“Cut Mother Nature down to size”
I realise there’s a competition on for World’s Worst TERF, so here’s my nomination: Mother Nature from the Tampax Pearl adverts. Let’s face it, she ticks every box– white, frumpy, over 50, biologically essentialist, always springing up to oppress women by suggesting they have bodies which do specific “woman” things, too bigoted to realise that sex difference can be queered – or in this case tampon-ed – out of existence. Let’s all hope she dies in a fire (NB that’s just a meme, which makes it an acceptable statement or something).
Only kidding. I’m quite protective of Mother Nature, although those adverts have annoyed me ever since they first aired. They’re the perfect illustration of the type of “liberation” business and popular culture likes to sell to young women today. Ageist and misogynistic, it is a liberation which pretends to be counter-cultural – “look at the old woman, with her stupid old ideas of what women’s lives and bodies are!” – but is in fact deeply conservative. There’s nothing challenging about ridiculing and dismissing the authority of older women (even if it is purely symbolic). There’s nothing revolutionary about pretending women’s biological realities can be “outsmarted” rather than engaged with (indeed, patriarchy finds our ability to “outsmart” – aka suffer in silence – invariably useful). There’s nothing progressive about taking traditional “wise woman” figures and turning them into evil witches. It’s the same old, same old, and meanwhile actual women carry on cramping, bleeding, sweating and leaking without saying a word (indeed, confessing to feeling period pain is now equivalent to believing the Earth is flat; like, don’t you know biology has, like, totally moved on?).
One of the great ironies of the Tampax Pearl adverts is that they play on a misogynistic distaste both for periods and for the post-menopausal woman. Mother Nature is clearly not of an age to be menstruating herself; she just brings her “monthly gift” to poor, unsuspecting young women. On the one hand we hate her because she is a spent force, with the kind of dried-up cunt young male comedians would joke about on Mock the Week; on the other, we hate her because she dares to suggest that menstruation has any relevance to our perception of women. She is like the second-wave feminist who dares to use phrases like “female body” and “pregnant women”; if only she’d shut the fuck up, none of these things would exist in any meaningful sense. Like I said, she’s a total TERF, unaware that biological difference can be completely erased as long as young women have enough objects – tampons, cocks – to stick in their vaginas (which aren’t really vaginas any more).
Looking at the latest Tampax advert in a magazine – Mother Nature, small and shrivelled, being dragged away by two burly bouncer types, with clear overtones of male violence – it strikes me that it’s a perfect illustration of how commercialised, artificial and regressive certain branches of feminism have become. While biological difference persists and women still suffer because of it – through physical abuse, rape, reproductive coercion, marginalisation and exclusion – it’s being papered over with a deluded marketing campaign. Outsmart Mother Nature! Tell that TERF where to go! You deserve – well, what, if it isn’t going to be the same as usual?
I think women – all women, regardless of age – deserve so much better than this. Our bodies and minds are real, not ideas which advertising copywriters and muddle-headed social justice warriors can blurb out of existence.