Wellington, September 6 (ANI): 18 again, which has been developed by an Indian and is being currently being marketed at Indian women, is 'a vaginal tightening and rejuvenating cream' that promises women to make them feel like virgins again.
This is not the first wonder potion promising to 'fix' women's vaginas. It is, however, the first to market itself as a 'product of female empowerment.'
The product's owner, Rishi Bhatia, claims 18 Again 'builds inner confidence' and 'boosts self-esteem'.
According to Bhatia, when the middle-aged woman in the ad sings about 'it' feeling like her first time, she is simply happy that the product has restored, not her actual virginity but the emotions of being a virgin and having sex for the first time.
Until the 1960s and 70s, sex was considered a duty faithful wives performed for their husbands. They weren't particularly encouraged to enjoy it, and respectable women certainly weren't to engage in it outside the safe confines of marriage.
The women's movement challenged this head on. Suddenly, a single woman who admitted to having and enjoying sex was empowered, not because of the sex itself but because she was breaking a major taboo.
But having sex freely wasn't who she was, it was never meant to define her as a person. It was simply something she did - like eating, voting and working, sex was part of being a complete human being.
Fast forward to the 1990s and the girl power movement - co-opted by the men behind the Spice Girls - corrupted this concept by foregrounding sexual desirability. Girl-power, despite its quasi-feminist moniker, was really about men because it equated 'power' with being a sex object.
'18 Again' is another manifestation of empowerment-as-sex-object, especially coming as it does in a society that is adopting a western lifestyle whilst remaining shackled by patriarchal attitudes.
Far from empowering women, it is the latest incarnation of the tired virgin-whore dichotomy, which renders a woman either acceptable (virgin) or contemptible (whore), desirable or derisible.
What '18 Again' says is that the best kind of woman is not a woman at all but a young girl.
Annie Raja, from the National Federation of Indian Women, calls bullshit on 18 Again, and its affirmation of the patriarchal notion that men only want to marry virgins.
"Why should women stay virgins until they are married?" Stuff.co.nz quoted her as saying.
The obsession with female virginity has never been about sex per se. It's about keeping women in their place, it's about a woman's body belonging to a man, and it's a reminder to women that their value diminishes with age and sexual activity.
It's ultimate aim is to make money but in the process '18 Again' keeps patriarchal repression alive by encouraging both men and women to see youthful virginity as the ideal state for a woman. (ANI)