India Gets Plenty Uptight About Ad for Vaginal Tightening Cream

Message of female empowerment rings false

The commercial below for a vaginal tightening cream called 18 Again is causing a backlash in India. The spot shows a wife singing "I feel like a virgin," while dancing around her husband in the infamous simulated sex of a Bollywood dance number, caressing phallic pillars along the way. Creams like this already exist in India (including something called Clean and Dry), and the most obvious immediate feminist critique points out that products like these are all about male satisfaction. (Who in their right mind wants to feel like a virgin, anyway?) But what seems to be driving the backlash toward 18 Again is the language they're using to describe it. According to Ultratech, which makes the product, "18 Again has the power and the potential to break the shackles and redefine the meaning of women empowerment altogether." Of course, a cultural obsession with virginity, and the sexual shaming of experienced women that comes as its flip side, is the exact opposite of empowerment, and therein lies the rub. It's one thing to be honest and sell vaginal tightening cream to sexist pigs. It's another to piss on a lady's sari and tell her it's raining. While it's notable that this faux-feminism has upset many in India's conservative society, I'm sure there are still plenty of takers. After all, the cream is way cheaper than surgically replacing your hymen like we do in America.