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Daily Drip

Sexist Birth Control Advertisement Faces Backlash and is Removed After One Hour

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Contraceptive brand Yasmin is suffering backlash over a sexist TV commercial, which was removed just one hour after it was published.

In the ad, a woman in red representing a smartphone sits opposite a couple and asks, “I can tell him funny stories and play mobile games, can you?”

The girlfriend shows a box of birth control pills and responds, “I can take these, can you?”

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The assertion that women should rely on unprotected sex to win their partners’ attention back understandably drew fiery criticism online.

“Women’s products still exist in the perspective of the male market? Really shitty,” comments one Weibo user.

“Is this advertisement looking for people to curse at it?” said another.

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As many comments pointed out, contraceptives are used by women to control their reproductive options; not, as the commercial implies, to make women more attractive to a male partner. Additionally, some took issue with the comparison between a woman and an object — a smartphone.

China is known for its “hands-on” approach to family planning and contraceptives, but birth control pills aren’t very popular. A 2015 study found that IUDs were the most common form of contraception at 39.9% of market share, followed by sterilization at 28.2%. Interestingly, oral contraceptives do not require a prescription in China like they do in North America and several European countries.

According to a Global Times article, it’s a skepticism toward Western medicine that turns Chinese women off of oral contraceptives. A lack of information about preventative contraceptives combined with a limited sex education yields fewer consumers for birth control pills. Bayer may have been fighting an uphill battle to sell, but things seem to be going downhill from here.

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Lakshmi Iyengar
    Lakshmi Iyengar is a Yenching Scholar studying health, economics, and modern China. Before moving to Beijing, she majored in Biomedical Engineering at Yale. Follow her on twitter @vlakshmiiyengar for insights on China and life