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Deodorant: gender in a bottle

September 2, 2008

I use two antiperspirants: a “female” one (because of its effectiveness) and a “male” one which just makes me smell nice.

I noticed the “male” deodorant has sperm on the label. I mean, a drawing of three spermatozoids, one of which uses Axe (presumably) and therefore is ahead of the rest.

That, combined with the name of the scent (Conviction), sends a really strong message about masculinity. The way I read it, it says “real men are stronger and better than the rest. they make sure their sperm reaches its target:conviction is all they need, not consent. oh, and they use Axe.”

The middle part -about not waiting for consent- is sort of a free interpretation: that day I was angry about the way masculinity is constructed. But the marketing idea is clearly sexual.

My “lady’s” deodorant, on the other hand, is shaped like a female -it has a waist- and it shows a dove, which stands for peace (passivity? peace isn’t always passive, but that’s the way it’s shown). It also advertises the fact that it contains cream, which protects the skin – women are supposed to be more worried about skincare.

The hugest difference is that my “male” antiperspirant is really explicitly sexual, and everyone’s okay with that, even if they’re shocked by a short-ish skirt. That shocks me.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 4, 2008 12:03 am

    Thanks for this, I had a good laugh at the ridiculousness of marketing departments! ;)

    Personally, I haven’t bought an antiperspirant or deodorant in like, 20 years! I have noticed that testosterone makes me sweat more, but I don’t think I smell… much. (I might not be objective about this.) I use a drop of vanilla oil under each arm. Whenever I hug my women friends they usually get a funny smile on their faces and ask me if I’ve been eating chocolate. I take this as a good sign, and so the vanilla oil stays.

  2. genderkid permalink
    September 9, 2008 11:46 am

    Choclate can’t be a bad sign! I hadn’t ever heard about that method, but it sounds like a nice alternative.

  3. September 16, 2008 8:04 pm

    I use two deodorants too. I think it is quite a common behavior among folk like us.

  4. March 11, 2009 11:01 pm

    Uh, la publicidad y packaging de los jabones, desodorantes, shampooes, productos de limpieza el general suelen ser el non va plus de los roles de genero tradicionales. El Mr. Musculo salva a la ama de casa complicada, con el Axe te persiguen las minas, el Dove te cuida la piel, la crema de Neutrogena de hombre es negra y aftershave, porque para eso solo pueden usar crema los hombres. Y asi…
    Yo le robo el Axe a mi padre, y huelo bien. Eso si: no me persiguen las mujeres.

    • genderkid permalink*
      March 11, 2009 11:07 pm

      A mí tampoco me persiguen las mujeres cuando uso Axe –suspiro–. Pero cuando una amiga lo usaba, otra amiga se sentía atraída a ella (ninguna de las dos es lesbiana). Qué se le va a hacer.

  5. Claudius Maximus permalink
    April 1, 2010 4:29 pm

    I have something called ” Multi Chemical Sensitivity”(MCS) so I use unscented personal care products ( Shampoo, deodorant, lotion, soap, etc)). I have notice that the unscented products are targeted to both male & female customers so they have gender neutral packaging. I would love to smell like a guy, but the MCS makes it painful to smell fragances on myself and others. Axe is one of the worse offenders for me, but laundry detergent, fabric softener, perfumes and sprays to make the room smell good make me ill as well.

    Honestly because of my MCS I will love people to use unscented products, because after all what are woman and man supposed to smell like anyways?

    Also, I get annoyed with all the maketing stuff that tells woman to be passive and man to be aggresive. Plus all the packaging is color coded you know pink and light colors for the woman and dark colors for the man’s products.

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