On holes

The other day, I watched an Australian primetime advertisement for tampons. This ad was designed to create a furore. Controversy is always lucrative for the ad agency in question, which is why the most effective means of countering such dross is to:

a) Complain to the advertising standards bureau in your country (in Australia, the ASB);
b) Email your local MP and ask what they propose to do about the ad in question;
c) Write to the company’s board of directors;
d) Encourage all those you know to do the same; and
e) Don’t mention the product’s name on social media.

But back to the advertisement.

In it, the genitals of adolescent girls were described as “holes”. Consider this: we are living in an era when it is not only acceptable to discuss the genitals of teenage girls during primetime, but to describe them in the language of pornographers – that is, as an assortment of “holes”.

The creative director responsible is, of course, a woman.

Solicitors have long assigned female counsel to the most notorious rapists, sex and child abusers, if only to engineer an impression of innocence. As a child, a female barrister I know was sexually molested by a neighbour. As an adult, she defended a paedophile she privately believed to be guilty. Why? Because the win would strengthen her legal reputation, and it did. Convinced by this woman’s performance, the jury allowed the paedophile to walk free.

A male barrister told me a similar story. A female solicitor he knew asked him to represent her client, a man accused of a number of brutal rapes. The evidence was incontrovertible: skin fragments under the fingernails, DNA, the works. Inspired, the female solicitor proposed they argue that the police planted the evidence. It was at this point that my friend pulled out.

I asked another barrister how these women could live with themselves. “Easily,” he said. “You have to understand that it’s academic – it’s all about the LAW. People don’t come into it.”

The advertising industry is no different. It’s all about the AD – the buzz, the outrage, viral marketing. The creative director in question justified her actions by making them all about warmth, honesty, truth. The impact of the ad’s language on children, adults, and the culture at large was irrelevant, as was the denigration of women inherent in the term. That there may be a relationship between the understanding of female genitalia as a series of “holes” and the indiscriminate desire to fill them with any object at hand – nature, after all, abhors a vacuum – was of no interest. It was, she insisted, all about “keeping it real” and “breaking taboos”.

Her palaver reminded only of the standard Nazi practice of rebranding obscenities.

Stealing the property of Jewish people was reframed as “voluntary surrender”. Denying Jewish children an education was made possible under the “Law Against the Overcrowding of German Schools”. The murder of mental hospital inmates was allowed under the “Law for Granting of Special Help”. And the defamation of female sexual organs is now permissable when the words “real” and “comforting” are used to justify it by a woman.

You know what? I am really, really tired of the cultural ratification of pornography. I am really, really tired of girls and women being promoted as “sexual service stations” for boys and men. And I am really, really tired of the normalisation of pornographic terminology.

For the record, stupid creative director, the receptive, sensitive, miraculous and infinitely beautiful female genital is not an inert cavity or void. This is what a hole looks like:


I don’t know about you, but my sex looks nothing like that.

4 thoughts on “On holes

    1. admin Post author

      Renee, I’m so sorry it has taken me so long to reply – this week and the next are crazy (Mama hit bookstores yesterday, and the interviews have started). In reply to your excellent question: pornography has become normalised, meaning that pornographic terminology (MILF, hole, 3-way and so on) has become normalised. Most people don’t even consider the terms pornographic – they’re just words, right? Who cares? A man I once interviewed – big social conscience, articulate, in a relationship – expressed surprise that I considered pornography unacceptable. He looked at pornography, he said. Doesn’t everyone? What could be wrong with “the appreciation of the female form”? And this was an otherwise intelligent man! I mean, where do you BEGIN? A complete overhaul of consciousness is necessary. Women are no different. Very few people ever pause to consider the meaning or impact of the words they use. The father of a teenage girl wrote to me on Facebook: “Is it possible that the target audience of this campaign is teenage girls? Does the ad use language that shapes the way these girls think or is the ad agency using language that is already in play amongst their target audience? Advertisements are made to appeal to a target audience, to connect with them using language that resonates with them.” Well … yeah 🙂 But let me ask you this: the words “stupid cunt” are already in play amongst businessmen around the world, but does that mean we need to hear them on an ad for QANTAS? Antonella x

  1. Renee Cameron

    ‘A complete overhaul of consciousness is necessary’ – I agree but, at the risk of sounding pessimistic, can’t see this happening in the near future! I’m in my 20’s and my mother has a few old issues of Cosmo that she kept from the late 70’s early 80’s. I had a look through them recently and was surprised (not really sure why) to see how intelligently and well written the articles about sex in them were. In most magazines today, the articles are badly written, extremely crass and use language which is pornographic .This language is everywhere – it seems to have happened so fast. And it’s pretty depressing. You’re right in that ‘women are no different’ of course, but I guess part of me naively expected them to be.

    1. admin Post author

      I think women assumed that everything would be fine when they had everything men had, but we’ve discovered that what men had wasn’t that great to begin with. And the intellectual erosion across the media is truly terrifying. The lowest common denominator currently drives the market. The good thing? Change is the one constant, so have faith. I do x


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