Two women are standing at the mirror of a public bathroom. The trans woman on the left is heavily made up, while the cis woman on the right’s make is very understated. They both begin to apply mascara with each taking turns looking at each other. They then proceed to both apply lip gloss with negative looks being exchanged. The cis woman on the right pushes up her breasts and then the trans woman on the right does the same, with her clearly larger bosom. The cis woman is clearly frustrated by what appear to be her inability to compete and so she smiles and pulls a tampon out of her purse and waves it at the trans woman. The trans woman gives her a dirty look, throws her purse over her shoulder and leaves. The tag line there appears: Libra gets girls, love libra.
This add is so blatantly transphobic and sexist that it’s disgusting. Let’s start with the most obvious suggestion, the idea that menstruating defines you as a woman. I am so sick and tired of this ridiculous suggestion. First, not all cis women menstruate. There are plenty of women who have to take medication in order to have a period to get pregnant, and of course those of us who do menstruate regularly will eventually reach menopause. The idea of menstruating defining womanhood means that plenty of cis women would be excluded. Menstruation as the determinant of womanhood is a fallacious argument at best.
This argument is further sexist because it reduces woman to the ability to bleed once a month. Seriously? Is that all there is to say about women? It is extremely reductive and offensive. I also think it is worth mentioning that the idea that women are always looking for opportunities to compete with each other is sexist. Who stands in a bathroom and compares themselves to another woman so blatantly? From my experiences, most people simply want to do their business, clean up and leave as fast as possible.
In an effort to make a profit, what Libra did was engage in the age old strategy of divide and conquer. Libra knew damn well that there are plenty of cis women who are actively engaged in maintaining cis supremacy. Feminism itself has a long history of excluding trans women and labeling them everything from men in dresses to frankenstinian. What Libra did was depend on transphobia to sell their product to women and in the process encourage cis women to continue to defend their privilege.
No one wins in the battle of more woman than thou. These artificial divisions only serve to benefit patriarchy because they keep us distracted from the real issues facing women today. Trans women and Cis women share many of the same issues, but in the case of trans women they have the extra added bonus of being forced to negotiate transphobia and cissexism. Anyone not seeing this commercial for exactly what it is, really needs to give consideration to the idea that the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.
Most of us exist with some sort of privilege and one thing can be certain, if we embrace the idea that oppressing someone to maintain our privilege is natural or a sort of social good, then we don’t have a single leg to stand on, when someone else comes to this same determination to justify their oppression of us. We don’t need an institutional other, what we need to do is come to the understanding that oppression is big freaking circle jerk. The only way to truly win our own personal freedom, is to fight not only against our own oppression, but the oppression of others. As marginalized people, we have far more in common that we do in difference.
Obviously, I am not an Australian and so I cannot boycott this product, but I did some research and found some contact information for those who are interested in letting Libra know that what they did was offensive.
Libra website: http://www.lovelibra.co.nz/about-libra/contact-us/
Libra FB: http://www.facebook.com/Libra?sk=wall
Please be forewarned that the facebook site is a cess pool of transphobia.
Editors Note: I have been made aware that the commercial has been yanked however Libra is still allowing homophobic commentary about this commercial on their facebook page.