Kristin Hall on Lysol as a Contraceptive

28 02 2013

The current issue of Enterprise and Society features an interesting article by a PhD student at the University of Waterloo.

Kristin Hall, “Selling Sexual Certainty? Advertising Lysol as a Contraceptive in the United States and Canada, 1919–1939”

During the interwar period, Lysol Disinfectant was sold throughout Canada and the United States as a contraceptive douche for women. In fact, Lysol became the leading over-the-counter contraceptive sold on the euphemistically termed “feminine hygiene” market. Though the sale of contraceptives were illegal in both Canada and the United States since the latter part of the nineteenth century, by the 1920s, astute manufacturers were selling goods with supposedly contraceptive properties, including vaginal jellies, foaming tablets, and as was the case with Lysol, vaginal douches. As contemporaries argued, advertising played a central role in the success of the feminine hygiene industry.

Hall is part of a rising generation of North American business/social historians.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: