I am a humourless, man-hating feminazi. I’m only like this because I can’t get a shag. I can’t take a joke. I need to get over myself, get back in the kitchen and make a man a sandwich.  I thought I’d start this post with all the predictable responses to save people from posting them at the end.  

So what’s got on my dour, un-bra-fettered tits today? Well, it’s this. I saw this billboard, driving down the A41 in Hendon yesterday and nearly rear-ended the car in front. And then I drove on, huffing and swearing, quite unable to believe what I had seen. 

It’s an energy drink. Honest. Like Red Bull. Conceived by “entrepreneur” Jonnie Shearer in 2004, he came up with the idea when he was hanging about his parents’ house after leaving college. “All my friends were working in the City, and I was in my old bedroom, launching a drink called Pussy. They thought I was an idiot,” he says. Not much I can add to that. He says the idea was inspired by Richard Branson’s Virgin brand, and indeed, his project has seen investment from two of Branson’s children, Holly and Sam. Until now, the drink has been on sale in celebrity members’ clubs (I’m assuming of the type Prince Harry might visit), where posh boys get to guffaw hysterically at the amusing name. But now they’re going mass market with it, and it’s on sale in Selfridge’s (!!!), via Ocado and in Tesco. Yes, you read that right. Tesco.

Advertising agency Beattie McGuinness Bungay must have been a bit flummoxed by the brief, and I can just imagine the to-ing and fro-ing that went on, trying to find a way to sell this. In the end, they’ve gone for the tagline, “The drink’s pure, it’s your mind that’s the problem”.

Author Laura Kemp, on twitter, saw it too –“Toe-curling advertising campaign by @PussyDrinksHQ . Giant billboards featuring the word ‘pussy’ make me want to VOMIT.”. When I agreed, she said, “I hate it because it makes me feel a prude and I'm not. Partic shit as son just starting to read.”

I, like Laura, am no prude, but to say that there’s no problem other than in our minds is disingenuous in the extreme. Because the word pussy, used in its public and colloquial sense, is always degrading and negative. A man who shows less than masculine qualities is a pussy. A woman can be referred to as pussy, reducing her to the only body part the speaker considers to be of use. And don’t give me wide-eyed nonsense about the word referring to cats. No one uses it in that sense, any more than we refer to happy people as “gay”.  I can’t think of a way you would say it publicly that wasn’t prurient, sniggering and demeaning.

But there is little or no point in protesting – we’re getting this product and its campaign as a fait accompli. It’s on the shelves in our supermarkets and on 48-sheet billboards over our thoroughfares. Imagine the hundred and hundreds of people in the marketing and advertising agencies, the buyers at Tesco, Ocado and Selfdrige’s, the media salespeople who sold that billboard space, who all said that this was okay.

Well, I’m saying it’s not. It’s not okay, and it’s not funny, and here’s why. It’s not funny because Laura will have to explain to her small son why there’s a giant billboard saying “Pussy”, and what it means. It’s not funny because the vast majority of people in the drinks aisle in Tesco will be women, and often women with children. It’s not funny, because Beattie McGuinness Bungay’s “classy” advertising campaign absolves them of responsibility – but every female bar worker, till operator and waiter will have to put up with the smutty jokes, innuendo and harassment that will come from the kind of sophomoronic boys that will buy this product. That’s the reality of a drink called Pussy. It’s my problem? It surely is. This is gaslighting on a massive scale, and it stinks to high heaven.

 


Comments

01/31/2013 03:58

Fantastic blogpost! Every word of it is spot on. I can honestly hear women everywhere being asked when they lost their sense of humour over this, even though it is genuinely offensive. Gaslighting is exactly what it is.

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Chris Reed
01/31/2013 09:32

"where posh boys get to guffaw hysterically at the amusing name". Hee hee hee - you said guff!

I think this new drink may be a little too up-market for me....

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01/31/2013 11:37

On the other hand should we consider
that mass advertising can never be anything but vulgar.
So are we only talking about the shades of the shit colour

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Jon Parker
02/01/2013 08:35

Right on, Rosie. Besides the schoolboy pandering, exposure in family settings, and degrading connotations of the name, the tagline, "The drink's pure, it's your mind that's the problem" implies that femininity itself is impure, and that solely lascivious thoughts are relevant to any consideration of it. So abhorrent.

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Gee
02/12/2013 04:36

ace article. Absolutely on point about implication of vaginas/femininity being impure. Sex (and women) being referred to as dirty, shameful, etc. is so ubiquitous. While these associations are fetishised and encouraged by the porn (and drinks!) industry, they do so much damage to all of our relationships with sex.

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Liz M
02/02/2013 09:58

So essentially, this is a drink called pussy being sold by a total dick.

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Rosie
02/02/2013 11:24

Liz, I lolled. I do not often lol, but I lolled indeed. Spot on.

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John M
02/05/2013 10:00

Equally not a prude but had exactly same bit of awkwardness with my young son. Have made my first ever compliant to ASA.

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Fiona Ferreira Wegener
02/06/2013 06:03

You are spot on-this is a pathetic excuse for creativity by all those involved-it's typical "Madonna money making spin shock culture" that degrades the worthy & makes profit from the mass mesmerised commercial culture! We need to evolve or we'll find ourselves in another bind. Complain-make a noise-THIS IS WRONG & I don't support the Branson hype anylonger.

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Johnnie
02/07/2013 17:56

Get over it! Not the end of the world there are bigger more important issues out there than some shitty add campaign for some shitty drink!

People are dyin of starvation every day and all you find time to blog about is someone tryin to make a living!

Pathetic as the poster..

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Amethyst
02/07/2013 19:02

Misogynistic troll.

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Laura
02/07/2013 19:32

I suppose we should refrain from writing about football, fashion, decor, cars or anything else as well -- out of deference to the starving people?

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Phil
02/12/2013 09:36

Hi Johnie

What are you doing to help the "People dyin (sic) of starvation"? Nothing? No of course not, all you find time for is to surf and make pathetic comments. See if you can put these words into an actual sentence: Pot Kettle Black The Calling.

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02/07/2013 19:23

Ah Johnnie do you realise how ridiculous your comment is? Where on this blog has the author stated that they aim to post about the most important issues facing the world? No where. You can't dictate what the author does and doesn't write about. Plus how does starvation even compare with the subject matter of this piece? Your comment is absurd and unproductive.

Fantastic and relevant post Rosie : )

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WildWing
02/07/2013 19:23

I think this lowbrow drink should be served in a glass with a hair on the rim.

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Jennifer
02/07/2013 21:27

Yes. Now tell me this in addition to posting about how upset up are by this campaign, have you notified anyone of authority to do something about it? Because now I'm reading about it in the states. And morons will repost just because of the name brand and everyone knows any publicity is good for business

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Trish
02/08/2013 05:58

If a drink called "Pussy" is really that big of a deal to you I think you might need to reevaluate your priorities.

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Gemma Pickering
02/08/2013 08:51

It's a big deal to those of us with small kids who are growing up in a world where it's ok to name a drink 'Pussy' with the obvious meaning being 'Vagina'. It just shows how it's all spiralling downwards and it is DEPRESSING.

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Gemma Pickering
02/08/2013 08:48

It's a big deal to those of us with small kids who are growing up in a world where it's ok to name a drink 'Pussy' with the obvious meaning being 'Vagina'. It just shows how it's all spiralling downwards and it is DEPRESSING.

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GeoffGeoffetyGeoff
02/17/2013 08:17

I agree that the name is vulgar and stupid, but I fail to see how it is sexist. I do recognise however that it'll be shite for any woman behind a bar when some drunken dickheads come in and start harassing her. But, again,I don't see remotely how the word pussy is sexist. At all. A man can be called a dick as well as a pussy, but is that sexist? Of course not. And no one would claim it as such. We constantly refer to genitals of either sexes in profanity and I wouldn't consider that simply because 'cunt' is apparently the worst of them and that it represents the female genitalia that that is indicative of any gender divide.
I'm a man and if I had kids it'd be just as awkward for me to be faced with that in the supermarket as any mother. To make this a special case for women is very typically feminist, which is simply true, and not an insult. Same story with men's rights activists. Both parties constantly seek victimisation, so you can see why lots of people, of the opposite gender to that promoted by the poster, tend to get pissed off.

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Jimbo
06/30/2013 04:47

You are a total riot you are. Can I book you to say a few words at my funeral?

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06/30/2013 06:09

Well, if they'd called it 'ACME Energy Drink', would everyone be writing and Tweeting about it? Whatever your view on the brand name, it's generated hundreds of thousands of pounds of free marketing and publicity.

Buy it or don't buy it; but by fuelling their publicity machine, you're only helping to promote their product.

I'm sure that was never their intention though ;o)

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