As part of their internet scented candles promotion, 2degrees yesterday put out a tweet directed at Gwyneth Paltrow, who famously released a candle called "This Smells Like My Vagina".
In the tweet, which has since been deleted after a considerable amount of criticism, the telco wrote: "Hey @GwynethPaltrow, your candle smells like your... (thinking face emoji) But, what do you think a Kiwi as, internet scented candle would smell like? #askingforafriend."
The issue isn't so much what the tweet said but what it didn't say. Why the "..." and why the "thinking face emoji"? What's wrong with the word "vagina"?
The tweet was called "tone deaf" and "in poor taste", leading 2degrees to delete it hours later, not before sending out a number of replies thanking people for their feedback.
It may seem trivial because, well, in the context of 2020, everything that isn't a deadly virus or a deadly fire can seem trivial, but treating women's bodies like they're taboo is no small matter.
It contributes to numerous social issues, including the hyper-sexualisation of women and the lack of knowledge about women's bodies. By refusing to spell out perfectly anatomically accurate terms referring to women's bodies, you contribute to keeping them in obscurity, like something forbidden, not to be spoken of or spelled out.
Look, I'm not saying 2degrees is directly contributing to the oppression of women - but not spelling out the word "vagina" just shows we're really not the evolved society we like to think we are.
The word "vagina" is not a bad word. It's not a word to be avoided, whispered or mumbled. Stop treating women's bodies like they're taboo.
If we keep whispering - or worse, not even spelling - words like "vagina" or laughing about them like prepubescent boys, we'll never move on from being a society that judges women breastfeeding in public or a society where women don't feel comfortable talking about their periods or any issue related to their bodies and their sexuality, leading to misdiagnoses and systemic inequality.
Every single day, in New Zealand and around the world, women young and old suffer because patriarchy means we know far more about men's bodies than women's bodies. Corporations everywhere, even telcos in New Zealand if they're going to try to be "tongue in cheek" about things, have the responsibility to do better.
Whether it is a good marketing campaign or not is not the point (I guess it is, seeing as I'm here talking about it).
It's 2020. The world is a trash fire. The last thing we need is a company pussyfooting around the word "vagina".