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.