There is some good, plain-language information at the site, though much of it is inexplicably obscured in scrolling frames.
But then there’s… the WTF element.
Remember that breast cancer awareness ad which goaded women: “If men had breasts, they’d really appreciate them. Look after yours.“? This is much the same, though it stops short of showing us a series of cavorting men leering suggestively at their own transplanted cervixes.
Instead, we have a series of young blokes (which I suspect were selected for their hawtness factor), first pretending inanely to not know what a cervix is, then lecturing us dopey women for not having enough Pap smears.
Rosa, a commenter on the F-Word, summed up a lot of what’s wrong with the website concept.
1. Women are not shown at all, even though it’s about their bodies and their health
2. It is completely male dominated
3. Men are shown to be thick, ignorant, immature car and whatever obsessed stereotypes.
4. These same men then tell women what to do with their bodies, effectively taking control of the situation because heaven for bid women can sort themselves out.
It gets worse, though.
2. I don’t have time
Going for cervical screening should be part of your overall health and beauty regime. You are never to busy to have your hair cut, so you should always make time for a smear.
Ding-ding-ding! You’ve hit Lauredhel’s pet peeve. (Well, one of them). The conflation of “health” and “beauty”, particularly when it comes to women.
There are a few much long posts brewing about this, but in short: “wellness” is sold to women as a way of being, becoming, or staying sexually attractive to men – slim, hairless, clear-skinned, and perky. We are expected to maintain possession of a certain non-threatening level of “self-esteem” that is centred around whether we feel “sexy”. White middle-class women are urged to have breast implants to feel better about their normal bodies, to take diet pills so they can strive for an approved figure, pop potentially-toxic vitamins in a quest for an ill-defined sense of wellbeing, and maintain a schedule of questionable commercial therapies.
All of this is, of course, aimed at an unattainable and opressive notion of beauty, but it is sold to us for our “health” – for our own good. Failing to diet is “letting yourself go [tut, tut]”. Failing to maintain an expensive hairstyle programme is “not looking after yourself”. Failing to relentlessly pursue wellness is dereliction of duty. But the reverse is more sinister, and that is the idea, in a selling-wellness culture, that getting sick is your own damn fault, and that one of the worst things about being sick is that you might not look well.
More later on healthandbeauty fusion and wellness culture.
Next up in the Top Ten Excuses, and this is where I gave up on this particular campaign:
9. It’s disgusting
Yes, well we can’t argue with that one. Nobody enjoys going for a smear (think about the poor nurses and doctors at the receiving end!). But you may feel better when you realise that the only one it’s a big deal to is you.
For fuck’s sake. No, your doctors and nurses are not standing there thinking “oh no I hope she doesn’t want a pap smear oh no don’t ask for a pap smear oh no not a pap smear OH NO she asked! Ew ew ew ew ew ew, not vag again, keep a straight face, pretend to make nice, here, get the gear out, hop up on the table dear, spread your ARGH ARGH ARGH VAG keep a straight face, ok, just relax, here we go, ICK ICK EW SMELLY VAG GROSS why did I ever do this job I never want to do a pap smear again phew it’s finished fill in the paperwork don’t meet her eyes oh no don’t make eye contact you’ve seen her DISGUSTING SMELLY VAG go away please don’t ever come back.”
Really. We’re not. If you ever get the slightest feeling that your doctor is thinking this? Move. It’s not normal.
What are we thinking? “Oh, yes, it’s been two years. No worries. Explain the Pap smear procedure and its rationale, offer STD screening. Check how she is she feeling about it. All the formalities are done, double check how she’s managing, ah she’s apologising for her unshaven legs – reassure her that I really don’t care about that! Everything looks normal here at the vulva, cervix looks ok, taking the smear now, spray the slide, put things away neatly, wash hands again. Anything else need doing? Explain the followup protocol, offer another chance for questions.”
Vaginas are not disgusting. Repeat: vaginas are not disgusting. Nothing more needs to be said.
A question appears on the screen: “What is a cervix?”
[A succession of young, conventionally attractive men appears in rotation, against a plain background. They are all shrugging and looking exaggeratedly confused. They then say, in turn:]
[snaps fingers] “It’s a vending machine.”
“It’s something you use in geometry!”
“It’s a cough medicine.”
“Ain’t it something you put in a car?”
Title: “and cervical cancer?”
“Is it a brain tumour?”
“Is it something to do with…” [hunches, leans forward] “…sex?”
[one hand cupped next to mouth] “Is it something to do with a woman’s…” [looks down, points] “… bits?”
Title: “but seriously”
[ticking clock sound effect]
[suddenly, these blokes switch into lecture mode]
[holding up three fingers, serious face] “It kills three women every day in England.”
“There are nearly 400 000 women between the ages of 25 and 29 that have never been screened. And half of those live in London.”
Title: “so listen up”
“Get yourself screened.”
[pointing at screen] “It could save your life.”
“Take care of yourself.”
“Be. Cervix. Savvy.”