CLEAN PURE SOFT FRESH: A Whole New World of Vagina Spray

Ladies and... ladies, welcome to the wonderful, bewildering world of eco-chic vagina cleaner feminine care products. I Love My Muff offers products that are good for the environment, possibly bad for you, and, as an added bonus, with a host of conflicting positive and negative messages about the acceptability of vaginas!


Left: partial screenshot from ilovemymuff.com. Right: "pure spray"

THE GOOD: The I Love My Muff product line, which launched back in November but recently became available at Henri Bendel on Fifth Avenue, is woman-owned, paraben-free, synthetic color and fragrance free, vegan and partially biodegradable. The line does not (currently) include douches or Vajazzle kits (side note: men have recently gotten in on Vajazzling... is that a good thing?).

THE BAD: No matter how body-positive your brand name is, providing a line of products specifically for vagina cleanliness sends the message that vaginas are not clean on their own, that they are a problem for which your products are the convenient solution, that properly "loving" and "caring for" your vagina entails spending $76 on the four-step process of cleaning, purifying, moisturizing and periodically refreshing the coating of essential oils on your labia.


"What are we looking at?"

Plus, their ad copy is unbearable. The site proclaims "CLEAN PURE SOFT FRESH" in huge letters, each word a link to a corresponding product (soap, spray, lotion and wipes). The slogan "it's no longer a whisper, it's a statement" doesn't even make grammatical sense, as statements and whispers are not exclusive; I guess loving your muff isn't quite acceptable enough to be a shout or an assertion yet. It's also an entirely euphemistic statement - good luck finding the word "vagina" anywhere on the website. These little bottles are only for "muffs", "sensitive parts" and "down there". The product descriptions don't help, as they're flowery and sometimes nonsensical: one of the soaps promises to "[invoke] a mystical feeling of invigoration reminding you of botanical dew drops suspended in a welcomed breeze." Besides being annoying, this language also keeps the actual application of the product in the dark - are the products for the vulva only, or are you supposed to apply them on your inner labia, or what? Hopefully the products themselves include more detailed directions, but I kind of doubt it.

As for the products themselves: essential oils and distilled water are a lot safer for your skin than the synthetic chemicals found in most personal care products, but even mild doses of 100% pure essential oils can irritate sensitive areas of skin... like, say, your vagina (just to pull an example out of thin air). "With an irresistable [sic] fusion of vanilla, grapefruit and ylang ylang there's no telling where it will take you." Maybe all the way to a urinary tract infection!

THE VERDICT: My rule of thumb is Just Say No (to Vag Spray), but if you are looking for some, it's probably the friendliest you'll find anywhere. Unless it's really part of the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

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Comments

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Word

You really nailed it on this one Sarah. Here was our reaction when we discovered this whole new world of Vagina Spray: http://blog.lunapads.com/2010/01/pretty-in-pink/

This is a HUGE no for me. My

This is a HUGE no for me. My cooch is lovely all on it's own. Yes, vulvas do get the occasional yeast infection or UTI, and at those times they require treatment, but really... a healthy body that gets a regular old shower once in a while is just fine. I think companies like this are playing on that segment of young women who really want to embrace and love their bodies but still feel some shame about it, so they say "I love my muff," but they can't use big girl words like "vagina" and "vulva."

Ha.

I just can't get over that "mystical feeling of invigoration reminding you of botanical dew drops suspended in a welcomed breeze."

WTF does that even MEAN? When did invigoration become "mystical?" And why am I supposed to associate feelings of invigoration with some misplaced memory (I'm being "reminded," after all), of condensation defying gravity? Um??? Not to mention the awkward grammar of "welcomed breeze..."

In sum, this is so ridiculous it's hilarious, but not hilarious enough for me to be duped into buying such an unnecessary product.

Oh, perfect another product

Oh, perfect another product letting me know that my body is dirty and smelly and bad, but that I can fix it if I shill out some cooch-cash.
Wonderful. (eyeroll.)

Great Post!

Vagtastic point of view!!!

My vag is fine the way it is

Just because a business is women-owned, it doesn't mean they don't support anti-woman sentiment. Healthy vagina clean themselves. If my vagina doesn't feel good, I go get antibiotics, I don't spray perfumy gunk in it.

http://macktivist.wordpress.com/

this reminds me of....

the time, many many moons ago, that I went to the gyno for a yeast infection and he told me that the infection was caused by not cleaning well enough and to start washing my "parts" with anti-bacterial soap. I did and my yeast infection turned into a ragey, burning mess. That was when I discovered the miracle of not using anything but water to wash. This kind of smelly, poof-poof garbage has nothing to do with loving one's muff.

That doctor was an idiot

That doctor was an idiot. As a lot of people mentioned already, the vagina is self-cleaning. Yeast infections are not the result of being "unclean" it is the result of pH imbalance, causing the vagina to produce more yeast to try to solve the imbalance. Also, antibacterial soap?! Holy shit! Vaginas contain naturally occuring, good bacteria (yeast). Although, it is important wash the vulva (labia) well with water, or if you must, a very mild soap (we're talking completely unscented, baby soap). I had to go to the gyno for problem, and that was her solution.

Also, it seems to me that at least the lotion on the site is meant only for external use, to moisturize skin after shaving. That is the only thing that makes sense on the site. Everything else sounds horrendously unhealthy, and reeks (pun intended) of vagina shame.

I agree with the overall

I agree with the overall sentiment of your post, but the vagina does not "produce" yeast. Yeast is an independent organism—a fungus, not a bacteria. Just like any ecosystem, a change in environmental conditions can cause a spike or trough in species populations, but that doesn't mean that the environment itself is "trying" to do anything.

It's weird to think of my vagina as an ecosystem.

Does no-one else have issue

Does no-one else have issue with the use of the word 'pure'? Maybe it's just me but I just think that the connotations of that word are a bit too 'this will make you virgin fresh'.

Smells for a Reason

This post fits perfectly with the book I've been reading lately, "Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation" by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim, and I must say it's a funny and informative book all about periods. One chapter deals with feminine hygiene and care, and how society treats it like the vagina is dirty and needs to be cleaned. If you're vagina has an odor its to tell you that somethings wrong. Besides I really don't want to smell a "breeze" when I part my legs...

still ticked

Ok also the creator of the product says on the site "It’s no longer taboo and with it’s clean packaging and bold message these products are a statement of confidence and a must have for every woman." What's no longer taboo? No where on the website do they even say the word "vagina".

Vulva Original

After reposting this blog on my FB page (which sparked a LOT of comments, BTW), a friend replied with this little gem: http://www.vulva-original.com/en/.

As the owner of one fabulous smelling vulva, I'm kinda flattered that someone actually made an olfactory aphrodisiac (according to the add, this product is *not* a parfume!) based on the smell of pussy. On the other, the adds are so straight outta anti-woman hetero porn any feminist notion of cunt cologne goes straight out the window. I must say though, when the "trainer" smells the bike seat, I peed my pants a little from laughing so hard.....

So vulvastic readers (and all those who love them) what do YOU think about Vulva Original?

Heather
Portland, OR

The dirty muff vs the fetishized--is there no in between?

I was extremely creeped out when that man smelled the bike seat. Based on the ads it seems as if this is a product for sex-obsessed creepers rather than genuine vulva lovers. It's also a bit confusing--does the product smell like a sweaty work-out vulva or just the standard "casually-hanging-out-on-my-couch-with-my-vulva-exposed" scent? Cause in my opinion, there's a definite difference. But I guess if someone wants to "carry around the vaginal scent in order to enjoy erotic fantasies anytime, anywhere" more power to them. It's kind of a weird bit of a comfort to know that some men (as the ads only feature men, not women, enjoying the scent) somewhere are getting off to the "organic" smell of vaginas, since other companies and products decree that vaginas aren't supposed to smell like vaginas; at least this product is claiming that their version of the "natural" vulva scent is desirable. However, I'm definitely uncomfortable with the way it's presented in a fetishized and hypersexual way. It begs the question of who their target customer is---again, my instinct points to creeper status.

On a side note, Earthbound Trading Company carries a home fragrance oil made by the Love is in the Air, Corp. called "pussy." While it is by far one of my favorite scents (alongside "butt naked" and "orgasm") and smells absolutely heavenly, it doesn't smell like any pussy I've ever come across. However, I still like to walk into my bedroom and think "damn, that pussy smells great in here."

The only word is "silly."

Last I heard, vaginal fluids are not rare enough to warrant artificial imitations. The written comments make it sound like this isn't a scent to put on yourself; it's just meant to be sniffed erotically, which is even more confusing. It's being marketed toward presumably straight, cis females (like the woman in the commercial attracting the creepy gym troll,) and what use could they possibly have for fake discharge?
Besides -- and let's just pretend the spray DOES facsimile female genitals well, which I somehow doubt -- "natural vaginas" don't have one universal scent. The I Love My Muff-esque products tell us what our product-altered parts should smell like, while "vaginal sprays" make the same claims toward our natural parts.
Plus, turning "vulva" into a brand name? Really?

My vagina is angry about

My vagina is angry about this. It does not want to smell like vanilla, grapefruit, or ylang ylang...I want to taste the fish, that's why I ordered it.

Confused

First of all thanks for the excellent article. Is it just me having bad luck or are products like these occuring more often the last years? If so, I am really frightened for the generation growin up right now...I grew up struggling with the war against my body hair, which was hard enough and made me feel like a monster quite often, but at least I didnt have to worry about my vagina not being vanilla enough.

Second, I was a little confused, because you wrote:
"...are the products for the vulva only, or are you supposed to apply them on your inner labia, or what?"
My inner labia are actually part of my vulva - do I have to send photos or is there something wrong with this sentence? ;-)

I really wish we were teaching women this:

This is from Scarleteen.com, probably my favorite website ever: http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/out_out_damn_smell

In February, our feminist

In February, our feminist group on campus performed "The Vagina Monologues," so this really hits home in a way. I think it does have that message that "your vag isn't clean enough," or "make it look prettier for that stud." I think it's bullshit because a woman's vagina is her own personal business. She should keep it however she wants to and doesn't need some stupid company telling her how it should look. Granted their are penis-enlarging advertisement all over the Internet, there isn't anything like this out there.