The tease for this article by Emily Shire in the Daily Beast headlined “The Five Most Sexist Super Bowl Ads Ever” is revealing:
Sexism, misogyny, burgers and boobs. These Super Bowl ads are some of the worst in history.
Actually, no. And this becomes apparent early in the article as Shire tears into the “objectification” of women:
Super Bowl commercials generally serve as an irritating reminder to Americans feminists that somewhere on the to-do list below ensuring girls in Third World countries can safely get an education, we need to get corporations to stop depicting women as only sex objects, out-of-touch morons, or shrill mothers.
While the NFL’s disturbing and commendably nuanced domestic violence PSA encourages viewers to protect and support women, the commercials that fill the most coveted timeslot on the television calendar have historically objectified them and reinforced negative stereotypes. It’s unclear whether 2015’s full crop of Super Bowl commercials will be a welcome departure—could we possibly see a woman who doesn’t seem irrationally judgmental of her husband/boyfriend, doesn’t have Kate Upton’s body or a sexually obsequious demeanor?
There’s more than sufficient evidence to make even milquetoast feminists throw their hands in the air, but below are some of most egregious examples.
Are the ads “egregious” examples of female objectification? Or are they so over-the-top in portraying women as sex objects that they mock and parody that notion?
Or maybe, they do both.
There is oversensitivity to the issue of female objectification. A pretty face (or body) is sometimes exactly as it appears — a pretty face. There is nothing subtle about using sex to sell ads, but why does showing a scantily clad beautiful woman necessarily mean objectification? With that logic, we should put women in burqas and ban bikinis at the beach.
Sorry ladies, but if you can’t see how the raunch in this ad for Carl’s Jr. to be shown at this year’s Super Bowl doesn’t hilariously skewer how women are, indeed, sometimes objectified in our culture, then you are so besotted with ideological fanaticism that you’ve completely lost your sense of humor.
Similarly, this Miller Lite “Tastes Good/Less Filling” catfight commercial from 2003 takes male fantasies about two women going at it to ridiculous — and clever — lengths.
Other ads mentioned by Shire include the Danica Patrick/Jillian Michaels ad for GoDaddy.com where the PR flunkies convince both to do the ad naked. Not too obviously an objectification parody, huh?
And there’s a somewhat misogynistic ad for Chrysler — “Man’s Last Stand” — where a voice-over lists all the things the husband will do for his wife (put up the toilet seat, pick up underwear, etc.) in exchange for being able to buy a Charger.
Shire believes this is “stereotyping” women as “demanding, cruel, shrill creatures who suck the joy out of men’s lives—all for the purpose of selling cars.” Again, the listing of every cliched complaint by women against men is not meant as a serious critique of male cuckholdness. In fact, the list is so long and so obviously cliched that anyone who believes there is any kind of message in the spot — subliminal or otherwise — probably doesn’t laugh at anything even when they inhale nitrous oxide.
The last ad features Victoria’s Secret angel Adriana Lima getting all dolled up for Valentine’s Day date and suggesting flowers from Teleflora will lead to sex that night. Duh. Men have been giving flowers, candy, jewelry, and yachts to women for centuries hoping to get some that night. This one comes closest to objectifying Ms. Lima because of the suggestive way she got dressed for the date. But compared to porn magazines? Really, now.
Shire and her fanatical feminist sisters take these ads far too seriously. But that’s one of the problems with seeing the world through a prism of extreme ideology — you end up having the sense of humor of a marmoset.
There are clearly more subtle ads that objectify women. Most Calvin Klein ads fit that bill, as do those ridiculous Axe male beauty products commercials.
But there’s nothing subtle about the examples above. Perhaps Ms. Shire should relax, have a beer, and enjoy the game. I’m sure there are other issues far more pressing and important to women than complaining that advertisers use sex to sell their products.