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For the Woman Who Has Everything, a Hanukkah Pap 'Shmear'?

By Edmon J. Rodman

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For Hanukkah, what do you give the woman who has everything? According to CBS, a pap “shmear.”

As part of a CBS Cares public service announcement program, the station has recently begun running 10-second spots suggesting just that. Two Hanukkah- and two Christmas-themed public service announcements urge viewers to get their wives, or their “women,” the gift of Pap for the holidays.

“Want to do something special for your woman this Hanukkah?” a man asks in one of the announcements. “Schedule her a Pap smear. Just a shmear could save her life. Give the gift that will light up her menorah.”

Watch the promo here.

My wife caught the spot for the first time the other night and couldn’t believe her ears. “Light up what?” I heard her asking. She thought she had accidentally tuned into “Saturday Night Live.”

Even though good health care is trés desirable, I’m thinking that a trip to the gynecologist for a Pap smear is not what comes to mind when women think about their most desired holiday gifts.

And blogs have been quick to take note: “I’m sorry,” writes Sarah Wurrey on her eponymous blog, “Did they really just compare a vaginal exam to … cream cheese?”

It seems they did, using a play on the words “smear” and “shmear” that many women, and men, may not have much stomach for.

Why the need to spread the word this way?

According an accompanying statement on the CBS Web site from Dr. Marcela G. del Carmen, Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School: “In the US, there are about 2-3 million abnormal test results found each year. An estimated 11,070 new cases of cervical cancer and 3,870 deaths from this malignancy were reported in the United States in 2008. Worldwide, there was an estimated yearly incidence of 500,000 cases and 250,000 deaths.”

Ironically, the commercials come on the heels of some other contested Pap smear news (this time without the deli references).

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists announced recently that women should begin getting cervical cancer screenings at age 21 instead of 18, and that women could wait longer between screenings.

I don’t want to understate the importance of preventive medicine, but for Hanukkah gifts, Paps don’t seem the way to go. But books are always nice. (Or, you can ask Congress for a health care bill.)

On Hanukkah, the only thing we’ll be shmearing at my house will be applesauce on latkes.


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Comments
Little Chicken Wed. Dec 2, 2009

Great piece. And surreal! So much so that you inspired me to write something on my blog about it. (www.littlechickenmedia.com) What I don't get is the tone of condescension in the promos. Why do men need to make doctor's appointments for women? Next up it will be breast exams for Passover! Thanks for the fun read.

Harriet Wed. Dec 2, 2009

Fabulous piece. I think CBS deserves a lot of credit for its Chanukkah Chutzpah. I may never think about a shmear in the same way again, but they definitely have raised awareness with this crazy message!




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