Buying deodorant; or, how to drive yourself completely insane via the most trivial interactions of popular culture and feminist thought.
I am stinky! My hippie all-natural deodorant without those chemicals that my dad says cause Alzheimer's (scientific evidence is inconclusive) does not effectively unstinkify and I think people are noticing! As a girl I get treated bad if I'm not pretty and this smell is very not pretty! This is worth risking my health over! Time to buy some Alzheimer's deodorant!
Okay, I'm in the drugstore, I'm at the deodorant aisle, and... it's cut in half. Everything on the left is black and red and dark blue, and everything on the right is pink and purple and pale blue. I don't have to be told which one is for me, or why they've been divided visually this way and not by brand or antiperspirant/deodorant-only or gel/stick/spray.
I pick up some bottles and sniff them, and I can tell with my eyes closed, too. The left-side deodorants are all citrusy or spicy; the right-side ones are all flowery or powdery. (A couple of the left-side ones give me unexpected sense memories. Old Spice was like a goddamn cascade of ex-boyfriends in a bottle.) Maybe this makes some sense, because males and females do smell a little different, so maybe these are more complementary scents to our natural odors? Yeah, that's a stretch.
So the extremely First World Problem that faces me: if I buy a men's deodorant, will people notice that I smell like a man and think I'm weird? Can you get in trouble for being cross-deodorized? But if I buy a women's deodorant, aren't I just buying into the system? I think I like the men's deodorants more, but is it really the smells I like or is it the association with masculinity which is in turn associated with superiority? Oh fuck it, are there any neutral deodorants here?
In the end, I get Arm & Hammer deodorant, which I think is a men's brand--it's on the left--but is sort of middley, with an orange bottle and an air-freshener-y smell. (Also I have this vague idea that anything with Arm & Hammer in it must work extra well because baking soda is magical or something.) I think I can live with this.
Oh fuck, I just went to the website and the slogan on it is "All The Muscle A Man Needs." There's a picture of a veiny man's bicep too. It fooled me in the store, but no, I am definitely not invited to use this deodorant.
All I want to do is make my armpits less stinky, and I can't do it without negotiating gender in a million ridiculous ways.