Summer’s Eve thinks your vagina is powerful, really annoying, still dirty

During a drunken skinny dipping escapade in high school, my friends and I came up with names for our vaginas–ones that captured the unique personalities we felt they possessed. We christened them by shouting these names–loudly, at 3 in the morning, to our sleeping neighborhood–as we cannonballed off the diving board.

Somehow I never imagined my vagina was as fucking annoying as the folks at Summer’s Eve seem to think it is.

After pretty much everyone, including us, hated last year’s super douchey ad, the feminine cleansing product company is trying a different tack. Now, they’re urging everyone to “Hail to the V” in a new ad campaign they claim is “about empowerment.”

The campaign includes one series of ads featuring a vagina represented by a talking sideways hand. (Whenever it was in the creative process that someone wrote the phrase “talking sideways hand”? That would have been a good time to step back and reassess.) In addition to the default white vagina, there’s a black vagina and a Latina vagina. Or, at least, that’s what I assume based on the painfully obvious racial stereotypes employed. (“Aye yi yi”? For reals?)

That chatty hand claims to be my vagina but is clearly an impostor, because my vagina would never refer to herself as a “vertical smile,” knows better than to even mention vajazzaling to me, and is too busy complaining about how long it’s been since she’s gotten laid to give a damn about if my cleansing wash is PH-balanced. My vagina is not a whiny little pussy.

Another ad, which apparently aired before the Harry Potter movie this weekend, celebrates the vagina as “the most powerful thing on earth.” Pro tip: Equating women with their vaginas and saying they are powerful because men have fought over them throughout history? Not all that empowering really.

Some have applauded this attempt at a more vagina-positive stance from Summer’s End. Indeed, it’s rare that commercials for feminine products even mention the word “vagina.” Of course, the tagline “Hail the V” is still euphemistic, and they only really embrace the word in the teaser video called “That’s vaginal.” Still, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Bu there’s maybe nothing I hate more than advertising–especially for beauty products–that tries to tap into some bullshit sense of “empowerment.” For fuck’s sake, you’re trying to convince me to buy a product I don’t need. The only way to do that is by provoking anxiety. Be upfront about it, instead of acting like buying Summer’s Eve Cleansing Wash is somehow incidental to your true aim of teaching me about my ladybits and celebrating the vajajay.

It’s just condescending–to me and my very cool vagina.


Video 1: Hail to the V: BFF

Hello from Vagina Land. Population: 3.5 billion and growing. Thanks to us.
Listen, we need to talk. I tried given you subtle hints but you keep ignoring me. Not cool sister. You and me should be BFFs. You take care of me, I take care of you. You know, like side-kicks. I’m not asking for much. Just a little attention in the shower, with some PH-balanced Summer’s Eve Cleansing Wash. And after you hit the gym? Here’s a thought. Hit me with a Summer’s Eve Cleansing Cloth. That’s it. I’m not talking a brazilian or vajazzaling. Just a little love for your vertical smile. Summer’s Eve Cleansing Wash and Cloth. Hail to the V!

Video 2: “The V” Extended Cut

It’s the cradle of life
It’s the center of civilization.
Over the ages and throughout the world, men have fought for it, battled for it, even died for it.
One might say, it’s the most powerful thing on Earth.
So, come on, ladies, show it a little love!
Cleansing wash and cloths, from Summer’s Eve. Hail to the V!

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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