Leopard

Column: Fem-trolling products in the land of the rising sun

Asia’s Best New Sexist Products

In her weekly column Leopard Print in the Ivory Tower, Annika Blau analyses pop cultural artifacts through the lens of academia. If you’ve ever wondered what Kim and Kanye have to do with structuralism or how globalization theory pertains to Lolcats, you’ve come to the right place.

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Asia is renowned for its interesting products, from the creepy (used underwear vending machines?) to the just-plain-weird (Washing machine legwarmers? Portable toilet roll hat?)

In my keen following of said cultural output, I’ve noticed three new products that seem to be designed with the sole purpose of trolling feminists.

I mean, they could have been invented for their stated purposes of selling teddy bear films, shrinking vaginas and averting perverts. But they probably weren’t. They’re probably all sick jokes designed to rile up hypersensitive keyboard-warriors like me.

So without further ado, I present you Asia’s best new fem-trolls.

#1. Thigh-vertising

Yep. Thanks to one Tokyo PR “genius,” Japanese teenagers are now renting out their thighs to be printed with advertising. To the Tokyo PR community, this is apparently a brainwave, because Japanese consumers have become immune to the regular advertising with which their capital is swamped. Hidenori Atsumi, the afore-mentioned PR genius, said thighs are “what guys are eager to look at and girls are eager to expose.”

The teens are advised to wear knee-high socks and mini-skirts so as to infantalise them further accentuate the advertising. In their debut campaign, the girls advertised a teddy-bear film, which is to infantalise them further the agency’s first client.

But seriously, this has nothing to do with pushing a film about Teddy Bears. It’s totally been designed to troll for feminist raves on the commoditization of the female body. Not only that, but it’s sure to catch all cyber-Marxists out there too. The absorption of the body, the last vestige of organic life, into the relations of production??

Someone get me a Xanax, STAT, the neoliberal Armageddon is upon us.

#2. Chinese leg-hair stockings

Ok, so this one is quite possibly a hoax (the cyber-jury are undecided), but it’s gone viral nonetheless and riled up many a feminist.

A picture of stockings coated in a full leg’s worth of hair was posted on a Chinese social media site, with the caption “anti-pervert… essential for young girls going out.”

The premise of these (possibly fictional) stockings may be the internet’s best articulation of rape culture’s victim-blaming mentality. I mean, it’s women’s responsibility to cover up and make repulsive their seductive bodies, right? If they don’t invest in the right quantity of man-repelling leg hair, a guy can’t be expected to control his sexual urges. That would require the kind of critical faculties that have separated humans from animals for millennia. And that is just unreasonable.

#3. Vaginal tightening cream

An Indian brand stoked the coals of feminist rage by releasing “18 Again: Vaginal Tightening cream.” It’s stated aim of making your vagina like a virgin, touched for the very-first time ain’t music to the ears of those who value a woman for more than the condition of her hymen. India is just one of the nations still gripped by the cult of virginity, of which “18 Again” is admittedly a less sick manifestation than, say, genital mutilation and honour killings.

Despite this obvious context, the product is marketed as a tool of “female empowerment”, which as Ruby Hamad writes, may represent “the unholiest alliance of capitalism and patriarchy.”

It is unclear how women are empowered by the message that there’s something wrong with a vagina that’s been used and enjoyed.

A vagina is not a car, or a vacuum cleaner.

The logic of used goods does not apply here, and it doesn’t need to be traded in like a 1980s Ford Thunderbird.

Furthermore, the logic of wanting to relive your first time (as the ad promises) is just, well… there is no logic. No one wants to relive that pain and awkwardness. No one.

So there we have it, three successful attempts at fem-trolling courtesy of that great land mass to the North.

Next time: used underwear vending machines.

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Annika Blau is a freelance writer from Sydney with a lot of opinions. Her writing explores what pop culture tells us about ourselves, and pairs the teachings of academia with those of the supermarket aisle. She wants to know why we don’t examine Kanye West with the same academic rigour as The Cantebury Tales, and finds Lady Gaga as revealing as the census. More of her writing can be found at annikablau@blogspot.com.au.

Read the rest of ‘Leopard Print in the Ivory Tower’ here.

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(Banner image from Quinn Dombrowsky)