Thursday, October 19, 2006

Corporate Responsibility or Insidious Marketing?

I recently read that Seventh Generation, producer of earth-friendly household items, including unbleached tampons and menstrual pads, is sponsoring the TamPontification Tour. Its purported purpose is to remove the taboo from discussing our bleeding. They probably expect to sell a few boxes of pads and 'pons along the way, too.

I'm torn. In our consumption culture, people take their cues from corporations. If a company says "let's talk about bleeding," that certainly makes it more okay to talk then when the school nurse says the same thing. But it's naive to think that Seventh Generation, however committed the company may be to providing products with the smallest footprint possible, is talking blood for any reason other than to increase sales. It's easier, of course, to see the connection when formula companies provide breastfeeding "Support Kits" to new mothers.

And then this week (though I'm probably late to the party and this has been happening for weeks), I see the Gap has a whole (red) line of clothing, half the profits from which go to fight AIDS in Africa. By all means, fight AIDS in Africa. I love the idea of corporations sharing profits with noble causes.

Remember, however, that by law and definition, corporations exist to make money. It is their raison d'etre. One who is really interested in giving away money sets up a philanthropic foundation or a non-profit organization. The URL ends in ".org," not ".com."

Gap (red) is a dot com. So is TamPontification.

MSF helps fight AIDS in Africa and you don't even have to wear clothes with cache to do so.

All on your own, YOU can help remove the taboo around our bleeding. It's as easy as talking about it. And when it comes to earth friendly menstrual products, reusable pads or keepers are really the best option...



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Diva Cup is my best friend that time of the month. Wouldn't dream of switching back to pads or pons now. And I'm slowly converting my friends. Even friends who are squeamish love the Diva Cup because the blood looks like blood, not like something nasty and old and soaked up.

6:04 PM  
Anonymous naomi dagen bloom said...

cluck, cluck, visiting again to get my younger-women-with-consciense hit. yes, much as i love red in its many permutations, my teeth were set on edge by this Gap venture.

do you think if i walked into one of their many stores in manhattan, asked to see a manager, and presented an array of red Condom Amulets to adorn their staff...think they'd say, "cool!" also, i'm troubled by how much more comfortable folks are with talking about AIDS in africa but not HIV prevention in the u.s.

thanks for adding my blog to knit ones. don't you think some of us need a separate category...are we political knitters, subversive... think about it.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Buttercup said...

The marketing doesn't strike me as insidious; in fact, it's quite overt. Yes, they're interested in selling their products, but if they promote a postive message in the interest of selling their products, I'm fine with that.

I agree that we shouldn't wait for others - corporations or others - to change the world for us, and that WE should talk about blood or whatever else we feel like and say screw it to all the gender taboos. But, I fully support corporations getting in on the social change action. As long as they're saying the right things and, if possible, putting their money where their mouths are, I think we all win.

5:43 PM  
Blogger doulicia said...

subversive knitters? I like it!

I have yet to try the diva cup, still preferring to let the blood leave me rather than keep it in...but for those rare times I use a tampon, it sure seems like a better alternative.

10:18 AM  

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