We got some junk in our inbox this week

Sorry, this post is about genitals. Sorry.

If you’ve managed to largely evade the world of Goop (Gwyneth Paltrow’s airy-fairy and oddly vaginal lifestyle brand), congratulations.

Most are not so lucky. And most had to be reminded of Goop’s existence once again earlier this month when the company launched a new Netflix series, as well as a candle that smells like a vagina. No, that’s not a euphemism or a harsh review, the candle is literally called the “Smells Like My Vagina” candle. And it costs $75.

Let’s put the icky scent name (clearly designed for attention) aside for a few moments and just say that $75 for a candle alone should be the most contentious thing here. A $75 candle? In this economy? I don’t care if it smells like unicorn breath and Lucky Charms, that alone is offensive.

Toronto agency Taxi also zeroed in on that price point, but from a different perspective. In response to the price tag, the agency created a $100 candle called (insert heavy, defeated sigh here) “Smells Like My Penis.”

The candle was created with the sole purpose of highlighting the gender pay gap in Canada – arbitrarily marking up the already-expensive candle based on its gender assignment. This parallels women who are often paid less than men for the same work, which is still a reality for women across many industries.

You can check the candle out here.

While we applaud the intention behind the candle, we do want to issue a word of caution: gender and genitals are not the same thing. Some women are born with (and still have) penises. Some men are born with (and still have) vaginas. Trans people exist, and they like to read lifestyle magazines, have jobs and buy things (yes, even candles). Forgetting so is so passé.

In fact, a study from Toronto-based Wattpad shows that thinking so may alienate a good chunk of Gen Z. The study of Canadian youth born between 1995 and 2009 showed that nearly half (44%) did not identify as straight or heterosexual, 51% say they know someone who identifies as transgender, non-binary or gender-fluid. Nearly half say they know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns, like “they” or “xe.” And, 52% say they don’t feel adequately represented in marketing and branding.

And if we’re going to make this about money, designated male at birth (DMAB) trans people – those usually born with a penis, if we want to get technical – aren’t exactly raking in big bucks. Despite most trans people being well-educated, about half of trans individuals earn below $15,000 per year, with trans women facing even more barriers.

While we appreciate a cheeky clap-back (especially one against Goop) as much as anyone else, we’ll keep this one at the level of a polite golf clap. In the meantime, instead of buying anyone‘s junk candle, we recommend reading up on how our evolving views of gender shape marketing in this story from the latest strategy print issue. You should also take a gander at this interview with Cossette’s Chris Bergeron, one of Canada’s ad industry’s only prominent trans executives. In it, she explains how empathy toward trans and queer workers can result in a more harmonious workplace and better creative.



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