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We don't want to ' feel like a virgin'.

OUR NATIONAL obsession with the nether regions of women has crossed another bizarre milestone. The latest salve being offered to women, who are already battling worries as varied as getting water for the house ( no, it's not a rural sob story, but the wail of tony South Delhi neighbourhoods) to fighting osteoporosis or saving money for the children's higher education, is a vaginal tightening cream.

After the infamous vaginal fairness cream, a ludicrous idea that exposed the depths to which our fascination for fair skin can take us, the tightening cream may have passed muster but for its tagline: " Feel like a virgin". Some parts of the country may worship virgins during Durga Puja and Navratras, and the parents of every nubile woman may hold on to the fond hope that their daughters would protect their virginity till they take their marriage vows, but we have moved on and it's no longer counted as an ornament a woman has to bring to her husband's home.

No one wants to " feel like a virgin" for very long anymore -- surveys have shown that the average age at which Indians lose their virginity has dipped from 23 years in 2006 to 19.8 in 2011. The world has moved on, but not our marketers. The cream is being heralded by a slick commercial set in a traditional house of an old joint family where a woman, who's obviously feeling " like a virgin", breaks into a tango with her husband before sweeping the courtyard. Seeing this, her mother- in- law goes to the nearest laptop and logs on to the product website.

When the vaginal fairness cream was launched with a commercial that showed a woman feeling on top of the world after applying the product, the ludicrousness of the situation made it the butt of jokes around the globe. On a more serious note, commentators wondered why a woman's happiness should be linked only with her husband's satisfaction in bed, which seemed to be the subliminal message of the offensive commercial.

The promoters of the vaginal tightening cream insist it's a tool for the empowerment of women because it is a natural alternative to the medical procedure known as vaginoplasty. To drive home this point, they are even running a contest on their website where women are invited to vote to decide which women are on top of their respective fields. But the ancient mindset hawked by the promotional campaign, which is on YouTube and is being shared frenetically on Facebook with nastier comments, is the same that powered the vaginal fairness cream. A woman's happiness is contingent upon the satisfaction of her husband.

Yes, I am all for conjugal bliss, but I thought it was a two- way street. Can you imagine an ad promoting a product to enhance " male vitality" -- code for restoring sexual function -- showing a man doing cartwheels around a woman. That would be so unchick- magnet- like! There again, it's the woman who chases the aroused tiger in her man. I wonder what it must be for a man to feel like a virgin.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Aug 12, 2012
Words:532
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