"your girly bits"

Theres a lot of really dumb ads on television these days. And one of the dumbest is the ad that tries to make brown women go have a cervical smear test. Because brown women have the lowest test rates and some of the highest cervical cancer numbers. In the ad, a bunch of bodacious, colorfully attired, loud and cackling brown women are sitting on the rocks by the ocean. (Because thats where all brown women go to hang out, didnt you know?) It is rather vague what their purpose for sitting on these rocks by the ocean actually is. It could be:

a. they’re doing their laundry. ( because theyre too poor to afford a washing machine/laundromat like most of us brown women are)
b. they’re gathering assorted shell mollusc-like creatures to eat. ( because theyre too poor to buy them all clean and disinfected from Foodtown like the rest of the world)
c. they’re getting together to smoke dope.
d. theyre sitting there because they got nothing better to do since theyre all on the dole and spend their time idly gossiping and harvesting seafood illegally.
( I vote for C myself because theyre all so darn CHEERFUL and LOUD and GIGGLY in the ad that it makes one long for a gigantic white shark to leap out of the depths and consume them all. In one cheerful gulp.)

The ad seems to be aiming for a cosy, warm cuddly kind of feeling as the women chat about their smear test experiences. And encourage another to go have one. Sitting on the rocks by the ocean, they launch into a discussion about why everybody in the little gaggle needs to run along and ‘get her girly bits looked at’. ( I have never met a real live brown person who called their vagina a ‘girly bit’. Maybe Im just hanging out with the wrong brown people. But then, come to think of it – Ive never heard a white person talk about their ‘girly bit’ either.)

The ad is inane. I’m brown. Slightly bodacious. Sometimes really loud. (But never cackly…oh no.) But I never sit by the ocean and do any of A or B or C. I know lots of other brown women. And they never sit by the ocean and do any of A, B or C either. If i was real sensitive about such things – i would say that this ad offends my brownnness. And my womanness. As it is, Im just annoyed by it.

To the makers of this ad, I say – Im not stupid. I dont need vapid chatter and screeching laughter to make me go have a cervical smear. Dont lie to me that its all fun and games. Tell it like it is. Tell me –

‘At least 200 women in NZ get cervical cancer every year. Approximately 70 will die. You could be one of them. Get tested regularly and your chances of being okay are over 90%. Yes the test can be frightening. Taking your pants off and spreading your legs for a complete stranger to poke around is not everyone’s cup of tea. Having a cold, steel instrument stuck up your vagina ( note, NOT your girly bit.) aint no picnic either. But the good news is – its quick. Quicker than a quickie. Truly. Breathe in and out and its all done. And the test is almost always done by a very nice, very careful woman. Who has a vagina herself ( note, NOT a girly bit) and so she knows how tense the whole experience can be. And the great news is – in NZ, its FREE. Well, for brown women it is. Whether or not you hang out all day on rocks by the ocean.

So there’s my public health message to all the female readers of this blog. If you havent had a cervical smear in the last 3 years, then get your butt in gear and go book one today. To all the male readers of this blog ( if youre still reading…usually mention of ‘girly bits’ will have you all shaking your heads and backing away with a slightly panicked expression…) – if the significant women in your life…mothers, sisters, wife, girlfriend/s havent had a cervical smear recently, then encourage them to take their bits over to get checked out.

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7 comments

  1. i just spent aaaages writing a reply and it disappeared. 1. Calm down 2. I like the ads. There's a series of them; the women aren't just out on the rocks but they're sitting around the table in a living room, they're carpooling to an appointment (and yeah they're laughing all the while). I don't see it as pandering but a well meaning effort to get around being 'ma' about having a stranger administer a cervical test, & having full view of your VAGINA (yes, VAGINA). And advertising on TV would be pretty white otherwise, apart from promo ads for Police 10/7 3. Do Islander women all across the motu regularly talk about cervical tests and VAGINAS (yes, VAGINAS) matter-of factly? Can't do if they're not going to get checks in the first place. If they are talking, I can't imagine them doing it without trying to bring humour, laughter and Islander cackling into it to lessen the awkwardness.4. It's narrow-minded of you to be insulted by this ad. There are plenty of people out there who identify with it and respond to the ladies represented. I mean, I chill out discussing heavy issues with my fellow alluring dusky maidens oceanside on rocky outcrops all the time, can't see why you're dogging on it

  2. To my insomniac niece – Im a real islander woman fresh to NZ from the islands. (Not a Kiwi motu one.) Where none of the brown women I know talk like that. Invite me to your next oceanside gathering of NZ dusky maidens and then maybe I can climb out of my narrowminded box and do some 'islander cackling' with the rest of you.

  3. I hate these ads too. And im glad to see someone else does too. It is so stereotypical to portray us this way. And not all islanders are loud, cackling, jokey, cheeky individuals. Ugh.

  4. so we should be GLAD that theres some brown representation on air – even if its 'dumb'/ silly portrayals?! I dont think so. Yes we need more brown rep on tv, but please, give us intelligent examples!

  5. HAHAHAHAHA.. i could not stop laughing when i read this entry.. SO ON POINT.. and thank goodness they stopped running this damn ad, it was a case study in my PR paper and everything you mentioned here in your blog (except for the ABC reasons LMFAO…smoking dope? omg that had me in stitches) was also featured in the case study. I wonder who the people behind the campaign were talking to, because i definitely dont know any Samoan girls/woman who would just hang out at the rocks on the beach haha, anywho, it kinda reminded me (and im stressing the kinda here) of Margaret Mead and her umm experience w Samoan ladies and we all know how that ended right?? lol so im glad the campaigners have altogether stopped running the ads before we laugh and poke fun of it when we’re right in our old age and confess that everything in that age was a joke…just like those funny girls who in their later days confessed they were just joking round w Margaret Mead … seriously Lani, you should be a comedian as well as an author x alofa atu, God bless

    1. woops there’s a typo mistake in there.. i meant *confess that everything in that AD was a joke… see, too much soso and cant concentrate on typing LOL

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