What’s Current: New study reveals that ‘vaginal hygiene products’ are bad for vaginas

What’s Current is Feminist Current’s daily news roundup.

  • A new study reports that so-called “vaginal hygiene products” — like sanitizing gels, anti-itch creams, moisturizers, sprays and wipes — are not actually good for vaginas.
  • A statue of Dr. James Marion Sims, who did gynaecological experiments on enslaved women has been removed from Central Park
  • The New York Times reports on the profiteers who deliberately lure women into unnecessary surgery.
  • An eight-year-old girl was raped and strangled to death in the northern state of Utter Pradesh in  India. Nobel laureate and children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi called the rape situation “a national emergency,” there are nearly 100,000 cases pending in the courts.
  • Men currently outnumber women by 70 million in China and India.

 

Lisa Steacy
Lisa Steacy

Lisa Steacy is an Assistant Editor at Feminist Current. She has a B.A. in Women & Gender Studies from the University of Toronto. However, the women she met in her five years as a frontline worker and collective member with Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter deserve almost all of the credit for her feminist education. She lives in Vancouver with her partner and their cats.

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  • cday881@gmail.com

    When will South Carolina take down the bust of Sims from the State House grounds?

  • Liz

    New market idea for the retail stores.Penis cleansing products. Encourage the dudebros to wash!

    • Eva Jasmena

      Thank goodness they at least get circumcised. Okay, to be fair, I would still have accepted my husband uncircumcised too as long as he kept it clean. But I won’t deny that circumcision is a real plus.

  • Christine

    Check this out: http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/postionpapers/24-Sex-Selection-Abortions.pdf

    I realize you wrote “prenatal sex selection”, not sex-selective abortion. But as alluded to in that paper, Colleges of Physicians bear some responsibility, and I tend to think that, when it comes to prenatal sex selection, professional rules of conduct are a more appropriate means of regulation than the Criminal Code. I admit I’m ignorant as to how prenatal sex selection actually works (not to mention how well doctors abide by the regulations or how well they are enforced), but it cannot be easy to choose the sex of one’s baby in Canada (other than via abortion): I know one person who’s visiting a doctor in the U.S. to get help doing just that.

    Having said all that, I do appreciate the spirit of your comment. That story on China and India is really horrifying.

  • Meghan Murphy

    If being around women and children ‘calmed men down,’ I think there’d be a hell of a lot less abuse of women and children…

  • Wombat

    “Feminine hygiene” products (and routine male circumcision) are a peculiarly North American practice. The rest of us had to Google “douche” and I’ve literally never seen one, far less felt I had to use one. Maybe you can buy them outside North America, but I have no idea where. Enjoy joining the rest of us in not doing those weird harmful unnecessary things.

  • FierceMild

    I have a young daughter. I can’t even think about that. About leaving a little girl in a place that will use her like that.

  • FierceMild

    Yes

  • FierceMild

    Here in the US there is a good deal of misinformation about male circumcision. Most people assume it’s done with anesthesia and we are told by doctors and other health care professionals that it is a medical and hygiene requirement that can “save lives” and “prevent disease”.

    I completely agree with what you position on circumcision, but it’s an arena that – in the US – is really an education item. Even if it occurs to us to look into the matter (typically if a woman is pregnant) the men around us, who are almost universally circumcised, will say that it’s awesome, that they would want a son to be circumcised, that it’s never caused them a day’s worry etc. I’ve never even seen an adult with an intact penis. It’s just not the custom here and people don’t question it unless they’re thinkers and it comes up somehow; typically with preganancy.

    • Tobysgirl

      There are men who have organized around this issue, and the numbers of boys circumcised is dropping. When you have 75 percent of your penile nerve endings lopped off, how would you know what you have missed? But my understanding is that often circumcised men prefer blow jobs to intercourse, and they like intercourse to be rougher than women generally prefer because they are missing the body part that makes gliding pleasurable. And then there’s the frenulum, which is part of what’s cut off, and that’s another whole world of pleasure.

  • Eva Jasmena

    Calm down now! Calm down! In some cases, clitorectomy can counter malignancies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clitoridectomy

    That said, in most cases, medical exceptions aside, clitoridectomy causes far more harm than good and therefore should be criminally sanctioned other than as medically necessary such as to counter malignancies. Are you proposing that we criminally sanction all clitoridectomies for any reason? That could cost lives. So yes, I stand by my words that clitoridectomy can save lives. That in no way contradicts the statement that medically unnecessary clitoridectomy generally causes far more harm than good.

    • rosearan

      OK.I’m calm. I see now from your other comments that we are on the same page. Surgical procedures for both male and female reproductive cancers may involve invasive castrating surgery. That’s for the patient to decide.

  • Eva Jasmena

    I’ll accept medical science over ideology, thank you very much:

    “The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universalnewborn circumcision. The procedure may be recommended in older boys and men to treat phimosis (the inability to retract the foreskin) or to treat an infection of the penis.”
    https://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/guide/circumcision#1

    If even medical professionals agree that the benefits outweigh the harm and disagree only on whether those benefits outweigh the risks enough to make the procedure worthwhile, then who am I to pretend to know more than a medical professional on the matter? If even they debate the matter, then I figure leave it up to the parents to decide.

  • Eva Jasmena

    I disagree. I think one of the few points that the MRM gets right is that any person of any sex can sexually assault any person of any sex. Unfortunately, it’s also a point that they like to downplay since they’d rather hype up the matter of men being the victims of false accusations instead. I’m not saying that false accusations aren’t a legitimate problem, but I would bet from what I’ve read on the subject that more men have suffered sexual assault than a false accusation.

    On the matter of circumcision, the MRM are hyping that up against all medical evidence to the contrary as a way to show that they’re being discriminated against. I do have a problem with misandry or man-hating or discrimination against men, and any man has a legitimate reason to fight against that; but that doesn’t excuse hyping up circumcision and equating it with clitoridectomy as a way to convince people that men are discrimninated against more than women are. A clitoridectomy is in no way equivalent to male circumcision. The reason for this is that while the evidence clearly shows that the harms of medically unnecessary clitoridectomy outweigh its benefits, it also shows that the benefits of male circumcision outweigh its harms somewhat. So the MRM is drawing on a false equivalence by equating male circumcision with clitoridectomy.

  • FierceMild

    You just defended the genital mutilation of both sexes and washed your hands of the cutting of male babies penises because men know best. Gross.

    • Eva Jasmena

      How did I just defend female genital mutilation when I believe that we should criminalize it? That however is totally different from a woman getting a clitorectomy to remove a malignancy as a necessary medical procedure. You do understand what cancer is, right?

      Now as for male circumcision, that’s different. Medical experts acknowledge that unlike in the case of medically unnecessary clitorectomy (the harms of which clearly outweigh its benefits except to remove a malignancy or for some other necessary medical procedure), the benefits of male circumcision do outweigh its harms at least somewhat. The only debate there is on whether those benefits outweigh the harms enough to make circumcision worthwhile, and a legitimate debate exists on the matter. Foreskin and a clitoris are not the same thing. There is a valid reason to criminalize medically unnecessary clitorectomies but not male circumcisions.

  • TwinMamaManly

    He won’t look like Daddy, but he won’t look like his mates either! (male circumcision is no longer subsidised by Medicare in Australia and is quite expensive at $700-$1000 and not done routinely anymore). I think that is probably worse for adolescents in the gym locker room.

    • Tobysgirl

      It’s expensive here in the U.S. too and has ob/gyns/pediatricians laughing all the way to the bank. I love the woman who says
      THROW THEM IN THE VOLCANO!

  • Denise Denning

    I’ve been a pharmacist for 32 years. It’s been known since before I was a pharmacy student in the 1980s that douches and similar products alter the natural cleaning and pH of vaginas, potentially increasing the risk for infection. I have talked many a woman out of buying douches, and I don’t know why they are still on the market. It’s old, old news.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I can’t believe they even still sell the things!

  • Meghan Murphy

    I don’t see why any boy/male needs to be circumcised…

    • Martin Langevin

      I agree that no boy needs to be circumcised unless medically necessary. That said, needing to be circumcised and benefiting from circumcision are two different things.

      I must say that I’ve also changed my mind about one point since yesterday. It turns out that public funding for even medically-unnecessary male circumcision might in fact have economic benefits that outweigh the upfront medical cost of performing one on an infant:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumcision#Economic_considerations

      Aside from my view on publicly funding it though (I opposed it yesterday but now wonder if it might make sense to publicly fund it due to the potential savings on the health-care system), I still stand by my words that a parent should not be allowed to have his son circumcised without the other biological parent’s consent under normal circumstances.

      • Meghan Murphy

        What are the benefits?

        • Martin Langevin

          First, let’s look at what I consider to be one of its most minor benefits:

          ‘Hankins et al. (2011) estimated that a $1.5 billion investment in circumcision for adults in 13 high-priority African countries would yield $16.5 billion in savings.’
          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3226452/

          I say it’s the most minor benefit since the most effective way for men to protect against contracting HIV is not to get circumcised but rather to not womanize so much. However, circumcision can still act as a plan B for those men who still choose to negligently take the risk of sleeping around.

          A more relevant benefit is its prevention of urinary tract infection and cancers, things that a man has less control over by simply managing his own behaviour.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumcision#Effects
          https://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/guide/circumcision#2

          • Tobysgirl

            Why would a man with a foreskin be more likely to have a UTI? UTIs are situated in the bladder, not the foreskin, and have a lot to do with urine pH being too alkaline.
            And, yes, why was Bill Clinton so enthusiastic about circumcising African men? Telling lies that it would prevent HIV/AIDS, which it does not, and the regret experienced by the victims of this atrocious practice is overwhelming. Far better would be societal support for women in the form of education, health care, housing, etc, especially education that MEN ARE UNNECESSARY. And that one should have nothing to do with men who buy women.

  • Martin Langevin

    I’ve watched such a video too and it wasn’t any more ‘horrifying’ than any other type of operation. In fact, it was quite minor in comparison.

    • TwinMamaManly

      So the high-pitched screaming of an infant in pain and distress and fear doesn’t affect you? I think that says a lot more about you than anything else.

    • Tobysgirl

      I’m sorry, but when I had operations I had anesthesia. I personally find the screams of an infant absolutely horrifying — I was an adult, I had cognition, I understood to at least a degree what was being done. If you could watch a video like that and come away with your attitude of casual cruelty, I hate to think what sort of person you are.

  • Alienigena

    My father wasn’t calmed down by having a female companion and three children, if anything it appeared to make him a worse person (as he couldn’t handle the stress of children, or any disruption to his routine or sleep) given that he abused my mother, my brother and I.

  • Tobysgirl

    Actually, scientifically it does not have benefits. There have been many lies told, such as circumcision prevents the spread of AIDS. Tell that to all the men who have died of AIDS who were circumcised. What is important is that men be taught to keep themselves CLEAN, whether they are intact or circumcised. I’ve wondered why so many men do not seem to know that basic hygiene is a good thing — is this possibly because their mothers were uncomfortable about teaching them? (And their fathers were uninvolved.)

  • Tobysgirl

    But you know, your body might. I am a total believer in cellular memory. Once when a chiropractor touched my back in a specific place I heard the thud of my body hitting the ground when I fell from a horse many years before. Who knows how the trauma of genital mutilation is stored in the body and how it affects one’s mental and physical health? I’m guessing that there are advanced therapists out there who have some good ideas.

  • Tobysgirl

    And when Denmark included questions about sexual pleasure in their survey of the public, they found that heterosexual women involved with circumcised men reported far more sexual problems than women involved with intact men.

  • Tobysgirl

    And I can’t believe that I read any person of any sex can sexually assault any person of any sex. Please point me to the criminal statistics of the number of women who have bound and gagged a man, put on a strap-on, and raped him (and it wasn’t something he asked her to do!).

  • TwinMamaManly

    Agree. I am aware of the variations to FGM horrors, as I am sure many people are now due to a concerted awareness campaign. Beyond abhorrent.

  • Meghan Murphy

    I read this recently as well. As far as I can tell, circumcision is bad for male and female pleasure.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yeah, I don’t get why people keep doing it…. It’s such a weird and unnecessary thing to do to a baby.

  • Mmmeee

    In my small country, in Europe, most of the males of my generation were ‘circed’ (because of General Patton (Us General) but thankfully, due to german and french ‘medical’ influence it’s totally regressive now (since 30 years) and I know many, many male and female-friends, who are fathers and mothers now (including in my own family) where the males were ‘done’ and who didn’t let it ‘do’ it to their own sons. (now the vast majority of the new generations aren’t and there are no appereant health issues) I myself (for me) regret it very much now. Honestly, you can’t imagine how lucky you are because the difference is…(no words…). I’m honest, believe me, you ARE very lucky..