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Herald on Sunday editorial: Offence may be in beholder's eye

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Libra says it regrets any offence the advertisement caused. Photo / Supplied
Libra says it regrets any offence the advertisement caused. Photo / Supplied

The phrase "political correctness" can often be instructively replaced with the words "courtesy and respect". People, notably minority groups, are often accused of the former when all they want is a bit of the latter.

That said, the advocates of the transgender community who slammed a television advertisement for a popular brand of tampon as "misogynistic and transphobic", are pushing the point a little too hard.

The ad featured a blonde woman and a drag queen in the ladies' loos, apparently competing with each other: they apply make-up and adjust their bras. When the woman produces a tampon, the drag queen walks out, defeated - outwomanned, so to speak, by a "real" woman.

It's difficult to see how the ad can be simultaneously misogynistic and transphobic; presumably in putting one of the two characters down, it elevates the other. But a more reasonable reading is that it puts no one down: it humanises the drag queen character by normalising him - and it uses gentle humour, not ridicule, to do so.

Offence is more often than not in the eye of the beholder, of course, and the Melbourne drag queen who starred in the ad has slammed the backlash against it as "dragphobia". It's difficult not to agree. The scenario, he said, was commonplace in his life and he saw the ad as an opportunity to make a positive step towards acceptance for drag queens and gay men in the wider community.

Minorities often complain that they are rendered invisible by the so-called "heteronormativity" of stereotypical gender representations in mainstream media and advertising. Surely this ad was something to be cheered, not reviled. One wonders whether the outrage was felt by more than a few shrill spokespeople.

- Herald on Sunday

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