October 21, 2012

IconNewsflash: Lynx bodyspray turns lesbians straight

Ladies! Don’t you just hate it when you’re walking along the street, minding your own business, when suddenly you get a whiff of the sexiest man imaginable and suddenly you and every other woman in a 5-mile radius are compelled to find him and stare adoringly at him, licking your lips suggestively. We’ve all been there. It’s a true science fact known as “the Lynx effect”.

“True science fact” meaning, of course, “imaginary marketing bollocks”.

Lynx (known as ‘Axe’ in the USA) spend millions every year trying to convince 13 year old boys that their cheap, overpowering deodorant will somehow transform their awkward desperation into irrestible sexiness.

Women in Lynx adverts are always gorgeous, sex-mad, and there for the taking by any man who smells of Lynx. The ‘women-as-prizes’ line of thinking is not limited to Lynx adverts, of course – just look at any action film – but Lynx have really taken it to a new level with an advert which appeared in Hong Kong last week.

In case you can’t see the small text on the poster, it reads “Unleash the Lynx effect and claim your reward from Cecil”.

This ad is a reference, of course, to the story that appeared in September 2012 of a Hong Kong millionaire who was offering HK$500 million (£40m) to any man who would marry his lesbian daughter.

Nevermind the fact that the daughter in question, 33-year-old Gigi Chao, is happily in a relationship with another woman for seven years – so happy, in fact, that the couple had a Civil Partnership five months ago.

And yet, Gigi’s father has such little respect for her identity, relationship, independence or happiness, that he has made her into a prize worth HK$500m.

Gigi is a prize, and her lesbian identity a simple hurdle for the right man to overcome. And now here come Lynx, helping enterprising men get the cash with their lesbian-curing spray.

Lynx’s advert is a joke of course, a cheeky ‘lad-culture’ bit of fun, that no one is going to take seriously. So why get annoyed about it?

Well, because it’s shit like this that perpetutate attitudes that lesbians have to deal with every day. Often it’s well-meaning and patronising: “It’s just a phase” “You just haven’t met the right man yet”; but sometimes it’s aggressive: “I could turn you straight” “You just need a good fuck”.

When lesbianism is presented as a temporary problem for a man to overcome, then protestations become challenges for a man – nay, a hero, on his heroic venture towards his prize. ‘No’ becomes ‘not yet’, ‘maybe’ or ‘yes but I want you to chase me’.

Nevermind the $50m, ‘turning a lesbian straight’ is the ultimate prize. Imagine being so very manly, so very irrestible, that you could lure a lesbian. Not all men think this way, naturally, but a minority do. This kind of thinking is a frustration for lesbians, of course, but it also deeply affects bisexual women.

Lynx and other perpetuators of this macho bullshit are the reason why some women prefer to identify as lesbian despite feeling that they might be bisexual. It’s also the reason why some lesbians feel like bisexuals ‘betray’ the lesbian community. It’s horribly unfair, and darkly ironic. It’s no more the case that bisexual women are lesbians who ‘turn’ for men, than it’s true that lesbians are predatory creatures who ‘turn’ straight women.

Gigi, by the way, has shown rather more dignity than her father. Despite being approached by 1,500 men, some bearing nude pictures, she has tried to laugh off the attention, saying, rather unconvincingly “It’s really sweet of him to do something like this as an expression of his fatherly love”.

In this sad tale we’re all victims: Gigi, lesbians, and bisexuals alike. And let’s not forget those hapless young Lynx customers either, sent on a wild goose chase and dousing themselves in more and more cheap deoderant in their doomed quest for love.

Newsflash, kids – advertising lies.

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Milly Shaw


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