A Feminine Hygiene Predica-Mint

by | December 14, 2009
filed under Feminism

Note: this post was going to be on another site but it was thought not suitable for readers as young as 13, so welcome to my first PG-13 rated blog post!

The advertising industry can make sex feel like an event requiring immense preparation. First a woman is told she has to worry about wearing sexy underwear, banishing blemishes, shaving and waxing legs and bikini lines, as well as considering the plethora of items available like sprays and washes to make her fresh “down there.”

But just when I thought there couldn’t be any more pressure, apparently the company Admints thinks a woman needs to use vaginal mints to make themselves taste better during oral sex. Apparently they can use their product Linger, an “internal feminine flavouring” that Mother Jones points out has “the exact same shape, taste, and ingredients as Admints’ sample [breath] mints.”

Why mints? Well, the makers of Linger claim it will “decrease self consciousness and increase excitement.”

There are a couple problems with the idea behind Linger, and both of them are part of larger trends in feminine hygiene marketing. The first is the troubling insinuation that women need to be worried about how they naturally taste during oral sex. As coverage at The Bachelor Guy states: “Ever been “whistling through the wheat field” and thought: “Jeez, I wish she had a breath mint for down here…?’”

It’s the same type of thing we’ve seen in feminine hygiene ads for decades. Back at the end of October in a Women’s History Month article I posted this 1948 ad encouraging women to douche with Lysol, which implies no one should blame a man if he doesn’t want to sleep with a woman who’s neglected to give her genitalia that “fresh, wholesome feeling.” It might be sixty years since then, but Linger mints, as well modern douches and scented washes carry the same message that how women naturally taste and smell is a turn-off.

The second problem is that corporations like Admints use the shame women are told to feel around sex to promote products that are unsafe. Linger’s main ingredient is sugar, which can unbalance vaginal pH levels and contribute to yeast infections. Although Linger’s website has a disclaimer stating the mints are “for novelty use only”, the testimonials on their website seem to imply they want women to seriously use them despite the risks.

It’s clear Linger mints are part of a larger marketing trend that has included the aforementioned douches and feminine sprays and washes. Most douches, especially Lysol, kill natural vaginal bacteria and promote infection and other disease. Kathryn Strother Ratcliff, feminist Sociology professor at the University of Connecticut, calls marketing these harmful products “corporate violence against women.”

Try to imagine if a corporation decided to market a “masculine wash” that claimed that men should not hope for oral sex without masking  their natural odors and tastes, and that using this minty wash every time before oral sex would help restore the freshness. Do you think society would expect men to feel obliged to use it even if it was known to cause infection and pain?

If not, why do we expect it of women?


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