All About the Menz: Douchey Vintage Douche Ads Edition


When are women’s “problems” really problems? According to the vintage ads I’ve collected below, only when they affect a man.


You gals may want to pay special attention to that delicate female problem that has destroyed so many marriages. And no, despite the headline for the ad below, I’m not talking about poor spelling.


And yes, that really was an ad for Lysol. The good folks at Lysol hoped to get women so worried about the effect of their “one neglect” on the men in their lives that they would actually put Lysol in their vaginas. Evidently this ad campaign proved successful; there are a lot of these old Lysol ads floating around. Like this one:


Lysol wasn’t the only brand hoping that women would blame their allegedly smelly vaginas for any problems in their marriages:


And speaking of that whole lady area down there, meet this fellow:


Once you’ve got all your female troubles under control, there’s a simple way to win men back:


The only question is if he’s ready for this jelly.

EDITED TO ADD: Here’s one more! It does not involve the lady regions, however.


About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon,, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on April 9, 2013, in a woman is always to blame, all about the menz, douchebaggery, misogyny, the olden days and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 111 Comments.

  1. Okay, the Mornadine ad was worse than I thought. It was specifically targeting doctors, meaning that the individual primarily responsible for the woman’s health and well-being was urged to consider whether or not she would be able to cook her man breakfast as a primary concern.

  2. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

    Gah. If it was “now you feel like eating breakfast again, and don’t barf at the sight of all that fried food” it’d be one thing, but oh no, it’s all cooking breakfast – not a word about you getting to eat it.

  3. Seriously, all it has to say is “now she can eat breakfast again”

    Also, I read a bunch of the jokes on the first page to my mother, who found it all hilarious. And then asked if Lysol had seriously promoted this (she was born in the 50s, graduated late 70s, so yeah, this all was her childhood) — she didn’t find “yep, it’s for real” all that funny. (More like “put what? where?!“…followed by complaints that I had paused Torchwood and MOAR CAPTAIN JACK! Some people!)

    Am I babbling? It’s way too hot here for early spring, I dread think of August (the dead of summer up here)…this is part of why I love Halloween, it’s the only time of year when I don’t hate the weather. I could do crisp 60~70 forever, none of this suddenly 80 and humid shit (and if I never see another 40” blizzard it will be too soon). But global warming isn’t a thing, see, it snowed all blizzard like!

    Yeah, I’m babbling. Going to bed soon anyways, so don’t mind me. Take home points here: Lysol douche sounds like a bad, dangerous, painful joke; Captain Jack Harkness (and really, the rest of the Torchwood team) is hot.

  4. I think the Lysol douche ads would have been a bit before her time. I think they’re all late 1940s, early 1950s.

  5. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

    Yes, the “Mirage” one is dated 1944.

  6. There have been some awesome* ads over the years. I found this collection a while ago and literally had to scrap my jaw off the ground when looking at them. The Lysol ads remind me of the ones Palmolive ran for their soap, which was a “use our soap so you can have lovely young lady skin and not scare your husband off, you old middle-aged hag” campaign… the heading was “Yes! Husbands stay lovers when wives guard against dry, lifeless “middle-age” skin!. Ugh.

    * By awesome I mean amazingly horrible

  7. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

    Adelaide – argh, that first one about Lucky Strike as an appetite suppressant was gross, gross, gross. Ladies! You’ll be lovely and THIN and MODERN! Never mind the rotting yellow teeth, the emphysema, the blindness, the lung cancer! Trivialities, trivialities!

    Argenti – I hear you about autumn! Best time of the year, when we get a good one, and that’s even without the gorgeous colours youse lot up north have (grrrs of envy here).

    But we’re starting to get those beautiful mellow days at last. I took this in the gardens by the Shrine of Remembrance yesterday (Tuesday 8th, our time).

  8. @Kittehs

    I don’t know how it is down your way, but up here it feels like an extension of summer. Which I quite appreciate, but I realise a lot of people wouldn’t.

  9. @Kitteh’s

    In PSHE we were literally told “some people use cigarettes as a way to help losing weight, DO NOT DO THIS”. I don’t know if it actually works as a weight loss aid.

    We also had the fun derail where we started talking about the icky things in cigarettes (including formaldehyde) and then went into how to embalm a corpse. We learnt useful things in PSHE sometimes.😛

  10. fricking cold and grey up here in Northern NSW

  11. I’m not sure why the baby-drinking-a-pop ads were in the sexist ad collection, but yeah, that was pretty appalling. I suspect several ran in Playboy and similar publications only, where they were trying to ‘blend’ with the content, but still.

  12. @Historophilia

    But I can’t believe Doctors reccomended this, we laugh at people 300 years ago believing that bleeding people in a fever was good for them, but seriously, the stuff that was put out as a good medical science only 60 odd years ago beggars belief…

    Was it doctors advising using Lysol this way, or was it the makers of Lysol? Big difference, IMO – the tendency of companies to sell dangerous shit in the name of profit was probably the same back then.

  13. In that era, it was very common for the companies to get a doctor who had no ethics, or perhaps serious gambling debts, to shill for them. (In the movie Soapdish, Kline’s character mentions that he started on the soap opera back in the days when “We had commercials for cigarettes, starring real doctors.”)

  14. This comes up in Pink Think, an awesome book I highly recommend, but a lot of these old douche ads were exploiting the (erroneous) belief that douching was effective as birth control. When the ad copy talks about how Lysol “cleanses thoroughly,” you’re supposed to understand that this includes any unwanted sperm you might happen to get up in there. Women bought the stuff not just out of fear of stinky vaginas, but also out of desperation to prevent unwanted pregnancies; the popularity of douching dropped off dramatically after the Pill.

    Although I guess douching with Lysol could work as birth control, in that it could permanently destroy your reproductive system.

    That said, the Lysol ad certainly plays the “stinky vagina” angle too. Ladies, a tip: if your husband refuses to have sex with you unless your crotch smells like floor cleaner, you are not the problem.

  15. The thing I noticed was,

    Failure to practice hygience (internal cleanliness) often results in such needless tragedies– homes broken up few social invitations, the feeling of being shunned without knowing why.

    Yeah, I’m sure that happens… Who was the MGTOW who said he could “smell a woman’s filthy crotch” when he was sitting at an outside table?

    The idea that one who doesn’t douche is so foul smelling no one want’s to be in room with her? What The Fuck?


    I had to scrape my jaw off the floor after looking at that Jade East ad.

    Gah the Ivory soap ad. ::shudders::

    Howsabout some brain bleach?

  17. Did the Microsheen shoe polish ads run in Playboy or something? They just get worse and worse.

    I haven’t seen it yet, but I bet the “your wife will drive home the best reason to have car insurance” ad is in this collection.

  18. There’s an ad in there that claims that women’s suffrage would “double the irresponsible vote.”

    There’s something wrong with the math there, but I can’t quite put my finger on it….

  19. And it’s a “best reason for owning a Volkswagen,” and yep, there it is.

    I’m going to stop now.

  20. katz: Ain’t they just the most adorable there ever was?

    I am smote.

  21. Falconer, they’re still cute! :-)

  22. Yeah my mother keeps going “what?!” at these ads, so before her time I guess.

    Falconer — I end up squee’ing TWIIINNS every time you post a pic of your little ones. Ten little fingers, twice!

    Besides that our weather has settled into the 50s, I’ve nothing useful to add.

  23. Twenty little toes!

    Two great big heads! I must be picking them up wrong because I think I’ve strained my left thumb.

    It was almost 80 here yesterday evening, and in the high 60s overnight. We left most of our windows open except in the bedroom, so as not to risk chilling the babies.

  24. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

    We had a couple of hot days (over 30) here after Easter, but since then it’s been low to mid twenties, which is very nice indeed. It feels like autumn at last – took long enough!

  25. Someone may have already pointed this out, but the Lysol douche is not the same formula as the Lysol disinfectant we know and love today. So, as horrid as the ad is, and as unnecessary and potentially harmful douches were and are today, they weren’t actually putting hospital surface disinfectant in women’s vaginas.

    That being said, I’ve always found it as ironic and infuriating that all the products developed to “clean us up” are not only harmful, but they completely backfire as it throws off a woman’s ph balance and kills all the bacteria needed to keep everything “fresh” to begin with. Like I’ve always said: I’m a self-cleaning oven.

  26. Four chubby little baby hands! Twice the cute! Idk about your thumb though.

    Nitram –” self-cleaning oven” *dies*

  27. Two wee widdle noses. Four teeny tiny ears.

  28. @katz – Yeah, I really did.

    And autumn is definitely here, it’s dropped into the low-mid teens and nights are cold.

  29. Those strange ads…I followed the link to the site with a lot of them and one of them said:

    Danger! Women’s Suffrage would double the irresponsible vote

    And I really couldn’t read it as a way besides either pointing out that 1) more voters would increase the amount of votes or 2) calling the men’s votes irresponsible too, since it’s being doubled. Idk, maybe I’m just nitpicking the phrasing, cuz I’m easily amused.

    There’s something wrong with the math there, but I can’t quite put my finger on it….

    I see you guys got there before me…😄

    Another ad

    Keep up with your housework while you keep down with your weight

    Sounds like something an mra would right. Well, so does the first one I mentioned, but I had to nitpick the math fail.


    Like I’ve always said: I’m a self-cleaning oven.

    Can I ever steal this if I need to? I like it.😀

  30. Marie,

    Absolutely! I stole it from my hilarious friend who has always had a way with words. Can you believe she came up with that gem when we were 16, lamenting the prevalence of “Fds” commercials in the 90s?

  31. @Nitram

    Sweet😀 And she sounds awesome:)

  32. The “double the irresponsible vote” things reads to me like an insinuation that “responsible” men would forbid their wives from voting even if the government allowed them to. You know, like…women can’t be trusted to vote “correctly,” and therefore neither can any man who cares about women’s opinions.

  33. @karalora

    A more creepy, controlling possibility😦 Didn’t think of that.

  34. Every time the vote is extended to a new demographic, there’s a pushback based on the idea that said demographic will vote “wrong.” You see it now with voter-ID laws aimed at college students because college students vote Democratic, and to Republicans that’s sufficient proof that they’re young and stupid and shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

  35. @katz

    Did not know thatO_o This is US? (sounds like it may be, just didn’t see if you said where).

  36. Yes, sorry, it’s the US. They were pushing through tons of these laws before the election. Usually they claim it’s about “voter fraud,” but sometimes they just come right out and say it:

    the kids coming out of the schools and basically doing what I did when I was a kid, which is voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do — they don’t have life experience, and they just vote their feelings.

  37. I filed an absentee ballot when I was in college. I had made a handwriting error on my hometown address, and an election judge wanted to reject it. But my Uncle Henry, also an election judge, grabbed it and said, “I know this street, the address is ok.” Recognizing me as the submitter of the ballot.

    He wouldn’t have done that, probably, if he’d known I was voting for McGovern.

  38. Regarding Lysol — one thing that’s not obvious to us here and now is that this was back before Griswold v Connecticut, and before oral contraception. The expected off-label usage being not-quite alluded to in advertisements was to douche for purposes of birth control.

    Not that it worked, but that’s never stopped anyone.

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