The Intimacy of Commodities: Social Control, Subjectivity and Feminine Hygiene
This thesis examines one instance of the sexual oppression of women, that which is found in the emergence of the feminine hygiene market. It is demonstrated that certain forms of commodities, with specific application for feminine hygiene, were developed and introduced at times when women entered the paid labour force in large numbers. It is argued, however, that the correspondence between these two parallel phenomena is more than temporal.
Social control in the culture of the office is disciplinary in mode, sexist in orientation. The manipulation of the "cosmetic self" implies a regulation of socially constructed femininity; this discipline is internalized, and thus successful, as women purchase products which regulate sexuality and femaleness. A semiological analysis of advertisements for feminine hygiene products demonstrates that the "problem that women bleed" has remained constant but has assumed varying forms. The content analysis of ads lends access to speculation about why women consume redundant products and how, ideologically, they come to understand and organize their work force experiences. The mythicizing effects of advertising involves the construction of the subject in terms of a reconciliation of what she knows and how she acts in a social totality. The gender relations of dominance require that women appropriate what it means to be a woman, to be feminine.