Male and Female Deodorant: A comparative study

I was watching the Daily Show online over the weekend and I was fascinated with the commercials, two in particular, which streamed almost back to back. Maybe you saw these commercials too. They're good. They're entertaining. I liked the music. It kept me focused for the entire 30 seconds.

And it made me think. 

Not about AXE shower products for men, or about Degree deodorant for women, but about gender, about sex, about the desires and fears that differ between men and women.

You need to watch this:

Take stock. Assess. What are you thinking? What feelings do this commercial trigger?

For me it generates a whole onslaught of questions. For example:

- If you Showerpool, are you really going to end up saving water? (Because you know... one thing often leads to another in the shower...) 

- Are men actually taking the "pledge"? And are women actually saying yes?

- Why would I question whether women are saying "yes"; couldn't they be just as excited about the AXE Showerpooling challenge as men? Women are sexual beings too...

- But, you know as well as I, that if the roles were reversed and Degree promoted the challenge for women to invite men to shower... those women would be called sluts (often by the men who just finished showering with them). 

- I just need to say this: FOUR women and ONE man? Come on! 

- I was struck by this flagrant (and sad) moment in the trailer from 0:14 - 0:17 :  "How can you save water without massive personal sacrifice?"-- and then the words "personal sacrifice" come crashing down, only to be enveloped by a veto sign. Why shirk sacrifice? (We are a people intimate with sacrifice--from the times of the Temples to the present). It's in this moment that AXE breaks through the sheen of "doing good" and unapologetically reveals its (and our) true motives. But it doesn't seem to matter because the Showerpooling concept is so damn sexy.

- The campaign was unveiled September 17th; you KNOW this is targeted to campus co-eds. I wonder what this means for women. Are we going to see a parallel of the 1960's when women would wait by their family's landline for an invitation to the prom, only now college girls will be checking their smart phones for an invitation to shower with the cutie from Astronomy 101? 

- A departure from the questions... I need to give AXE some serious cred for nailing the heterosexual male fantasy... and making it socially acceptable for men to act on it... and making millions of dollars in the process. Rather brilliant.

*Further investigation (by visiting the AXE homepage) revealed a step-by-step procedure to take the AXE Showerpooling pledge. Get ready, there are three important steps: 1) Install a water-efficient showerhead and use 20% less water each time you shower. 2) Reduce your showering time to five minutes or less. 3) Invite a friend to get in on the action. Oh AXE, you a wily brand-- covering your legal tushy with that fine print. 

In wrapping this up, I'd like to share the companion piece-- the yin to the AXE yang. When you reach the Degree homepage, click the little embedded video icon under the title "Unapologetically STRONG." And then come back!

You're back!  Welcome back!

Interesting, nu? Who would have thought that so much is revealed from our fears of smelling bad.
Here is my comparative gender analysis of male/female desire through the lens of bath products: Men want women. And women want... to be like men.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree? 


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What's striking to me is that by now I have subconsciously "written off" Axe commercials as "bound to be sexist and railroad-minded", which has the unexpected effect of making me ignore them, doing or saying or thinking nothing about them because it's more convenient to me than saying "WHAT THE $#@!" over and over again every time there's a commercial break.

And this ad from Axe is subversive in that it shifts the focus from "Isn't this guy hot" or "Isn't this girl hot" to "Don't you want to have sex AND save the world?", while still subliminally demonstrating the primacy of male bathers over female bathers.

It could have just as easily shown a man and a woman showering separately, then a man and a woman showering together, then a man and a woman each showering with an "attractive stranger". That it focuses on the male prot-axe-gonist embeds the real message: that this is a product for men, and that the benefits of this product are only intended for men.

I like the Degree commercial. But it makes me think of something else, too:

Why is it that a British woman is "unapologetically strong", but an American woman is "sexily world-conscious"?

How to cite this page

Orcha, Gabrielle. "Male and Female Deodorant: A comparative study." 24 September 2012. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 1, 2023) <>.

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