Do you remember the commercials that promote deodorants and openly appeal to sexist phantasies? Women are drawn in hordes to any male who has sprayed himself liberally with the deodorant – the “Axe effect”. The commercials have been known as the world’s sexist advertising campaign for many years. The commercial “strictly for men” (1996) can even be viewed as a gender hack: A woman used her boyfriend’s grooming product! And – what a surprise! – women in the street are suddenly really horny for her. And, of course, she’s angry! She goes right to her boyfriend: “Hey, did you know about this?”. In fact, the use of scent is highly gendered. Crossing the boundaries between gender, scent & culture Claus Noppeney and Bettina Rychener contribute to the upcoming festival “Ckster” in Bern.
Ckster is the art & science festival at Bern exploring hacking as a creative strategy in society and culture. And the focus of the 2017 edition is gender hacking: Scent Masquerade: Gendering your Nose.
During the interactive part of the session the participants individualized and scented a t-shirt. The material offered to odorize the shirt was taken from various lifeworlds: food, party, body odor, perfumer etc. Here are some snapshots of our session:
Finally, a short presentation reflected on the previous experience in the context of iconic advertising campaigns, scientific insights, cultural and artistic projects as well as critical inquiry. A summary in four provocative statements:
- Identität riechen! Gerüche identifizieren! Geruchsidentität!
- Geruch gehört zum geschlechtlichen Selbstverständnis und stellt es zugleich in Frage!
- Gender macht Körpergerüche zum Geschäft!
- Gerüche kann man hacken: Gender Hacking!
Thanks a lot to Ckster, Julia Geiser and Adrian for making this possible. And thanks to this wonderful crowd of curious and interesting people. We enjoyed this session and our cooperation a lot!