Virginity, a “status” that is an obsession among Indian society, albeit being a taboo. However, the interpretation of virgin status differs according to gender. For a woman, her virgin “status” is a sign of good character and thus an added gold star to her bridal resume. For men, it is a sign of weakness, indicating an inability to gain sexual attention of the opposite gender. A boy who has lost his virginity can proclaim to being macho and a stud among his peers. He is a true man now, a class apart from the rest. Thus it doesn’t come as a surprise when a deodorant advertisement plays on this deep -rooted male insecurity, which correlates loss of virginity to the attainment of masculinity. “Virginity can be cured,” it tells young men as if it is some kind of a disease, which weakens them.

SOME TAKEAWAYS: 

  • A deodorant ad claims that the product can “cure virginity” among men.
  • Does being a virgin make men any less masculine or weak?
  • Why do we want to encourage alpha male behaviour among men by tying their masculinity to their virginal status?
  • Women aren’t animals to choose mating partners on basis of scent or fancy feathers.

“Virginity can be cured,” this ad tells men, as if it is some kind of a disease that weakens them.

The deodorant in question claims to be a “sex appeal booster” as it is a pheromone activating spray. The ad also informs us that pheromones increase an individual’s attractive power thus activating sexual attraction in the opposite gender. Because clearly we shouldn’t be telling boys to seek love, find a compassionate partner, and look at life from a larger lens than that of their sexual life. Who wants to put an effort into sculpting a likable personality, when all you need is a slather of pheromones to drive women wild?

ALSO READ: Media And Advertising As Change Makers. Are We Being Unrealistic?

Must we encourage boys and men to look at their virginal status as some kind blot on their existence? Should men only intend to lose virginity just to get that tag off? To win bragging rights in front of their friends? Why do we still pin masculinity to things like sexual prowess, aggression etc., and thus put boys on the path of misogynist behaviour? Isn’t the whole concept of revering alpha male attitude and the stud-culture something we need to disown completely?

Must we encourage boys and men to look at their virginal status as some kind blot on their existence? Should men only intend to lose virginity just to get that tag off?

This ad is further problematic because it objectifies women and poses them as creatures whose rationality is hardwired in their olfactory receptors. This is a grudge I have had for long with deodorant makers. Stop tying our ovaries to our nose. That is not how it works. We are not animals who choose a mating partner based on the scent they secrete, or fancy feathers. Why do we keep boiling down attraction and sex to animal instincts? For one of the most cerebral species on this planet, doesn’t it seem like a lame gimmick to the advertisers? And yet commercial after commercial deodorant ads continue to reduce women and even men to animals, who only get attracted to a person because they smell nice. Whatever happened to being a nice person, or the value of engaging conversations?

It is time that deodorants got a self-worth check. The job description (and even the name) of this specific product is to “cure” body odour and perhaps that is what it should stick to. The ad makers can leave figuring out the norms of attraction to us.

ALSO READ: Why Indian Women Need to Claim Sexual Agency in their Marriages

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

Get the best of SheThePeople delivered to your inbox - subscribe to Our Power Breakfast Newsletter. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook and on YouTube, and stay in the know of women who are standing up, speaking out, and leading change.