Viewers of Saudi Arabia’s Channel One were up in arms this week when the network ran a provocative ad for Snafi, a Viagra-like drug whose commercial—entitled “Snafi Duty”—promised “36 hours of stiffness” to Saudi gents. 36 hours of stiffness on a state-owned TV station in one of the world’s most conservative societies? I was shocked too. Watch the ad:
I secretly think this ad is kind of awesome. Here’s why:
The ad is saucy and straightforward, especially compared to boner pill ads created for the US market, which are all gauzy, soft-focus romance and required medical disclaimers:
The softcore lewdness of “Snafi Duty” may have outraged some Saudis, but it also offers a small measure of counterintuitive insight into Saudi culture. Advertisers know their demographic, and they generally have some idea what’s going on in the demographic’s bedroom. This looks like a conservative Saudi household. The husband looks a little older than his pretty wife. They are both traditionally dressed—he’s got his kaffiyeh, she’s got her hijab—but Mr. 36-Hours is clearly mindful of the clause in the Islamic marriage contract that requires the husband to provide his wife with physical pleasure. It’s his duty and he’s going to do what it takes to please her (although hopefully not for 36 consecutive hours because…ouch). And this in one of the most patriarchial societies on earth, where women’s bodies are more strictly policed than just about anywhere else. I like that it flies in the face of the traditional leftist, Western view that Muslim women are treated as little better than slaves to their husbands, a stereotype which women who actually live in the Arab world frequently refute.
I’ve written before about boner pills and my general dislike of the way “Viagra” has become cultural shorthand for anything hot, sexy, and exciting. Rock-hard dicks, while delightful to some of us, are certainly not the be-all and end-all; I don’t think women or men necessarily benefit from the message that BIGGER FASTER HARDER LONGER IS BETTER! But it’s a positive sign when a boner pill is being marketed as for a woman’s pleasure instead of as proof of a man’s masculinity, especially in a very conservative society where women’s needs, rights and pleasure are often ignored.