Male Genital Odor?

Debbie says:

(Laurie has a cold and is taking a few days off from blogging.)

The rallying cry of corporations is “find new customers,” and in the last decade or so, the cosmetics and beauty industries have been organizing a full-court press to bring in male customers. Since these industries thrive on body hatred, the goal is to get men to hate, fear, and distrust their bodies; unfortunately, the corporate interests are having at least some measure of success.

I can remember when female genital deodorants burst onto the scene (maybe the early 1980s? late 1970s?). The idea seemed strange at the time: what did these products do that soap and water didn’t? But I guess women use them, because they’re still around.

Now that specific market niche is expanding to include men. To do it in the tone of the 2000s, they had to start by inventing a new disease:

[NodorO] was specifically created to remove and prevent MGO (Male Genital Odors) and can be obtained immediately without a prescription exclusively on NodorO’s website.

President/CEO and NodorO Creator, Dominic Adams suffered from MGO since he was a teenager, until he realized his discovery. Adams personally tested the product for several years, which inspired him to share his discovery with the world and created NodorO. “I could not imagine my sexual life without NodorO anymore. I have no more fears of repulsing my partner due to bad genital odors.

So now we have a syndrome, with a three-letter acronym to make it sound Important And Real. But there’s more body hatred lurking in the wings:

MGO affects men of different ages. It is more likely to occur to men who are not circumcised, due to the moist environment between the foreskin and the glans, which is a favorable ground for development of fungi cells. … However, MGO can also happen to men who are circumcised.

Note how the copy is designed to make uncircumcised men conscious of potential “problems,” while making sure that circumcised men don’t feel immune.

And my absolute favorite bit:

Unlike other products such as scented oils and perfumes, NodorO does not mask or cover up the smell; it kills, destroys, removes and prevents odors. “Men have had to deal with this problem for centuries, and women had to deal with their partners having MGO.”

It’s difficult to fit three major fallacies into two sentences, but they manage. First, they manage to leave “soap” out of the possible other products–in my experience, to the extent that this is ever a problem, soap is a fine solution. Second, they sneak in a completely heteronormative assumption without ever addressing it–either there are no men who have sex with men, or they like each other’s odors, or something. Undoubtedly, if the product catches on, gay men will be the next target, with their own separate ad campaign. And finally, the “for centuries” blurs the fact that the contemporary first world urban culture is historically unique in being protected from animal odors (such as manure on the street); we’ve replaced them with hydrocarbon odors. In fact, the concept of body odor is not even a century old. (I bet the NodorO folks don’t know that the first deodorant was called Odo-Ro-No.)

By the way, NodorO’s slogan is, “Lose the odor; keep your lover.” In most situations, I personally recommend keeping clean with soap and water, and then losing the lover who doesn’t like the result.

Thanks to Lynn Kendall for the pointer.

men, masculinity, body odor, hygiene, circumcision, body image, male genitals, Body Impolitic