentle readers. A catalog of ideas for small medium enterprises and our humble contribution to the Indian entrepreneurial spirit that the Newsweek so admired. Instead of uselessly hanging around ejecting infants, inhaling penises and contracting yeast infections, the vagina can now earn its keep. Not being product designers ourselves, we are sure you can do better than our modest effort here. Send us your ideas (accompanied by drawings) and we will feature our top favorites. We eagerly await your submissions.
From our drawing board to yours,
[Kafila Line of Product Design]
Namma deha, namma hakku!
That was how around 40 of us reclaimed our space vociferously and visibly on the roads of Madiwala (South Bangalore) and its environs between 5.00-7.00 pm last Saturday, 4th August. We energetically and emphatically expressed our views against various recent cases of moral policing and sexual assault across India including Guwahati, Mandya (Karnataka) and Mangalore.
Ithi(meaning “a start” in Sanskrit), a support forum for women employed in the IT/ITeS industry organized the action which attracted necessary attention from local residents, college students and onlookers some of who joined us. Starting with a stationary protest at a busy corner near the BMTC bus stop, we walked for an hour with slogans, pamphlets, placards/posters venting our outrage and rejection of sexual violence and the irresponsible and unacceptable response and attitude of state representatives (women’s commission chairpersons, police and ministers). “Most people have experienced (including us) gender specific harassment in their private, public and professional lives. But we rarely discuss that openly for various reasons”, observed Deepthi R, who works in the IT industry. Obviously, shame, low self-esteem, unempathetic family, friends, colleagues, insensitive media or state, insufficient redressal mechanisms et al are often why those facing sexual discrimination and atrocities prefer to be silent about them.
Madhu, a transgendered person from the Jayanagar zone of Samara (a community based organization for sex workers and sexual minorities) shared, “We are here to support the protestors and highlight our condition. An altered sexuality orientation is natural for us. But we undergo ostracization at home and outside because of it making it difficult for us to find housing, education and jobs. Further, goondas and the police often exploit us physically and emotionally. The latter sometimes imprison us under false cases and torture us. And the government denies us our basic entitlements like family ration card, voter id., etc. and the specific benefits announced.”
Members of the Karnataka chapters of the National Federation for Indian Women (NFIW) and Women Against Sexual Violence and State Suppression (an informal network of women’s rights organizations across India) participated. Conveying their solidarity, many human rights defenders across Bangalore appreciated the idea and importance of a demonstration at an unusual location. ITHI volunteers Chithra P and Sudha B summed up, “Content that we registered our voice against this issue, we parted with the spirit of continuing similar struggles”.
Malini Nair | August 11, 2012, Times Crest
TRESS BIEN: Male bashing and hair care in one go
An ad campaign for beauty products links empowerment to healthy hair – and sparks off a mighty ruckus.
As ads go it managed to do what ads are meant to do – made most of Kerala and Malayalees outside sit up startled. What was this? A feminist with all the trademark traits – big red bindi, cotton sari, a strong face and long, lovely hair – stands at what looks like a crummy small town bus depot ranting about men who harrass women in buses by pulling their long hair. Should we, she fumes, give into this and start sporting short hair like men? Come sisters, she exhorts, let us stand up for our long hair and fight eve-teasers. ‘Ulkaruthu mudikkyum manasinum (inner strength for hair and heart), Indulekha hair oil, ‘ intones a mellow male voice.
Feminism to push a beauty product and that too starring a feminist theatre actor Sajitha Madathil? How was this supposed to work? Wasn’t feminism supposed to be antithetical to long hair-fair skin stereotypes? Indulekha wasn’t done yet. Its second ad featured a harried housewife fed up of daily beatings at the hands of a drunk husband. “I took it for my two children, ” she tells you at home on a depressing evening, kids glued to television. “But now I won’t. ” And proceeds to bundle up her thick dark hair into a bun, looking ready to beat up the brute when he came home. Said brute is standing tottering at the gate, but then takes one look at wife looking a dark cloud and quietly slinks away.
What followed was a storm.
The ads opened up a barrage of views and counterviews among Malayalees so forceful that Indulekha says it is now releasing a conventional set of ads – pretty faces, medical claims, surveys and so on, standard issue beauty advertising to be precise. But the debate has yet to die down. Can women’s empowerment be used as a tool for advertising, and to hell with the ideological issues? Or is it that angry, rebellious women make for more sexy models?
Indulekha and the creative heads behind the campaign are clear about what they set out to do, the flak notwithstanding. “The idea of any advertising is to break the clutter and we managed to do that. To that end it was a successful campaign whatever the reactions, ” says Sunil G of the Firewoods creative team that put the campaign together along with V Eye. “We were targeting ordinary middle class woman in Kerala, and maybe men as well. ” An Indulekha executive says the campaign wasn’t taken in the right spirit. “So we have decided to stick to the tested pattern, ” he says.
Ironically the campaign got flak from both quarters – feminists as well as Malayalee men upset at being portrayed as leches and wife-beaters. The latter let loose a stream of furious, sometimes obscene, tirade against the women in the ads. And, there were Facebooks spoofs. Feminist and scholar J Devika, whose blog post on kafila. org set off the debate on Facebook and the internet, says the campaign was patronising. “This whole brainy-despite-being-beautiful thing is driven by men who find it a very engaging idea. This woman figure is still controlled by them because for all her anger she is still hanging on to the long lustrous hair, ” she says.
Feminism has been used as an offbeat strategy before. In her essay for the New York Times, The Empowerment Mystique, writer Peggy Orenstein, says few feminist ads have any real substance. What they revel in is the “feeling of ‘empowerment’ : an amorphous, untethered huzzah of ‘Go, team woman!’” Verizon, Sarah Palin‘s Mama Grizlies, Dove’s True Colours are some of the celebrated campaigns that focussed on ‘real’, strong women. There was our own Surf’s Lalitaji and now, Anushka Sharma‘s spunky Scooty gang. Rousing feminist rhetoric, however vacuous, is a tried and tested way to sell a product, says Orenstein.
“The so-called strong women, career women, superwomen who run businesses and households with the help of the magic mixie and magic cooker are a modern version of the karyeshu mantri, karaneshu dasi…prescription, the eight noble virtues of an ideal wife. The old Sanskrit poets stated it baldly, the modern man is more circumspect !” says Prema Jayakumar, writer and translator.
Rattled by the flood of criticism, Indulekha quietly wound up the campaign. Would it have worked if it had stuck to its guns? Kiran Khalap, co-founder of chlorophyll, brand and communications consultancy, believes that feminism is a tricky advertising tool. “There are other layers of retro sexism, reverse sexism etc that come into play in more aware societies and it is difficult to separate labels from reality,” he says.
In a country that places an illogically high value on virginity, can a gel that promises ‘vaginal tightening’ be sold as a sexually empowering idea? A new advertising campaign for a product that promises to give Indian women tighter vaginas is headed for probable YouTube superstardom.
In a household straight out of a Priyadarshan film set or a Tamil TV weepie, where various family members keep appearing on screen, urging you to play a kind of spot-the-relative game (guy shooting the proceedings on camera phone is the pesky but cute brother-inlaw;young girl in jeans and kurta is the college-going sister-in-law ), a shapely young wife in a pink sari is about to hand over a steel dabba to her headed-to-work husband (who is touching his parents’ feet). But instead of leaving the scene after exchanging the mandatory coy look full of sexy promise with the husband, she grabs him by the hand and starts dancing the salsa, crooning “I feel like a virgin”. “Oh yes you do, ” replies hubby encouragingly.
The other V-word at the core of this little drama – vagina – doesn’t come into the picture till the end, when a sophisticated voice announces that the product that has made this revirginated woman and her husband so happy, 18 Again, is a “vaginal tightening and rejuvenating gel”. In a country that places an illogically high value on virginity, a product that promises to make women “feel like virgins” is quite likely to have them queuing up outside medical stores to buy something they believe will miraculously restore their hymens. Feminists and web commentators are already questioning the ‘women’s empowerment’ argument put forth by the company behind 18 Again. While it may enhance sexual pleasure for both men and women, isn’t it feeding the patriarchal view that women need to be perfect and ‘virginal’ – because actual virginity is frustratingly for one-time-use-only, curse it – for men to find them attractive? It’s a toss up.
On the one hand, if you believe the stuff about tighter vaginas making sex more pleasurable for the woman, it’s easy to go with the empowerment argument and say this is a product women can buy for themselves to enhance their sex lives, and what’s not to like about that? On the other hand, the ‘virgin’ bit is clearly aimed at men.
Ultratech India Ltd, the Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company that has launched this patent-pending gel after three years of research, clinical trials, market studies and an FDA approval, is convinced this is a revolutionary product that falls in the feminine hygiene category. Rishi Bhatia, chairman and MD, Ultratech India, is firmly taking the good-forhealth route. He believes 18 Again is a “vaginal health” product that addresses several needs like preventing infections and toning vaginal muscles, which in turn has health benefits like preventing adult incontinence and vaginal prolapse. “We are not saying this will restore virginity. The name indicates that this will make a woman feel young, as she did at the age of 18 when she was just entering womanhood. Our market research, including interviews with gynaecologists, shows many women want non-surgical vaginal tightening, ” says Bhatia.
Priti Nair, director of ad agency Curry Nation, who created the TVC, has a lighter take. “We didn’t want to take a negative route, showing a woman cringing and crying over her husband losing sexual interest in her. We wanted to show a woman celebrating her sexuality and revelling in her womanhood, ” says Nair. Yet, coming right after a certain muchdiscussed product that claimed to create fairer vaginas, 18 Again is definitely in for a hard time from those who believe there is much too much pressure on women to have perfect bodies.
“Leave our vadges alone!” says Nikhila Sachdev (name changed on request), a 32-year-old Bangalorean who just gave birth a year ago. “First you’re supposed to be really thin. Then you’re supposed to remove every bit of hair from your body. Then you’re supposed to do something about those sagging boobs. And now you have to get whiter, tighter vaginas? What’s next? Diamond-encrusted vadges?” she asks indignantly. You’re not too far out, babe. Kim Kardashian, that possibly plastic goddess of frivolity, has already been heard boasting about her Swarovski-studded labia