Lysol: You Douche With It

As a national debate about birth control breaks out, let's look back at the days before The Pill.

There are some monumental events that happened in the 20th century. The invention of TV. The atom bomb. The rise and fall of the Soviet Union. But one of the most seminal things to occur was the introduction of the birth control pill. This simple medical advance radically altered our culture, allowing women to have full control of their own reproductive decision-making. The Sexual Revolution and growth of feminism can be seen as stemming from the introduction of the pill; the pill allowed women a new kind of freedom, and traditional gender roles - with women at home, serving the male breadwinner - fell apart. It was a pretty major positive step forward for humanity as a species.

Listen to Loretta Lynn sing about the joys of the pill in this song, which was often banned from the radio:

So of course there are some who want to tear down those advances, and the country is suddenly caught up in a truly bizarre, seemingly time-lost debate about birth control. As that debate continues on, fueled by conservative men, I  think it's important to look back at what the world once was like, in the days before the pill.

Did you know that in the 1920s Lysol marketed itself as a feminine hygiene product? The ads are astonishing in their coded language and not-so coded sexism. But more than that, Lysol was popularly used as a post-intercourse birth control method. Women would douche with Lysol in an attempt to kill all the sperm inside of them. Your grandmother may have poured some Lysol up her hey-nanny after a romp with your grandpa. Think on that.

It all puts the Saturday Night Live Shimmer Floor Wax sketch in a new light, huh?

Here are some truly remarkable ads from Lysol back in the day, with some incredible imagery, like a spider-web coming from a woman's crotch. I love the one that says Lysol keeps a woman 'still the girl he married,' a coded bit of language about virginal vagina.

For more, visit this Flickr set.