Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Who Put the R in Vaginal?

I normally don't answer my home phone because it is almost always a telemarketer. If it is someone who really knows who I am, they'll call my cell. But when the phone rang and rang the other night, I picked it up. A mistake-- that slight pause that screams, "The person on the other end does not know you. Hang up now." But before I could, a perky voice announced she was not selling anything but was conducting market research.

Didn't matter about what--I was in. Flunky of the advertising companies? I like to think not. I am constantly amazed that there are so many products out there that hold no appeal whatsoever to me or any of the people I know. Glade Plugs Ins. Lunchables. Scented garbage bags. Disposable toilet brushes. I know part of the problem is that we're not great American consumers, tending toward environmentalism, conservation, and simple living, not to mention being limited by the storage space offered by urban apartment dwelling (that's none, for those who don't know)--essentially antithetical to rampant consumerism resulting in purchase of flats of antibacterial toilet paper. But surely it must also be that people like us are not participating in these kinds of studies in big enough numbers. I have participated in many phone surveys, paid focus groups and have even worked for a research company, asking random digit dialed people questions like, "Not counting potatoes, how many servings of vegetables did you eat this week?"

So of course I was a little excited. Perky started by asking if I owned a DVD player connected to a TV player. I told her I did, figuring this was an electronics survey. Then she said, "The following questions I will ask you are of a personal nature. Please be assured that your answers are confidential and will be compiled with others in your demographic group." Wow, I thought, this survey is about porn! I wasn't sure how much help I could, since I have seen very little porn. Maybe this company was developing porn for people just like me, and I could be instrumental in helping shape better porn for the greater good. I would certainly try my best!

Then Perky started asking about personal lubricant. As her questions went on, she explained that KY was rolling out a new kind of lubricant, the name I have forgotten by now, whose claim to fame is its supposed ability to stay slippery for a long time. From her questions, it seems that KY is trying to shake their medicinal image and get a little more racy. More power to 'em, but this seems like a lost cause in the Bay Area, where you can walk into one of three Good Vibes or any store in the Castro and buy any kind of lube you can dream of and some that you never have.

But the most distracting part of this phonecall was that this very nice sounding woman could not pronounce "vaginal." Since this word popped up at least every minute or so, it was really hard to keep my focus on her questions. Sometimes it was "varge-inal." Sometimes "ver-ginal." When prepping the staff to roll out this new survey, did the supervisor never coach them on how to pronounce vaginal? Was I the only person who agreed to answer these questions, so her inability to pronounce vaginal never came up before? Couldn't Perky have put me on hold and asked the person in the cube next to her, "Psst--this woman is actually doing the survey--how do you pronounce that v word?"

Later that evening I had a full blown Women's Studies fit that a grown female was unfamiliar with the pronunciation of her own genitalia. Can you even conceive of a person of any gender unable to pronounce penile? Let's speak frankly--how many women (and men) have you encountered that don't know how to pronounce clitoris? It's maddening! Go now, ambassadors of my outrage. Speak to your family and friends of all genders and ages and make sure they know that there is no R in vaginal.

1 comment:

batwing said...

Finally I can post!

I forgot my original witticism, though. Too busy contemplating my vurva.