Marketing

Chemist Warehouse removes “virgin” sex toys following social media backlash and activist campaign

Broede Carmody /

 

Chemist Warehouse has removed a number of products from its online store after copping flak for selling a sex toy described as “tight as a virgin” and with a “realistic hymen just waiting to be popped”.

The “Virgin Palm Pal” product was removed from Chemist Warehouse’s website yesterday following a complaint from grassroots feminist movement Collective Shout.

“You’ll be her first and only,” the sex toy’s description reads.

“This virgin is waiting to be touched for the very first time.”

Collective Shout drew attention to the product yesterday morning on its Facebook page, with numerous commenters describing the sex toy as “disgusting” and promoting the sexualisation of teenagers and children.

“Just gross,” one commenter wrote.

“Chemist Warehouse should be ashamed of themselves for selling such a product,” another person wrote.

Yesterday afternoon, a search on the Chemist Warehouse site revealed in a number of other “Palm Pal” products, however, those items have since been removed.

For example, the “Palm Pal Ass Flesh” product was available for sale yesterday, however, the same hyperlink now says the product is “no longer available online”.

Caitlin Roper from Collective Shout told SmartCompany this morning the product sexualises girls  and was clearly inappropriate for a chemist to be selling.

“We come across some pretty awful things in the course of some of our other campaigns, but I think with this one I was really genuinely surprised to see this item sold by a chemist under the guise of sexual health,” Roper says.

“I thought, what does aiding men in their sexual fantasies for children have to do with their health or wellbeing? We have campaigns to shed light on this epidemic on child sex abuse in schools and churches, but as a culture we continue to sexualise girls and present them as sexually appealing and even available.”

Roper says it is good to see how quickly Chemist Warehouse has addressed this issue but further questions remain.

“How did this item end up being sold in the first place without anyone raising objections?” she says.

In a statement sent to SmartCompany, Chemist Warehouse said it apologises unreservedly for the “inappropriate listings”.

“The offending products were immediately removed,” the company said.

“Chemist Warehouse Online has implemented a new and rigorous process to assess the appropriateness of all product listings across the website but more specifically in this category.”

Chemist Warehouse says it will endeavour to ensure all future online content is consistent with its brand principles.

This is not the first time Collective Shout has gone after businesses for products and advertising deemed to be sexist or demeaning towards women.

In June last year a Perth-based coffee company was bombarded with criticism over the sexual nature of its social media advertising.

The month before, shaving company Schick came under fire for an advertising campaign featuring a topless woman in order to sell men’s hygiene products.

 

 

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Broede Carmody

Broede Carmody is a former senior reporter at SmartCompany. Previously, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.

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