An Australian sanitary pad company has hit upon a witty tagline for their product:
Literally thousands of people have signed a petition to tell Libra that that’s not OK.
An advert for something which both men and women buy, like car sponges, with the tagline “absorbs way more than you ever did in maths class” would be disappointing, but not so bad. It’s not uncommon for people to dislike maths class, so alluding to it is an easy way to gain the consumer’s sympathy.
An advert for a maxi pad is different to an advert for a car sponge because of the long history of the rest of our culture telling women they’re not as good at maths as men. This advert reinforces that stereotype because there’s a conspicuous lack of adverts for products targetted at men that make reference to their poor maths skills.
University of Sydney professor Nalini Joshi, who has to spend a depressing amount of time talking about things like this, said in The Australian newspaper,
This is the way bullies work at school, by trying to separate you from the group and barraging you with messages that you don’t belong.
Twitter user @EatShootBlog has put it even more succinctly:
NOT BUYING LIBRA ANYMORE! My two teenage girls love maths. This is fucking ordinary. Lift your game! @LoveLibraX pic.twitter.com/PCgd5x1KO6”
— Trish (@EatShootBlog) August 11, 2014
Petition: Libra’s absorption problem
Women in science and maths denounce stereotyping in Libra tampon ad in The Australian (might ask you for a subscription if you don’t arrive via a Google search)
Shelley Bridgeman: The problem with this Libra pad ad in The New Zealand Herald