In this blog and in life, there must be room for genuine comedy. Today, it just so happens that comedy gold fell into our laps by way of the morning paper. In its coverage of the 2011 UMNO General Assembly, The Star ran a news item titled, ‘Puteri has some fiery speakers who can rival its leaders’, referring, of course, to Puteri UMNO, our little princess wing of the big bad-boy UMNO party.

So, you would, think, okay. They have “fiery” speakers who would have addressed any number of issues that concern society at large, including and especially women and young girls: education, access to healthcare, reproductive rights, marriage laws, rape, crime, maternity leave, equal pay, minimum wage, housing, you know… I could go on. What caught everyone’s eye, however, and exploded on Twitter and Facebook, was this particular bit:

Johor Baru Puteri Umno chief Azura Mohd Afandi wants the Information Ministry to curb television shows and commercials that could lead people astray from the right religious paths.

“Horror films and commercials deemed too sexy for young viewers might lead to deviant teachings.

“For example, commercials on sanitary pads are openly shown on TV and this could influence the young to get involved in social ills,” said Azura, urging the ministry to increase shows that teach good values and religious practices.

There is nothing to do but DIE LAUGHING. Except most of us still want to live and, you know, do stuff with our lives. So I began to wonder why commercials on sanitary pads, “openly shown on TV”, could influence the young to get involved in social ills. Surely someone who is Puteri UMNO chief of the JB division couldn’t be talking out of her… you know. So I wondered… and I wondered.

A bloody woman can be a social ill

I did some heavy-duty research… through the annals of my personal memory.

If I recall correctly, sanitary napkin commercials usually featured women who break free from the cottony shackles of thick-padded menstruation by switching to lighter, thinner pads. Sometimes with wings! Usually, after switching to these new sanitary pads, these women will be shown prancing about in short shorts or skirts, preferably in the colour white, SMILING! Doing cartwheels on the beach maybe, or just hanging with the gals in short skirts. They are happy, because these new sanitary pads help them forget they’re on their period, and also – guess what? No staining, no leakage!

  • SO. It is entirely possible that FORGETTING TO REMEMBER YOU HAVE YOUR PERIOD IS A SOCIAL ILL.

You no longer have to wear all red during "those days" of the month

  • Or maybe HAVING FUN is a social ill. Maybe having fun and forgetting you have your period means that you might smile at boys, who might smile back in return, and then you might have The Sex even before The Marriage, and this is of course a SOCIAL ILL.
  • Perhaps wearing short shorts and skirts is a social ill. Even worse, GIRLS MUST NOT DO CARTWHEELS or spread their legs in any fashion. If they do cartwheels or spread their legs while wearing short shorts or skirts, it can lead to much thieving and coveting of the prime real estate* that lies between a woman’s legs.
  • Or maybe, just maybe, the opposite is true. Maybe Azura Mohd Afendi is very worried that these commercials will remind women of the sad fact of their biological womanhood. The FACT of menstruation will stare them in the face, brazenly, from within TV screens. If women are constantly reminded of their menstruation and how it makes its appearance every month – UNINVITED – maybe women might want to think of ways to never be on their period ever again. They might want to become PREGNANT ALL THE TIME, maybe! And to become pregnant, they might want to have Sex all the time, leading to the unbreakable sex-pregnant-sex-pregnant-sex-pregnant-sex-pregnant-sex-pregnant-sex-pregnant chain of being. This can certainly be a social ill, and a physical one at that – women are constantly pregnant might, after all, die from it or something.  Maybe this is what Azura thinks women might do.

Pregnancy may or may not cause/deter social ills; this is tricky, no one has the statistics

  • There is also the chance that men who watch these commercials might wonder why THEY DON’T MENSTRUATE AS WELL. They may take to the streets in protest, or waste valuable hours of productive labour debating this amongst themselves, tweeting, and writing blog posts about it. The economy will slow down, because as you all know, men work 35% more than women and basically keep this world running. So this can lead to social ills, as well, because when men aren’t working are instead thinking… well!
  • Or “the young”, as Azura says, might see the pad commercials and make slippers out of sanitary pads. This could be a social ill, if people actually start wearing pad slippers.

Sanitary pad slippers cannot guarantee protection from anything except damp floors

In short, after an application of rigorous thinking, I would have to conclude that there are logical reasons for why Azura said that commercials on sanitary napkins may influence people to commit social ills.

*Props to Laura Kipnis in The Female Thing: Dirt, Envy, Sex, Vulnerability for that ever-so-usable phrase.

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