So, What Are You Trying to Say?

In many ways, yesterday’s Super Bowl coverage was confusing and disjointed, jumping back and forth between sports, politics, and social messaging. One had to be fairly nimble to jump back and forth between subjects. It must have been especially whiplash inducing for young women.

The commercials, which have been the highlight of many Super Bowls past, were dominated by politically correct messages of “empowerment” for young women. I prefer my commercials to entertain rather than preach but that’s OK. Different strokes for different folks. Within reason, positive messages to our young women are good things and this Super Bowl was filled with them.

Oil of Olay ran an ad called “Make Space for Women” telling our young women they should reach for the stars. After all, if they set their mind to it they can do anything. They set up a hashtag to donate up to $500K to Girls Who Code, in support of women who want to learn computer skills. Bravo.

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Microsoft ran a commercial called “Be the One” touting the first female NFL head coach. She said she didn’t want to be the best female coach, she just wanted to be the best coach. Show ’em what you got! Another ad featured Toni Harris, the young woman who wants to become the first female player in the NFL. Doubtful, but if you’ve got what it takes do it!

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There were several others including one from Serena Williams called “The Ball’s in Your Court” which suggested women take the lead and be more assertive. The NFL’s own commercials showed women in non-traditional roles competing with the men in a positive light. Across the board generally it was a very positive “women’s night” with one very notable exception.

The halftime show sent an entirely different message. It seemed to say to our young women “Look at the money and fame you can have by wearing next to nothing and doing soft-porn for men on television!” There was no mistaking the J-Lo and Shakira show for “dancing” or “musical performance.” The crotch grabbing, pole dancing, and near x-rated posing were more suited to a strip club than a nationally televised event watched by millions of kids. If you like that kind of thing, fine. Go to a concert and enjoy. It does not, however, belong as a main attraction in an event which has so many children watching. It amazes me that our society sends so many messages that we should be “woke” and treat women with respect and not as sex objects while, at the same time, promoting performances like these for our children. Performances which are the very height of women portraying themselves as sex objects for mountains of money.

Considering the halftime show, there was a heavy dose of irony in some of the pre-game quotes hyping the positive women’s commercials……

There’s an emergence of women in leadership roles in ads, instead of being the butt of the joke or being shown in a bikini.”

The climate has changed, with the #MeToo movement and things like that, there is a realization that there’s a big need to speak to the [female] audience and in a way they can appreciate and are not being talked down to.”

It’s important for my girls to see what is being modeled for them..…”  I would ask, “What was being modeled for them in that halftime show?”

I feel bad for today’s young women being bombarded with all of these mixed messages.The decisions must be difficult………Astronaut or stripper?…..Computer whiz or pole dancer?