Use of the word ‘vagina’ is fine on national TV, rules ad watchdog

Use of the word ‘vagina’ is acceptable for Australian audiences, the ad watchdog has ruled.

An ad for Johnson & Johnson’s Carefree brand, which appeared on free to air, pay TV and online, prompted more than 100 complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau.

The ad features a naked women who discusses vaginal discharge.

One complaint read: “I don‟t believe that the word vagina should be used so freely in any commercial of that nature where young children could be listening. And secondly as a male I find it highly disgusting that they mention any fact at all about the discharge between periods on national television.”

Another read: “Granted half the world has a vagina but I think is safe to say that none of the world want to think about it discharging anything between periods. I think the ad is too graphic.

And another: “The information in this advertisement will be used by boys and young men to taunt and humiliate young women and girls about their bodies. Even in instances where it is not used directly against women  it goes into the balance of rubbishy proof to judge that women are unclean and that their bodies are filthy.”

The ASB ruled that while some people may be uncomfortable with the use of the word vagina, “it is not a word which would be considered inappropriate in the context of the ad”.

On the woman’s nudity, the ASB said that it was “presented in a manner which is not inappropriate for a PG rated ad, and that as her private areas are covered up the ad does treat nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience.”


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