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And tissues. But I thought that was a funnier title. The memory disclaimer applies (see Further Notes up top).

I found this image on Stall Wall Poetry. (Image description: On a Kimberly-Clark sanitary dispenser thing of some kind, someone has drawn a heart, crossed it out and added underneath ‘RIOT GRRL’.) I love a bit of unexpected feminism in public places. Good to see riot grrls are still rockin’ it. Or punkin’ it, as the case may be. But wait. There is more.

Good old Kimberly-Clark. They make Kleenex, you know. I was pleased to see a few months ago that they were on Australia’s Equal Opportunity in the Workplace Agency’s 2008 Employer of Choice for Women list, which you can find here in PDF form. This list features 99 businesses tackling gender inequality on a variety of fronts. I was also pleased to see a number of girls’ schools and health organisations. Anyway, Kleenex, yay, I approved.

A while after that, I was casually strolling down the tissue aisle at my local supermarket. I am rather fond of choosing pretty boxes with seals and shells and the like on them. A giant tissue box caught my eye. ‘Ooh,’ I thought. ‘Giant tissues. I would like some of those.’ I took a closer look at the box. Lo and behold, the box said ‘MAN-SIZE tissues’. Excuse me. ‘MAN-SIZE’ in big manly letters? Do the rest of us not sometimes get a lot of snot and not want to bother with tiny little tissues only good for three blows? Not only that, but the two patterns you could choose from were cricket equipment and an old-style map of the world. So, what, playing sport and exploring is for men?

So, I took down the toll free number they provided on the box for feedback. I called them up, feeling a bit stupid, but I was going to go through with it now. I told the customer service lady about misogyny and compartmentalising and cricket and marketing and assumptions and I want giant tissues, too! I must have gone on for a while, because:

‘So, what exactly is your complaint?’
‘Uh. The packaging and the man-size messaging is full of misogynistic messages. If you changed those things, it’d be really good and it’d invite women to buy your product.’
‘Okay. Thanks for calling. I’ll pass that along to the marketing team. Thank you very much.’

The tissue boxes are still in my supermarket, if you were wondering.

It’s a bit of a silly thing to get caught up about, but it’s much less silly than trying to push patriarchal dominance even to, of all things, tissues. In any case, I’ve been given rather a lot of beautiful handkerchiefs and I use them when I have a cold. I must point out that I am aware of gentlemen who are not into tissues so much as handkerchiefs. It’s good for the environment and good craftspersonship, folks.

Anyway, I was in the women’s bathroom at the shops the other day and I was reading an ad on the back of my door. You know how they have ads on the cubicle door? What a way to advertise. It was an ad for a website called thefacts.com.au about genital herpes. (I thought this was a government-run site, but it turns out it’s run by a pharmaceutical/healthcare company called GSK.) I wish I’d had a camera, but it said something along the lines of ‘Anyone can get herpes. Even if you’ve only had a few sexual partners.’ Someone who’d been in before me had modified the message to say ‘NOT anyone can get herpes. Even if you’ve only had a few more than one sexual partners. SO BE MONOGAMOUS!!’

Way to spread misinformation, you poor thing. For example, the site says that about 80% of people who have the virus don’t know it. So you or your monogamous partner could have it. All this is to say, it’s so important to be informed about your sexual health. (And sex and your sexuality in general, but I’ll write about that another time.) Don’t rely on what you hear. Do some proper research, talk to your doctor, love and take care of yourself.

Now, enough of toilets.