Super Bowl = Patriarchy

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 · 68 Comments »
NFL cheerleaders demonstrate women's proper role under patriarchy.

NFL cheerleaders demonstrate women's proper role under patriarchy.

I’m not really paying attention to the Super Bowl news, seeing as how I’m still busy with my secret new women’s group thingy. Actually I wouldn’t be paying attention even if I weren’t busy, because jesus, who gives a shit? In fact, I was surprised to realize today that the stupid game hasn’t happened yet. Isn’t it always in January? Aren’t we now in February? Has there been a wobble in the region of space-time occupied by the NFL?

At any rate, the reason I’m aware of the impending Super Bowl at all is because of the hilariously offensive anti-abortion ad sponsored by Focus on the Family. (It’s hilarious to me, at least; personally I long for an ad in which a mother explains how she was advised to get an abortion and refused — and now her grown son is a serial killer. If only I’d aborted the little creep!) Some muddled souls are saying that this ad is about “choice,” but it’s not. It’s about patriarchy. The whole Super Bowl is about patriarchy: the game, the cheerleaders, the commercials, the ritual, the whole thing.

The number one rule of patriarchy — the guiding principle, the foundation of it all — is that women are the sex class. They aren’t individual people, like men; they aren’t full members of the human race. They are appendages. Their role is to give birth to men, to nurture men, to marry men, to fuck men, to serve men, and so on. The only real people in this setup are men. The world belongs to men and is their sphere: theirs to fight over, dominate, settle, destroy, remake. Women are simply adjuncts, like talking pets or livestock.

The Super Bowl is a precise reflection of this world view. In that sense, the Focus on the Family spot is a perfect fit. It’s all of a piece with the whole scheme. The only thing new here is that abortion is considered a “political” topic — unlike dressing women up as prostitutes or reducing them to sex toys, which is the usual Super Bowl approach.

Which is not to say that I think the appropriate response here is just to wave in vague disgust at the general misogynistic nastiness of the world as we recline on our sofas in the opium den. Eh, whaddya gonna do? Pass me that pipe. Patriarchy has to be disassembled brick by brick, and the Super Bowl ad is as good a place to take a stand as any. As Jaclyn Friedman writes in The Nation:

The ad becomes even more disturbing when we consider who it’s trying to reach. Assuming that Focus on the Family operates with the same mindset as most Super Bowl advertisers (and there’s really no evidence to suggest otherwise), it’s also safe to assume that men are one of the primary targets of this spot. So now what we’ve got is an ad telling men that it’s wrong for women to abort their potential children, lest those children not get the chance to grow up to be famous quarterbacks who paint Scripture references into their eyeblack. In light of new research revealing that about a third of women who report partner violence also report that their partners try to pressure them into pregnancy and motherhood (as do 15 percent of women who had never reported relationship violence), this male-targeted argument is particularly chilling.

Unfortunately, I missed all the excitement last week with NOW and Sarah Palin and NOW again and all that. (I heard Terry O’Neill did great on Larry King, though.) As usual, the self-delusional rhetoric from the pro-lifers serves to obscure the real issue. “Messages like this empower women!” says Sarah Palin in defense of the ad. Empower us to do what? Have babies? Uh, Sarah, we’ve got that covered. Having babies is Job 1 for women under patriarchy. A commercial telling us to have babies is about as empowering as a commercial telling us to take up sewing. Or cooking. Really: the baby thing? We’ve got that down.

Nor is this an improvement on the “be a sexbot” message emanating from the rest of the Super Bowl effluvium. “For too long women have been made to feel like sex objects in our ‘modern’ culture,” Palin says, and she’s absolutely right. But being made to feel like baby machines is the same fucking deal. Get it? Get it?

68 Responses to “Super Bowl = Patriarchy”

  1. Marsha says:

    I recently got a new car that has Sirius radio (free for 6 months!) and I’ve been listening to the 50s channel – to channel my youth.

    I am stunned listening to the music I grew up with but I think I have an idea of how the crappy view of women has been perpetuated: lyrics.

    Such as this beauty from “A Tall Oak Tree” sung by that memorable talent Dorsey Burnette:

    “There was a tall oak tree
    That loved a babblin’ brook,
    And the babblin’ brook
    loved the mountain high,
    Anf the mountain high
    Loved the sky above.
    The Creator looked down
    And saw everything was love, love, love.

    No, he took a bone
    And a piece of mud –
    He made a man and a woman
    To be flesh and blood.
    And then along came the devil
    Up out of the ground –
    He tempted the woman,
    And that spread sin all ‘round, all ‘round, all ‘round.

    Now, if she’d left that apple
    On that apple tree,
    There’d be no tears or sorrow,
    We’d live eternally.”

    Women – obviously responsible for all war, pestilence, sin and death. (Actually there are a lot of religious freaks who actually believe this junk.)

    And today I heard this one by Bobby Vee, aptly called “Punish Her” – surely this is the theme song for abusers and stalkers alike!

    “If she has wronged you
    Found someone new
    But you feel it’s not over
    Here’s what you must do

    Punish her – kill her with kindness
    Oh buy her red roses everyday
    Ah Punish her with so much affection
    That she will cry for the love she threw away

    She’ll soon rediscover with tears in her eyes
    That you’re the only lover she was born to idolize

    Just Punish her – blind her with kisses
    Ah til she can’t see how she let you go
    Then whisper darling, darling, darling
    I still love you so

    Punish her, punish her
    Punish her, punish her

    Ah Punish her – blind her with kisses
    Til she can’t see how she let you go
    Then whisper darling, darling, darling
    I still love you so

    Punish her, punish her
    Punish her, punish her”

    Yah – kick the daylights out of her and she’ll come running back. Sounds like an Obot song to me.

  2. Shannon Drury says:

    Did you read the WaPo op-ed by Frances Kissling and Kate Michelman in which they basically told NOW and the Women’s Media Center to stop being such whiny bitches about the Tebow thing? My last blog post has the links.

  3. Shannon Drury says:

    ..but be sure to take some Vicodin first.

  4. Marsha says:

    I’m off the grid with regard to lots of news….what’s the Tebow thing?

  5. gxm17 says:

    Violet, I was just using the serial killer example to a co-worker yesterday. If and when they find a gene responsible for psychopathy, this “pro-life” argument will get turned on its head. Surely, if the possible life achievements of an embryo are a reason to not abort, then they are also a reason to abort.

    And for every Tebow’s mother, there is my SIL who “chose” not to abort because she’d promised her dirtbag boyfriend that she wouldn’t have an abortion because he didn’t “believe” in them. Of course, he never stuck around to raise the boy who ended up being left in the care of a pedophile and grew up to, at the age of 15, molest young boys himself. Unfortunately, this is a true story.

    Women who want to carry pregnancies to term should be able to do so without restriction. Women who want to terminate a pregnancy should be able to do so without restriction. Pro-choice covers both options. Whereas “pro-life,” like mandatory abortion in China, forces one option on all women. It’s really that simple. I’m very happy that Ms. Tebow made the right choice for her, but she and her son have no right to force that choice on other women. If Tebow truly respected his mother’s decision, he would be pro-choice.

    And, Violet, thank you for the first sensible post about the Superbowl that I’ve ever read. It’s a much needed breath of fresh air.

  6. Violet Socks says:

    Shannon, I just went and read it. Typical Christian apologia. I think Erin nailed it: “hate masquerading as love.” Focus on the Family is a hate group, and all the soft-focus Country Time Lemonade-style commercials in the world don’t change that.

  7. Violet Socks says:

    Marsha, the Tebow thing is what we’re talking about. He’s the quarterback in the ad.

  8. Toonces says:

    NOW just sent an email saying there are rumors CBS might have actually helped in crafting the copy for the ad.

    Color me shocked.


    They all have vested financial interests in making sure women can’t get too uppity.

  9. madamab says:

    I personally feel that a woman’s ability to create life in her body has an element of the divine in it. However, the Christian right has perverted this divinity into some type of biological imperative, which simply must be fulfilled no matter what.

    You’re 13 and your stepfather raped you? Too bad, you MUST bear that baby or you’re refusing the will of Jeebus.

    It’s so totally insane that what should be a precious gift has become a punishment.

  10. salmonrising says:

    Most of friends call themselves feminists. So when I sent out an email about CBS’ double standard in advertizing (No to UCC, MoveON, PETA but Yessss! to Focus on the Family), I hoped at least some of them would follow my reasoning about hitting CBS where it counts.

    I said as much as I would enjoy watching this particular superbowl, usually in the company of wimmin football fans, I planned to boycott it this year. No TV, no TIVO nada. Viewer numbers translate directly to ad rates, and if viewer numbers were impacted by woman and men boycotting the broadcast the message would be more powerful than all the piteous mewling from so called women’s groups.

    The response to my email……1)no reply from the majority,2) one saying I thought the whole point was choice….sigh, and 3) I wish both sides would just shut up and let me watch the game.

  11. Kiuku says:

    eww why are they making this look like men’s choice by advertising to them. The Superbowl, like Thanksgiving, is an expression of the Patriarchy in its supreme form. It’s a celebration of men, and female servitude. I’ve been boycotting Thanksgiving for the most part, and I never watch the Superbowl, where wives everywhere are cooking for their male leaders.

  12. a little night musing says:

    “Isn’t it always in January?” I thought this too! WTF?

    Coming soon to a dysfunctional culture near you: Superbowl in May.

    To his eternal credit, when I asked my son when the Superbowl was, he said, “Huh? What?” (and he works in advertising. Yes, I am mother to a Mad Man.)

  13. sharon says:

    I get the furor on both sides, really. I feel I could have a drink (or a bottle of wine) with Palin and we’d agree on many things. The right of a woman to bring a pregnancy to term is just as important as the right not to. Sigh. I love the choice slogan, just wish we could have found the marketing silver bullet to get the prolifers to realize choice INCLUDES the right to bear the child. Therefore choice INCLUDES their platform, rather than opposes it. So many women I talk to don’t like feminism because it sounds on first read to them like a) men are bad and b) having babies is bad, and they like their men and their darling children. Again, wishing here for that marketing-speak silver bullet to get all to realize that women are autonomous creatures in every direction, and that their basic right to be so, regardless of whatever decisions they make about marriage and child-rearing, are THEIRS to make, not for society to dictate. Seems like the pro-life women and pro-choice women would have common ground there, if the men weren’t so busy dividing us (dividing collaborators into competitors is a famous patriarchal trick I used to see a lot in the corporate world).

  14. Violet Socks says:

    one saying I thought the whole point was choice….sigh

    It’s amazing how many people are just abdicating thought on this. Choice? It’s not about choice. Focus on the Family isn’t in favor of choice. They are explicitly opposed to choice. They are explicitly in favor of making abortion illegal.

    For chrissake, it’s not like this ad is being run by some civil rights group. It’s being run by people who want to make abortion illegal.

  15. bygones says:

    Nothing says “life” better than a football game with plenty of beer, Viagra, and a little slap ass with the ladies followed by some reckless sex resulting in an unwanted pregnancy but hoping that the result after 9 months produces another Tim Tebow!!!

  16. Briar says:

    Well, I am just listening to a BBC radio news package on this very ad, so the controversy has crossed the pond. I agree with the overall argument of your post, but I don’t like this serial killer/paedophile angle myself, not at all. Sounds like pre-emptive capital punishment to me, and if we are arguing that abortion isn’t execution of a thinking, feeling fully formed human being, it’s a very regressive point to make. Especially since I am against capital punishment.

  17. Swannie says:

    While according to “some ” research and snopes … it is not true that the day of the highest incidence of spousal abuse in the entire year occurs in the hometown of the losing team of the SuperBowl on Super Bowl Sunday .. other statistics show that even though Michael Vicks was suspended and charged for crualty to animals , most major sports figures are not penalised by their sports organisations for mere spousal abuse.

    So why is NOW not taking out a super bowl ad denouncing spousal abuse? How about the people who espouse family values ?? Lets have an ad from them showing how so many women and children have been murdered ,maimed, and deeply harmed by spousal abuse? Wouldn’t that reflect a “family value ” that more people actually deal with than abortion?
    But that type of ad would not reflect the patriarchal paradigm and value system … so we most likely will not see it ..not on Super Bowl Sunday .

  18. gxm17 says:

    Briar, I think you missed the point. The anti-choice message is ridiculous because an embryo has just as good a chance to grow up to be a criminal as it does to grow up to be a quarterback or president. Actually, considering that there are more criminals than major league quarterbacks or presidents, it probably has a better chance of becoming a criminal.

    Genetic testing is available; and it is done for both serious (birth defects) and trivial (gender) reasons. Is a female embryo being “executed” when it is aborted because the parents wanted a boy? Personally, I don’t think genetic testing should be done for trivial reasons, but there are plenty of people who disagree, or who define “serious” and “trivial” differently.

    The problem with this ad is that it does an end run around choice by promoting the idea that abortion is (always) bad because the pregnant woman might be aborting a future president or football player. Notice how the embryo always grows up to be a successful man (Tebow, Obama). It’s an anti-choice ad aimed at men and it’s positively toxic.

  19. lalala says:

    I hate, hate the Super Bowl and this is the only place where I can really say that. My mom hates weekends when the only thing she can find on television is sports. She often asks whether men would put up with a 10 hour marathon of Sex and the City or Desperate Housewives each weekend because that’s how we feel when we turn on the television and can’t find anything to watch except for football, basketball, and Nascar. I understand that there are women who abctually appreciate sports and are athletes themselves but we rarely ever see women sports games broadcast on television. And yes, the misogynist commercials and half-time games are insulting to women.

  20. chelate says:

    Swannie:So why is NOW not taking out a super bowl ad denouncing spousal abuse?…

    If Focus on the Family cares so much about the family, why aren’t they taking out ads about spousal abuse and other crimes against women? Notice that these types of groups (Focus on the Family) are always policing womens behavior not mens. Wouldn’t want to tell men how to behave now would we…might lose male members of the church.

  21. scott says:

    I agree about the patriarchy argument and also about how the Super Bowl is ridiculously overblown, as lala notes. For American sports in general now, to watch them you have to commit to at least three, sometimes 4-5 hours. I got into soccer in the last two years, especially the European game, and it’s refreshing that you’re out in 2 hours and the game is two continuous 45-minute halves with no commercials except at half time. In addition to being evil and stupid, the non-stop patriarchy-thon is just boring.

  22. janicen says:

    I have to admit, they have been very clever in packaging this atrocity. Even the spousal unit, who is very aware and smart and as feminist as a white male can be, was (temporarily) fooled into thinking this was not such a big deal after reading some of the apologists’ rants about this. I “gently” reminded him that it is a soft-focus, cuddly ad which is actually promoting the restriction of the rights of more than fifty percent of the population. It’s disgusting of CBS to allow this ad to run, contrary to their policy of not allowing “message ads” during the game. There has not been enough of an outcry about this. We need to get loud.

  23. jillio says:

    Something REALLY chapping my hide is the fact we’re supposed to care that a goddamn FOOTBALL STAR was saved in utero. Of course such an ad would never be made about a supreme human being in any other area, or (god forbid) a WOMAN supreme human being.

    I’m going to crawl back under my rock now. And come back out after the last gas from Super Bowl chili-and-beer has been passed.

  24. anna says:

    Not to mention that football (and baseball, supposedly our national pastime) offers women no opportunity to play professionally, and no sport (including women’s sports) has male cheerleaders.

    Men go out and do great deeds, women cheer them on and look sexy, and compete for the most successful man, not allowed to become successful themselves. Men have dignity, women are fucktoys to ogle. Patriarchy in a nutshell.

  25. i'llbedamned says:

    I’d like to see an ad where a woman (soft-focused, of course) talks about how happy she is that her partner exercised his “choice” NOT to use viagra on a given day.

  26. Shannon Drury says:

    I’ll tell you why NOW isn’t running an ad of their own. As a leader in the org I can put it no more clearly than WE HAVE NO MONEY! Why do we have no money? We aren’t a bunch of rich white men and/or bishops (who are rich, usually white, men). PATRIARCHY baby!

  27. anna says:

    (nitpick alert)

    The Episcopal Church ordains women as bishops.

  28. FembotsForObama says:

    First, I love football. I was a cheerleader in grade/middle/elementary school and even tried out for my local pro basketball team’s squad … but I hate SuperBowl Sunday! Every woman who watches it is forced to confront those rising feelings of hating the patriarchy and the ensuing “I’m just a sex object (only if I’m young and pretty)”, or “I’m too old to be a sex object, so all men must think I’m ugly” when the cameramen focus on the cheerleaders boobs and butts too long. Then we hold our breaths desperately hoping the ads aren’t too sexist! I’m sure that’s why most women drink way too much, or just give up all-together and host the party, running around like a crazy person ensuring everyone else is having a good time.

    & I totally 100% agree that the SuperBowl is a day of SUPER PATRIARCHY!

    For awhile it seemed at least some gender neutral ads were playing during the fun half-time spots (I’m one of those football lovers who live for that time) BUT it’s become even more sexist than I thought possible as the cheerleaders barely even wear clothes anymore (hotpants and bikini briefs and tops; I’ve even seen near thongs going up their asses) let alone CHEER. & let’s not forget the ever popular “Lingerie Bowl” where playboy bunny types donned in lingerie, garters, stockings, & cleats play FOOTBALL on a real football field, and this ain’t no “touch” football either. Thank God they get to wear helmets and knee pads. Once when I was forced to watch it and out of curiosity, I saw these poor women debasing themselves bloodied and bruised while guys laughed! Of course, cat fights predominated the game and NO men cheerleaders.

    The only pro football team that does not use ‘adult women competing for most-ogled queen’ that I am aware of is the Green Bay Packers, whose cheerleaders are from the local college, but alas they do NOT travel with them, and you barely see them on TV. So young female sports enthusiasts, just see the scantily clad whore-types flouncing around on TV. I suppose there are NO studies on how it affects young girls who watch it.

    Since Barky’s (s)election, I’ve noticed that TV ads on the whole are becoming increasingly sexist after a drop in the utterly misogynism I saw before (remember the Swedish Bikini team and Spuds McKenzie hottub ads), and now with an increased presence of minority ads, minority women are included in the must be sex kitten role even more than before. So I’m really dreading watching the SuperBowl this year.

    Maybe I’ll just watch the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet instead. If you haven’t seen this it is real cute, puppies chasing each other with a puppy bowl announcer and a kitten half-time show. Yeah, I do see that even this can be construed as sexist — the alpa dogs (which men who feel that “real” men only want as pets)
    playing the game while the more feminine “kitten” is just the side show. But it still is real cute to see.

    Violet — just a note for you … you have TREBOW in the key words not TEBOW.

  29. willyjsimmons says:

    I like football. I like the Super Bowl. I like the commercials (when they’re funny).

    But yes, some of them are ridiculous. (The Danika Patrick ones in particular for godaddy dot com are horrendous)

    To add to the controversy, an ad for a gay dating site has been rejected by CBS. (you can google it, mancrunch dot com). This after CBS reportedly told them they had ran out of ad slots. (while telling NOW that if they wanted to buy space they still had some available)

  30. FembotsForObama says:

    I feel that the SuperBowl is no place for a “political” ad that will be divisive to families on an already testosterone-loaded day, where people are already fired up emotionally and passionately, and consuming large quantities of alcohol; most of them hanging out at packed bars. It’s not only divisive for men and women but women to women as well. Creating disharmony is not a message that CBS wants to impart, since people might just leave where they are due to the tensions — which is what I wrote to CBS.

    I’m lucky that my hubby agrees with me about this ad. But, it puts immense strain on relationships wherein this issue might have not been discussed or is just a divisive issue. Ultimately I can see many men who issue the ultimatum ‘You become pro-life or else.’ Actually such an ultimatum was issued to me when I was younger and my Liberal fiancee became an enlightened Liberal pro-lifer. Needless to say I found the right pro-choice Liberal partner.

    And just for fun … My own take on a strong PRO-CHOICE AD –
    The best one I can think of is one that takes away the notion that pro-choice is ONLY for aborting babies. We know that argument is utter nonsense, but that’s what the Lifers believe. So let’s show a bunch of PRO-CHOICE MOTHERS (one pregnant, one pushing her baby in a stroller, one with her passel of kids) talking about how happy they are that they were allowed to make their CHOICE to be a mother when they were ready to be mothers!

    The pro-lifers are completely lost on the fact that delaying their CHOICE to be a mother is one of the primary reasons we women feel that CHOICE is a moral imperative as much as their pro-life feeling is (aside from the fact whether we choicers want to have a baby and raise kids at all).

    Can you just see it ??? A pregnant woman wearing a t-shirt saying “my PRO-CHOICE baby” with arrow pointing down to her big round pregnant belly. [Hey -- think I'll even get one made when I actually stay pregnant.] Tee Hee Hee! I can see a line of “Pro-Choice Mother supplies” — diaper bags emblazoned with “Pro-choice baby” ; hanging car signs that say “Pro-choice Baby on Board” , bumper stickers with a baby buggy that read “Pro-choice mother”.

  31. FembotsForObama says:

    Anna @27 “anna says:
    (nitpick alert)
    The Episcopal Church ordains women as bishops”

    so does some Methodist churches (I knew a Female Methodist MInister). I do find it interesting that many Evangelical/Baptist ministers are women (i.e., Joyce Meyers). I was told sometime ago that the Episcopalian Church was also the first one to have a pro-gay statement instituted in its charter (decades ago). Know about this?

  32. alwaysfiredup says:

    I love football, but it is sexist as hell. My attitude is more, what are you going to do? (shrug) But all the complaints are very true, and I see no reason for non-sportsfans to share my complacence.

    However, as far as the ad, the argument seems to be that it is bad because it is funded by a bad group. That seems to be targeting the messenger rather than the message. Most people watching the ad aren’t going to think too much about the organization that paid for it, much less the organization’s ulterior motives.

    While I have not seen the ad yet, its proponents have said it attempts to convince women to not abort by telling a sympathetic story. There will be no advocacy related to RvW or any laws. If this is true, I think the message will be fairly benign.

  33. Violet Socks says:

    Every woman who watches it is forced to confront those rising feelings of hating the patriarchy and the ensuing “I’m just a sex object (only if I’m young and pretty)”, or “I’m too old to be a sex object, so all men must think I’m ugly” when the cameramen focus on the cheerleaders boobs and butts too long. Then we hold our breaths desperately hoping the ads aren’t too sexist! I’m sure that’s why most women drink way too much, or just give up all-together and host the party, running around like a crazy person ensuring everyone else is having a good time.

    I don’t understand why any woman would watch this garbage, much less host a party for it in her own home. If you host a Super Bowl party, then you’re endorsing misogyny. Shit, what’s next? Hosting a chapter meeting of the KKK because your husband wants to?

    If anybody in my house wanted to watch women be ridiculed and demeaned, they’d have to fucking leave.

  34. phio gistic says:

    The ad is terrorist propaganda designed to continue the trend of restriction of rights, harassment, assault, and murder that has been going on in this country for years. It’s literally trying to sell domestic terrorism to male sports fans.

    Let Warren Hern tell it:

    “People don’t get it,” he says. “After eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 406 death threats, 179 assaults, and four kidnappings, people are still in denial. They say, ‘Well, this was just some wingnut guy who just decided to go blow up somebody.’ Wrong. This was a cold-blooded, brutal, political assassination that is the logical consequence of 35 years of hate speech and incitement to violence by people from the highest levels of American society…


  35. FembotsForObama says:

    Violet @33 — I know IT is hard to understand why some women put up with it, especially those who don’t even like sports. The others just watch it because of the sport. It can be one of the best football games all season. However, I’m sticking just to the Puppy Bowl this year!

  36. Dongi says:

    Dr. Hern has it right that there is a fascist conspiracy out there preaching a vile doctrine of violence and hatred and eliminating basic freedoms like choice of whether to abort a dangerous pregnancy or not. O’Reilly, Beck, Bush and Bush, Hannity, Coulter etc are like cancer cells metastasizing through the tissues of our beloved republic. What must we do to check their malign influence and leave to our descendants a government like the one we inherited?

  37. monchichipox says:

    It’s hard for me to get worked up for a commercial either way. I find it difficult to get invested in a two minute piece of garbage during a football game. I’ll be at the range firing. There’s some new 3″ pistols out for women.Fits easily into a pocket. One of them actually has a pretty little pear inlay. I’ll be giving some free training to some friends.

    GOD I HATE FOOTBALL with the intensity of a thousand burning suns about to go nova while being swallowed by a black hole that is about to collide with another galaxy.

    I’m glad someone else brought up the holiday thing though. You shouldn’t boycott it. Turn it around like I do. Thanksgiving here is spent on some special event for the day like a parade and then a turkey meal at a wonderful greasy spoon diner. No fuss no muss no passive internal anger on my part.

  38. Gayle says:

    Shannon Drury,

    CBS would have GIVEN time to the other side if, by some miracle, NOW had pulled together an ad first. Of course, I’m sure NOW’s ad request would have been rejected straight away so no controversy would have ensued.

  39. Violet Socks says:

    CBS would have GIVEN time to the other side if, by some miracle, NOW had pulled together an ad first.

    CBS is giving away free ad time during the Super Bowl?

  40. july4cat says:

    It seems the tough questions are only reserved for the pro-choice advocates while the pro-lifers always get the free pass. Imagine Palin’s answers to such questions. Would you tell your daughter she has the moral obligation to keep the baby when her doctor advised abortion because the pregnancy could cost her life? Would you still believe you did absolutely the right thing if she listened to you, continued with the pregnancy and then died? Do you think your yet-to-be grandchild is more precious than your daughter? If Palin doesn’t answer straight yes to all these questions, then why does she think she has the right to play with the life of someone else’s daughter by promoting such a one-sided message? If her answers are straight yes, well, then I for one will admit she is consistent,only consistently evil.

  41. Swannie says:

    My love /hate relationship with football goes back . When I was a kid and my dad was a local sports celebrity in Baltimore , and belonged to the Gridiron Club with Johnny U, and Alan Ameche,and all the other Baltimore Colts , and Artie Donovan was a family friend ,
    I even know who the heavy drinkers were and who was betting too much money at the card games upstairs in the private only rooms ( Alex Hawkins) . My father never let me live down this comment I made the first time I really watched a game ” Hey ! somebody dropped their handkerchief !”
    But as I grew older ( and after the Colts were sold out of town and my football heart was broken ) I came to realise the full sexist and patriarchal impact football has on our society and culture, and its horrible , really horrible .. and I have not yet resolved my ambivalence. I also think that what used to be a true sport has devolved into corporate big business , and perhaps that will be the ultimate downfall of football after all, That must be just wishful thinking on my part, because obviously these ads would not be controversial if they did not reach such a colossal audience ; so the future of football does not appear to be in any imminent peril.

    And it is truly a shame NOW doesnt have the money to sponsor a super bowl ad. Wouldn’t that be fun ;)

    The gay ad being rejected does not surprise me in the least as unfair as that is .. too many butts being slapped by players in football to allow a gay ad , the line between blatant and latent becomes too thin…

    and OT ; or should I say related to a previous post ..
    I had two teeth extracted today with only local anesthesia and I am so glad that it is over I wept like a baby from relief not too long ago , and the pain medication is working just fine thanks . I have high dental anxiety . My blood pressure went so high they thought the machine was broken . Think of your absolute worst fear, and translate that to how I feel just walking into the dentist office . I was supposed to have Halcion which is triazolam, a fast acting short half life benzodiazepene, and wait an hour before the extraction, but my ride home fell through and they wouldn’t let me take a taxi because of the risk of sending a very sedated woman home in a taxi , So I just went ahead with it since I had just climbed the mountain and was in the chair .
    And even tho I was completey numb and only felt pressure , it was bad from my perspective. . Of course I can’t be objective.., but I will say that it really was not as bad as I had anticipated , and relief from the pain of the abcess broken tooth is completely worth it . But If there is ever a next time… and I hope there is not , I will have the benzo first.

  42. Ciccina says:

    RE: Pro-choice language, ads, image. Its all been tried, to greater and lesser effect. NARAL had its pro-choice America ad campaign that stressed American values like freedom and choice. Planned Parenthood had its “This is the face of pro-choice America” campaign. We’ve had all the slogans – ‘pro-choice is pro-life’ and “safe, legal, and rare’ included. I can’t tell you how many millions of dollars have been spent over the years on focus groups and polls to develop that “silver bullet’ message that will fix everything.

    But we’re still boxed into this corner. Why? Because even though the real status of women is slowly increasing, the status of women in our public imagination/mass culture is in freefall. To most people, infringing on women’s rights doesn’t seem like that big a deal (just like electing the first woman president was not sufficiently inspirational or important).

    Sadly, we’re now in a cultural space where we find it easy to say – ‘so, pay for your own abortion’ or “I don’t believe in abortion so I’m pro-life” and not give the consequences of these positions a single thought. Why should we, when we don’t think about women’s lives in general? Not only do we not care about women’s lives, some of us don’t think women even have lives. You don’t worry about the rights of objects. You don’t worry about an object’s health or future.

    Our entire mass culture seems to be oriented towards denigrating all things female, dehumanizing women, and representing the world as ideally homosocial (have you observed the ratio of male to female actors / performers / guests / etc. on tv and in movies lately? Its all men. Men do *everything*). In this context, its easy to blow off thinking about the consequences of making abortion illegal. After all, it will barely affect men; therefore it will barely affect people.

    That is why we are behind the eight ball on this issue. And no magic pro-choice slogan or perfect pro-choice ad is going to change this. So long as women are unimportant, things that affect women will be seen as unimportant. Men – and many women – will find it embarrassing, even beneath their dignity to be ‘overly’ concerned about women’s issues.

    Violet, I think I’m just repeating what you said, only using more words. Sorry for the rant.

    One last thing – about the Kate-n-Frances op-ed in the Post:

    Fuck Kate-n-Frances.

    Who cares what either of those self-serving hypocrites has to say. Until they publish an op-ed apologizing to women everywhere for sneering at Hillary and promoting John Edwards – John Edwards! – as the best candidate for president, their words are meaningless. Atone for your own sins, Kate-n-Frances, before you toss criticism at anyone else.

  43. Unree says:

    Ciccina’s absolutely right. Try broaching access to abortion, as a serious topic, to a male friend or colleague whom you haven’t already vetted as concerned about this issue. He’ll blow you right off. He will truly believe it does not matter. And chances are he was exposed to some market-tested, NARAL-approved message about choice.

    Do any organizations care? I donate to Medical Students for Choice and local abortion funds, but I’d like to support a nonprofit that’s making a difference at the policy level. NARAL, or whatever it’s calling itself these days, can kiss my left ovary.

  44. tinfoil hattie says:

    Why? Because even though the real status of women is slowly increasing,

    I disagree with this thought. The “real status” of women is getting worse and worse.

  45. Ciccina says:

    In my opinion, if you were to place choice groups on a spectrum from best to suckiest, NARAL would be dead last on the suckiest end and the Center for Reproductive Rights would be the best. They do amazing work in this country and around the world, from lofty Constitutional and international treaty issues to defending the most neglected, spat-upon-by-the-patriarchy individual women you can imagine. However, the Center does not do electoral politics. Planned Parenthood is a very large, very complex organization (federation, really) that is always – simultaneously – doing fantastic work in one area and f-ing up royally in another… so you need to do some research into what entity (501 c(3), c(4), PAC or 527, on the local, state, or national levels) and what kind of program you want to support.

    Then there are a host of specialized groups that serve important functions – Medical Students for Choice, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), to name a few.

    I recommend checking out the Center – – and SIECUS – – they are both top notch. The blight that is NARAL aside, the choice community does great work and has all the bases covered: services, legal advocacy, sex ed, outreach to faith groups, students, etc… the problem isn’t the groups (though there is always room for innovation and improvement). The problem is our culture. The choice community can’t, on its own, fix our culture. At some point, the rest of the feminist movement has to start pulling its weight.

  46. Branjor says:

    I agree with Ciccina.

    All the warfare they have waged against women, overt, covert and subliminal, has been designed to make everybody think (and act like) women are personally unimportant. I have a feeling that the only way this is going to be defeated is if we (women, individually and collectively) start treating men like they are personally unimportant, discriminating against men. The trouble with trying to raise ourselves to men’s level of “importance”, besides the fact that it has never worked once, is that men are overvalued and their importance grotesquwly overblown.

  47. chelate says:

    I do find it interesting that many Evangelical/Baptist ministers are women (i.e., Joyce Meyers)

    I find it interesting that Joyce Myers would never be able to become a pastor in the Baptist church.

  48. chelate says:

    ciccina: Thanks for the rant.

    I’m with you Violet on wondering why women are even supporting/watching the superbowl.

  49. lambert strether says:

    My father always used to call it The Stupid Bowl.

  50. Kiuku says:

    Ciccinna, excellent! You are so right. The degree of desire of men for homosociality is frightening. They want it to be all men. It’s like ants. It’s like a hive. It is exactly a hive. And until there is one woman giving birth to a bunch of men that do everything, men won’t be satisfied.

    It’s not that men are better at doing things, or even some things. They aren’t. It’s not like men are the only ones doing things. They aren’t. But the way men collectively behave, to erase, ignore, and silence women, creates the illusion.

    Anything a man is doing is important, but only because a man is doing it. Men like to pretend that there are important things to do, and that they are important by virtue of doing those things, however, when a woman does these things, they quickly lose interest, en masse.

    I don’t think women can collectively behave this way, simply because we don’t think like ants, and men do.

  51. jillio says:

    I think Madison Avenue pretty much assumes women are not watching/supporting the Superbowl. All those car and beer ads, aimed at men. (Or maybe this is just a “fond” memory from the last time I watched or even attended a Bowl party . . . . like 25 years ago. Are there ads for makeup and housecleaning products now, too?)

    I have tuned in once in awhile for the halftime show. Missed Janet Jackson and the “wardrobe malfunction” though.

  52. Back Bay Style says:

    Violet, the real irony is that not only do 15% of women report coercion to become pregnant, but that a significant majority of woman abuse occurs during pregnancy. And what about the trend of just killing your pregnant wife rather than divorcing and paying child support (e.g., Scott Peterson and the clones who came afer him)

  53. kmak says:

    [Tim Tebow shown in a soft, fuzzy, glowing camera focus. Sunshine and rainbows in the background. Cheesy, Christian-esque music plays gently.]

    TIM TEBOW: “Hey guys, Tim Tebow here. This Superbowl Sunday I’d like to personally ask you to always remember that your wife/girlfirend/daughter is a baby machine! Even if her life is threatened by the pregnancy, you must apply intense pressure on her to go through with the baby makin’. Yup, there’s that rare, off chance that the sacred fetus will grow up to be a big, dumb, unthinking, toolbag college football star with _zero_ NFL prospects like me, but more likely your personal baby maker will just die, maybe killing the fetus in the process. But that’s A-Okay guys because taking a chance on that fetus is _way_ more important then the life and well being of the baby machine, and if it kills her, well too f*ckin’ bad. That’s what she gets for being a woman with icky lady parts. God says so!

    [Close-up shot of Bible references painted into Tebow's eye black, emphasizing the spot's strong Christian undertones.]

    “And remember, while mommy Tebow had the decision to carry the pregnancy to term, our movement wants to take that decision away from women and force them to perform their Function Number One: Make Babies. Even if forced pregnancy is a death sentence, or even if she has been brutally raped at a young age by a family member (which, really, is her fault anyway), that’s what God wants. See, we’re pro-life! And by ‘life’ we mean ‘fetus’. Got it, dudes?”

    [Fade to black.]

  54. purplefinn says:

    kmak, that’s a keeper. Thanks.

  55. Topper Harley says:

    @19 Isn’t that what PBS is for?

  56. Topper Harley says:

    Not to thread-jack, but check this
    video on Youtube. The good part comes at about 8:25. I don’t want to spoil it, but in response, a right-winger I know said “Please tell me that Hillary is really the President, and this other guy is just some incompetent press guy.”

  57. Alison says:

    Violet, I would just like to say that you constantly amaze me with your ability to always find that perfect picture to compliment your writing.

    This picture of the cheerleaders worshiping testosterone, oy! This picture alone is enough to make me want to throw sour cream onion soup dip onto the next guy I see wearing a a football jersey.

  58. Violet Socks says:

    Topper: OBAMA T-SHIRT???

  59. Linden says:

    Try broaching access to abortion, as a serious topic, to a male friend or colleague whom you haven’t already vetted as concerned about this issue. He’ll blow you right off. He will truly believe it does not matter. And chances are he was exposed to some market-tested, NARAL-approved message about choice.

    The chance that a man has been exposed to a NARAL-approved message about choice is, for most men, rather slim. The only place I’ve ever encountered significant NARAL presence was college campuses, and remember, most Americans (men included) don’t have college degrees. But drive any highway or road in any rural part of the United States, and you’ll be treated to billboard after billboard of anti-abortion messaging and pro-gun messaging. Not to mention the hand-painted signs people put along their fencelines.

  60. Sabina says:

    Dear Violet,

    Can I ask, you said: ‘I don’t understand why any woman would watch this garbage, much less host a party for it in her own home. If you host a Super Bowl party, then you’re endorsing misogyny. Shit, what’s next? Hosting a chapter meeting of the KKK because your husband wants to?

    If anybody in my house wanted to watch women be ridiculed and demeaned, they’d have to fucking leave.’

    So Violet can I ask, does your brother or father watch the superbowl and if they do, do you have a problem with that? If they do watch it, then do you feel the need to ask them why they are watching this Misogynistic event? Do you get terribly upset if they ignore you? If they want to watch the game at their house will you let them watch it?

    Sorry for the questions but what advice would you give for those of us who have boyfriends who want to watch the superbowl but you wish they wouldn’t because it is Misogynistic and superpatriarchy.

    Thanks for taking the time to reply.

  61. Weekend Link Love « The Feminist Texican says:

    [...] racial politics, racism, reproductive rights, sexism, sports, transmisogyny Reclusive Leftist: Super Bowl = Patriarchy I’m aware of the impending Super Bowl at all is because of the hilariously offensive [...]

  62. Gwytherinn says:

    Thanks so much for this. Every year I do my BEST to avoid the super bowl exactly for this reason. The messages about gender communicated by such an extremely popular event sort of make my head explode, and so I go the self care route here. That ad angers me so much, especially considering the target audience of the superbowl, that it sort of leaves me speechless with rage.

  63. naomi dagen bloom says:

    Another thank-you from the feminist universe. Just used your post as a link along with my favorite image from a bus kiosk in NYC. Young guy in a hoodie, “Eat your vegetables; Finish your homework; Respect women.” And on his hoodie, “Awaiting instructions.”

  64. Violet Socks says:

    Sorry for the questions but what advice would you give for those of us who have boyfriends who want to watch the superbowl but you wish they wouldn’t because it is Misogynistic and superpatriarchy.

    My advice would be to be the kind of person whose wishes aren’t ignored. Have the kind of relationship where your beliefs matter and where respect for women is required. Works for me.

  65. Gayle says:

    Half time show is The Who.

    And no, I’m not watching the game. Just came in from shopping and there is The Who on my TV. They’re doing pretty well too for a bunch of old guys :)

  66. jillio says:

    I rocked out to the Who at halftime a little, too (then promptly went back to my quiet corner to read.) One of my teenage daughters watched the Who with me and commented that I was lucky to have grown up with such awecome bands. I thought, immediately, that I was REALLY lucky to have grown up with CHOICE.

  67. Topper Harley says:

    One more thing on the Superb Owl and then I’m done.

    Allegedly, the gay dating site with the ad that was rejected never really meant to have the ad air. Their strategy was to create the ad, have it rejected by CBS, and then build on the buzz of the rejection. Perhaps there’s an in there for the Pony of Justice party.

  68. DancingOpossum says:

    Hmmm, what can I say? I happen to love football, and I love the Super Bowl commercials–mostly, although I agree that the godaddy ones are god-awful. Godaddy has been doing this for years, their ads are so horrendous I have to turn the sound off and look away when they come on. And the Tebow thing had me so incensed I was seeing double. It’s like many things in life, I have to filter something wonderful–like watching a great game, beautifully played–through a mismash of enormous b.s.