June 3, 2010 | by David J. Hoffman
Feeling fresh with a ‘menema’

Your buns. Your caboose. Your ass (AKA donkey).

“Keep them clean. Naturally.”

That’s the new advertising tag line for Fleet Naturals “cleansing enemas,” an ad campaign now running in this paper and other LGBT publications and in the blogosphere beginning last month in a major new initiative targeting gay men.

So, a picture of buns, of a train’s caboose, or of a donkey leads the display ads, which stress that non-drug Fleet Naturals, used for “elective rectal cleansing” — unlike stronger laxative enemas — can be safely used daily.

“Now you can feel clean and fresh,” whispers the ads seductively, in a purring style reminiscent of earlier ad campaigns targeting women seeking douches.

Almost inevitably, Fleet’s campaign for elective rectal cleansing has ushered a new word into our vocabulary, the product being dubbed “menemas.” And let the sniggering begin.

After all, the subject is an awkward one, in effect “the dirty truth,” that anal sex can be messy sex, and for a long time gay men — “bottoms,” to be blunt, in anal sex — have sought means to douche before sex, sometimes using a shower-head device, sometimes using a standard over-the-counter laxative enema, like those sold for years by the friendly folks at Fleet, a family-owned company based in Lynchburg, Va., marketing the regular saline laxatives as Fleet Enemas, and also Pedialax for kids and “Summer’s Eve” vaginal douche for women.

“Fleet did market research,” said company PR consultant Wes Combs, “and discovered that nearly 4 percent of the general population uses enemas for elective cleansing,” often in the form of so-called “colonics” or bowel-purging for health and wellness reasons, not as a laxative to soften stool mass in the colon to ease a bowel movement. Especially striking were the figures that in the last year, one in five gay men have elected to use an enema product.

Despite society’s obsession with butts — from low-rise jeans to J.Lo’s cantilevered booty to the ever-popular “best butt in D.C.” contests at the Apex nightclub — we remain unable to face the topic without engaging in euphemisms, hence the Fleet campaign talking about buns, cabooses and asses.

And market research shows convincingly that humor is the best way to soften resistance on the part of consumers to facing facts about sensitive areas such as this one.

Combs says that the purpose of the ads is “to have us chuckle a little” and then realize, well yes, this makes sense for me and my lifestyle. No need to back away from this topic after all. Flushing out the messiness is what it’s all about. And no need to use harsher chemicals, such as sodium phosphates found in regular laxative enema kits. And no need to use reusable enema products, which may be less sanitary since shower-based utensils, inserted into the rectum can later be found to harbor fecal bacteria.

Fleet Naturals have no active ingredients unlike the sodium phosphates of standard laxatives and are also drug-free, according to a company statement stressing also that the product is doctor-approved and clinically tested. Unlike the standard laxatives, the Naturals brand can be used daily without adverse effect.

For more information, visit fleetnaturals.com.

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