Douchebag Decree: Mae West and Frida Kahlo's Legacies Co-Opted in the Name of Feminine Hygiene Products

Back when we launched this series, we thought long and hard about calling it the “Douchebag Decree,” ultimately deciding that a commodity designed to make women feel bad about themselves was a worthy title for a person, place, or thing in the news that was making women feel bad about themselves.

Douchebag Decree logo in red and blue letters it says Ye Olde Douchebag Decree. Bitch hereby declares the following person a total douchebag

Every once in a while, the stars align and we bestow Ye Olde Decree—named for a feminine hygiene product—on an actual feminine hygiene product. Today is one of those star-aligning days: Meet this week’s Decreed Douchebag, Damiva.

ad that reads Drier than a British comedy? Honey you are not alone.
Joke’s on you—I LIKE British comedies.

Damiva, a Canadian cosmetics company whose name is a portmanteau of the oh-so-lovely female descriptors “dame” and “diva,” claims to be “empowering women’s health” through its new vaginal moisturizer, the Mae. It’s named for Mae West, because she was known for her unabashed sexuality (which I guess implies that she had a very moisturized vagina). Get it? Her vag saw a lot of hot action, and yours can too! For approximately $3 a pop (plus shipping!) the vagina-havers among us can experience a silver-screen-sex-bomb-level of confidence and hydration. Empowerment, thy name is Mae West vaginal cream!

More hirsute readers, fear not: This empowerment will soon be available for you to purchase as well. The Frida is a hair removal cream that is still in the testing phase. Are you a Frida Kahlo fan? Then sign up for a trial run! Clearly the renowned Ms. Kahlo’s legacy can be reduced to her body hair, which was GROSS. It was so awful you should buy a cream “inspired” by it so that you never look like her. Art appreciation!

Frida Kahlo in black and white
Frida Kahlo doesn’t care about your body hair removal cream.

Now I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with vaginal moisturizers or hair removal creams, at least not in theory. Maybe you do want your hair removed, or some “help with vaginal dryness and feminine odor”; that’s none of my business. (Though be warned that the Mae doesn’t work with latex condoms.) The element du douche here is how Damiva uses the language of female empowerment to sell its products. There might be nothing wrong with hair removal cream, but there’s nothing Frida Kahlo Approved about it either. Same goes for Mae West and the wettie lotion. And need I remind you that both of these iconic-women-turned-unwitting-lady-cream-hucksters are no longer with us, and therefore not around to defend their legacies against dry vagina jokes? So not cool.

Damiva ad that reads you'll feel like a teenager again but with better judgement
Who’s to say I don’t still have terrible judgement?

In addition to the co-opting of feminist heroines, Damiva uses cheeky, irreverent language to seem like a “hip vaginal cream,” if such a thing exists. “THIS AIN’T YO’ GRANDMA’S VAGINAL CREAM!” it says. “[Insert joke here about how teenagers are horny and have bad judgment but enviably wet crotches!] Buy this lotion and feel young again (but also old, but in a sexy Mae West way)!” I like a little snark as much as the next vadge holder, but cloaking hair and odor removal products in hip lingo and aggressive branding–complete with first-person marketing copy—isn’t fooling anyone.

The Mae moisturizer comes out next week, and the Frida hair removal will follow shortly after. What feminist legacy will Damiva co-opt into a cosmetic next? Gloria Steinem hair conditioner, to keep your locks silky smooth? Shirley Chisholm contact lenses, so you can lose those pesky eyeglasses? Betty Friedan hand cream for those feminine-mystiqued dishpan hands?

Or how about a Douchebag Decree-inspired douche?

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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8 Comments Have Been Posted




I live in Canada and have honestly never heard of this brand or product.

Are they new or something?

While their choice of words isn't the best, nor do I agree with using feminism to sell products, it's certainly a hell of a lot better than the advertisements for condoms, male lubricant, or anything directed to male consumers actually...

I find this funny...Coming from the same website which publishes an entire (waste of pixels) series on women + alcohol and has no qualms whatsoever about it.
What about those of us who don't drink?
Isn't promoting feminism within beer drinking a smoke screen for selling beer?

these two products are new,

these two products are new, yes ("The Mae moisturizer comes out next week, and the Frida hair removal will follow shortly after. ")

i've really enjoyed the series approach, and the current series on alcohol has been enlightening

however, what it hasn't been is an ad for drinking. not even a bit

Lady Liquor Series

I really enjoy the Lady Liquor series - many of those posts have been my favorite on this site in the last few months - and I would argue that alcohol personally affects you or your family or your friends even if you do not drink! We live in a society where the drinking culture is quite prominent, not only in actual bars but also in advertising and the media, and it's important to look at its current and historical effects on women who drink, women who don't drink, and society in general.

I also don't quite understand your reasoning behind why these posts should not occur, just because some readers don't drink. Bitch recently had a series on disabled individuals, "Tales from the Crip," even though many of its readers are not disabled. Does that make those discussions invalid?

I would encourage you to read the first post if you have not already, as the author outlines the reasoning behind the series:

PS Promoting feminism within beer drinking is not a smoke screen for selling beer. It's about being recognized as a legitimate part of the population that enjoys beer and talks about beer, which in the past few decades has been seen as ONLY a male activity. It's important to have women recognized for their presence both behind the bar (brewers, ciccerones, etc.) and in front of it. Too often women are dismissed as silly and ditzy in the presence of alcohol - especially beer - and not as knowledgeable as their male counterparts, whether brewing or tasting. I know that my knowledge has been questioned simply because I am a woman, and that's frustrating. It's fantastic that women are supporting each other in what can be a hostile environment, and are starting to get the respect they deserve in this field.

It's been a slow douchebag

It's been a slow douchebag week hasn't it?

I'm all for Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School as the Dbag of week.

Frida's Stache

I'm so sick of people only seeing Frida for her facial hair. Get over it already! And if you're selling Frida beauty products, maybe they should be products that grow hair. Diego Rivera loved Frida's stache.

In defense of Damiva

As a woman who is in the demographic that the product Mae is aimed at, I find myself incensed that you would issue a decree based on the name alone. I love the packaging and the humour behind it...that said, humour is subjective. This is an amazing product for a problem that plagues a huge number of women in my age group...up to 80%. I suspect this site is run by a younger age group that hasn't had to face the discomfort of vaginal dryness on an ongoing basis, or the impact it has on daily comfort and on intimate relationships. The product contains NO nasty chemicals and works exactly as it is advertised. I had all but given up a multi year struggle to find something that relieved my symptoms and wasn't full of chemicals or hormones that would wreak havoc on my body. Mae is it!!!!! So please don't douchbag decree something on name alone without having any experience with the product. You are doing a disservice to many women who could be helped by a great product!!

I wonder what your definition of feminism is...

Because opening the conversation about sex from a female perspective (specially older females, who are very under-repesented); and also providing solutions to a group of women for a problem such as vaginal dryness, when the media just talks about men and their problems with sex but ignores women, fits my description of FEMINISM.

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