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#OrchidsandOnions: Women's lib rules. Period

Plain speaking: thought-provoking message for women from all walks of life; What is the point of having a website if you do not monitor it?
In the dark ages, when I was young, there were some subjects thrust into even darker corners, not to be brought out into the public light, but discussed in hushed tones behind closed doors.

Bodily functions and sex were things learned about from a book thrust into your hands by a reluctant parent who walked away, embarrassed after spluttering: “Read this.” And when you did, it barely gave you any more information than you’d got from chats with your mates or glimpses at smutty magazines.

Is it any wonder so many people walked around with sexual hang-ups and struggled through life not quite understanding their partners and, if those partners were female, then mostly avoiding the unspoken mystery of menstruation?

Even young girls themselves in those days were seldom given the information they needed to deal with the changes their bodies went through at puberty and what would be with them for the rest of their lives.

Today, things are different.

And one of the brands leading that charge to shine some light on a taboo topic is Lil-lets, the maker of tampons and sanitary towels.

The latest Lil-lets ad says it loud and proud: I am woman watch me roll … and don’t try to stop me.

It’s part an ad for Lil-lets products and part feminist statement… and a reminder that today’s women will not be put in the confined spaces they were in the past. The video features the words of South African poet Puno Selesho, who wrote Be You. Period specifically for Lil-lets. But its words transcend the mere advertising pitch.

Her lines bear some thinking about: Someone somewhere keeps deciding what I should be.

Stop drawing conclusions on my page for I am crafting my own story.

You did not create my confidence so don’t assume you can curate my identity.

My strength is my vulnerability.

The women featuring in the ad are ordinary people, not airbrushed supermodels… and thus the message speaks straight to the typical target audience. It is also part of a continuing, and refreshing trend among brands to use real people – like their real customers – in their marketing.

The message, from Lil-lets is: “Our periods are unique. And when it comes to choosing how we handle them, there’s no such thing as one ‘right way’ - there’s simply what works for you. And the better you know your body, the easier it is to know what that is.”

The execution is simple but it’s thought-provoking. And, Lillets is subtly letting people know that liberation from the hassles of periods is just like liberation from the tyranny of other people’s opinion of you.

Orchids to Lil-lets, to Selesho and to retroviral agency.

Despite the advent of Popia (the Protection of Private Information Act), I still get plenty of calls from people trying to solicit business.

I have found two very effective ways to deal with them. First, I have an app on my phone which identifies marketing spammers and I can then not answer. Even so, sometimes I do, just to use the silver bullet phrase on them: “Where did you get my number?”

That often results in: Click.

Sometimes though, the call centre agents are able to handle my somewhat brusque questioning.

As did the woman from Old Mutual, explaining that I was already a customer. Most of the spam calls are from people trying to sell me insurance.

You’d assume, then, that the insurance industry would be begging for business.

From my personal experience, I would say: No.

I have left six messages on the websites of companies which say they offer specialised insurance for classic cars, because now that mine is back from its restoration, I need to get cover. And, guess what? Nobody has contacted me. And Culprit Number One is Hollard Insurance. Its website goes into great detail about its classic car policy. There is a box where you enter your name and number and hit “Call me Back”. Clearly no-one bothers monitoring the website because I have done that three times in the past week and… crickets.

Ditto with iToo, which is apparently a subsidiary of Hollard. I e-mailed one of the contacts listed on their website. And… crickets.

After hearing nothing from them, I tried MUA, which goes into great detail on its website about classic car insurance. I sent a message, asking someone to contact me. And… crickets.

What is the point of having a website if you do not monitor it?

It makes me wonder whether insuring a vehicle with any of you would be a wise decision.

Onions to Hollard, iToo and MUA.

About Brendan Seery

Brendan Seery has been in the news business for most of his life, covering coups, wars, famines - and some funny stories - across Africa. Brendan Seery's Orchids and Onions column ran each week in the Saturday Star in Johannesburg and the Weekend Argus in Cape Town. Contact him now on moc.liamg@4snoinodnasdihcro

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