misogyny bowl

I’m not much of a football fan. When I was a waitress, I’d always volunteer to work on Superbowl Sunday, in hopes that someone would volunteer to work for me on Oscar night. Since then, my Superbowl-watching has been confined to the years when someone I know has a Superbowl party or people come to my house or whatever. Left to my own devices, I spend Superbowl Sundays sewing or knitting or watching DVDs or whatever.

This year my boyfriend wanted to watch the Superbowl, so we invited my sister and her husband over for food, drinks, football-explaining (my boyfriend’s forte) and general mocking (my forte). Dear readers, if you saw the Superbowl, I’m sure that my anger regarding a number of the ads will come as no surprise to you.  The message in many of them was: Women are bringing you down, men! Bitches have removed your spine! They’re making you watch vampire TV shows! They’re bossing you around! They’re inferior to a set of tires! It’s time to remedy this by buying stuff and acting like an asshole.

(Side question: Regular Superbowl watchers, is there always this much misogyny in the ads? I don’t remember it being this bad before, but as I said, I’m a sporadic viewer.)

Anyway. The worst, most rage-filled ad as far as I’m concerned was the Dodge Charger one (which you can see here; I’m not going to embed it). I found this clever response to that ad and posted a link to it on Twitter:

A woman I follow on Twitter wrote that she didn’t watch the game, but from what she could tell, the ads were pretty alienating to the female audience. I responded:

Yeah, a LOT of the ads were of the “WOMEN BE SHOPPIN'” variety. Made me wish @sarah_haskins was still doing “Target Women.”

Then I said:

Our superbowl: leftover party food, @meganheadley falls asleep, @luiztauil watches the game, I bitch to @bpriker about sexist commercials.

I got these two replies within two minutes of each other:

@bluishorange yuck. I hope the fallout from the critiques doesn’t further it with “women are too sensitive and can’t take a joke”

@bluishorange I tried bitching about the sexist commercials, but everyone thought I was being an overly sensitive whiner. ARRRG.

It took a lot of exposition for me to make this point, but here it is: Thinking critically about the portrayal of your gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation, etc, in the media does not qualify as being oversensitive. Speaking up about it does not mean you can’t take a joke.

The fact that two people I know worried at nearly the same moment about being thought of as oversensitive whiners is evidence to me that this sort of “Oh, lighten up!” response is still pretty common. Well rest assured, people, I’m not planning to lighten up on this issue anytime soon.  It’s not that hard to create TV shows and movies and advertisements that are funny, interesting, enlightening and engaging without insinuating that women are bitches; and it’s up to us, the viewers, to demand that standard.

I’m fortunate to have a boyfriend who is happy to discuss sexist commercials and sexist other things and general feminism with me. He maintains that the ads like the ones aired during this year’s Superbowl are offensive to both sexes: they’re hostile towards women, but they also assume men to be thoughtless, anti-intellectual cads. And I think he’s right. Gentlemen, if you’re part of the “lighten up” contingent, you may want to start evaluating how you’re being portrayed.

P.S. Matt Haughey made a good response video as well:

Parisian Love, Part II from Matt Haughey on Vimeo.

11 thoughts on “misogyny bowl

  1. i’m a sporadic viewer as well, so i can’t speak to the stereotypetasticness of previous bowls – but i can say that i was most of the way through the commercial with the spine removal comment before i realized it wasn’t a parody of a sexist ad.

    very well put, alison.

  2. “Thinking critically about the portrayal of your gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation, etc, in the media does not qualify as being oversensitive. Speaking up about it does not mean you can’t take a joke.”


  3. i read it as “i will do anything else you want me to do, but i WILL NOT give up my charger.” smacked more of desperation to me than hostility, but i understand the outrage.

    SB ads are usually sexist, but there seemed to be a few more “where are your balls?” types of ads this year. and godaddy, of course, was as crass as usual.

  4. Regular Superbowl watchers, is there always this much misogyny in the ads?

    That much? I just recently went through all the old ads on this site, and while some in the 70s were iffy, I didn’t see anything near as bad as this year’s crop. I noticed almost immediately that the ads were misogynistic this year, and thought how embarrassed the NFL should be after airing their own ad during the Super Bowl mentioning how many more women are watching American football. I bet there are fewer AFTER the Super Bowl than before.

    Thanks for speaking up, Alison.

  5. I too, was completely aghast by these commercials and tried to loosely bring it up to the crowd at the party, but nobody wanted to discuss it. Surprisingly, I found it less to be misogynistic and more to be about trying to make men feel emasculated. I think they really honed in on their typical superbowl watcher – a 30+ year old man watching the game with his friends while his wife takes care of the kids, etc. I was really disappointed that the commercials were trying to make a nice, married man, with a family, with an equal relationship with his spouse (giving and taking) into something that they shouldn’t want, and should feel guilty about. If anything, (I do like finding a silver lining) I found it encouraging that the ads assumed that there were a lot of stable family men out there who watched the game. Anyways, yeah.

  6. It’s not that the ads communicate that women are bitches. It’s not about you. It’s that they communicate that men are pussies. It’s about us. And apparently we’re pussies.

  7. Godaddy’s ads are the worst. I transferred my domains off of godaddy a few weeks before the super bowl, and I’m glad I did.

  8. Hi! I made the response to the Dodge Charger ad – thanks for posting! I’m shocked at the amount of misogynistic hate that is circulating in the comments on the video over at youtube. Thank you for validating my response; I was starting to doubt my own reaction when even friends of mine told me I was over-reacting and “feeding into the stereotype.” Grrrrr.

    all the best,

  9. Eek, I would have tried to avoid reading the YouTube comments. But I’m oversensitive like that. Not an oversensitive WOMAN, an oversensitive PERSON. Heh.

    I hope you’ve stopped doubting your own reaction. You’re definitely not alone!

  10. Pingback: On Not Being Alone « Away Above the Chimney Tops

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